Since it’s winter here in Germany I have a lot of time to read and think. I’ve been thinking and reading about swarming a lot recently and kept thinking about how heavy that flow super gets over time. I did have trouble lifting it last year when I wanted to inspect my hives. One time I tried to take it off just like that and all the brood frames underneath were stuck to the flow frames, with the excluder in between. When lifting the whole brood chamber was lifted (which was painful for my back) and then suddenly fell off und back to the box (which was surely painful for the colony) So after all that reading on top entrances I thought it might be possible to put the flow super underneath? The brood boxes would be perfectly accessible and since I do not need to take the honey super off for harvest, it should be fine, as the bees always want to put the honey far away from the entrance. And I wouldn’t need a drone escape, since all the brood would be above the excluder. Has anyone tried?
And then, how can I make top entrances, when I only have telescoping lids?
I think you are going to run into problems with bees not wanting to store honey below the brood and will still store it above in your ‘brood’ box and slowly fill the laying space. I am really keen to hear from anyone that has successfully run this ‘upside down’ configuration.
The others comments regarding top entrance and excluder placement etc. work for bees getting in and out.
I have commented in the past about running only top entrances… I don’t really agree because of the potential for debris build up and pests in the bottom of the hive. When running top entrances I always have a bottom entrance still available.
I believe Michael Bush has mentioned running only top entrances in the past.
I agree with RBK
Bees will ignore the Flow super entirely if you put it underneath. They will go on about their business in the brood boxes, store their honey there and swarm when they have run out of space.
Mr Warre liked using something like this configuration, and Warre hive beekeepers all nadir when they add boxes. However, they don’t use queen excluders, and so of course the queen can lay wherever she chooses. I have never kept a Warre hive myself, but I would bet that the queen tends to move down within the stack of boxes.
Yes she does but she moves down to normal brood cells made by the bees not deep Flow frame cells.
That remains to be seen! I am not doing the experiment, but I will be interested in the result if anyone does, as @RBK implies in his post.
Ok, I see, I’ll have to give it a try myself ^^ I’ll use a QE and previously filled flow frames, not the brand new ones, so the bees will be more attracted to use them.
Now can somebody melt down the stupid snow and turn up the heat, please? I hate winter…
I often nadir part filled frames after harvest as I start winter preps. The first thing the bees do is move all the honey into the brood box
I wouldn’t be surprised if the stored pollen in it below the brood as that happens quite a lot in a double brood ordinary box set up.
Please keep us all in the loop. I’ll be glad to be proved wrong as it will revolutionise Flow beekeeping.
Nadir means put them to the lowest point? I’m constantly learning new words here
Well, of course if I do try, I’ll just do it on one colony.
That is, IF I have bees left in spring… One hive died in december and I can’t check on the others right now., als we are deeply frozen…
It does, correct, well done.
IMHO, reordering the sequence would seem to “flow” against the wisdom of most beekeeping practices and I think against the very nature of bees themselves to follow the flow of heat (up) within a hive and to make use of every bit of it…brood rearing to honey ripening. In a lifetime of beekeeping, I’ve never seen bees “work down”…they follow the heat trail…unless we “infinitely meddling” humans mess with what they’ve done for millions of years.
My own experience in my locale is that top entrances are an accident waiting to happen from a number of perspectives: Easy to get robbing started, wrong direction of travel for most worker bees, and is likely to get gummed up as it is likely to be viewed as weakness in hive security. So for me, top entrances have never proven their value. Would you find your home so wonderful if you entered from the attic?
Some more reading for you : https://honeybeesuite.com/should-a-new-super-go-on-the-top-or-the-bottom/
I dont see why it wouldn’t work as bees in tree hollows work down from the top.
Give it a go and see what happens, you may have just inspired me to give it a go myself.
Although as you still need to check on the flow frames before harvesting it may just create more lifting.
Warre works differently as the comb at the top is backfilled with honey and the new brood comb moves down. As the hive expands more honey is placed above the brood (by the bees) and the brood moves down, which is why nadiring is used… this provides new space below the brood so it has space to expand down.
With this method honey is extracted by removing the top box (which essentially becomes the super). This hive and approach doesn’t attempt to place honey under the brood.
When the hive contracts the colony moves back up into the stores above.
The Warre method has the unfortunate side effect that all comb that holds honey was once brood comb, which Warre attempts to explain away in his book.
It’s interesting you mention excluders because what I call ‘modern’ Warre beekeepers claim these aren’t part of the warre system, but Warre himself mentions the use of mechanical excluders in his writings with his greatest criticism being their cost.
Warre was also strongly against the use of movable frames as he felt they were detrimental to the hive. The frames you commonly see referred to as ‘Warre’ frames with the missing bottom bar are a recent addendum to his original writings. He favoured fixed comb that was cut out + placed in cages for centrifugal extraction (another method that appears lost on modern Warre keepers who in my experience almost all crush + strain for extraction)
I think you will find in a tree, much like warre, the honey is still above the brood. Someone who has been involved in a lot of cut outs may be able to comment on this and confirm if this is the case.
Top supering and bottom supering both place the honey super above the brood.
This means … if you have a super on top of the brood box already do you put your second super on top of the super already there or under it, i.e. between the super and the brood box. There are advantages/ disadvantages to both methods. It doesn’t mean under the brood box
Recently I added onenew brood box to two colonies: one got it on top- and one underneath. The bees took to the one underneath much faster (though that just might be because that colony was stronger). The underneath box rapidly filled with brood- the top box hive quickly filled with 100 % honey - even with no excluder.
Bees like to put the honey upstairs- and I wouldn’t try to put a flow super at the bottom. Whilst it makes the brood easier to inspect- it also makes the flow super harder to inspect… perhaps next time to stop the boxes sticking twist the flow box after breaking the propolis seal. And if the flow box is too heavy you could remove half the frames - thought that would be a bit of a hassle…, get a helper?
I agree, and think of all that larval bee poo that is entering their honey…
I enjoyed his book, but I think there was quite a bit of faulty thinking in it, as you point out. I was very interested in his design for a centrifugal extractor, because like you, I was under the impression that with a top bar in the boxes, most people crush and strain rather attempting to spin the comb in an extractor. I really don’t think that Warre hives are for me though.
P.S. Free copy of an English translation of his book here:
Yeah the larval poo comment you have raised here is what has taken me back to the book in the past to find his comments on it.
The fact that the translation is so freely available under creative commons (a fantastic thing for knowledge) is partly why I find it strange that many Warre owners haven’t read it!
I have participated in the removal of a bee hive from a wall cavity (~90cm x 45cm x 10cm). The entrance was (outside) at the top of the wall, near the eave. This was also the top of the hive.
The bees had made one sheet of brood the full length of the cavity, approximately in centre and about 30cm wide. The brood was exposed once we took off the inside cladding and it was easy to cut it up and place it into frames. As I remember, there was no honey etc mixed with the brood. The honey was behind and beside the brood. We see a similar pattern in a brood box, in that, one or two of the outer frames are usually exclusively honey, for insulation.
I understand that bees naturally work from the top down and centre out.
I think the bees would accept an entry anywhere it occurred, as they would in a tree.