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Problem with Honey Storage Pattern in Standard Flow Hive Set up? possible solution


#1

Today I inspected my mothers have and we took a large swarm prevention split off it. The hive is a single brood with full flow- the standard flow configuration.

the flow super is very heavy and mostly fully capped honey. However all the central four frames have the distinctive pattern where there is a large half disc section at the bottom of the frame that is completely uncapped- and empty of nectar. Those sections are also covered in more propolis so look darker. The bees are clearly leaving those sections open for the queen to lay in -the classic pattern- however obviously she cannot because of the queen excluder. Those sections are problematic because it wouldn’t be wise to harvest those frames as is - due to honey leaking out of the open cells.

Two weeks ago I inspected my brothers hive: it had the same pattern. I also inspected my own flow hybrid: same pattern. Last year on my flow hybrid the bees never capped those section even after an entire season.

What’s the solution? One seems to be adding a second brood box- I think that would work. But for a suburban hive having a huge colony is not always desirable. I know my mum doesn’t want hers any bigger- and I know I have more than enough bees flying around my own backyard as it is…

So- my idea is to add ideal boxes between the single brood and the flow- and above the QX. The idea would be that the bees could leave that half moon uncapped section in the ideal super instead of at the bottom of the flow frames. The ideal could be left on over winter for extra stores for the bees- also giving them more room in spring to expand into. You could periodically harvest ideal frames or just leave them permanently and harvest only the flow frames.

anyone tried this- have a reason they think its a bad idea- or any other thoughts about that uncapped pattern?


#2

I sort of tried a similar thing last year ( ideal below excluder) and the bees ignored the traditional frames in the ideal super - no brood and no honey to speak of, but kept putting the honey in the Flow frames up on top. I now am removing all deep frames and boxes from my hives and going to go all ideals. Three ideals all up (including brood and honey in top) over winter here is fine. I might checkerboard the ideal super above the brood too from time to time.


#3

let me understand- when you said they ignored it- did they build out all the comb? perhaps that ‘ignoring’ was not such a bad thing and working kind of like I am thinking- in that the bees left that space for the queen- instead of leaving a space in the flow super? even though your queen didn’t take them up on the offer? did you see that sort of crescent at the bottoms of the ideal frames?


#4

Hi Jack, I had my lunch, pondering the topic. How does it go if you crack the frames in increments. I would suspect little to no leaks. Also would your Mum be happy to only harvest the outside full frames & then move the center frames to the outside, to extract next time. Another thing to consider is that they don’t leave that crescent all year round. Lastly, there is the cost in time & money for the ideal super & frames. Those frames that go against the principle of keeping all of the frames in an apiary interchangeable.


#5

Well- today my brother moved the outside frames to the middle and vice versa to encourage the bees to work the crescents so we’re already thinking that way. The issue with the outside frames is that usually one of them has one face- that is the last face of any frame to be fully capped. On mums it’s the one you can see in the window.

So you end up with central frames with large empty patches- completely empty- surrounded by full capped honey- and the two outer frames 95% full but uncapped… the entire super is 80% full but no one frame completely capped…,

The odd thing is- we have only begun to see this pattern more with second season hives (though my first year hybrid did it). The first time round the bees fill the frames more systematically from the center out. Perhaps this is just an early spring issue and will soon resolve?

That’s interesting you say they don’t do that crescent all season- is this something you would see in a standard super directly above a queen excluder? What time/s of year do they normally do it? Spring?

Yesterday I harvested two central flow frames from one of my hives- which I’m sorry to say I didn’t inspect first- as I was quite sure they were full. However it seems I may have been wrong as I only got 4 kgs from two frames- and the capped sections I could see where very fat- I was expecting 6+ kgs. My bet is if I looked in there now there would be empty crescents in the center. I did it in increments and only had maybe one tablespoon of honey on the coreflute… so it leaked a little but not much… honey was thinner than previous harvest but tested 17.4 with refractometor- very nice light amber late winter honey

Lastly: I noted the good idea to keep all equipment the same size- but I’ve already gone another route with my long hive design where I made it so I could stack ideals on top purely for making comb honey. Stacking deeps would make it too big and heavy. My plan is to never use ideals for brood - only honey. I know that’s not ‘ideal’- and see the sense of keeping everything the same- but there u go…:thinking:


#6

Yes Jack, it’s in the spring & summer that they sometimes leave the crescent. For me it doesn’t matter. If I see that the crescent is dry, I’ll still take that frame to extract. The same thing goes for you if you inspect before harvest. We just don’t get as much honey, but at least we know it’s ripe. Don’t be concerned about the economics of it. The bees either consumed the honey or stored it somewhere else.

