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Starting a Flow Hive Sub Tropical Australia


I have my Flow Hive ready to go - a 4 frame nucleus hive arrives this weekend. Planning to put the nuc hive in position for a while to establish in the new location. Then what? What have others done to establish their bottom box - add empty frames, drawn out frames, honey filled frames from another hive to make up the 8 standard frames in the bottom box? When does the Flow Frames box get added? I do have two other hives and have had bees for a number of years - just interested to know what is considered the best establishment technique for these hives.


Hi Phil, I guess if you already have hives then you know the drill. Treat the hive the same as any other. Pop the 4 frames from your Nuc into the centre of the brood chamber and then two empty frames either side (depending on your preference i.e. foundation, starter strips or foundationless). As a biosecurity measure I wouldn’t add anything from your other hives and if they have a good store of honey onboard in the existing Nuc and there is forage in your area then leave them to it. Otherwise give them a feed to get them going.
Add the Flow super when your brood box is 80-90% full. Personally for me, I wait till the brood box is 100% full, they are putting comb on the lid and there is a bit of a nectar flow. Its all about timing really.


Hi Phil, I can’t agree with @Rodderick more. Just keep doing what you’ve been doing for the past number of years. I’m surprised you didn’t take a nuc from your other 2 hives.


I would have taken a nuc from the other hives but the difference in cost (and trouble!) between buying a queen and establishing a nuc wasn’t worth it to me!


OK, just in case you want another point of view… :wink:

Last year, I started with 2 five frame nuclei in southern California. They built up very slowly, and one got overwhelmed by Argentine ants (a big menace in our region). So this year, we have ordered 2 more 5 frame nucs, but I have a strong hive which already has 2 boxes pretty full.

So I will probably take an extra frame of brood, honey or pollen from my strong hive and give one extra frame to each nucleus, depending on what they already have when I install them. The benefit is that this should help prevent my strong hive from developing a swarm urge. The remaining 2 frames in the new hives will be foundation, and I will probably put a follower/dummy board up against the wall of the hive on one side to prevent the crazy bridge comb that we had last year. I will move all frames into the middle once they are all fully drawn.

That is my plan, but it is subject to change without notice! :blush:


I don’t know what gear you have but I will give a link to something called the “Newspaper bag method” of building up a colony. You need to be able to build a template to make the newspaper bags.

I’m assuming you want to build up your 4 frame nuc as quickly as possible.

Firstly you will want to rehouse your nuc into whatever sized box you plant to use. Depending on the size of your box, you are going to have at least 4 spare spaces for more frames. Put two Newspaper bagged frames of bees from each of your other hives into these spaces. This will effectively double the number of bees in your new colony.


This is a technique I’m planning to use to build up some 12 frame colonies I want to set up. I hasten to add that I haven’t used the technique myself yet but I will be using it to add 6 frames of brood to some of my smaller colonies. The Newspaper bag method will allow me to easily source bees from different colonies. There is supposed to be a smaller chance of fighting when bees are merged this way.


G’day Phil, yeah once you get the hang of it, it’s quite simple. It’s also one way to prevent the other two hives from swarming. Especially during swarm season. Just think, next spring you’ll have 3 hives to think about preventing from swarming.

I think sometimes the queens the bees make themselves are superior to the bought queens, because they are naturally selected as opposed to random selection.


Ok - given that I have another hive here I could start and always happy to try something new I might give the ‘no queen’ split a try! I assume 2 frames of brood, 2 of honey in a nuc box relocated a distance away and brought back later?


Yes Phil, that’s kind of it. I don’t even bother with the honey, as long as there’s honey coming in. You could have 3 frames of brood & the 4th frame only partially filled. If there is a quantity of honey surrounding the brood, that might be all the honey you need.

You can take 2 frames of brood & bees minus the queen from 2 different hives & combine them in a strange box, then take a frame with bees & honey from each hive to put one on each side of the brood. Use a strange lid & base also. You don’t want the box, lid or base to have any familiar odor to either colony, otherwise they’ll fight. The trick is to try to have equal numbers from each hive & stagger the frames. Do this during good weather also.

If you had 6 hives, for example, you can easily take only one frame from each hive, which hardly weakens any of those hives to make one decent size nuc. Your killing 2 birds with one stone. #1. Your taking brood from all of the hives, which is a kind of brood check. That needs to be done now & then, plus #2. Your making a nuc.


Too easy - how long away from the original site before you would bring them back?


I’m familiar with this technique but I do one frame at a time of emerging brood, bees shaken off. Less faff and works as well.