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Slow progress on flow frames, full brood box

Hi Jeff! Your back! brilliant- great to see you back. Hope things are well and your bees are having a great spring flow. That makes sense- all the hives I have seen this year that wanted to swarm had very high ratios of capped brood. There is that point in spring where the queen has been so prolific at laying she runs out of open comb to lay in. In such a brood box there is little for the nurses to do as capped brood doesn’t require nursing only heating. Idle hands do the devils work as they say… We were able to turn around a lot of swarmy hives by opening up the brood box creating space and work for the bees and queen. .

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Hi & thank you Jack.

I only lost one decent swarm that I know of. However that was after I took a lot out of that colony already. Maybe I killed the queen, so they made emergency queens. They could have swarmed with the first virgin queen that emerged.

I lost a couple of swarms from nucs making emergency queens, which happens occasionally when I let the nucs get too strong in numbers. I caught 2 at home here, which is a bonus. Especially if the remainder are successful with their new queen.

I date all of my nucs/splits so that I know when to check for worker brood. Sometimes when I check, I just know that the colony must have swarmed with the first virgin queen, just going by the bee numbers. A full frame of sealed brood quickly remedies that.
cheers

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Great to see you back Jeff! Do you have sugar cane growing this spring?

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Hi Doug, thank you :slight_smile: Yes I do, they are ratoon crops & getting bigger. I dug six plants out this year, which is a sizable job by hand. I dug 4 plants out next to my driveway & replaced them with all leptospermums. I want to dig 2 more plants out as soon as I harvest & juice the cane. That will leave me with 5 plants, a more managable amount to handle next year because my freezers are filling up with bottles of sugarcane juice.

cheers

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just to clarify my comment about inspecting every 10 days: that’s only with hives that are absolute candidates for swarming. Other hives might only be inspected monthly during spring. And I have hives that are remote from me- in those cases I don’t inspect every ten days- but I do split them- and/or add an extra box even before it is needed to buy more time.

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@Eva, in your reply to Keith, you mentioned a Super Flow. I’ve seen Super Flow mentioned a few times on Flow Hives’s forum, what is it in regards to??? Yes I am a newbee, I was suppose to pick up a nuc today, but the beekeeper whom I am buying it from was called away, and I now have to wait until this coming Tuesday to get it. There is so much to learn regarding having bees​:scream::scream::scream:.

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Hiya Buzz, being a newbee is so full of wonder and words you’ve never heard before! Glad you spoke up with your wonder, that’s the best way to make progress :+1:

A ‘super’ is what we beeks call any box that is placed on top of a brood box (where the bees mainly live). Super means top or above in Latin. Supers in beekeeping refer to the boxes where bees will store honey - like the Flow super I was talking about, to distinguish from the whole kit known as the Flow hive. It’s often important to specify if we’re talking about a Flow super vs a traditional super in discussions here, not just because the harvesting method is different, but because there can be other implications for management in general.

Hope that is helpful - but now I’m inspired to envision a new model called the Super Flow :star_struck: Hey @Freebee2, what do you think?! :smile:

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Hi @Buzzing-bees,

As in many other trades, beekeepers invented their own speak to confuse us, but here is a general idea :wink:

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The troubles continue…

I requeened the flow hive, replaced some of the honeybound frames, and waited.

I also removed 1 frame of brood that had 5 queen cells and placed that with the removed frames into a NUC (more on that later). There were no other queen cells in the hive (I’m certain of that).

1 week and a bit later I checked the progress of the new queen. Nada. Zip. Nothing. No eggs. No larvae. No queen. Lots of bees (much of the capped brood had emerged). Lots of nectar in cells - almost no empty cells. I have no idea what happened to the queen. The hive liked her, they released her from her cage in 3 days. But no sign of her now. Either she swarmed out with a small secondary or she died or otherwise didn’t make it.

I’m at a bit of a loss as to what to do. Try requeening again? I don’t have any drawn comb to swap into the brood, so I’m concerned the hive is just going to continue to drown itself in nectar. The flow frames are being drawn out painfully slowly, and most are still dry. I sprayed them with 1:1 syrup today and moved a fat honey/nectar frame up in the hope of encouragin more building/storing in the super.

