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To Flow or not to Flow....should I add Flow or traditional Super?


#1

Background: installed packages on April 15th. Two hives have developed at different rates, but so far both are progressing and are healthy. I added a second brood box to the stronger hive on June 1

On inspection this morning, that stronger South hive is bursting - so many bees, lots of brood in the bottom box, and both boxes heavy with brood and nectar. 99% drawn with comb, and top box (except for the two brood frames I moved there when I added the box) is almost completely filled with nectar.

Could it possibly be time to add a honey super to the strong hive? Not all of the nectar below is capped yet, but they are definitely using all the room I’ve given them.

My question is: Would it be better to simply add a medium box (I don’t have one on hand) and give the bees more stores for the winter, or is two deeps enough and I should see what happens with my flow frames?

I do plan on ordering a couple of medium boxes and frames (or should I stay with deep???) - on the assumption that even if my weaker hive catches up and needs more room, it will be late enough in the season that adding the flow frames would be pointless. Better to have them draw more comb and store in comb so they could use it over the winter.

(FWIW, I expect that the flow will continue here - I have three gigantic linden trees that will be blooming in the next 1-3 weeks. Plus we are close enough to town that, according to my bee class instructor, we shouldn’t really expect a dearth).

And to complicate matters, I leave on Friday for a week…

Any thoughts?

mb


#2

How do you get on with lifting the deeps? I can’t lift one on my own, and that could make harvesting traditional frames very difficult. I would go with the mediums, although it is easier if you only have one size for all of your hives. I mix box sizes in my traditional hives, because of the lifting issue.

I think you are wise to consider letting the bees have the honey for winter. In Colorado, they will very likely need it, and an extra medium would really give them a boost. I would put on a traditional box while you are away, then if the nectar flow is still strong when you get back, consider putting on the Flow super if the medium box is full.


#3

You mention a “strong hive” which means there is a “not strong hive”. It may be a good time to play Robin Hood and “rob from the rich and give to the poor.”


#4

Dawn,

Surprisingly, the deeps didn’t give me too much trouble today, but they were also at a good height for lifting. I’m pretty sure if I had another deep on top of the existing two, it would be awkward to lift. I’m short!

I called around today and didn’t have any luck finding local medium 8 frame supers, so I ordered some online. I doubt they will be here before I leave, so I’ll play things by ear.

mb


#5

If you ordered them from beethinking.com, you may well get them by Friday. My last order arrived in 3 or 4 days. :blush:


#6

Red_Hot,

You are correct…there is a hive that isn’t quite as advanced. I have to admit that it hadn’t occurred to me to interfere like that, even though the reason I decided to start with two hives was so they could help each other out in times of need!

If I were to do this, would I simply take two full frames of nectar from the strong hive and swap it with two nearly empty (only 10% drawn) frames from the weaker hive? Some questions:

  1. Does it matter if not all of the nectar is capped on the full frame?

  2. Should I brush off all of the bees from the frames I swap? Do bees get “rejected” when they are unceremoniously switched from hive to hive?

  3. If I do this, do I then have to worry about the weaker hive now running out of room?

It is intriguing…It is this darned vacation that is making me nervous about everything. I’m afraid that even if play Robin Hood as you suggest, the strong hive will build out and fill the nearly empty combs in the week I’m gone…and decide to swarm on me. That strong hive has managed to build out and fill 8 deep frames in less than a month (admittedly, with some syrup assistance before I cut them off). Roughly two frames a week. It could be close!

Very interested to hearing thoughts on my questions…and uncertainties!

Thanks,

mb


#7

I would equalize with capped brood and open nectar and heavy smoke so if there are some bees on the frames they all get confused as to who belongs where because the smoke is hiding the scents. MAKE SURE NOT TO GET THE QUEEN.

You could also swap hive positions as an added boost.


#8

It’s the MAKE SURE NOT TO GET THE QUEEN part that has me worried about swapping anything more than honey frames. While I did see the queens early on after installing the packages, I have yet to see either queen since. I know she is there - eggs, larva, capped brood - but I never see her!

So for now, let’s just say that equalizing brood is out of the question because I don’t have enough confidence to do it and be 100% sure the queen isn’t moved. Will there be enough of a boost to the weak hive to just put a frame or two of uncapped nectar in there? (And it needs a boost…I didn’t mention earlier that in trying to “fix” some wonky comb in the weaker hive, we inadvertently made it fall…and had to remove a chunk that was around 4x4 inches. There was a bit of a nectar spill…just hope that the queen wasn’t below that mess…)

Oh…if only those medium boxes would show up before I leave! Then I could just deal with moving things around after I got back!

mb


#9

You can give it a frame of nectar and switch positions. I forgot you are foundation-less so shaking the bees off to make sure there is no queen is risky. You could gently brush them off a frame of capped brood.

As you gain experience you’ll get a good idea of which frame she is on just by looking at it.


#10

How far apart are the hive, side by side, or spaced by feet apart.


#11

Thanks. Risky indeed! (As we learned the hard way, today). I try to get in there only when it is cool, but I might have pushed that a bit today.


#12

They are roughly side by side, about 6-8 feet apart. Oriented roughly to the East, though the stronger hive is rotated slightly (5-10 degrees) more southward.