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Total And Complete Newbie and Associated Dumb Questions


#1

Hello from Western Kentucky! Long time listener, first-time caller. Coming from the Bluegrass State, there are two things I’ve never owned. A prize-winning stallion in the Kentucky Derby, and a beehive. Got stepped on by a horse once when I was young. Grew up with an innate fear of stinging insects. On the latter… I can count on about three toes the number of bee stings I’ve had in my life. In the past few years, as my interest in mountain biking increased, I started coming face to face with all manner of stinging wasps (Giant European Hornets, Bald-Faced Hornets, and Yellowjackets specifically). And a few wild bee hives. I began to develop a great respect and interest in them, and have now become an amateur entomologist of sorts. I do not fear them now and go so far as to try and protect even Yellowjackets, asshats though they are. But, I bloviate.

For several years I have been thinking about getting into apiculture. I have a close cousin who is deeply invested in it. I live in a prime locale for this, on about three acres of mainly farmland with wooded sections. To this end, I recently purchased a Flow Hive 2. It ships August 2018. So now I feel like the proverbial dog chasing a car. I’ve caught it. Now what? I am just starting to immerse myself with videos and text about beekeeping. I have a special needs son I take care of in my retirement, so getting involved in a local club would be difficult for me at best. I do have a nice bee suit lined up through Honeyflow, and other accouterments.

But I have some basic questions.

Hive placement: I went from thinking I could park this hive right next to my screened in porch (naive I know) to a cozy place in a grassy field about 160 feet from my front door. It will face almost due South-East. It will get morning sun until probably 3~5 PM year-round, then be shaded from then till sunset for most of the year (depending on the deciduous tree leaf mass). Great protection from our winds out of the North-West. There is a natural pond in a wooded area 50 feet away. Honeysuckle abounds just behind the next. The only disturbance to them would be my driveway (facing away from the hive opening) about 25 feet from the hive. It would hardly be visible because of the honeysuckle. Does this sound like good placement?

Bees between now and August: I am under the assumption that getting the Flow Hive 2 in August, building it, placing it, learning it, will give me little if any time to actually introduce bees to it before the onset of Fall. We don’t generally get freezing temperatures until November (fleeting; I’m usually still cutting grass up until late November), and it can climb well into the mid to upper 60F’s into December. So what do I do? I’m thinking wait until Spring of 2019 to dive into the Flow Hive.

Jump in now: Then I thought about visiting a local bee company (by staggering coincidence there is one in the next big town up the Interstate) and buying a hive. Just a standard Langstroth. Something to learn on and get started this Spring, 2018. As in next week. And this is a really dumb question. Can hives just be left to their own devices? Could I purchase a “starter hive” and a nuk of bees (Langstroth), bring the two together and see what happens? Monitor them, check on their health, learn from them. And, then (if I did this) can these bees, assuming they survive, then be introduced to the Flow Hive next year? Or does one simply get a nuk for the second hive?

That’s enough banter for now. Sorry to ask so many questions, the answers to which are no doubt here and there. But I’ve been sorting through so many pages about all this, feeling a little overwhelmed. Here is a picture of my property and where I plan on placing the Flow Hive 2

Thanks, y’all! Chris


#2

Hey Chris,

Welcome to Beekeeping and the forum. You’ll get more thorough replies. I’m in my second season, so take what I say as you see fit.

Don’t waste your spring. Get a basic langstroth setup and buy a nucleus ASAP. You’ll always use any equipment you buy. The Flowhive technology is all about harvesting, but still a langstroth brood Box. You can transfer your colony to the Flow2 when it arrives. You’ll learn more by putting into practice the theory you learn online and in any class you may attend.

Your site sounds good to me.

If I was starting again, I would get two hives from the get go. It’s not much more work with only eight more frames to inspect. If your hive suffers a setback of any sort, you can boost it from the strong neighbour hive. Otherwise, it may not make it and you have to start over. Once you get hooked, you’ll want to expand anyway.

You definitely do not leave hives to their own devices. Check with local beekeepers for inspection frequency at each time of year. You’ll be checking for and responding to pests and diseases, brood numbers and health, food stores. If left too long, a problem could wipe out your colony that otherwise may have been simple to rectify.

It sounds more work than it is and it is incredibly rewarding. BTW don’t pay any attention to those old beeks that preach about the sins of Flow.

Cheers,
Mike


#3

Old beeks, got it. I was already expecting this.

Thank you for this, especially. Taking notes. Two hives. I will research this at my local beeler.

