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Setting up a new Flow Hive doing a split


#1

I live in Virginia, USA, where we are enjoying a cool spring. I have 4 10 frame hives and have invested in a Full Flow Hive (6 deep frames) and a deep 8 frame box made to go with it.

My plan is to split an existing hive with a high probability that the queen will end up in the new 8 frame setup. I plan to use 3 mediums as my base with half of the frames coming from the old hive (brood, pollen, honey) and half new frames without foundation of any kind.

My thought is that I will add the Flow Hive super in two weeks when the flow is good and the bees have established themselves in their new hive.

I am thinking that I will leave the Flow Hive on for the winter, harvesting from the outside frames if there is sufficient honey down below to survive the winter or leaving it all for the bees this first year.

My question is this: Will the bees be able to manage a winter in this configuration (6 Flow Hive Frames on top of 3 medium supers)? Can I treat the flow hive just like any other super when it comes to honey storage (not harvesting)? Or will the bees hang out down below and not avail themselves to the honey in the Flow Frames?

Also is 3 medium frames a good configuration to start with? (half already full of brood, pollen and honey)

Some people talk about bringing the Flow Hive in for the winter. Is that necessary? Good?

I thought beekeeping was pretty challenging until the Flow Hive came along what with all the variables. Now it seems impossibly complicated (switching from 10 frame to 8, managing supers that get emptied instead of being harvested, etc.) I know this is supposed to simplify harvesting and I trust that it will but there are so many other aspects that are now needing consideration.

HELP


#2

My plan is to split an existing hive with a high probability that the queen will end up in the new 8 frame setup. I plan to use 3 mediums as my base with half of the frames coming from the old hive (brood, pollen, honey) and half new frames without foundation of any kind.

I would not think in terms of a super (which the flow frames are) on a split until it has built up enough for winter. After that I would add a “super”.

My thought is that I will add the Flow Hive super in two weeks when the flow is good and the bees have established themselves in their new hive.

It takes about two months for a split to have built up much at all.

I am thinking that I will leave the Flow Hive on for the winter, harvesting from the outside frames if there is sufficient honey down below to survive the winter or leaving it all for the bees this first year.

The problem would be if the cluster moves up into the flow frames during winter then the queen has no where to lay. Clusters don’t move well unless the weather is warm and so they may get stuck in the flow frames.

My question is this: Will the bees be able to manage a winter in this configuration (6 Flow Hive Frames on top of 3 medium supers)?

If you are in a tropical climate (which you are not) probably. In a cold climate, I would not attempt it.

Can I treat the flow hive just like any other super when it comes to honey storage (not harvesting)?

No. You can treat it like any other super you will harvest. But I would not leave it on over winter.

Or will the bees hang out down below and not avail themselves to the honey in the Flow Frames?

Sure they will eat it, and in the process end up on a lot of comb that they can’t raise their late winter brood on…

Some people talk about bringing the Flow Hive in for the winter. Is that necessary? Good?

In my climate, I think it’s absolutely necessary.

I thought beekeeping was pretty challenging until the Flow Hive came along what with all the variables. Now it seems impossibly complicated (switching from 10 frame to 8, managing supers that get emptied instead of being harvested, etc.)

I wouldn’t say it complicates things. Things are already complicated. People mess up on all sorts of levels with no flow frames. If you leave an excluder on a hive in the deep south over winter it’s probably find. If you leave an excluder on a hive in my climate it’s a disaster when the queen gets stuck below and the cluster moves up without her…

I know this is supposed to simplify harvesting and I trust that it will but there are so many other aspects that are now needing consideration.

Anything you change in any system has effects that have to be taken into account.


#3

Michael,
Thank you so much for your response. I heard you speak in Fishersville VA in 2015 but missed this year due to a trip to Africa.

I hear loud and clearly that I should bring the Flow Hive in for the winter (early November perhaps). Fair enough. I trust that my 3 medium supers left out will be sufficient to winter the cluster since I will not be harvesting any honey from them and they can munch on Flow Hive stores until early November.

I do not use a queen excluder ever. I do not treat for anything.

I have been transitioning to top entrance, foundationless frames since your talk in 2015.

