Is there a specific way to remove the flow super after honey season is over? I’d want the bees to clean the frames out before I store them. Would it work to leave the frames in open position after the last harvest? So the can lick the remainders up but can’t refill the cells again?
I wouldn’t trust that - they may well try to seal up even offset cells. I would open the cells, maybe wait a day to let them clean up the honey, then put a bee escape inner cover below the Flow super to clear the bees off the frames over the next day or two.
Would it go under the brood box, at the same time reducing the entrance ?
I get unspinnable honey into the brood box by putting it under. The bees don’t like honey underneath them and always move it
I don’t have a bee escape (yet). But if it’s really so that they will bring the remaining honey “upstairs”, then I’ll give that a try. I want to take the flow frames off as clean as possible. Do I have to rinse them before storing?
Not really. Honey keeps for 1000s of years… However, if you feel the urge, the frames can withstand hot water up to 60 C without damage.
Has any testing been done by the Flow Hive team or are there any users who have time tested experience with the hives going through multiple winters? And what are the temperatures that they have been tested at? Longevity of life for the plastic?
I feel more concerned about the bees. That useless extra space above their heads will “steal” their heat. They can’t keep three deeps warm over winter without using too much food …
A bee hive isn’t a bee “house.” They aren’t heating the hive. When you go camping, it doesn’t matter if you’re in a pop-tent, a tee-pee, or a bivouac; it’s the huddling together that keeps you warm, not the shape of the tent. It’s why bees cluster together from the bottom of the hive with the honey overhead. The honey gets warmed to a palatable level as they warm their way upwards.
The danger in the extra space is not that they have to heat it; the danger is that it’s extra air volume that’s un-ventilated. Everything that breathes (mammals, insects, and plants) expels water vapor. That empty space may be enough so that their breath condenses and falls back on to them. Cold bees survive. Cold, wet bees don’t. The saturation point for relative humidity is halved for every 20 degrees Fahrenheit in temperature. Too much draft and they’ll need more honey to warm themselves. Not enough and it’ll cool and drip on their butts before the moist air can make it to the top and into the quilt or out of the hive.
I harvested last weekend to work toward pulling the frames before the fall flow. I re-closed the Flow frames thinking the bees would just clean up.
They did, and then began refilling the frames the very next day
I re-emptied the frames yesterday and the bees had put away or moved a little over a pint of honey back into the Flow frames.
This time I moved the frames about 30 yards away for the bees to clean up. Only took them about 2 hours.
Thanks! I’ll be doing my first ever harvest next weekend (7 frames, almost all fully capped), so have been reading obsessively in preparation…What to do post-harvest was a big question for me, so this is exactly the information I needed.
I pulled my complete flow super off today. In the past 2 weeks the girls had been emptying the flow frames at least as visible from the obs window and back door. My intention was to pull all off and collect what they had put up in the flow frames to feed back to them. Was surprised at the heft of the box and in the process of draining/collecting to feed back to them. 2+ qts for the middle 4 frames. Lesson learned get in and inspect and don’t rely on obs window.
With conventional supers but same concept: I take supers that I want cleaned out and place them over the inner cover and put the outer cover on top. My bees see it as outside the hive and rob it out without creating a robbing frenzy with bees from other hives, wasps, and ants.
So what’s the consensus… leave the flow super on the hive over the winter, or remove it? I live in Nevada where the average high’s are 45 degrees during the day, and 25 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Outside of the super there’s two boxes, and currently the whole thing is wrapped in a thermal bubble wrap, with black cloth on the sun-facing sides to help it warm up with the morning’s light. Since this is the first season, and they never worked on filling out the flow super, I feel like leaving it on will allow for better air flow (less chance of condensation inside) and may even act as an insulator, considering how tight the flow frames fit snug inside the super. Can someone please tell me what harm may come in leaving an empty flow super on top of my two boxes over the winter? FYI, the hive is well protected from the wind, and I’ve sealed the entrance, except for about an inch in width.
Hahahahahahah! Consensus? Among beekeepers???
My more serious thoughts are that bees don’t like drafts, so they may well put propolis in the Flow super over winter to seal it up. That makes harvesting the next season very difficult. Second, many people use a queen excluder (QX) with the Flow super, if you do that, and you have temps as you describe, your bee cluster may move above the QX and she will freeze to death in the space below. So I would just take it off after the last harvest.
Because of the physics of “laminar flow” your concept doesn’t always hold true. It might work for your bees, but generally bees ventilate better when the entrances are smaller, and there isn’t a lot of dead space at the top of the hive.
Sure. Warm air rises. Or cool air falls, depends on your point of view. So if you leave an open attic above your colony, they have to heat it, even if they don’t want to use it. That takes resources in the form of food and bee muscle power. Not helpful to the colony.
Thank you! We have an 18 degree night tonight, so I’ll hold off until the weekend when it gets warmer to attempt the change-up. You convinced me.
Ok, so instead of reading this forum I went ahead and drained my flow frames, kept them open and put the escape board in between the brood box and the flow super and took off the queen excluder. Will this still work for the bees to clean up and move down so I can take off the super for winter. I plan on feeding them myself. I feel there isn’t enough for them to eat in my area.
Should work. They may not clean up the frames completely, because it usually takes several trips up an down the hive to empty a cell, and with a bee escape in the way, they can’t do that. If you freeze the flow frames for 48 hours, it will kill off any larvae or eggs from wax moths and SHB.
Nothing wrong with that plan, especially if you only have a single brood box. Even with double brood boxes, some hives need feeding over winter.
Thanks Dawn. You think after freezing I should go a head and wash out the frames as well?
I wouldn’t wash the frames - it is good to leave some nice hive pheromones on them so that the bees take to them faster next year. You could wash out the harvest channel, but I would probably do that just before I put it on the hive next year - that is what I am doing this year.
The advice I’ve gleaned on this site is good. I pulled the queen excluder and placed the box of Flow frames over the inner cover (where I covered the opening with another board with a 3/8in hole in it). The bees cleaned everything up in a couple of days. Two things I noticed: 1) keeping the Flow frames in the “harvest” position for a day before ratcheting the frames back to a “collection” position reduces the chance of trapping bees in the frames, and 2) the bees chase SHB into the empty frames, but can be cleaned by knocking the SHBs out (into soapy water) or vacuumed. As you suggest, I’ll clean out the harvest channel next spring prior to placing on the hive.