When to put on Flow Hive Super?

We just “rescued” a large swarm last week that is now pretty much filling up the brood box, so I added a standard honey super on top of that. The bees are busy drawing out comb. I think this hive is strong enough that I want to make this into my Flow Hive (I have 2 smaller hives of packaged bees that I initially intended to convert to Flow Hives).

Any recommendations on how best to do this? I want the Flow Frame Super directly on top of the brood box; removing that standard honey super. There are a LOT of bees up in that super already (queen is excluded in the brood box). Should I remove one of the Flow frames and just shake the bees off of the honey frames into the Flow Box? Just shake them off onto the tops of the Flow Frames? Remove the honey super and set it in front of the hive and let them migrate back into the main hive on their own?

I’m having a bit of trouble visualizing how to make this transition to the Flow Hive Super. Thanks


You say they have started drawing the old honey super out. Have they started storing nectar in it? If so, I wouldn’t put it in front of the hive, as you may induce a robbing frenzy. If it is only wax and no nectar, then if you put the box on the ground near the hive, but on its side, the bees should leave it by evening. They don’t usually like the draft blowing through both sides of the open box.

If there is some nectar in it, what about using a bee escape? Put the Flow super on top of the brood box, then put an inner cover on top of that with a one way bee escape which only lets bees go down. Then put your traditional honey super on top of that with another inner cover on the very top with the hole completely closed. The bees all move down over a day or two, and no shaking, smoking or brushing is required.

One other question. Will one brood box be enough for such a big swarm, do you think?

Please let us know how it goes.

could you just move queen excluder to the top of the super- with the flow super on top of that- and let the bees convert the lower super over to an extra brood box?

Dawn and Semaphore - I was just thinking THAT exact thing! With the population of the hive I do think I might need a bit more room for them and removing the queen excluder between the current brood box a nd the honey super may be the most wise and efficient idea. Just hoping in doing so that the bees eventually will move up into the Flow Super to do their thing.

I had 3 Flow Frames I bought with the initial campaign and used those in a converted box last year on a hive; but there was only very limited drawing out of the frames before cold weather set in and I had to remove it. This year I have that set up (converted hive box with 3 Flow frames and 4 standard frames), plus a complete Flow Hive.

I lost both my hives last year, so am starting over with 2 packages of bees plus this swarm. It may be another couple of weeks or more before one of those other packages is strong enough to add the Flow Frames. But I was figuring on letting this swarm get established for a few more days and then add the Flow Super.

Any thoughts or advice warmly received!

1 Like

In the light of what you just wrote, I would definitely leave your traditional honey super on the hive then, but move the queen excluder up to sit on top of it. That way, the super becomes a brood box. If you lost 2 hives last year, you could probably do with 2 deeps for your brood anyway. I think you will overwinter more successfully. Many people in California (even in SoCal) use 2 deeps or 3 mediums for brood, then put honey supers on top of that.

You may want to consider a VSH queen too, if the queen that comes with your packages is not VSH. Wildflower Meadows have some nice VSH-Italians, and Koehnen (CA queen suppliers) claim that their Cordovan-Italian queens are “hygienic” too.

I didn’t lose my hives to disease. One was lost when they apparently foraged on something that had been treated with pesticide (we live adjacent to some crop fields or someone in the neighborhood sprayed something). Another beekeeper in the neighborhood lost her hive the same week…instant die off.

I lost the other hive due to MY mismanagement. It was a split from the larger hive, so not strong. I delayed too long in removing some supers and they had too much empty space to protect for the number of bees. Hive beetles got in there (I had never had those before) and demolished a whole generation of brood before I noticed them. By that time it was getting into fall and the population never recovered.

That said, I am a little leery of putting two deep brood boxes on the hive. I think I will go with the deep, medium, and Flow Box. Does that sound reasonable? I’m in central coastal CA, so weather pretty moderate year round.

1 Like

I totally understand what you are saying, and you make good points. I am a way south of you in San Diego and I would say that 90% of my beekeeping society use 2 deeps or 3 mediums for brood. The commercial guys manage with one deep, but of course we are talking about 10-Frame Langstroths in their case, which have 25% more space per box than the 8-Frame Langs that come with a complete Flow hive.

It is your choice, they are your bees, and you are right to work out what is best for the way you manage things.

Sorry you lost bees to spraying. The City of San Diego requires us to register our bee hives, but in return, they will not allow insecticide spraying without official notification, and they give us a couple of days’ notice so we can shut the bees in for the day. Of course, that doesn’t stop the neighbors from spraying, it only stops the commercial applications from causing as much death.