This is my first year with a flow hive. It’s November so I’m checking my honey bees for winter in USA West Virginia. It’s in the 30-40s F today. The super has some bees but not many and the brood box is full of bees. No honey that I can tell in the super. The super has been on for 5 months so they are working on building up wax. Should I remove the super for winter or leave it on and feed the sugar water periodically from the top with a mason jar method? I want them to make it over winter
Bees have been preparing for winter for several months now!! By the time the weather is in the 30-40’s it is officially already winter for the bees.
You’re a bit late to the party for WV. I am not far from you geographically and meteorologically in Columbus OH. Where are you in WV?
The super should already be off - if you leave it, the bees will cake it with propolis and that’s a mess…
I don’t see any honey in that end frame but if there is some in the middle frames, you should harvest it (off the hive because it is too cold) and store it (in the freezer if unripe). You could use this for early spring feed if you bees don’t have much left or you could eat it.
It is likely too late and too cold to feed syrup to your bees. How many frames of honey did they have last time you looked? I am assuming from your description that you have a single deep box? Is this the colony’s first season? Putting the super on for the first time late in the season was probably overly hopeful, unless you have a very strong fall flow but that’s for another discussion at this point.
You should to look into methods to feed granular sugar (candy board, camp method, etc) to get your hive supported enough to make it through the winter.
Especially with a single deep, you need it to be chocka full of honey. I am overwintering a few hives in singles (wrapped in insulation and with a quilt box) and they weigh in around 100lbs for a single deep (including stand and cover).
Before @Dawn_SD says anything, what was your mite plan, and how did that go?
Do you have a local mentor who can help you get caught up?
I’m in gauley bridge. There was some bees in the center and some wax building in the center frame. I took the super off and there was a ball of bees on the bottom on top of the queen excluder. I didn’t want to mess with them but it sounds like I should shake them off into the brood and smoke the others out of the super. I’ll do that tomorrow. I feed them some sugar water today. I’ve asked a few questions from the guy I bought bees from and emailed flow hive customer support a few times. There is a clay county beekeepers meeting that I’m going to try and start going. I’d like to leave the super as it to give them a head start in the spring if they make it seeing no honey in the super. Thanks for the advice.
You can also shake the bees off the flow frames and into the brood box.
I cannot recommend leaving the flow super on for the winter. If you do, you will need to remove the queen excluder so the bees don’t maroon the queen below. There are many reports of the bees not only propolizing the flow frames but also the queens laying drones in the flow cells.
They won’t take it if it’s below about 50°F. Might have a couple warmer days but probably not enough to get a large amount of syrup in.
By the time you can see mites on bees, there is an outright infestation. Many newbies have a hard time identifying a mite when it is dead on the bottom board or tray. You need to do some sort of mite count to have some idea.
Maybe take a little time to read this:
and you should consider getting a book to learn about some beekeeping basics, there are some good suggestions in this thread:
The mite away strips sounds good to me. Sounds like you put a strip on the top of each brood frame for 21 days. Replacing the strips every 7 days. Once treated then add the candy board to feed over winter. Sound pretty straight forward.
If the bees are clustered then the formic acid formulations may not be circulated well enough to be effective. The recommendations are for daytime highs >50°F - you probably have a few of those left but be aware of the upcoming weather when you decide to treat. Many folks this time of year are using oxalic acid - better tolerated by the bees and not as great an issue with capped brood and supers.
I got the candy board on the flow hive today and took off the super. It’s been warmer this week so it was a good time to do it. The center flow frame had some honey. A couple more they were building up wax to level off the top of the cell which was good to see. I’m going to put the super in my basement till spring. I’m assuming no cleaning of the flow cells over winter. There is a bunch of wax on the queen excluder which I will clean up. To get the little bit of honey in the one cell I’ll try and insert the key and see if any comes out.Uploading: 1295FB24-0A31-491F-958A-F563A9475E01.jpeg…
The honey bees that I have were very calm during this process. Pretty enjoyable watching them. I think I’m ready for winter now. I keep check on the candy board to see if I need to add any and later in winter I’ll do some mite prevention. I didn’t see any today but I did see some little black beetles. Thanks again for help and advice.
New beekeeper update. It’s spring in WV and hit 70 F today. I checked my flow hive and it looks like my honey bees didn’t make it through winter. I saw a bunch of dead bees at the entrance and some in the candy board. Interesting that they didn’t eat hardly any of the hardened sugar. I’ll wait till no more freezing nights to open it up but it don’t look good. Coldest winter West Virginia has had in a long time. A lot of days with temperatures in the single digits.
Hi James, sorry about your bees. You did a good job with the candy board, which would’ve helped with condensation from those cold temps as well as provided ample feed through winter. But, from our conv last November it didn’t sound like you had treated for varroa last season, which means that the bees going into winter would probably have already been weakened. Besides basically healthy/disease-free, bees in cold climates need to have extra fat on them to enable them to live past their usual lifespan. Varroa mites suck out this ‘fat’ and give back diseases in return so we have to stay on top of this game starting now. You can find lots of info here about mites and treatment strategies.
The good news is, you got some decent practice, some built combs and still have a beautiful Flow hive to repopulate for another try!
Dont get discouraged, get your bee order in and find your local bee club. Its always nice to have a friend that can help you learn how to manage your hive. Varroa seems to be the biggest issue i have seen for killing colonies therefore making it top priority to control. They are kinda like fleas to dogs, if left un checked they will suck the life out of your pet. You got this!
I took out all the frames today and my honey bees didn’t make it through winter. So sad seeing a hive full of dead honey bees. Trying to figure out what happened. I saw capped honey in the frames and workers bees in the cells where they died. I don’t hardly see any mites. I looked in bottom of the hive and didn’t see any mites that had fallen off and died. I saw a couple of those black beetles. I talked to my local beekeeper and he treated for his father in-law bees for mites and he lost about 50% of his bees over winter. I’m still going to treat this time around. I’ve ordered another nuc and it should be ready in a month. I’ll leave the honey for the new bees to help them get started. While I left the frames with honey out while I was cleaning the hive about 10 honey bees showed up trying to rob the honey. There must be a wild hive nearby.