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What is the flow hive batting average?


#1

Hello,

This is my second season with the flow hive and the bees don’t like them. Since I live in NE Ohio and need two full boxes for the bees to survive the winter I put the flow hive on in early August last year. After a couple of days I checked the side window and saw a lot of bees so that was great. A few days later I checked again and I only saw a few. A week later and thereafter when I checked, there weren’t any. Bummer! Then I read in the Forum that rubbing beeswax on the flow frames may help the bees accept them. So I did that this year when I added the flow frames in mid-July. Lo and behold the bees were in the flow frames for the next three months. That’s the good news. The bad news is they just walked around and in and out of the cells for three months and that’s all they did. There is virtually no honey in any of the seven frames! Well, ok, there are about 30 capped cells so maybe there is an ounce of honey. So my flow hive frames batting average is virtually zero. Speaking of an overall batting average, I’d like to know how many people that bought flow hives are getting honey. If it’s not at least 8 or 9 out of ten then this product should never have been marketed. It’s been a waste of my time and money the last two years. How can I trust it working next year? With the Flow Hive, the only thing I’m doing is providing a home for the bees to store two boxes of honey in traditional frames to use during the winter and some flow frames that provide a nice exercise room for the bees to walk around and stretch out. Although I’m happy to help the bees and nature, I would like to get some honey. If someone has an idea what to do to make a flow hive successful then let me know. Otherwise I’ll switch to the traditional way since it at least works and the bees will just have to do without the flow frame exercise room addition. I can’t take another year of nothing.

Regards,

Lance


#2

I only read your last sentence. “I can’t take another year of nothing” With that in mind & the results of @BigBadBob being seven. Even if we only use yours & Bob’s, that gives a batting average of 3.5


#3

Hi Lance, I have to ask, how much honey have you taken from your double brood box? Are the bees depositing honey in the brood chamber instead of in your Flow super? Are they stored any honey in burr comb around the frames, on top of the brood and Flow supers or in the roof? If you are not taking honey from your brood boxes then there is something not right with either your location or your bees.
Bees are genetically programmed hoarders so if there is a lot of nectar in your area then they will collect and store it. What is the nectar flow like in your vicinity? Successful commercial beekeepers train as beekeepers and pursue horticulture as a passion knowing the floral activity in their region and understanding the nectar and pollen of each flowering species for the time of year, they know when to drop their hives off and retrieve them based on the flowering timetable. Another consideration is the amount of bees in your hive, a packed beehive means lots of foragers, if you only have a light scattering of bees across all your frames then that may not be enough. Alternatively, not all bees are equal, some colonies will hoard honey better than others, from experience I have found the italian bees provided by some well marketed breeders are poor at honey production whilst others of the same species from unknown breeders have been excellent. My local bee club has the very same issue as you and after taking a look and listening to their complaints, they were advised to either re-queen or move to better location, there’s nothing wrong with the Flow super, but many other factors to consider.


#4

Hello Rodderick,

Thanks for your reply. I don’t take any honey from the double brood box since they need two full boxes to survive the winter. A bee keeper friend told me the bees will go to the highest location to store honey so I waited until all the frames of the two brood boxes had combs before adding the third box with the flow frames. The flow frame box was full of bees when I took it off today. I left it by the hive and when I went back six hours later to retrieve it there was a huge beard on the front of the two boxes since they had no room to go back in. So then I shook the remaining bees out and took the box back to remove the flow frames. Then I went back to put the empty box back on. When I took the flow hive roof off the two brood boxes the roof was entirely full with about four or five inches of bees in the entire roof area. I brushed them away and I put the empty box on with two empty frames in case they can make use of them before it gets too cold and to provide them more room for the winter. I put a board over the empty top box so the bees cannot go into the roof area and then I put the roof back on. That’s what I do. I don’t allow the bees to go into the roof area and I don’t allow the queen to go into the flow frame box either, since I have a queen extruder underneath it. Whether that is a possible reason why the bees aren’t putting honey there I don’t know, but I read on the forum that many bee keepers don’t allow the queen into the flow frame box so I prefer to do that also rather than risk brood being there.

