HOW TO GET BEES TO USE YOUR FLOWHIVE

Posted July 29, 2017
by Hilary

HOW TO GET BEES TO USE YOUR FLOW HIVE

There could be several reasons for why your bees are not expanding into the Flow Hive super. Some of these reasons apply to all hive styles. Bees, for example, will not build new comb when they are unhealthy, in a nectar dearth or at certain times of year. But getting bees to accept plastic can be tricky and so sometimes a colony will refuse to use the Flow Hive super even when conditions for building are good. So, how can you make your Flow supers more attractive? Read on to find out what worked for me.

Are the Bees Ready?

Before putting your Flow super on, make sure your bees have filled their brood nest out. A healthy colony in spring will do this in a few weeks time. Depending on your area and the strength of your colony, you may need to feed your bees to help them achieve this progress, but once you add your Flow super, it is time to stop feeding. You should wait for your bees to build on at least 6 out of the 8 frames in your brood box before adding the Flow super. I actually recommend letting your bees build out two brood boxes before adding a Flow super so that you and the bees have more flexibility. If you want to follow that advice, you should add a second brood box first and once that is built out, you can add your Flow super.

Preparing the Frames

Cell Formation

Make sure the cells in your Flow frames are in the correct formation. They should look like regular hexagonal cells, but with small gaps in the top and bottom. If the frame key has been turned the cells will be in the harvest formation and will look like vertical, zig zagging channels.

Adding Wax

Just like with plastic foundation, the bees will be more receptive to your flow frames if they are coated in beeswax. I applied the beeswax by melting some in a double broiler on the stove (don’t walk away from beeswax on the stove– it’s flammable) and then using an old paint brush to apply. When painting on the melted beeswax, hold the frames upright so that wax does not run down the cells. You just want the wax on the face of the “flow comb”. Other people have had success just by rubbing burr comb over the frames or by spraying them with sugar water.

HOW TO GET BEES TO USE YOUR FLOW HIVE HOW TO GET BEES TO USE YOUR FLOW HIVE

Progress

If you see the bees filling in the cracks of the cells with beeswax, good news! That is the first sign that your bees have accepted the flow frames. If there is a nectar flow happening, you should start to see them fill the cells. They seem to start on the center frames in the center of each frame and they work their way out. So, if you see honey from the windows, you are likely very close to having full frames of honey!

HOW TO GET BEES TO USE YOUR FLOW HIVE

Troubleshooting 

I have found that some bees are simply less willing to use the flow super than others. If you are not seeing progress and all the above has been considered, you might try moving the flow super to a different colony.

Want to learn more about how tips and tricks for Flowhives, check out my latest online class. It’s all about hive inspections and there is a special section on Flowhives.

 

4 Comments

  1. Kim

    HELP!

    I am new to bee keeping and we have 2 Flow hive. The brood box was just about fulll so we went ahead and add the FLOW top. I then was doing some reading and realized that in Ontario we should likely have 2 brood boxes in order for them to survive the winter. NOW what the bees are already going the FLOW. Do I remove it put on a new brood box and leave the FLOW not he ground so they make their way back to the hive to build comb and fill with honey for the winter? Or could I add the new brood box so it goes existing new and then the flow? Will they automatically start forming comb and fill the 2nd box first? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    • Hilary

      Are they just in the Flow Super or have they already started to fill it with nectar? If they aren’t using it, just take it off and putt the frames out and sweep the bees off and back into the hive. If they are using it already, you can leave it on and add the second brood box to the bottom of the stack.

      Reply
  2. Kristan

    Hi,
    I put a flow super on about 3 weeks ago (I rubbed beeswax over each panel beforehand). I can see that the bees now are working on filling the gaps in the comb. But they really do seem to going quite slowly. Is it just a matter of waiting?

    Reply
    • Hilary

      Yep, and its also time of year and how many flowers are available to them.

      Reply

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My name is Hilary Kearney. I’m the author of the book, “Queenspotting” and founder of the urban beekeeping business Girl Next Door Honey in San Diego, California. I’m an artist turned beekeeper on a mission to help new beekeepers succeed and educate the public about the magic of bees!

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