Deep thougth…

CG


#4

I agree with @aussiemike start with two hives. I had one that swarmed almost a month after I got the two nuc’s. It was weak and I used a frame of bees from the strong hive to build it up to get it thru the winter. As long as you get the langstroth boxes that match the size of the flow hive you ordered you will be fine. In most cases you wouldn’t get much honey the first year anyway and if you aren’t expecting the flow hive until August there isn’t much time for the bees to fill in and start storing nectar. Get some bees and begin the learning process!


#5

Thank you both so much. So, two hives. I think I can pull that off. Observe them, check their health, let them do their thing. Tend them. Next year (if I am lucky) transfer one to the Flow Hive in Spring 2019, yes? Or just get another hive for it?

I have done a lot of additional research about Flow Hive in the past day. Blogs, videos. It is starting to remind me of when I started collecting Thompsons submachine guns (Tommy guns). My first was a West Hurley (read: Flow Hive). The Colt Purist (read: traditional Langstroth) pounced. I see where you are coming from @aussiemike about “old beeks”. I feel like when I go to my local bee store, I might be better off just not even making mention.

My current plan is to obtain two standard “Langstroth boxes that match the size of the flow hive” I ordered, @John_Yeager, and attempt to establish them. Learn. Observe. Then, come Spring 2019, introduce the Flow Hive 2.

I think I already know the answer to this, as honey is what bees live for, but one does not necessarily have to do a harvest from a hive correct? They can just be allowed to overwinter (all other duties notwithstanding).

Leaning more toward the bees over me, I am not very interested in getting all the gear necessary to harvest honey the conventional way. I’d just as soon let them keep it. My fascination with bees is more from an observational standpoint. Though I clearly understand the human aspect of keeping them healthy and safe. To that end, the Flow Hive 2 will be my way of getting a little honey of my own. And perhaps a bit easier on me and the bees. But, much like good Moonshine, I’d be happy with a few jars of XXX as opposed to gallons of harsh X. I am more interested in the beauty of the Flow Hive than stealing the bees honey. Does this make sense? It will be a very complex conversation piece for me and my family.

Sorry for the ramble, but with all the positive and negative comments I read today about the Flow Hive, I am waxing… CG

Chris


#6

Be careful with what you wish for, whilst you may have a plan for letting them live the way they should, the bees on the other hand will have a different plan. I think most of us have learned this the hard way. What I have found is that if I do not take the honey from them on a regular basis then the bees will either make a great big mess of the hive or leave. Its called “honeybound”, they will fill the super (or Flow) frames and then will fill the brood area with honey… they just can’t help it. Weird I know but its pre-programmed.
I like to replace a third of the brood frames every year and the super frames every couple of years, this basically keeps the hive refreshed, clean comb and the colony will hum along nicely.


#7

I imagine that most Beekeepers in your area have two deep brood boxes. Try to get them both to that point. If they do produce a lot of honey give them some new frames to build out. Keep the honey frames and put them back if they need it to get thru the winter. If not I guess you have some honey for yourself.

Have fun and ask questions if you need too. This forum is great for all Beekeepers not just flow hivers!


#8

Well, it is April 7 here in Kentucky. 28F and snowing. Accepting that it will easily be next year (2019) before I have my Flow Hive 2 up and running (read: built), a question…

I am planning on the purchase of a standard Langstroth type hive from a local bee supply place up the road. How late in the year can you introduce bees? Looking like it may be May here before the temperatures rise. Ironically, the local beekeepers group had their Spring Bee Fest this weekend! And it’s downright cold outside…

Thanks! Chris.


#9

It depends… :wink:

If you are talking about packages, I would have thought May is about the latest sensible time. They need enough time in a good nectar flow to draw comb and lay down stores for the winter.

If you are getting a nucleus, it may be fine up to September, but you might have to feed it a lot, and really baby it over winter. I would get some follower (dummy) boards, and even a wood nucleus box, so that you can shrink the space they need to heat over winter in case they are not thriving by the Fall.

For a beginning beekeeper, I would say that after about March, the earlier you start in the year, the better. You are more likely to succeed if you set up in early spring.


#10

I agree with @Dawn_SD and as you are just starting out the best time to start would be in the Spring. I accept you are mad keen to get going but if you have a harsh winter you will not be doing a favor for yourself or the bees to start earlier.
When you get going in the Spring don’t straight away put a flow hive on the hive, wait till the hive has frames full of brood and honey then rub some wax on the Flow Hive comb, that seems to make them more acceptable to the bees to use them. Heat up some wax in a saucepan placed into another saucepan with water in it on the stove and with a 2 inch paint roller apply some wax over the flow hive comb. Hope that helps you decide… It is really disheartening to loose a hive in your first winter…