What to do with Flow Frames for Fall/Winter

First year beekeeper in Portland, Oregon. I have two Flow Hives. They both started from nucs and have done really well and appear healthy (going to do Varroa testing this week) Harvested honey from 2 frames of each hive with good results, about 1 gallon total. I want to leave them some honey for winter as they have uncapped many of the frames already (seems we are in a dearth). I didn’t think it would be best to leave the Flow frames on as I really don’t want to take the queen excluder off on the chance she might start laying in the Flow frames. Would most of you just harvest the honey and remove the frames and feed it back to them? They are packed in the Flow boxes and I am also afraid of making the hive too small for them as well. Not really sure what to do so any help would be great.

Hello and welcome to the Flow forum!

Hopefully in your climate, you have two brood boxes? If not, you are probably going to have to feed the hives over winter.

With 2 brood boxes per hive, I would extract the honey and take the super off. I would use any ripe honey for myself. If I only had one brood box, I would still extract the honey and take the super off, I just wouldn’t use it myself - I would feed it back to the bees before the night time temperatures were consistently below about 55F (after that, they need candy or solid sugar). If they didn’t use it before the cooler nights, I might store it in the freezer to give them as Spring feed the next season. Counterintuitively, freezing honey slows it down from crystallizing, which is why I choose to store it frozen.

I actually freeze the Flow frames too for 48 hours to kill wax moths and hive beetles (we have those in SoCal - you probably don’t).

Hope that helps. Please ask any more questions if anything is not clear. :wink:


Hello there,
here in Adelaide South Australia I have decided after several years of trials to always remove my flow super for the winter. The reason is bees don’t use it much at all in winter and they end up suffering with mold. I only run single brood box hives here so I will always leave either a standard super or an ideal (half depth) super on them for their winter honey stores. The bee colony size usually goes down a bit at the start of winter so the bees can pack down into a smaller size hive. However as dawn says if you have only a single brood you will need to feed. Conditions where you are are no doubt different than to where I am- so ask local beekeepers.

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Hello Michael. We have our two colonies up in the hills above North Plains. We were able to harvest two full Flow supers in August. I placed the empties on a robbing station 100 feet away and the bees cleaned them up in three or four days. I was not looking for wax moth sign so I will take Dawn’s advice and stick the frames in the freezer for 48 hours. Thanks Dawn!

Last year I planted 2.5 acres of a native prairie mix (www.heritageseedlings.com) and the bees were still working it yesterday! Just now in a dearth but my double deeps are packed full. Two of four OA vapor treatments are done. Hopefully mite counts will stabilize and the stores will be enough to get through winter. I will be building more boxes over winter, intending to expand to 6-8 Flow Hives next season.

This first year of beekeeping (sans hands-on mentors; thanks Covid) has been wonderful for us! Challenging, educational, sometimes stressful and very rewarding. We look forward to next season!

Best, Ken

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