Starting to get ready for my first winter with my flow hive here in the Porongurups in Western Australia and the official Flow Hive video on packing down a hive for winter (see https://www.honeyflow.com/faqs/wintering-your-flow-hive/p/206) was horrible. I was expecting to see the process, but it went from a brood box and a flow super and then suddenly there was just the brood box.
From reading the article it seems that it is a good idea to remove the flow super over winter to prevent the queen needing access to it for the honey stores and possibly ending up with brood in the flow frames come spring activity. I checked my flow super today (first day without rain that also was a Saturday for a long while) and (as I am running a hybrid) I had three frames of fully capped honey on standard frames plus three fully capped flow frames and the forth flow frame being worked on as I harvested just that one two weeks ago.
I pulled the three full flow frames, one of the full standard frames and brushed the bees back into the honey super and added some foundation frames in to replace the flow frames to give the bees something to play with while I ask some questions here .
My hive appears to be very healthy as every frame in the honey super was covered in bees… they were not all that happy with me pulling the flow frames . I’ll be checking the brood box tomorrow, but I’m fairly sure all will be well there too.
So here are my questions if anyone can help with advice.
Option1: Single Brood Box
Q1: If I do this, there are seriously a lot of bees in the honey super as well as the brood box. If I remove the honey super to pack down to a single brood box, what do I do with all those bees? Do I just shake them into the brood box? It looks full in there and I’m sure the bees would not all fit…
Q2: If I do this, I read somewhere that one frame of honey to each frame of brood should get them through the winter. Is this about right?
Option 2: Honey Super and Brood Box
Q3: Would it be better to just remove the flow frames and replace with the foundation frames (as I have already done) and then just remove the queen excluder and let 'em go for it?
I can see this as being not a bad idea as then when Spring comes around I can shake all the bees into the brood box and pop the queen excluder back on, pull the weakest standard frames out and replace with the flow frames and things are off and running again.
Option 3: Leave it alone
Q4: Or, would it be better to just leave the three standard frames of honey there alongside the empty flow frames and then monitor the brood box over winter, moving the honey frames in as needed?
I would hate to trap the queen down in the brood box on the other side of the queen excluder and for her to starve and die as the rest of the hive moved up into the honey super :(.
Thanks for any advice in advance! Too many possibilities and not enough experience .