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Super - ready or not?

western-australia
#1

Continuing the discussion from Perth (WA, AU) Flowhives and honey flow:

I am unsure if my flow super combs are correctly set up for the bees to join up and fill. I used the key as instructed before I finished putting together the flow hive.However, I looked in the window yesterday and they don’t look ‘flat’ or in a position that would allow the bees to add the wax to join up the shape. Any thoughts?
Springa

#2

Can you post a photo so we can better understand? The frames won’t be flat (every alternating segment will be a different height) but the cells should line up. The bees build out the last bit before filling and capping.

From memory you’ve only just started your hive… So I’d be surprised if you’re colony is sufficiently strong/big enough to warrant a honey super. When you last did your brood inspection how much of each frame on average would you say was covered with bees (living bees, not brood)? 50%? 80%?

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#3

Thanks yes, I will be looking this weekend. They were overflowing their last box with burr comb rising out of one box into the next so I ‘assumed’ they needed more room so put the super on hoping they were and to avoid a swarm.

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#4

That’s a reasonable assumption. You’ll get a good idea after your inspection :+1:

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#5

Spring,

Alan brought up a great point … is your hive ready for any additions yet ( don’t get the cart ahead of the horse, mom use to say.

I’m up here near Seattle n starting our 2019 Honey :honey_pot: season. I’ve just installed 2 new Nuc’s of :honeybee: need to help replace winter loss n die-outs.

I’m not familiar as Alan will be able your local honey season (semi-tropical = year around harvest or temperate = meaning 4 to maybe 6 months of nectar flow) … but guessing your flow might be slowing down … if so it’s not time to be adding supers of any kind … but I’d check with your locals on that one …

I’m going to write another article here next n add flow-frame pix’s. Flow-hive .com has a nice collection of learning n product videos that will be most useful !

Good luck,

Gerald

#6

Spring,

Before using any Flow-hive frames they should be careful inspected n operated before installation to see the the frame plastic cells are okay, the fighting wires are tight n using the provided flow-frame key seeing it operates the frame. I do that for two reasons 1) see the frame operates n 2) to refamilarize myself on the operation. I’m guessing you didn’t do that part as your questioning one frame looking thru the observer window.

This weekend I’d make sure your bees are ready for a super of any kind n pull off the Flow-super … pull each frame (All six) inspect, operate (a time or two)(I insert the key only 1/3 then 1/3 deeper, n finally all the way in). This step process help ease the full one full depth resistance ! This is recommended by Flow-hive too.

When this full inspection n operation is completed … if your bees are ready n you have a strong nectar flow then reinstalll the Flow-Super … if not … i’d store the super until really needed.

Here are a couple pix’s of open n closed cells… My frames are used so have stains, wax n propolus on them already.

Hopefully these actual photos will be visually helpful. Take some pix’s n post. We love to see others Apiary n hives works.

Good luck :four_leaf_clover:,

Gerald

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#7

I had an inspection today but could not do much, too scared, too careful, too confused. Anyway, all I can tell you is there is a lot of activity, good, but the frames are all glued together and I don’t know where to start and how long it will take to extract any frames for any kind of inspection. Sigh, I’m too inexperienced to take any risks. However, The super is crawling with little workers so that’s a good thing. Any comments, advice, please.

#8

Really appreciate your answer and advice. Will take the super apart tomorrow and do the thing. I did just put the key in and turn it. It clicked and moved so I thought it was ok. So will do it properly tomorrow. Thanks.

#9

Hi @springa, they’ve forecast rain for tomorrow and 25-30 km/h winds. I’d advise against an inspection based on how you just described your confidence; an inspection tomorrow will be alot more difficult then it would have been today.

Your problem with the bridging comb is that your frames aren’t squashed together. This often results in the ‘bee space’ being too big, so they fill it with comb. My advice to you is on the next good (weather) day you need to get into your hive, scrape away excess/bridging comb, and push the frames together - leaving any gap on the outside of frame #1 and #8.

The photos are good but don’t allow us to see the frames or into the box so we can’t really comment with any certainty on if it was appropriate to put a super on. My guess - and it is a guess - is that it’s a bit premature, especially as the main nectar flow(s) for the season are over. If you put the super on, in WA, you shouldn’t have too much of an issue with pests but it’s very unlikely you’ll have a harvest before winter. As this is your first season I would strongly advise you shrink back to just your brood box, at least for July and August this year.