I haven’t checked the two brood boxes for honey since that is the honey they need for the winter. However, all fourteen frames of the two boxes have full combs so they most likely are full of honey. There is a huge orchard a half mile away and a wildlife sanctuary a quarter mile away with a large meadow so the nectar flow is above average. A friend of mine that lives six miles from me started bee keeping this year using the traditional boxes. He started with two boxes and added seven more since his bees kept swarming. In fact, since my bees didn’t survive the winter I took a brood box to him in the spring and he got a swarm for me and they filled the box and then they had no more room so I brought him the second box. After that was half full I took the two boxes home. That stuff that you can’t move a bee hive more than three feet away from its original location or the bees won’t be able to find the hive is not true. With the hive being moved six miles away, I was afraid it would be a problem, but it wasn’t. The bees foraged and found the hive again with no issues. Anyway, I’m going to help my friend harvest his honey this month and will learn how to do it the traditional way. Next year I’ll get some traditional boxes. I’ll put the flow frame box out also to give it another try, but if I don’t see any capped cells within a few weeks I’ll replace it with a traditional box since I’m not going to have them walk aimlessly around all summer again doing nothing. BTW, there was a lot of honey in the two brood boxes from last year since the bees hadn’t used it all since they had died during the winter. A lot of local bee keepers lost some or all of their bees due to the odd winter we had. There were huge temperature changes in late winter, such as 70 and 80 degree days in early February and then freezing temperatures again. The extreme temperature changes are bad for bees, worse than constant cold, is what a bee keeper with many years experience told me.

Regards,

Lance


#5

Hi Lance, I get your frustration, as I too have had a slow start with my Flow, but I would like to build on what Roderick has suggested, but also just say that when you are working with bees- who don’t always follow the rules and are unpredictable-it’s tricky, and their are tons of variables to juggle. It’s not as easy as buying a coffee grinder :hugs:

We had a different issue with our Flow hybrid, in that the bees preferred to put honey in their naturally drawn combs, and used the Flow for nectar storage. But we still harvested 30 pounds of cut-comb honey from the hive. Next year we won’t be giving them the extra medium so they will be forced to fill and cap the Flow frames. We too always leave lots of honey to get the bees through the winter as we do not like to feed sugar. Always something new to learn every season of keeping bees.


#6

in my family we now have 6 flow hives in operation. 5 of them have been running for at least one full season- 3 of them for two. All of them have and are producing honey. So our batting average is good! Most of these hives have just a single brood box.


#7

I believe that you may be adding the Flow super way too late. It should be on the hive in March or April. I put mine on this year in April. By June the frames were full - I took 27lb of honey from 4 frames. In July, I took them off for overwintering, and extracted another 9lb. I am in California, so my nectar flow is different from yours, but it is best between March and July here, and most of the US has a similar pattern.

Here is a hive scale from a hive not too far from you, and it shows that the bees stop putting on excess weight before August:
http://hivescales.beeinformed.org/demo_hives/253

Also, if your brood boxes are so empty that they don’t start filling the super in April, you should have been feeding over winter. Just another thought. :blush:


#8

Also, do you know what kind of bees? We’ve found Carniolans to put up very little surplus compared to Italians. In addition, they can be pretty swarmy.


