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Wintering the Flow Hive in Perth Western Australia


#1

Hi,
I want to know what the experienced Flow Hive Beeks do with their hives over winter? Perth winters are very mild so I am curious on what we need to do.
We had planned on leaving the super on, with 3-4 full frames of capped honey for them to have over winter, but after reading all the different wintering ideas on this forum I am very confused. Qx on or off? Swap brood box to be on top? Remove super?
What worked last year?
We usually have lots of things flowering over winter, and rarely get frost.
Looking forward to ideas.


#2

I put a cover board under the super last year. The idea was they would move the honey down into the brood box. They didnt.

I’d leave it on with the QX. I dont think you need to worry about the bees clustering in the super. I rrckon thr queens keep laying through winter here but some more experienced people may have better advice.


#3

I am just getting started and live in a region that does get significant winters. Have you seen the videos just released by Frederick Dunn on You Tube?

He left the super on top and removed the queen extractor. The bees moved up, ate the honey, then the queen started using the plastic cells as brood space. I believe he is on the east coast in the United States.

I checked the FAQ for Flow and the current material still suggests leaving the super on top. But after this, I am not sure that is a good idea unless you want to ruin a lot of equipment. Check out the video. Very detailed. I don’t have a solution. I was hoping to find one here. Maybe this post will generate some really good discussion this 2017 spring and summer so there is a reasonable consensus by Fall?


#4

There is a very simple solution: don’t use flow frames without a queen excluder.

Flow have always recommended using a queen excluder with their frames. Mr Dunn says he is not beekeeping for honey- so I don’t understand why he uses flow frames at all?

If you are worried about leaving the flow super on over winter with a queen excluder - then don’t. If you are then worried about winter stores for the bees- consider adding an extra half or ideal box mid season for honey stores for the bees.


#5

I am a 22Km inland from Busselton so similarish weather to Perth.
I am not an expert and have had bees since Mar 2016.

Winter 2016 I left the whole flow hive in tact with the QE between Flow super and brood box. I very nearly lost the whole hive due to a number of overlapping problems,

  1. hive leaked. (since solved)
  2. Had excessive moisture.( Since solved)
  3. There was very little food available.
    The problems reduced the hive population to a point where I did think it would not recover. Luckily it did.

This year I have removed the flow super.
Reasons:

  1. The bees do not have the Flow super to maintain at temperature, so less work and stress for the bees.
  2. There is not very much food available during Winter.
    I know some Eucalypts flower in Winter eg E. leucoxylon and E. citriodora are a couple round Perth streets but they are not indigenous to WA so flowering times are not reliable.
    The weeds and paddock flowers provide a lot of pollen but no nectar.
  3. Long spells of wet weather will not allow the bees to forage what ever food is available.

As I said, I am no authority on this and feeling my way as best I can and see how it goes this year.


#6

Wilfred - can you please just elaborate a little on the moisture problem and solution?
Thanks.


#7

My experience with two 10F hives in the hills in Perth foothills for last winter.
The hives went into winter with healthy populations, with honey on the outer frames of the brood box and with a single super with 4 and 5 frames of capped honey above the Q/E this was at the end of April.
By late August they hadn’t used any of the honey in the supers but the brood nest had shrunk down by a couple of frames and the honey in the brood box was now moved in against the smaller brood nest, with lots of pollen being collected.
Early October the honey stores in the supers was reduced by a couple of frames which coincide with an explosion of brood in the brood box now back up to 7/8 frames of brood/larvae, by late October these stores had been replaced and other frames in the super were being filled.
The Q/E remained in place the whole time. There was obviously enough forage over the winter to sustain the brood box with the additional resources in the super only being required when the population kicked off for the season.

Sorry forgot to mention these were traditional 10F supers, not flow supers.


Harvesting with Winter Coming - Perth WA
#8

I was getting quite significant condensation in the roof section of the hive which was moving down, quite literally as a trickle. There was a lot of water through the hive.

