Can anyone tell me if it’s possible to harvest only a jar of honey? It’s the end of our first season we had a reasonable season and dont want to take much more then that so the bees are able to over winter. Basically if we crack a frame do we have to drain it fully?
Hi there, and welcome to the Flow forum!
Stuart Anderson sent out a message this year telling us how to do that. Don’t crack the whole frame! Just put the Flow key into the frame by a couple of inches (5cm) and turn it. Wait for it to drain and stop dripping, then put it in a bit further if you want more. The rest of the frame should stay intact.
However, I have a couple of other thoughts for you.
- In Canada, I would want to take the Flow super off over winter. If not, the bees tend to gum up the Flow mechanism with propolis in the autumn/fall
- Hopefully you have more than one brood box. If not, with your climate, your bees will not have enough food stored to make it through winter
- If you decide to leave the Flow super on for food for the hive, you are going to need to take the queen excluder out, otherwise the bees may leave the queen below to freeze
- Don’t forget to insulate your hive and consider a moisture quilt over winter
- Join a local bee club and ask them about winter management of a “Langstroth” hive. Don’t mention Flow as there is a lot of prejudice against it. A Flow hive is a form of Langstroth anyway, just the harvesting is different
Sorry if I am causing anxiety, just want to help you get through the winter successfully with your bees. Ask any further questions, we love to try to help.
Just to be clear although in Canada we are on the west coast, normally our temperature here never drops below freezing and if it does it’s for a day or two only, we have never received more then one cm of snow where we live here. It’s odd I know but being on the ocean makes a huge difference to us, technically we are zone 9 even though the area just inland is zone 8a. All great information though thank you very much.
I have been to Vancouver, and I live on the west coast, so I appreciate our climate too.
What concerns me is not just freezing. There are several things. Sorry, I hate to make lists, but I found that when teaching professionally, people absorb things better if I make a list…
- Even BC with its relatively benign climate will have a long nectar dearth period. Probably from September to March. That means no bee food.
- Bees generally don’t forage unless the temperature is above about 13C and the day is sunny. I think that BC will have lots of days where either the temperature is lower, or it isn’t sunny. No forage = no food coming in.
- Condensation kills bees. Condensation doesn’t require freezing, just conditions right for dew formation. Dew may form in the hive at higher temperatures than it does in your garden, as the hive has a higher relative humidity than outdoor air. Cool water dripping onto bees is lethal. Freezing may not be lethal if the air is dry.
I still recommend insulation of the hive walls with cheap homebuilders roofing foam and duct tape, and a moisture quilt on top. If you are interested in those ideas, they have been posted on this Forum and you can find them with the magnifying glass search tool at the upper right of the page.
If you need ideas for feeding your bees over winter, just let us know.
Thanks dawn! I think we dicided not to harvest this year given we want them to make it through! We are planning on buying a cozy for the hive this month and installing it next month as well we are building removable roof structure for ontop the hive to keep the surrounding area dry as you know it does rain…a lot… do you recommend pollen patties or sugar water at this point in the season
Syrup is fine until average (including night) temps get below about 15C. After that, they will usually only take solid white granulated sugar or fondant. Don’t feed protein (pollen) though - you don’t want them making extra brood at this time of year.
Really hope the bees don’t jam up your Flow super - it is a LOT of work to un-jam it!
Take the Flow super off for winter or else the queen will get cold and lonely while all the bees go up through the excluder where the honey is. If you remove only the excluder, the queen will go up there with the cluster and start laying in February/March.
@Dawn_SD has already explained how to take a small amount of honey very well and @Red_Hot_Chilipepper has advised to take the excluder and the super off so you have a fair bit to consider. I can only suggest to plan for the best conditions you can make for your bees in stores and comfort so that they come through Winter as a strong colony.
Condensation in a hive is something to avoid every bit as much as the cold, it can knock a hive about badly.
Welcome to the forum Patrick, you are already getting the good advice the forum is known for.
Hey @Patrick welcome! Flow was developed & tested in a much different climate to places like yours, mine and @Red_Hot_Chilipepper’s. It’s an amazing piece of gear that early adopters have run further ‘field testing’ (mine is more of a yard test ) on to discover what important tweaks & considerations are needed to make it work best where we live. Trust us when we say to take the super off in fall, as soon as your local fall nectar flow, if any, is over. You can & should harvest it first of course! Keep some and feed the rest back to the bees - there are many different configurations for feeding & you can find endless info on those here too