It would be interesting to look inside one of your undisturbed wide spaced hives and see what efforts the bees go to when moving from one wide spaced frame to the other. In standard spaced hives the bees can effortlessly move from one frame to the next at any point.
Put it into perspective. We’re talking 3mm = 1/8th of an inch.
Hi @Springa, like @skeggley said, do it on a warm sunny day. However, what we expect as warm sunny days here in Perth are becoming less frequent than they have been the last few months! Based on my experience with my hive the key is a low to moderate wind day; moderate to high winds and my bees get a bit cranky…
Given your previous comments about your confidence, and out of interest, do you need an Epi pen in the event you are stung by bees? If not, then just try to remind yourself to remain calm and move at a slow to normal speed (not rushed) and remember your protection.
In your situation, I would suggest that protection be a full length bee suit with taped ankles (ensure the suit/tape cover the top of your shoes). Also, gloves are a must. If you’re really concerned about getting stung make sure you wear long (loose) clothes under your bee suit but remember to drink a decent amount of water beforehand as a bee suit gets very warm very fast and you’ll probably sweat a lot (be mindful of dehydration).
You should be aware that bee suits don’t stop you getting stung. They just reduce the chances. Layering helps but bees can still sting you through denim!
Again, assuming you don’t need an Epi pen, make sure you have a couple of antihistamines at hand. Also, there are two main types I come across in the pharmacy - loratidine and something else I can’t recall at the moment. I found one of them works better for me than the other, so if you’re using one type and don’t think it’s working go have a chat with the pharmacist.
Above all, have confidence in yourself and, in the absence of someone assisting you, talk yourself through each step to try and help calm your nerves.
Oh, I’m going to also guess you should avoid an inspection around 2pm (but watch your hive to determine the time). 2pm is about the time each day the young bees fly out of my hive for their orientation flights. There’s a literal buzz of activity for about 20mins and then things settle down. You might that a bit unnerving if that’s when you’re starting your inspection.
Let us know how you go.
@springa another thing to let you know is that if a bee stings your suit you should try to scrape the sting out with your hive tool. Don’t worry too much if you can’t get it out but if you can it will help deter other bees from coming to sting you too… The thing you must do, in your situation, is puff a little smoke over the stinger/where the sting went in. This will help mask the pheromone that is released and help minimise the likelihood of other bees coming to inspect…and possibly sting.
And if it all gets overwhelming, don’t panic. Just walk a few metres away from your hive. Relax for a few moments, and then go back and methodically close up your hive for the day and until you go back to continue the next day or week.
Beekeeping is meant to be enjoyable, not stressful.
Hiya Jeff, as the majority of Flow hives are 8 frame would having 7 frames in the bb be advised?
Also I find when I’m refitting frames I slide along the shoulders which moves the bees aside lessening the chance of killing or trapping bees, how is this done when keeping a space between them?
Hi Skegley, I would not advise using 7 frames in an 8 frame super because there is already a considerable gap after the 8 frames are fitted, whereas with 10 frame supers, 10 frames are relatively tight. The smaller a super is, the larger the gap there is by omitting one frame. An extreme example is: if you remove one frame from a 4 frame nuc, you finish up with a 9-10mm gap between the remaining 3 frames & the sides, which I wouldn’t recommend.
I’m not really sure what you’re doing, so I find it hard to answer your second question. I find it much easier to remove the first frame when doing inspections. I guess if I was to slide multiple frames, the propolis between the shoulders would prevent frames from squashing bees. I don’t think I slide multiple frames. I’m pretty sure that I move them one by one. I get a propolis buildup around the frame lugs, which I use as a guide when replacing frames.
I hope this helps, cheers
Thanks Alan, great response. I think I’ll just leave them alone for while. The burr comb and the comb joining the frames looks extensive. Can I just push them closer or do I have to cut the comb then push it together. Bee stings are ok. Made a few mistakes on my first foray but have learnt and have antihistamines handy.
Hi @Springa, the ability to simply push the frames together to close the gap depends on what the bees have done (i.e. how they’ve built the frames out). If you’ve caught it early enough you might be able to get away with it. If not, then it is either unlikely to solve the problem or potentially give you another issue. The only certain way to tell is to actually take a look in the brood and box. However, given the current weather forecast it’s going to be a number of days before that occurs…
@springa, another three routes you could take to solve the problem that are less intensive for you but they do potentially involve waste and/or death…
- Inspect the brood chamber
- Identify frames that aren’t built out and keep them
- Identify frames that are excessively built out and discard them
- Insert new wax foundation frames (buy them from BeeWise, Guilfoyles etc) ensuring you push the frames as close together as practicable
NOTE that this option is the easiest but could devastate your colony. I don’t recommend it but it is an option
- Inspect the brood chamber
- Identify frames that aren’t built out and keep them
- Identify frames that are excessively built out and move them to the super (remove a flow frame or two to accommodate this re-arranging but ensure you push everything as close as practicably together while maintaining the bee space; you don’t want the built out wax press up tight against the FF)
- Insert new wax foundation frames in the empty spots (buy them from BeeWise, Guilfoyles etc) ensuring to push your frames close together
- Install your QX
- Place the super on top of the brood. Monitor the progress of the frames you’ve swapped and installed over a couple of weeks (inspecting once per week). You should see brood emerge and (hopefully) honey moved too. Once you’re happy enough/all of the brood above the QX have emerged remove the frames from the super, reinstall the the FF, and manage the hive appropriately (which probably means leaving the super off)
NOTE that this option reduces the carnage, will give you beeswax, and might enable you to get cut comb for your own personal consumption (so long as you don’t mind any casings left in the brood comb…)
- As per option 1 except checkerboard the new frames in the brood box, discarding up to 4 of the most built-out or problematic
NOTE that this option should give your best outcome for ongoing management of your hive but you will need to inspect early in the next season (Sept) and monitor to ensure there is sufficient depth in the cells of the empty frames you inserted to facilitate raising of the brood.
Any of the above options are less ideal than working the frames you currently have. Given there is no big nectar flow on currently you could potentially decimate your colony size and/or their food stores. If you take any of the above options I’d still recommend monitoring of your hives stores as you might need to feed to help them through the colder months.
Thanks to all. Info overload and I have lots of ideas. I will call this resolved for now. I’ll let you know what happens in the future.
Correct me if my visualization is wrong but I would expect that the bees build the comb out deeper at the top honey arch and the brood section is standard depth to suit the size of the brood. This would give the bees more honey and pollen storage (deeper cells) close to the brood but also discourages the bees from using the end frames for storage and or the flow frames.
As I have mentioned elsewhere I leave my flow super on all year round and the goal for me is to minimize the honey stores in the brood box and encourage the use of the flow frames for honey storage. This philosophy applies for my vertical and my horizontal flow hive
I see your point, however with one extra frame in the brood, I’d suspect the 10th frame would be taken up with the honey that’s not in the fat combs, if that makes sense. What I’m saying is the same amount of honey would still be below the QX.
The amount of honey you’re talking about is minuscule compared to how much honey they produce during a decent honey flow. Once you’ve been through a honey flow, your theories will no longer seem significant.
I’ve just finished extracting honey. One of the boxes was from a colony that has produced it’s 2nd full box (25kgs) since I set it up some time after the new year. It has 9 brood frames in a ten frame super, like all the rest of my hives.