I’m a newbie - I just ordered a couple Flow Hive 2 units and the indication was that they should ship in July. I’m in West Texas and the warm seasons start around April. When during the year can I start new hives?
The best time is February to April for nuclei and package bees. Much later than that, and the nectar flow may decrease too much for them to make it through the winter. Overwintering nuclei is not fun for first year beekeepers, and late season packages are also a lot of work and anxiety.
You may be able to buy an established hive from a retiring beekeeper though, in which case any time is OK. I would suggest that you join a local beekeeping club and see what they suggest.
Thanks for the advise. Should I consider getting a couple brood boxes and starting hives to transfer to the new equipment in July?
Can you link what you have ordered, as I am not quite sure what equipment you are expecting? You may need a second brood box if your local beekeepers normally use 2, but otherwise, a full Flow hive kit should have all the boxes you need.
I still think your best bet is to join a local bee club, and ask them for help in setting up an 8-frame Langstroth hive (don’t mention Flow). They will know what is available in your area. It is very tough to get established hives shipped in the US - packages or swarms are easier, or best is to get a hive or nucleus locally.
I may have been unclear with my messages - I want to start my hives this year, but don’t expect the Flow Hive 2 order to arrive until July. Can I start a couple hives with conventional brood boxes before they arrive and transfer them to the new Flow Hive equipment when it gets here, or would that be a big headache?
I have done this myself with no assistance -with Flow hive 1, so it is possible at least with that. It should be ok. The box at the top with the Flow frames in it (that the bees fill up with nectar/honey) goes on later when the colony is nice and strong.
It will work fine. You could start out with two 5 frame nucleus boxes- and possibly- you could try and catch or get some swarms of bees from somewhere. Otherwise you could get your package bees established in the nucleus hives until the full flow hives arrive. Arguably it would be better to build up a small colony in a smaller nucleus box first rather than putting them straight into a large hive body. Afterwards the nucleus boxes will come in handy for many jobs: making splits, catching swarms, carrying and storing frames, etc.
I managed to catch 10 swarms this year- it’s surprisingly easy to do.
Absolutely! You’ll have no problem just using normal Langstroth equipment and throwing the Flow supers on next year.
Please see my reply here: