When I first looked into keeping bees using the Flow system I planned to only have two hives with one 8 frame honey super per hive but everything I read seems to indicate more honey supers and brood boxes will need to be added. Bummer. How can I limit it to my original plan?
I don’t know where in the world you are, but if you are in subtropical Australia, your original plan should work. If not, you might want to move…
Seriously though, the issue with only one brood box is very limited space for over winter food storage for the bees. If you have year round nectar flow, this isn’t a big issue. Here in San Diego, California, we do have year round nectar, but there is a noticeable reduction during the winter, so most people run on two brood boxes to carry enough honey through the dearths. The other consideration is that the Flow hive is an 8-frame hive. Most of my fellow beekeepers are using 10-frame Langstroths. So even if I am using double deeps, I still have 25% less brood space than they have (16 frames vs 20). It hasn’t been a problem yet, but I watch the food stores carefully.
As far as extra supers are concerned, you may not need them, but they are nice to have. If your bees are reluctant to move up into the plastic, a medium super above it, with some wax starter strips or foundation, may tempt the bees upward with the smell. Also, if they are not capping the Flow super, an extra super on top can help a bit with ventilation and evaporation of the honey. Again, you may not need it, but you can’t force your bees to work with what you want to limit them to. They might do just fine, but if they don’t cooperate, you may need some extra equipment to ensure a successful season.
Unfortunately, we can’t make bees conform to our plans, with have to work with what they need and want.
You could potentially just have a nuc for each of your hives that you use to split them off to simulate swarming. Then you can either sell those nucs or use them to set up new hives down the road. Nucs around here go for $180-200 so it could also work to your advantage.
I ran one standard flowhive witih one super this year and another standard hive with 2 supers on top…
the Flowhive with one super has worked far better than the twin super one this year so my plans for next year is to only run hives with ONE super…
if I want more honey then i’ll run another standard hive with ONE super on top making 3 working hives…
I also think it’ll be easier to manage the hives as it can start to get difficult lifting heavy supers back up high to the top of the hive with multiple supers…
a big THANK YOU to each one of your replies! It’s nice to be able to get advise when needed and I am encouraged and will figure this out.
I am starting back into beekeeping after 55 years away. Guess I lunged at the opportunity drawing me from my teen years n strength n what was the normals back in the 1950’s n 1960’s. I ran double deep 10 framers back then.
Hmm. Last fall I headed for a local supplier near me ( About 30 miles round trip n bought a full setup as an example n pattern. During the winter I constructed n assembled for a total of four full set up. With 3 Nuc’s coming three will be used immediately sometime mid April.
What I forgot is I am not a Spring chicken anymore but a very old retiring rooster . Lunging 80 pound hive bodies might not be as easy or fun at my age but thus it will have to be until I can drawback n slowly move toward 8 frame hive bodies n maybe mediums. Have see after I get a season under my belt.
Forward n onward,
@Chet_Calhoun I can’t see the problem - other people (without Flow Hives) have to add more supers because they are not able to tap off the honey when the frames are full - potentially you could run one or 2 Flow frames and still tap off as required and still only have the one super - some Beeks are considering 2 Brood boxes but they are the same size as the normal brood boxes so all you really need is 1 Full Flow Hive and an additional Brood Box if you want or just the Frame box or Frames only (depending on what you bought.
So you just need 1 Full beehive consisting of 1 or 2 Brood boxes and the Flow Super (which is another Brood box)
Hi Chet, it IS a balancing act. I only run one brood box with my hives. In using one brood box, I’m constantly weakening out the brood to prevent swarming.
The upside is: I only have one brood box to worry about.
I’m able to use the brood to strengthen weaker colonies.
I’m able to make new colonies to sell.
I see no problem with one brood box in a cold climate. The bees will have no worries negotiating a queen excluder in order to bring food down to the brood during colder months.
you only get one Back Gerald… look after it
Hi Dawn… I’m also in San Diego (east-Poway/west-Ramona). We set up a BeeThinking Top-bar hive on our property in 2011 with a captured swarm that is still doing well.
We’re now intrigued with the Flow Hive and have pre-ordered a Flow Hive 2 which will ship in August. We ordered the kit with 1 brood box and 1 Flow super. We won’t be taking much honey, just a little for ourselves… one or two frames a year at most. Do you think we’ll be okay with one brood box? What has been your experience? Thanks!