#9

This is my second year. Year one I managed to accidentally kill my queen twice. (Rookie mistakes.) So my never put my flow hive supper on. I am in southern BC Canada so we give our bees 2 boxes as to survive our winters.
This hive came through the winter well and came out charging out in the spring. The hive was thriving and getting crowded so I split it twice to keep it from swarming. I had put the flow hive super on but i found the bees didnt like it and were filling up the brood boxes with honey. (I had also painted the flow frame openings with bees wax.) I took some of the honey frames out of the brood chamber and replaced them with empty frames and alternated regular wood frames wax foundations with the flow frames. This worked. When the wood frames were full and capped I removed them and replaced them with flow frames. By that time they were busy filling the old flow frames and eventually filled all the flow frames.
On another theme, when it was time to harvest my flow super, I put an escape board under my flow super and let the bees move back down into the hive. I then took the box and put it on my deck where I felt i could remove the honey without fighting a lot of bees.
After i started the flow I noticed honey was dripping from the frames about 1/2 way back so i put the box on a shallow baking pan to catch the dripping honey. When the main flow was finished I left it on the tray over night to continue catching drips. The next morning, from 5 flow frames, in addition to the 30 lbs I took out the front end, to took about 5.5cups or 1900 ml of honey drippings out of the tray that would have just gone back to the bees. I have drained flow frames in the hive before, but i didnt see how much I wasnt getting.
This year I took about 80 lbs of beautiful clear honey out of my flow hive. I ran it through a double screen and into my 3kg buckets. WAAAAAY easier than the extractor!!
Hang in there. Alternate the frames at first and the bees will get used to the flow hives. I find they dont like the plastic foundations either. So it is not just the flow hive.


#10

Hello Michelle,

That’s fantastic! I’m glad to hear that it’s working for you. I started out with one brood box the first year but then an experienced local beekeeper said I needed to have two full brood boxes for the bees to survive the winter which needed to be filled before the third box, the flow hive in my case, is added.

Regards,

Lance


#11

Hello Phil,

Thanks for that tip! Alternating the frames sounds like a great idea so I’ll give that a try next year.

Regards,

Lance


#12

I started with a nucleus November last year (Australian spring) and harvested three Flow frames in February. We had a mild winter so I left the super on and they kept bringing in nectar almost the whole of winter. They swarmed while I was away and I’ve split them to two new nucs. They continue to fill the flow frames, three are ready to harvest. Interestingly, the side next to the window never gets capped. They fill it, fan it, then move the honey instead of capping. I consider my hit rate very good. It did take a long time for them to accept the flow frames in the beginning, but now they are in full swing. I expect when I add flows to the new colonies they’ll have initial apprehension, but with a full on nectar flow, they’ll accept the new frames. I’m a total fan. I encourage you to stick with it. Once they start and you harvest that first time, you’ll be hooked.


#13

I am in Australia and started my hive in March 2016. Not ideal timing but did my first harvest first week of spring same year. Had a swarm the next week and which gave me two hives and have now done probably 8 or so harvests in total. I do find that the bees for some reason tend not to fill the put any honey in the middle of the centre flow frames. they will fill and cap all around but will leave a big circle bare even though they have drawn out the cells. I don’t know why this is. I get about 8 litres every time I harvest. I have never coated my frames with wax or anything. They do tend to leak a little bit but other then that I am satisfied with how they operate.


#14

Hi Paul, bees will generally leave an area for brood which may be the circular region you mention, if there is a nectar flow on then they will use this area. Just be careful that if that area contains uncapped nectar then the water content of honey will increase risking fermentation. Always harvest capped comb where possible. However if those cells are empty then woohoo! Go for it!


#15

That makes perfect sense Roderick. Not sure why I didn’t realise this myself. It mirrors what they do in the brood box. For some reason I thought they would know that the queen couldn’t get up into the super and therefore would just fill it all with honey. Learn something new everyday.


#16

Lance,

I started beekeeping in 2013. I was convinced here in southeastern Indiana we need double deep 10 frame brood boxes to make lt through winter.

In late 2015 I got my Flow hives that were only 8’s. In 2016 I experimented with my brood boxes consisting of 2 deeps and 1 medium the other hive 1 deep and 1 medium. 1st year was hive buildup and seal Flow Frames. In 2017 I was able to harvest 30 pounds honey from the smaller of the 2 hives (1 medium and 1 deep), split the 1m/2d into 1m/1d and 1d and just allowed them to build up and seal Flows this year.