The wax you’re getting on top of the frames is normal.

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#10

Ok no problem. Can I just take the super off with bees in it and pull out all the combs and leave them out till the bees leave? Or can I check the alignment of the frames with the key and then once all the bees have moved I can then put them back in the box, remove the super until at least July this year.Yes?

#11

Hi @springa. You are going to have a lot of death and destruction trying to separate those frames. They are far too far apart and the bees just bridge them together.

I am not sure if you get honey all year round in the suburbs. If you do then go to work on those frames. First though you will need to do a lot of reading on “bridging comb” and “burr comb” This is not an easy job for an inexperienced beek. You will learn but set aside a lot of time and be suited up as you will have a lot of angry bees.

If you don’t get honey all year round but in Spring/Summer then leave it alone. The bees will need a lot of stocks to get through Winter. Tackle the job come Spring (from the pics it cannot get too much worse).
In the mean time you may be able to find a mentor, to help you along to get confidence. Bearing in mind the only way to skill up is to get in and do.

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#12

Thanks. Will speak to some folks and see the best course of action in my area. Thank you.

#13

Given location being similar she should get nectar all through the year to sustain the colony. It won’t be anywhere near enough to harvest in winter though.

#14

Happy not to harvest till spring? So I can leave it for now and let the bees do what they need to.

#15

You just need to get your brood box in order

#16

Can I do that now? - I think I will get some help in for that. Thanks Alan

#17

Hey Springer, did you glue the frames when assembling? The mechanical strength with the nail driven vertically is not great and may be an issue when you pry those frames out to clean them up.
As the others have said, the frame shoulders should be touching. Grab a spare box, start from the outside and work your way in keeping an eye out for the queen. If you find her put that frame in the spare box to keep safe while you clean up the others but keep them in order. :wink: Once you get started it won’t be too bad, slow and steady.
Do it on a warm sunny day.

#18

Hi Springa, my advice is similar except I suggest to evenly space the frames. This is what works for me, I leave about a 3mil gap either side from the frame shoulders, then evenly space the frames. Roughly 3mils between each shoulder.

It’s a good idea to engage help. The person you engage will have his/her ideas on frame spacing & will probably have a convincing argument as to the reasons why.

If the person you engage is experienced, it wont help to say for example: “but someone on the forum said it should be done a different way”.

#19

Everyone knows the rule, “ask three beekeepers and get four answers”

Correct bee space prevents bridging comb.
Correct frame spacing prevents bridging comb.

Any vertical or horizontal gap that the bees must pass over to get somewhere greater than 9-10mm encourages bridging comb to assist the bees with access between the two. After all, they can only reach so far.

Apis mellifera like to build honeycomb deeper than brood comb. Standard Langstroth frames with the shoulders touching allow two bees to work back to back on the frames and encourages brood production, not long term honey storage.

If the bees can only store a small amount of honey in the brood frames, honey arch, they will be encouraged to use the flow frames for longer-term stores and move honey stores up into the flow frames during flows.

Apis mellifera in Western Australia appear to work well in the single brood box, eight frame Langstroth hives for non-commercial beekeepers. The bees use the inner six frames for brood and when no flow is happening or when preparing for the winter period the outer two frames for longer-term honey stores.

Eight frame Langstroth hives have a gap at the side when all eight frames are pushed together. if you centre the eight frames, shoulder to shoulder, with the wider dead space between the outer frames and the walls evenly spaced you will encourage maximum brood production and allow the bees a private reserve of honey on the outside of the outer frames.

Alternately if you centre the six middle frames shoulder to shoulder and provide an evenly spaced gap between the grouped inner six frames, the outside frames and the walls you will potentially get two double-sided honey frames that could be used for cut comb :slight_smile: of course they will move the honey up into the flow frames and use these two frames for brood if the flow frames are available if they need to use them for brood.

One way to learn about bees is to watch them at work, undisturbed.
My YouTube Channel, [click this link] is streaming live video from inside my horizontal hive most of the time.

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#20

Ask 3 beekeepers a question, you’ll probably only get 3 answers, however they might be all different. It’s what works best for each individual. How to decide which one is best for you? The only way is to try them out & see what works best.

I’ve been evenly spacing 9 brood frames in 10 frame boxes for just over 30 years. It works brilliantly for me in my sub-tropical climate. I think it helps in hot weather to eliminate bearding, I get very little of that. It must give them more space to move air around, is my thinking.