Hi @Niomi, we are in Point Loma. The majority of people (including Hilary Kearney) that I have spoken with in the San Diego Beekeeping Society say double deeps or 3 mediums for brood in a Langstroth hive. The reason is that they need at least 40lb of honey stores to get through some of the prolonged nectar dearths that we get in drought years. Having said that, some of our local commercial guys manage with single brood, but are willing to feed very actively when needed.
I prefer not to feed anything artificial unless absolutely necessary, so we have double deeps on our Flow hives. If you are willing to leave the Flow super on over winter, you may be OK. I don’t like to do that for a couple of reasons:
- My bees are masters of propolis, and they go crazy with it in the Fall. I don’t want propolis in the Flow mechanism, so I like to take it off by August.
- If I need to feed in winter, I don’t want syrup in my harvesting super. I prefer to just take it off.
We love our Flow hive and got around 35lb of honey from our strongest hive last year. Probably won’t be as much this year, given the dry winter. My husband says he doesn’t want to harvest honey any other way in future. We do also have a traditional Langstroth hive in a Community Garden, so I guess I will be the one extracting from that!
Thanks very much, Dawn, for sharing your experience… much appreciated!
I also consulted with Hilary by email about her experience. She said: “A second brood box gives more flexibility for swarm control, but one alone will probably work. Propolis in the Flow super has not been an issue.”
My husband and I are not concerned about natural swarming, as we try to allow the bees to follow their own natural rhythms. We have approached TBH beekeeping with minimal inspections and the hive has thrived very well. So we’re going to take the same approach with our Flow Hive 2. We’ve found bees to be pretty smart and don’t need a lot of interference from us. We appreciate the pollination services the bees provide, and only want to rob them of a small amount of honey for our own use.
So we’ve decided to set up our Flow Hive 2 for 2019 with one brood box and will add the super once the brood has built out and leave the super in place all year. In 2020, if we feel the need, we can add a second brood box at the bottom of the stack as Hilary suggests in her Flow blog article: It’s Flow time! Setting Up and Preparing for Spring.
Allowing bees to swarm is fine as long as you have no neighbors.
Recently an irate neighbor of a flow hiver phoned me to offer me a small swarm that moved into his stag horn. That was the third swarm that moved into his yard. One of them set up residence in his wall cavity. He finished up fumigating them with a roach bomb. He was “NOT HAPPY, JAN”.
I have to worry about that in Point Loma. If our bees swarmed, our neighbors would throw attorneys and the City at us until we shut down. They are already blaming us for every bee sting in the neighborhood, so we are walking a very fine line here.
It is hard to answer you with anything definite as you have not given your location and this forum is world wide so what applies as good practice in the cold of Alaska or Canada would be bad practice in a tropical climate or sub-tropical climate. May I suggest you go back into your profile and fill it out fully, we are only too happy to give advise when you help us to help you.
Chet dropped off the forum a while ago, as far as activity is concerned. He has family who are keeping bees too, so hopefully all is well.
Hi Niomi, you should worry about allowing natural swarming of your bees, it won’t take long for neighbors to blame you for everything and anything to do with bees and that is not good for anyone. In bee keeping it is easy to follow best practice and would it not be better to do splits to control swarming and to sell off the extra hives for a profit and have friendly neighbors. Not everyone enjoys bees.
That might sound a bit harsh but it is reality.
Welcome to the forum, you will find lots of friendly helpful people here.
Fortunately for us, we live in a very rural part of San Diego County on 3+ acres, with NO close neighbors concerned about swarming bees. We have lots of wildlife and open space… Nothing like the high density where Dawn is located in Point Loma.
That sounds good but you still should apply best practice. 3 acres is not a lot of area when you consider a bee can fly up to 5 miles to forage from your hive and they will not stay in your property. Swarm control is a part of best practice and is easy to apply.
What will you do when your bees swarm and are located at a neighbors home under the eves for example? A swarmed hive is a weakened hive - an invitation for robbing from other bees. There is lots to consider if you decide to do nothing, including legal implications…
I hear your concerns… And personally I would think twice before keeping bees in a high density neighborhood, just because of all the safety and liability concerns…