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Winterizing my flo hive

This is my first year for bees and not sure what to do . Do I remove the flo hives and put feeders and frames in or just ad a couple of feeders in replace of a couple flows?

Hello and welcome to the Flow forum!

Just to clarify some terminology here. A hive is the whole structure - bottom board, brood box(es) and super(s), then an inner cover and a roof. Those terms apply to all hives, whether traditional or Flow. With a Flow hive, you have Flow frames inside the Flow super box (the box with removable panels and windows). Just want to make sure that we all know what we are talking about before I try to help. :blush:

First, with your climate, you will definitely need to remove the Flow super. I would actually suggest doing that in late summer or very early fall in your climate, otherwise bees will put propolis all over the Flow frames and gum them up. That could make harvesting honey very difficult or impossible next year. :astonished:

Second, feeder frames are fine in warmer weather when the nighttime temperature is above about 15°C, but you are probably already cooler than that. You will need to consider some kind of solid feed for them, such as fondant/candy or solid white granulated sugar. @Doug1 is in Ontario, and might be the best person to advise you what is available locally. He has many decades of beekeeping experience and will have a superb opinion for you.

Third, I would think that you might usually need double brood boxes to overwinter successfully, but I would ask your local bee club. You probably don’t have double brood boxes now, but you can get hives to survive with just one in a cold climate, but it is just a bit harder.

Fourth, you may want to consider some kind of insulation around the outside of the hive. Again, local advice would be best for that. Many beekeepers with cold climates use 5cm thick rigid foam home roofing insulation, cut to size and wrapped around the hive with duct tape. Again, perhaps @Doug1 can help, but he has big bee sheds, and you probably don’t have time to go that way!

Hope that helps, please ask again if you need any more input. :wink:

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Perfect thank you for the information . I’ll try and catch up with Doug on here as well

I can add pics of my hive later

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It looks like he is already typing something. He usually gives very full and informative replies, so if you check again in a little while, you probably see something from him :wink:

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My Alberta winter climate is significantly colder and drier than yours but in any case you have varied options.

Once you have the hive reduced to it’s wintering quarters… based on the room required to accomodate the bee population…ensure that the wintering unit is very heavy with feed. Its likely you have only a single brood chamber and I hope that it has lots of feed by now. Dawn_SD has alluded to the importance of sugar syrup feeding before fall temps start dropping or you will be faced with feeding solid feed such as fondant during the winter to prevent starvation. Your bee supply store should be able to supply you with fondant if need be.

In any case, insulation is required and chatting with local beekeepers about what wintering strategies work for them would be a great starting point.

To give you some ideas, here are a few photos of wintering configurations I’ve used:

Outside wrapped with fiberglass insulation and black plastic…beekeeping stores may be able to supply you with wraps.

Four hives moved back to back with small upper entrances for ventilation:

upper entrances for wintering

Inside an insulated building…likely not practical for you but it may give you some ideas with hive configuration. Just replace the insulated building walls with your own solid styrofoam (not the white crumbly insulation) material on the sides and top of your hive.

Feeding bees solid feed during mid winter…bees work comfortably under the provided pillow:

If you are persistent, over time you will find a method that works for you. But as I tell novice beekeepers, order spring replacement bees early from your bee supply store…it’s great insurance.

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Oops, sorry @Doug1, I somehow had you in Ontario in my brain… Must delete that and reformat! :blush:

Your insights are always so helpful, thank you for taking the time to post. :heart_eyes:

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Well, I hope that I am wrong, but that looks like a Chinese copy. Did you order from the Flow web site?

Perhaps @Bianca or @Freebee2 can help if you have your order details.

:worried:

I have no idea I got it from a friend said it was flow hive . He wasn’t using it so I wanted to try it out with potential of buying my own. Like I said new to all this stuff.

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Not your fault, but you just have to adjust your expectations if isn’t a Flow hive. It might still work fine, but we can’t tell you how a copy might work. Do you have any manuals, cardboard packing boxes or other paperwork that might help us to work this out for you? If it is really a Flow hive, we can give you advice that we know is good.

Wishing you all the best, and we will support you and your bees anyway, if we can. :blush:

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Got nothing with it just been looking at flow hives on the net for information . And so far seem to be working . :man_shrugging: Would you leave the super for the winter ? I have not took any honey yet it’s 12 degrees Celsius here now. Or take them out for winter and put feeders and frames in?

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No, never leave a super on above a queen excluder.

You need to feed from above, inside the hive. Either fondant or sugar. I suggest you get some good books or join a bee club. I am not wanting to insult you, but a good starting book is “Beekeeping for Dummies”. Amazon carries it. It isn’t perfect, but it will give you a lot of answers that we don’t have time to type out here in full. :wink:

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I removed the queen excluder last weekend . I was told to so she could get at the food in the winter

But yes I may have to make a purchase lol thank you

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Glancing at your photos, my first impression was that there wasn’t any bees in the top box…no burr comb on the top bars or bees on outside frames when viewed through the side windows. But on closer examination, it looks as if you have a beautiful cluster in the center of the top box….that’s a very nice candidate to winter! Remove the honey super and queen excluder, scrape the burr comb off the top bars of the frames in the broodbox, and seal the top with 5mil poly plastic, and insulate well…you don’t want heat to escape from the top of the hive. If you haven’t applied a varroa mite treatment, I recommend 2 Apivar strips or equivalent. When you have reduced the hive to a single box, lift it by hand and see how heavy it is…hopefully they have stored lots of honey below the queen excluder during the summer.

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Thanks for tagging me @Dawn_SD. I can confirm that these frames are not genuine Flow Frames, but illegal copies.

As Dawn put so well, @Shambles09 please don’t expect these frames to perform as genuine Flow Frames and be of the same quality as genuine Flow Frames. Also, please be cautious about the materials used for these products as they’re known to be very poor and potentially toxic.

You can be sure you’re purchasing genuine Flow if purchased from our site, www.honeyflow.com. You can read more about fake Flow here Fake Flow Hives

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Okay thank you for all the information .

Hi Dawn, definitely a Chinese copy. I remember seeing those yellow labels on the 3 that I put together for a customer. I zoomed in on it to refresh my memory. There it is in black & yellow, “Made in China”. When zooming in you can also see the ends of the frames that @Bianca was talking about, where you can’t use a hive tool to left the frame out. I would hate to have to remove those frames once the bees have sealed everything up with propolis & bridging comb.

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Everyone is very helpful. Thank you .

And now I know :man_facepalming:

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