We recently visited Angela at Yamba on the north coast of New South Wales to assist her with her Flow Hive. Angela started beekeeping in late 2016 and was looking for some assistance with general beekeeping issues. Angela also wanted some reassurance that her bees were disease-free and doing well. Our customised Flow Hive mentoring sessions focus on beekeeping basics as well as Flow Hive specific issues.
The hive is being exceptionally well maintained. The bees are situated in an ideal north facing site on a waterfront spot in the Yamba area. This should be a good honey producing area.
Angela’s bees are strong & disease free. All stages of brood were present, eggs, larvae and capped brood (pupae). Our inspection revealed that every frame in the brood box was healthy and we discussed the key indicators of healthy, disease-free brood. The larvae were fat and pearly white. Capped cells were convex and free from perforations.
We located the queen and confined her in a hair clip queen cage. This ensures her safety while we manipulated the frames. The queen displayed a perfect laying pattern.
The bees were gentle and easy to handle. We discussed the use of smoke to calm the bees and to move them around when we manipulated frames and replaced the honey super.
It is essential that the Flow frames are set on the correct position before they are placed on the hive. Several of Angela’s Flow frames were not set correctly and it was obvious that the bees were unable to seal and fill the cells due to misalignment. The photograph below clearly shows the line on the frame where the bees stopped filling cells and gave up. This was easily fixed by placing the steel key into the full length of the top opening in the flow frame and turning it 180 degrees.
Two of the Flow frames had been removed from the Flow super and replaced with conventional frames from the brood box. Angela did this to encourage bees to move through the queen excluder up into the flow frames. Both of the traditional frames were full of capped honey. We removed them and placed the last two Flow frames back into the Flow super. The frames that we removed have been placed into a freezer and can be placed back into the hive any time after thawing.
Flow hives are designed to have a crown board between the super and the lid. Angela’s colony did not have the crown board fitted, and the bees took advantage of the situation by building a few small pieces of comb inside the gabled lid. This was a clear indication that they needed more room. We removed the excess comb and fitted the crown board. The round hole in the centre of the crown board is there to allow for feeding of sugar syrup. Our recommendation is to place some mesh over it to prevent the bees from gaining access to the gabled lid.
One of the challenges that Angela will face in the spring is managing the population of the hive to prevent swarming. The Flow hive is supplied as a brood box and honey super. Mt Coramba Apiculture recommends that beekeepers using Flow hives should build their bees into strong doubles before adding the Flow frames. This gives the beekeeper more options to relieve congestion in the brood box in spring by lifting frames of capped brood or honey and pollen up into the second super. These frames are replaced with foundation, empty frames or empty drawn frames giving the queen room to lay. Frames of honey removed from the second super can be extracted or stored in a freezer until they are needed. For more information have a look at our blog about Beehive Spring Management.
We recommend the NSW DPI factsheet “Spring Management of Bees” for more information.
The New South Wales Amateur Beekeepers Association has branches all over the state. Being a member of the ABA and attending their meetings is a great way to improve your beekeeping skills. Many ABA members have flow hives, and they are skilled in their management. Here is our list of Australian beekeeping clubs.
Mt. Coramba Apiculture can deliver a range of beekeeping courses and workshops for new beekeepers from beginners to advanced. Our beekeeping classes are super flexible and competitively priced.
Mt. Coramba Apiculture would like to thank Angela for choosing our Flow Hive mentoring service. With another beehive planned for the spring, Angela is setting herself up to be a great beekeeper.
The owner of Mt. Coramba Apiculture, Glenn Locke is skilled in Flow hive mentoring. Glenn has formal qualifications in honeybee pests and diseases as well as queen bee breeding. Glenn is also a qualified trainer and has a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.
Contact us for more information about our Flow hive mentoring service.