Regarding the NUC I split out: the queen cells were capped and ripened. I removed all by the strongest (a supercedure cell). That queen emerged overnight (cap on bottom of the NUC board this morning). So I’m hoping within 14 days to see some activity in that box in terms of eggs & larvae.

So far my impression of the flow super is not very positive. I know this is probably just a hive-specific thing as others have had much more success without the trauma, but this is quite stressful and disheartening.

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Keith, I am a member of the Bee society here in Adelaide. I have heard new beekeepers complain about how their ‘flow super has not filled’… but the thing to note is I have also heard many stories of people with regular hives complaining that their regular super has not filled. the thing to realise here is that ANY individual beehive can fail to perform. there are so many reasons: it could be the individual colony- it could be the season- it could be the specific location. I have several apiaries with ten hives in them. Of those ten no two are exactly the same. Some are very productive- others are not. The best hive one season may be the weakest the next.

In your case you have a queenless hive- and therefore it is no surprise at all that the flow super is not filling. If the population declines to such an extent that there are not many bees in the super at all it could be time to remove that super until you get the hive queenright again.There is still plenty of time to do that this year and right now there are queen bees that can be bought.

Re-queening does not always work. But it usually works. So if I was you I would be considering giving it another go.

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It’s normal for a colony to keep storing honey (and pollen) in the brood box while there is no brood to feed. Don’t be concerned about the bees drowning in honey, so to speak. As soon as the colony becomes queen-rite & she’s ready to lay, they’ll quickly remove honey from cells for her to lay eggs in, by the thousands.

It’s pointless looking for a honey flow in a flow super or any honey super while things are not well in the brood box. Get the brood box sorted out, then after the colony builds up strength, look for a honey flow, provided there is plenty of nectar around.

In relation to the absence of a queen, give the colony a frame of brood containing worker eggs & or very young larvae. Then look in 4 days to see if the colony is making emergency queens. If you leave it too long, a worker will start laying eggs. Thus a “laying worker”.

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Thanks!

Unfortunately I don’t have a spare frame of brood (and no 2nd mature hive). I’m just starting the journey so my resources are limited.

The flow super is being worked, just slowly. There’s no shortage of bees or nectar/pollen. Quite the opposite. It feels like they’re bringing in so much that they can’t build out the flow super fast enough. That was (I think) what lead to the initial swarm and the problems since.

I’ll try re-queening again. Hopefully the new queen will stick and they’ll sort out the brood box.

You are on the Gold Coast, I would recommend finding someone who can sell you a decent frame of brood in all stages. The bees wont reject that, whereas they can reject a new queen. A good recommendation is to join a bee club & find a mentor. There are other forum members that live on the Gold Coast. Peter48 used to travel from the Sunny Coast to the Goldie just to help other beekeepers out. He hasn’t been well lately & therefore not able to do that just now.

Learning how to manage the brood & therefore prevent swarming is a big part of beekeeping. It’s something we all have to do, unless we’re prepared to pay someone to do it for us.
cheers

Hi @KeithBarton,

This time give them more time before releasing the queen. A week or two. Another option is to combine your colonies after queen in the nuc begins to lay eggs.

Clear as mud​:woozy_face::woozy_face:@Eva. Maybe the haze will lift soon, so much to learn​:pleading_face::pleading_face:. Thank you for trying to help me.
@ABB thanks for diagram, very helpful for this old dumb dumb​:rofl::rofl:

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Diagrams are much better than more words when somethings confusing! :sweat_smile:

Hang in there, and don’t give up. The rewards of beekeeping don’t always come quickly. My first season colony died out from varroa-borne disease, which sounds like a total loss, but isn’t: I learned some things that only experience can teach, no matter how many books, videos or bits of advice I had.

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Hey JeffH,

Yep I’m a member of GCABS and have a mentor. Not a lot of flow hive experience in the GCABS group so this forum is a big help from people who use this system.

@ABB by the time I get the replacement queen the hive will have been queenless for nearly 2 weeks. They’re now “hopelessly queenless”, so they should readily accept the new queen (by I will be sure to check carefully).

Thanks for the advice folks! What a fantastic wealth of experience and knowledge!

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Hi Keith, I mentioned a bee club & or mentor because I thought that it might be a way of accessing a frame of brood. If a colony is queenless for any length of time, a worker will start laying, once that happens, it’s hard to successfully introduce a new queen.