I am hesitant to use top entrance with Flow Hive but if I am to bring it in for winter, I now don’t see any reason to avoid top entrance. Your thoughts.

I am working on adapting my metal clad tops for top entrance, cutting away the end and still using a tapered ramp to hold it up to create the gap for entrance.

If the queen is present and she has 12 frames of brood, pollen and honey at her disposal, I am wondering if it still takes two months before I should add the Flow Frame? Afraid they will swarm due to lack of space (12 empty frames will be there).

I should have modified a 10 frame box to use with Flow Hive and simply set it on an existing hive, but now have committed to 8 frame box. ¨Unless I bite the bullet and abandon that expensive box and do the work to modify a 10 frame deep? ?

Love your work.
Larry


#4

I am afraid that your posting has me very confused…

So what are you proposing? Are you using 3 medium boxes, or are you putting 3 medium frames into one deep box (not a good idea, as I am sure you know)? Or are you not going to use the deep box?

You will have to be careful about that, it might be a bit soon. But if you have a lot of experience, you will know that you super when the hive is full of bees and all of the brood combs are drawn and covered with bees. The Flow super is no different from any other, it is just a different method for extracting. Use the same timing and judgment that you would use in your 10-Frame Langstroths.

You certainly can do this, but there are 2 potential problems. First, the Flow super is a deep box, and the bees may have trouble keeping the hive warm if you have a very cold winter, or cold spell. Secondly, some people have reported bees putting a lot of propolis on the Flow frames over winter. this can make the mechanism very hard to operate, and it is a bit of a pain to remove it. I will be taking my Flow super off over winter. I would have thought that 3 mediums should give your hive enough food and space, even without the Flow super.

3 medium frames, or 3 medium boxes with medium frames of brood etc? Have you done splits before? If I was doing this, I would start with 2 medium boxes, perhaps with 12 frames from your existing hive in them and 4 empty frames to make up the 16 frames needed. When those frames were fully drawn, and the combs are covered with bees, I would add the 3rd medium with all new frames. Only when that box was fully drawn and covered with bees would I add the Flow super.[quote=“Fusion, post:1, topic:6386”]
Some people talk about bringing the Flow Hive in for the winter. Is that necessary?
[/quote]

The whole hive? Certainly not. For the reasons I mentioned above, I will be taking the Flow super off and storing it in my garage (if my husband lets me!) :smile:

Just treat it like a normal hive, no need to panic, it really isn’t any different.


#5

I am hesitant to use top entrance with Flow Hive but if I am to bring it in for winter, I now don’t see any reason to avoid top entrance. Your thoughts.

I have top entrances on all of mine including the flow supers.

I am working on adapting my metal clad tops for top entrance, cutting away the end and still using a tapered ramp to hold it up to create the gap for entrance.

You can do it many ways.

If the queen is present and she has 12 frames of brood, pollen and honey at her disposal, I am wondering if it still takes two months before I should add the Flow Frame? Afraid they will swarm due to lack of space (12 empty frames will be there).

Put the bees in one box. When it’s 80% full, add the second box. When those two are 80% full (16 frames drawn and covered in bees) then add the third box. When the three are 80% full (24 frames of bees etc.) then add the flow frames.

I should have modified a 10 frame box to use with Flow Hive and simply set it on an existing hive, but now have committed to 8 frame box. ¨Unless I bite the bullet and abandon that expensive box and do the work to modify a 10 frame deep? ?

No need to modify anything. Use the eight frame box on top of the ten frame box.


#6

Oh my goodness, you mean they don’t need a perfectly measured space all the way up? :smiling_imp: Next thing you will be telling me, is that they can even live in hollow spaces as irregular as rotting tree trunks!!! Scandalous! :joy:


#7

Thank you Michael Bush. I am switching gears and will install the Flow Hive on top of an existing top entrance 10 frame system that is thriving. No need to invest in 8 frame equipment. I was concerned that rain would drip down in the crack but apparently not a serious issue. A bead of silicon would be temporary and yet effective perhaps.


#8

Or you could flash it with some aluminum flashing, then you wouldn’t break the seal whenever you inspected the brood boxes.


#9

Not at all necessary. The bees will propolize it in a matter of hours…