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Winter and Bee keeping in Scotland - recommendations?


I live in Scotland and am a community development worker for a charity addressing sustainability. I am seeking funding for the charity to keep bees as, amongst other things, an educational tool. I worked with school kids who were killing bees, thinking they were wasps and not knowing either the difference, or that bees even made honey! And that’s without touching on all the other things bees do. However, local bee keepers are very against flow hive. Whereas I felt it was a good way to introduce anxious children to bees and get their parents to allow them to engage. The aim was to keep 1 traditional hive and 1 flow hive. But local bee keepers claim in Scotland (and elsewhere with a cold winter) that no colony has survived winter in a flow hive. Can this be true? It seems unlikely having read of people using flow hive in worse winter climates (i.e. parts of Canada and North America). Can anyone advise?


Hiya @Hilary, welcome to the forum! I pasted that quote because it’s a great example of the misguided “reasons” some beeks claim that the Flow hive is bad. They are missing the point of the Flow system, which is simply an innovative honey harvesting method, not part of the brood area where bees would overwinter. It has nothing whatsoever to do with what you’d normally do to care for your bees in your locale. People in North America with cold winters remove the Flow super, just as those with traditional hives remove empty supers once the nectar flow is over for the season. It’s sad that the experienced folks near you have made such big assumptions and seem unsupportive of your very admirable efforts :confused:

And, I must say that in my area, outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, it IS difficult to overwinter colonies - but because of varroa mites, not whatever manner of harvesting honey people are using. The only issue to do with harvesting and bee health is making sure to leave enough honey stores for the bees to eat all winter. That’s a pretty basic concept that even us nutso Flow Hivers adhere to :wink:


Try it. Is your traditional hive a Smith? I would start in a National and get Flow frames for a National too rather than a Lang. That way you keep a locally adapted bee in a smaller box. It depends if course where you are. Borders and central Scotland should pose no problem. Problems do arise the further north you go. You may not get sufficient flow of nectar to fill those frames. If you have heather near you then I would forget it


Hi Hilary,

The best thing may be to read through the “wintering section” on our Community Forum. You can see how beekeepers manage their Flow Hives in cold climates all around the world: