We are brand new to beekeeping, taking a class through SEMBA (SE Michigan Beekeepers Association). Our hive is on campus until we finish class mid August and bring it home. We expect to get our Flow Hive in September, so won’t be using it to harvest until next year. This year, we are leaving our honey stores for the bees over winter, except one medium super (the top) which we will take as comb. We would love to connect with any Flow Hivers. We are in Roseville, MI.
Also from Michigan, Walled lk area, however keep bees up north in Gaylord. Been at it several years now maxing at 10 hives. I am excited about the flow hive but disappointed that it will miss this season. This is truely a cost saving device, time & money, processing time & equipment. The way i see it, each hive needs to be no more than 3 boxes: lower brood, middle winter stores, top flow hive with really only the 3 middle frames requiring flow frames, then with winter shutdown, remove the flow frames, push the side frames toward the middle & let that be additional food for extra tough winters
Hi Mr. Wolf and thanks for replying! We know right where Walled Lake is, as our class is at the MSU Extension Campus off 12 Mile just west of I-5 (close!) We have been to Gaylord many times, too!
So, do you use all deep boxes? It’s been so interesting learning from our instructors - we have 4 instructors, so lots of opinions! It sounds like your hives are overwintering well with just one brood box, yes?
After much reading, we decided to keep two deep brood boxes and as many medium supers as the season will allow, although one instructor recommended using all mediums to save wear and tear on our backs (and that sounds wise for us, nearing retirement!) At this point, we have 2 deep and 5 mediums. Dadant told us two mediums were enough to overwinter our hive and recommended two deep brood boxes if we wanted to successfully overwinter the hive.
We ordered a full (7 frames) Flow Hive. After seeing what you wrote, it sounds like a good idea to split them between two hives next year. We want 2-3 hives in the long term, but we’ll see how it goes! Thanks again for your reply!
Hi Fred & Lynne,
I probably would have to agree with your instructors about minimuzing lifting weight of boxes, recall as they fill with honey, the deeps can get quite heavy & awkward to handle, however with 2 people working, it gets more manageable. I strive for at least one deep as the brood chamber then you can go with mediums above it, however, since i rarely use a queen excluder, i notice that the queen likes to utilize a bit of brood space one box above to some percentage. I belive this helps to expand the brood numbers when they really need to grow & perhaps moderates temperature better for brood based on the queens preference. So I tend to use 2 brood boxes with the second used more for their honey stores. But I understand that the flow hive is the dimensions of a deep frame, so you will have to use another deep super to accomodate it, but the weight wont matter since if you drain off the honey.Also, if the weight is a concern for you, Ive had excellent success with the Warre hives I had for 2 years now, easier to manage & very good for the bees, also much better winter survival. The Warre style supposedly is that you nadir rather than super the boxes, but I find that supering works just as well. Also there is a Michigan builder that makes these in a modified style so you can use his frames with foundation. Also, for overwintering, I take the empty Langstroth boxes & create a 2ndary structure around the warre for better insulation & overwintering. Look over the website, he has very informative videos. http://www.thewarrestore.com/warrehives.htm
Thank you, Mr. Wolf, for your feedback! I watched a couple of the videos on the link this morning. There is a lot of good information on this link. We may experiment with Warre hives down the road. One thing I don’t understand that you mentioned is that you “nadir” rather than super the boxes. What does this mean? I’ll share this with Fred when he gets home from work. Thanks! Lynne
So typically when bees need more space, a box is added on top, hence, “super”, also referred to as the box itself, a honey super. Super from latin, on top. Nadir referrs to "under supering, from French, meaning under-underneath, as Warrè was French. So when expansion is required, a box is added to the bottom, not on top. So the reason for the undersupering is that its thought with this method that the bees will now move down to the new lower box to use as brood chamber, vacating the previous area to now use that for storage of honey above. This serves the purpose of the brood comb only being used once, therefore it will not acquire a “dirty” brown hue, there is always new clean wax created & pests & diseases supposely will not accumulate in such a hive keeping method. As I mentioned in the other post, I have found that the Warrè hive is amenable to both methods (nadir & super) in my experience. Also since I maintain an integrated pest management (IMP) method of no chemicals or drugs, I find that techniques like the Warrè method are helpful in maintaining strong & disease free colonies.
I’m glad you enjoyed the link as its a wealth of knowledge & certainly supports a Michigan business. As an added bonus, his hives are really visually beautiful & well constructed if you wish to have a garden & show off your hives.
hello i am considering buying 2 flo hive in the NEAR future . and am completly confused on weather to go traditional or flow hives . i am starting with 2 hives . i live near flint area . ( Davison ) are the really worth it . how well do they hold up in the winter time ?? do they need to be heated in the winter ?? my main concern is the plastic … have read a couple of articals that say that they plastic hives will promote i guess lazyness on the bee,s part cuz they dont have to build the combs just to fill them and cap them … can you give me any suddgestions words of wisdome ?? my name is keith
Hey Keith! If FLOW is worth it for you is entirely up to each individual. I have worked with traditional hives and currently work a FLOW. The benefits for me have been noticible since the switch. So I’ll just hit on those. Since the switch, my Italian bees have been even more relaxed than they already are. With the simplicity of checking frames in the super and clearly the harvest. Without having to disturb them for a honey check or harvest. I simply open the windows once it’s time to harvest, hook up necessary equipment for the flow. Insert the keys and twist to split the combs in the FLOW frames. My bees can sense the density in the comb has changed after and will decay them and start filling again. It’s a lot easier than disturbing the whole hive to smoke, remove frames, decap, decomb, centerfuge, filter, reapply wax to the frames and have the bees start rebuilding from scratch… I have left the FLOW frames over winter as well and not noticed and structural issues or shy use by the bees. As long as you provide them with enough food and heat, they’re good! I have not noticed a taste difference in the honey since the switch either, per your plastic concern. Which I understand. The plastic needs extreme amounts of heat to degrade or warp, as well as UV. Since your hive is enclosed in wood and temp controlled by our little friends there isn’t anything to worry about! Be well!