Seams the smaller the hive the easier it is to care for. I couldn’t believe how well the smaller hive did when I expected the opposite.

The Flow frames / single deep brood box is nearly full of honey but I will leave that for them to feed on this winter. All my hives may be single brood boxes next year… we’ll see.

Last year (2016) I put the partially sealed Flow supers in the freezer for 48 hours and then in storage for winter and re-installed in March. (2017) This year I plan to leave them on so bees can feed on the honey if need be.

I have found the honeybee to be more susceptible to heat rather than cold. There was a swarm that stayed on my picnic table all night this spring and it got below freezing… they were fine.

I wouldn’t wrap my hives in tarpaper cause that will allow the hive to build up moisture and eventually freeze, it needs ventilation.

Are you sure you’re not giving them too much space? They seem to do better with less, they will swarm more often… you can catch the swarms and start new hives. I’ve always wondered how you could be saving the bee’s by squishing queens, seemed more human greed.

Another plus is you will always have younger, fresher, healthier hives.

Blessings

Sent from my iPhone


#17

Hello Mark,

Hard to say. With two boxes nearly full they were ready for another box, so I added the flow frames but they just occupied it and there was barely any honey in it after three months. I’ll try alternating traditional frames with flow frames next year and see if they cap any honey in the flow frames. Hopefully that will work.

Regards,

Lance


#18

Or, maybe just a slatted bottom rack…

Hi Lance - I’m a second year beekeeper near Philadelphia PA, and a Flow hive owner yet to harvest. The seasonal pattern here is very similar to yours. All the good responses here will hopefully help you determine better steps next year, but I wanted to be sure to clearly emphasize that first year colonies in places with short nectar flows like ours rarely build up on time to produce the excess of stores we like to call a harvest.

It is disappointing to have a beautiful piece of equipment sitting idle. But, I think it’s reasonable to adjust expectations according to our geographic location & speaking for myself, lack of experience.


#19

@Eva

But, I think it’s reasonable to adjust expectations according to our geographic location

Very well said!


#20

Lance,

I started my Flow Hives in May 2016 from a 3 way split of a single double deep 10 frame hive I started in mid July 2014.

I also had both deep and medium frames that had been built out previously from 2 ten frame double deep hives from 2013, this cut down on the time to build flow hives.

My Flow Hives were 8 frame Western Red Cedar that when I started assembling I thought were too brittle and would never choose again. After finding out how easy it was to rear bees in them It now is the only wood I’d choose for building hives in the future. Except maybe Eastern (fragrant) Red Cedar that might do more to keep bugs out, but bees being bugs too it might keep them out also, life is an experiment.

Hive #2, with 8 frame deep brood box nearly full I added medium box with prebuilt frames and within 2-3 weeks it was nearly full so I added Flow Super. They sealed the Flow frames but there was no honey, on 10/12/16 removed #2 Flow super froze for 48 hours and then put in dry storage till spring.

On 3/25/17 I re-installed flow supers and did my first harvest frames #2-5 5/19/17 harvested 11#'s contained with 1#+ lost to overflow.

On first harvest completely opened frames, on future harvests opened only a few let drain then moved on and had no leakage. Takes time but not near as much as spinning, a lot less messy too.

In Southeastern Indiana we seemed to have a very good honey flow this year. How was it in you area? Have you talked to other local BeeKeeper’s?

Did you disturb your bee’s too much? I only looked through the windows every few day or under a lid.

1st year you shouldn’t expect to have a harvest, you should just let them build up their stocks. 2nd year you should at least get a little, unless there was a real bad dearth in your area. Did you get any paint or oil on the insides of box that would have drove most of the workers from the Flow hives?

Blessings,
Mark