Please Help any advice would be appreciated. On April 6th my hive was doing so good I decided to put the flow hive honey super on my hive. The weather is in the 30-35 at night and 45ish during the day. The first few days I saw them in the new super looking like they were prepping the cells. A few days ago I am noticing more dead bees on the bottom board and a lot more moisture. How do I get rid of the extra moisture? It seems to be pooling up on the outer edges?
welcome to the forum Britany, you will get lots of reading and good sound advice from the members here.
A very common mistake made by beginners is adding the super way before the colony needs it and that can knock the colony about in a big way.
Was at least 80% of the cells of all the frames of the brood box in use for either brood, honey, nectar or pollen? Was every frame virtually covered in bees making it a bit hard to see the comb and cells? What prep did you do to the Flow Frames before fitting the super, did you wash the frames in a mild detergent warm water and when they had dried did you add some bur comb over the Flow frame cells?
My hive was an overwintered hive that I took no honey from. It was looking really full so before they got the notion to want to swarm I put the honey super on. The first few days I saw them in the center two frames looking like they were preparing for honey. But about a week later I noticed tons of moisture and dead bees( not a ton but more than I have been noticing) on my bottom board. This is my first time putting on the honey super and did nothing to prep it. I am wondering if there is not enough ventilation as I have a langstroth cover on instead of the flow cover?
I have Langstroth migratory roof on my hives but do have vents in them for my subtropical climate. You could put a nail between the roof and the top of the super to increase the air flow if humidity is really high but don’t over do it. Bees don’t like being wet, or even damp.
I get good result by melting some bur comb and using cheap crappy paint brush to brush the molten wax over the comb. That will give the bees wax to work with if they are not able to forage well. It takes 6 kg of honey for the bees to produce 1 kg of wax – so even cool climate can hold the bees back waiting on a nectar flow. Even consider feeding 1:1 water/sugar to give them a boost, something isn’t just right. To some extent I’m going on hunches but hey, if someone can come in with something to help come on in. I’m no cold climate guru but I keep thinking it is about the super as this is only an issue since the super was added to the hive. Maybe added too soon in the Spring.
Bees won’t work a super until there is enough nectar about and thy need the extra cells to store it.
I will try to vent the top more and see how that goes… I will check back in tomorrow with updates.
Thank you for your help!
Hi @Britany5588, welcome.
Too much moisture can be deadly for the bees in Winter. There are a lot of resources on this site with regard moisture. Type “moisture” in the search box (that spy glass thingie top right) and you will get a better understanding.
There are many ways to control moisture and the best one for you is the method you choose after reading all the alternatives and very importantly speaking with other beekeepers in your area. Climate is a big factor.
Some have lots of ventilation others have none and rely on the bees to control. In your case obviously the bees aren’t controlling it.
After going through the info and your still worried come back and tell us where you think you might go, but need more advice on specifics
Hey Britany, welcome! Jumping in as a fellow NE USA beek I want to first congratulate you for a successful overwintering! It looks like you have a single brood box, am I right? I’m going to agree with Peter and Wilfred about tweaking your setup. Here in PA we’ve had a lot of rain, high winds and cold nights - lasting longer into spring than usual I’d say. Since the winter was milder, my surviving colony really took off and actually swarmed on March 29th! Other beeks in my area also had swarms on the same day and nobody was prepared, because it has been too dang cold to open up hives for full inspection.
Meanwhile, the forage sources are abundant and longer-lasting with the low but not freezing temps. At the same time, there still are hardly any calm, dry days above 60F. In your area it might be even colder - especially at night, causing your bees to have to cluster instead of move freely and keep working inside the hive every night, leading to longer nectar-curing times and slower am starts.
It’s a very tricky season! I think we need to treat it like an extension of winter. In your case, I’d suggest to:
Take off the super and put a second brood box on.
Check with locals to see if they recommend any specific type of insulation. I use it under lids and on sides.
Let the Flow frames dry out fully, then brush some melted beeswax on them if you have any. If not, plan on saving bits of burr comb at your next inspection. You don’t need much. Put the frames back into the super and set it aside in a cool, dry place for a little longer.
I think this would help them focus on raising brood now, and be in a better spot to put the super back on in a few more weeks.
Thank you! I have a two deep brood box and the flow honey super sitting on top. It appears that they are overflowing into the very moist flow honey super or they are working up there… they are currently in the middle most frame of the honey super. It is too cold out to remove the honey super… I checked on them this morning as we had a cold rain storm last night. I can see a a few froze to death but I do not have a entrance reducer on… i am wondering if I should put the entrance reducer on medium until it warms back up. The biggest problem I currently have is way too much moisture in my flow hive so they look like they are struggling to stay warm but I am only a second year beekeepers and this is my first spring with overwintering…
Thank you I wish I could provide a video but this platform doesn’t allow it.
Try reducing the entrance to 3 to 4" wide.
There is a way of getting a video to us by saving it to YouTube then posting a link to it. Something I know zip about and never done it myself but @Dawn_SD has often explained how to do it on the forum.
Today I reduced the entrance and put the flow hive cover on which has more ventilation… I will check back in with updates. Today I can see bees in the flow honey super even though it is super wet. In a few days the weather is looking warmer so I will check back in then. Thank you all! Fingers crossed it dries up.
Hello there Britany,
a few things:
here in South Australia where I am - in winter we can get condensation just like in your hive in our flow super. Especially so when the flow frames are empty- bees don’t keep them warm and moisture condenses on them. For that reason we often remove our flow super for the winter months. Also to stop honey crystalising in the frames.
I guess you are in spring now but the weather is still cold at night? I have not tried this- but I think one option for you to consider would be to use a quilt box/moisture quilt. This is a box with mesh on the bottom- vent holes on the sides and some kind of insulation material in it. They allow the bees to stay warm whilst absorbing excess moisture. You can get them from bee equipment suppliers in the USA or you could make one yourself easily enough. I plan to make some in a few weeks to put onto my own hives this winter. You can read about them here:
on that site there are some updates about using and making the quilt boxes- have a look around. I have heard some beekeepers here in Australia say they do not work- whilst others swear by them. I think in areas like NSW- bees produce a lot more proplis than they do here in SA- bees can entirely propolise up the mesh on a quilt box rendering it superfluous. I don’t think they will do that here. Quilt boxes can also make very fine ant nests- with under floor heating- so keep an eye on any ant issues…
The next thing that occurred to me looking at your photos: are your hives cedar or pine? And is the wood treated in any way? It looks raw- if it is pine it will rot very fast like that. If it is cedar it could definitely from an application of Tung oil of you haven’t already done that.
Omg!!! Amazing I am making this tomorrow!