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Spring Honey Collection vs. Hive Expansion

#1

I just completed my first year as a Flow Hive owner and beekeeper. Last April I got my first nuc, and they arrived as the crabapple trees were in full bloom. I didn’t have the flow frames in, as my beekeeping club advised giving them time to fill the bottom box, then adding a second deep to expand the hive. Well, I couldn’t wait to taste the honey, so we stole a frame of honey in June, and it was the most delicious honey I’ve ever tasted. Light golden and flowery. The honey harvested in September was dark golden and tasted good, but wow, that Spring honey…

My bees weathered winter well, and 2 weeks ago I removed the lower deep, which was nearly empty. I transferred all of the frames with honey to the top box, and there was so much honey there was no room for pollen or brood! That’s a pretty good problem to have in early March. I peeked in yesterday, and they have 2 empty frames that are now being filled with pollen and brood, the rest are still packed with honey.

Pollen is already being brought into the hive on warm days, although nights are still cold. There is a small amount of brood and pollen in the empty center frames now. I would like to put the flow frames on in early April to collect that delicious Spring honey, and then add the second deep back after the crabapple trees are done blooming in May. The problem is with so much honey left in the deep, there’s not much room for brood and pollen. I’m wondering if its more important to get the second deep back on for expansion, or if maybe I should take a few frames of honey out of the deep now and replace them with empty frames for expansion. I really, really want that Spring honey, but I need some advice so I can do what is best for the bees.
Thanks!

#2

Are you running an 8 frame or 10 frame box? Personally, I would add another deep. To the top. My mentor had me flip my boxes each year in late February or early March. I will likely put my flow frames on in a couple of weeks. I did this last year and was able to harvest 30 pounds of honey by mid-May. I harvested just over 100 pounds off of an eight frame/6 frame flow, last year. The bees will move honey around it doesn’t necessarily stay in one location.

I was planning on trying the same thing but my mentor has talked me out of it.

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#3

I would either give them the second brood box- or remove some frames of honey. In fact- I would remove the frames of honey- as I don’t run two brood boxes here in Australia. If you’re about to get a sudden spring build up giving the bees fresh frames of foundation now will keep them busy- give the queen room to lay- and possibly help early early spring swarming.

Do people ever run single brood hives where you are? It seems to me that often enough in climates/places where people run double brood boxes- they don’t get a flow box to fill all season as they wait until that second box fills. Flow frames seem to work well with single brood boxes. If you can work that single brood and get all of the frames packed with spring brood the population will explode int time for the flow- which can go straight into the flow frames.

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#4

On this topic, try to think like the bees & preempt what they are likely to do. During spring, the bees are focusing on building up their population in readiness to swarm. It’s how they reproduce.

My answer is “hive expansion”: Not so much expanding the current hive but maintaining a single brood box & doing preemptive swarm control splits. It means making extra hives & surprise, surprise, while doing this the original colony still produces honey for us. Not to mention the fact that we’re not chasing swarms & or upsetting neighbors.

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