It’s worth considering that if the bees are leaving the large crescents, a brood inspection could be warranted, just to see if they need weakening out a bit. If you see drone comb between the brood top bars & the QX, that colony definitely needs weakening out. Whenever I find that, I always find queen cups being extended or even with eggs or larval food in them.


#7

I can’t recall that I was looking for the arc…wasn’t aware of it then but I reckon the honey in that bit would be ripe enough even though not capped. What about a hive mat under the Flow frames during harvest? I’m not worried about the leaking so I wouldn’t do it, but I can understand the concern with it. The speed at which bees clean up honey is amazing.


#8

I have a full depth brood, wsp and hybrid above due to advice on this forum. The qx moves during the season but generally the wsp is an intermediate super which doesn’t get harvested.
It could be a pain having different sized frames but the frames stay put so no problems so far. During autumn I remove the Flow super and qx. In spring I put the qx back after making sure the queen is below and whack the Flow super back on top. I do have to let the drones out for a week or so… Last year there was no empty brood crescent in the hybrid prior to harvest.
The problem is that you need to wait for the wsp to fil first, both with comb and honey.
We don’t have ideals here in the west, wsp is our smaller box for some reason.


#9

Once again you’ve nailed it Jeff- that’s an exact description of these hives- drone comb above and below the bars, queen cups, crescents. Today we took a large 4 frame split from my mothers hive- it was exactly your description. Couldn’t find the queen despite 3 people looking at all frames twice. Hopefully she ended up with the split. We put 4 of the 8 frames in a nuc- and then shook the remaining brood frames into the Nuc- if the queen somehow managed to stay in that hive it’s a kind of miracle… I bet she did though… Hive is bursting with bees.


#10

This is exactly what my brother just decided to do with his hive. I think I’ll try it on one of mine too. It offers a way of increasing from one deep brood- and then back to single, without having to remove any boxes.

I think I’d put a small top entrance into the flow super if I did this- it would enable the drones to escape and some foragers easier access to the supers. I have top and bottom entrances on my tall mini flow hive and so far it’s worked well:


#11

I had this issue last year in my full flow super but not my hybrid super (and made a few posts about it). It is only this year I’ve realised that was the issue after reading comments from others in the Northern hemisphere during our winter and looking back at photos I took of each inspection.

My solution last year was to take a teaspoon of honey from a harvest and dissolve it in a cup of water and then liberally flick the honey-water across the empty space in the frames (obviously not using the entire cup…). I haven’t encountered the issue again (yet) but it is early in the season so time will tell. I’ve already harvested one frame in the hybrid but haven’t yet put the full flow super on top (when I do, I’ll initially insert it between the above the QX on brood box and the hybrid).


#12

Hi Jack we split our 8 frame flow hive 5 weeks ago ,a first time walk away split with the new hive 1 metre away. At the time we didn’t look at the flow super, but after doing our inspection of both yesterday found the same crescent shape gaps in the 4 middle flow frames. No honey in them at all. The outer frames were close to 100%full. So as Jeff mentions about the strength of the Brood I now assume the gaps were there prior to doing our split.
I saw this in May also but in January all the frames were pretty full. Am wandering also now that they have room in the brood box if they will fill the gaps in. We always crack the frames in small increments so haven’t had much leakage out those gaps. At least we now know why the volume varies from frame to frame.
You learn a lot from this forum.:grinning:


#13

I’m a new poster but slightly experienced with the way of bees.

In my traditional hives…FD 10frame Langstroths…I see bees avoiding storing honey in patches of drone cells in honey supers above the QEs . The ready -to- harvest honey frames often are capped…perfect…but not a drop of honey has been stored in these drone patches on the same frame…they are dry. I know I have triggered some response within the hive that tells me honey storage room is secondary to providing empty drone cell space for this colony. And this is most evident later in later summer in our third pull.

In the summer of 2017 we grouped traditional hives with flowhives and compared the production numbers. We have to repeat this comparison for another season before I can comment. Both systems had multiple queens/hive.

The question in my mind now is … do the bees view the FH comb dynamics as drone cells during certain times of the season? And if they do, is there anything I can do about it?

So much to learn…so much fun.