  1. When I re roofed the hive to stop the leaks I ensured there was a gap at the apex of the roof where the two sloping sectioned met. In the “over” roof which was a single piece of sheet aluminium I put a tunnel for want of a better word at the apex and moulded around a piece of dowell. So air rising though the slit it the apex of the wooden roof could escape out along the aluminium roof apex.
  2. To assist in the flow of air I drill a 25mm hole in one gable (the triangular end section formed by the roof) I was prepared to do both ends but one seems to do the trick.
  3. Made a slatted rack which I fitted between the base and the brood box. (there is stuff in this forum on slatted racks).

I will over Winter make a quilt box, if time permits and I get a bit more research on them.

Hope this helps.


#9

Hi Wilfred - it sounds as if you have done a good job but I’m surprised/interested that you had to do it at all to be honest. Do you really mean condensation or was the roof leaking down onto and through the inner cover or I’m guessing both leaking and condensation? Did you get pools of water on the corflute? How long was the condensation issue happening - like once a week or every day for months on end? Sorry to ask yet more questions of you but I’m interested in this general issue at the moment.


#10

Yes

[quote=“Dan2, post:9, topic:11220”]
Did you get pools of water on the corflute?
[/quote]Yes

Weather dependant but pretty continuous at times.

Has not been a problem this Autumn so looks like its fixed but will still monitor.


#11

Thanks for the advice. Much appreciated.

He was running an experiment on the flow super. The FAQ on Flow page suggests this is how you can winter the bees.

Leave the super on but remove the QE.

When it ruined his super he simply mentioned he wasn’t in it for the honey so the loss was just the cost.

For me…your idea seems superior. One thing I was interested in was how well they would clean out a flow super that had been stored for the winter. Looks like they got it cleaned up nicely.

Sincerely,

Don


#12

Hi Neddy, I too had many questions about wintering a flow hive (see Packing down a flow hive (or not) for winter). It’s my first winter, so I’ll have to wait to see the outcome. Erring on the side of caution, I’ve left four full standard frames of honey in the flow super plus four frames are in the brood box (I actually pulled two of the flow frames out of my hive when I first set it up and put in four standard frames for this purpose). I have pulled the flow frames out completely and replaced them with some partially built comb from a absconded hive that was going well until they absconded :slight_smile:. I also added a WSP super under the QX as the brood box was fully populated with honey and brood with the theory that since they are still active they can build into that now whilst weather is still OK. I’m planning for next winter to just have the brood box and the WSP (as a honey super only) left on and removing the flow super completely. I’ll just have to wait and see what happens…

Brother Joe (http://forum.honeyflow.com/u/Brother_Joe_Smith) also recommended adding a carpet tile between the QX and the brood box cut so to allow the bees to get around the edges of the tile to get to the honey if they need it. I’ll also be doing that to reduce the heating space.


#13

Is anyone else monitoring temperature and humidity in their hive? If so, what temperatures are you noticing currently? Given I didn’t spot my queen on the last inspection I’m now wondering about my current temp profile…

(my last inspection was 8days ago)


#14

Alan -I’m guessing with the cooler weather Perth has had over the last coupe of days that the hive temp would fall a bit too but as I say - just a guess.


#15

I would be wondering too. Following…


#16

I monitor both, among other things too. :blush:

Here are a couple of graphs of each, showing data from March to May.

Around 3rd April, we inspected and found the temperature probe was at the outer edge of the brood nest. I relocated it to the center of the nest, and the temperature has been a rock-steady 34C ever since.

We added the Flow super around the 7th of April and I think this helped to lower the humidity. We added a traditional medium on top on 30th April and that lowered the humidity even further. I would expect the humidity to increase again once we start packing the hive down for winter. :wink:


#17

@Dawn_SD Out of interest, what are your typical winter temperatures inside your hive?


#18

Hi Alan, here is a graph of the temperature from November to March. You should know that my queen is Italian, and she never stopped laying during the winter. The brood nest kept moving a bit and shrinking, which is why the temperature dropped and destabilized a little. I try not to mess with the bees too much over winter, so I didn’t fuss with the temperature probe to get the position exactly right. Anyway, here is the data:


#19

One more graph for you. Humidity and fanning acoustics overlaid on the same graph. Fanning is blue and humidity is green. FYI, the nectar flow started around 27th March according to the hive weight graph. :smile: