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Offline OPJohn

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As natural as I can...
« on: January 06, 2016, 04:05:22 pm »
My first forays into bee keeping are getting ready for spring. My Wife procured a flow hive for me for Christmas, which isn't my first choice of equipment, but i'm working on rectifying that with subsequent hives. I've decided that i'd like to keep two sister hives in my first year along with the flow hive, which will consist of two medium sized brood boxes per hive and medium sized honey supers.

I'm going with foundationless frames for everything. The brood box and the honey super on the flow hives are deeps, but the brood box does use foundationless frame with a glue-in guide strip that glues right into the groove in the inside top of the frames. They also use eight frames instead of ten. Those are the same style of frame i'll be putting in the other two hives with medium broods and supers, only the frames are cut down to 6.25" for the medium sized boxes. I will be using wire mesh bottom boards for natural varroa elimination from the hives and improved ventilation for the brutally hot summer months. I will also be using plastic queen excluders, inner covers with round holes and a standard top cover.

The two hives with the mediums will be started with bee boxes from two different local apiaries. The flow hive will be started with a 5 deep frame nuc from a commercial beekeeper friend of mine here in Jacksonville. They should be ready by April of this year. I'm hoping that we will have enough wildflower, saw palmetto, queen palm and other flowering late spring & summer vegetation in the area so that they can pull enough comb and store enough honey for each hive to make it through their first winter. I do plan to feed them with pollen patties and sugar water as needed, or until they can start to forage for pollen and nectar on their own to produce comb, feed brood and store some honey.

The questions that I have are:

  • If the frames in the brood box have comb guides glued into the top grooves, is this sufficient for the bees to draw straight comb provided the hive is also balanced and level on it's stand? Or would it be better to have either a frame with foundation on it in the center as a guide frame?
  • Would adding a little lemon oil rubbed on with a q-tip to that center frame (with or without a foundation) be a good idea?
  • What gauge of fishing line would you recommend for support through the eye holes on the frames? Our area of Florida can easily reach 100f. degree + days in the summer and i don't want young comb to collapse if possible.
  • I've seen where the Flow Hive honey frames are plastic drawn comb not unlike HSC frames. I've seen where some beekeepers advise dipping Honey Super Comb frames in hot beeswax to make the plastic comb more acceptable to bees. Do you think that's necessary if these frames are being used just in the honey super of the flow hive?
"It was so cold last night, I had to pull up another dog." - Grandpa

Offline superbee

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Re: As natural as I can...
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2016, 01:39:08 am »
I will start and I am sure others will chime in.  I would paint some wax on the starter strips on the frames and keep a eye on them to keep straight.  I find some times they start bridging frames but other times it is perfectly straight.  starting with nucs helps.

I would not dip the flow frames as it could clog it.  Brush a little if you must but I would let them try first.

Offline Acebird

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Re: As natural as I can...
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2016, 09:44:55 am »
Oh wow such high expectations for a newbie.
I am as natural as it comes in beekeeping but I would encourage you to start with foundation until you have an inventory of drawn comb in two boxes per hive.  The success of the flow hive is going to depend on how fast you can learn the flow characteristics in your location.  For most people this takes some time and experience because nothing is ever exactly the same.  If you start with foundationless it will add the resources the bees need to draw out the frames.  There will be loss resources because of fixing wonky comb.  Once a flow is over or tapers off it is too late and your flow frames may not fill up.  Plan on making mistakes.  Everyone does.

Usually someone going the natural route does not use chemicals for combating varroa.  You will have your hands full trying to get your hives through the first season.

It is an addicting hobby.  I like to see everyone succeed the first year.  It is the toughest.
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Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: As natural as I can...
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2016, 12:38:40 pm »
John,
Luckily for you, where you live with a lot of residential homes around you, If we have a half way decient year this year, you will probable have flows on and off from the end of this month until August. Sometimes it is extended through to October. Last year was a really bad year for FL and I still collected over 300 pounds of honey.
Jim
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Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: As natural as I can...
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2016, 12:41:18 pm »
John,
Luckily for you, where you live with a lot of residential homes around you, if we have a half way decent year this year, you will probable have flows on and off from the end of this month until August. Sometimes it is extended through to October. Last year was a really bad year for FL and I still collected over 300 pounds of honey.
Jim
"If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed.  If you do read the newspaper you are misinformed."--Mark Twain

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: As natural as I can...
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2016, 12:42:06 pm »
Sorry about the double post, computer error.
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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: As natural as I can...
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2016, 12:45:17 pm »
>If the frames in the brood box have comb guides glued into the top grooves, is this sufficient for the bees to draw straight comb provided the hive is also balanced and level on it's stand?

Usually.  But I would always keep an eye on things and if a comb goes wild, cut it out and rubber band it into the frame.

> Or would it be better to have either a frame with foundation on it in the center as a guide frame?

You work with what you have.  I would not buy foundation for that purpose.  I would use drawn comb if I had it.

>Would adding a little lemon oil rubbed on with a q-tip to that center frame (with or without a foundation) be a good idea?

LemonGRASS oil, sure.

>I've seen where the Flow Hive honey frames are plastic drawn comb not unlike HSC frames. I've seen where some beekeepers advise dipping Honey Super Comb frames in hot beeswax to make the plastic comb more acceptable to bees.

Honey Super Cell.  I have never seen anyone recommend that for HSC.  The cell size is already 4.9mm.  If you wax dip it it will be more like 4.6mm and with large cell bees the size will add to your acceptance problem while the wax helps...  With PermaComb it comes out about right if you wax dip it.  But wax dipping is a arduous and messy job.  You have to heat the combs to 200F (otherwise the wax just clumps up on it) then dip them in about 200 F wax then shake off all the excess wax.  I dipped about 1,000 PermaComb...

>Do you think that's necessary if these frames are being used just in the honey super of the flow hive?

It's a bad idea on the flow hive.  It would glue all the cells together and who knows what it would plug up.  The bees accept the flow frames better than they accept Honey Super Cell.  In my observation they immediately started filling the cracks with beeswax.  I checked them three days after adding it and almost all of the cracks on all six frames were patched.  I think they view it as damaged comb that needs to be fixes.
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Offline OPJohn

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Re: As natural as I can...
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2016, 12:09:03 pm »
Honey Super Cell.  I have never seen anyone recommend that for HSC.  The cell size is already 4.9mm.  If you wax dip it it will be more like 4.6mm and with large cell bees the size will add to your acceptance problem while the wax helps...  With PermaComb it comes out about right if you wax dip it.  But wax dipping is a arduous and messy job.  You have to heat the combs to 200F (otherwise the wax just clumps up on it) then dip them in about 200 F wax then shake off all the excess wax.  I dipped about 1,000 PermaComb...

I understand. I had Honey Super Cell and Permacomb a little mixed up in my mind when it came to the cell size of each.

Quote
It's a bad idea on the flow hive.  It would glue all the cells together and who knows what it would plug up.  The bees accept the flow frames better than they accept Honey Super Cell.  In my observation they immediately started filling the cracks with beeswax.  I checked them three days after adding it and almost all of the cracks on all six frames were patched.  I think they view it as damaged comb that needs to be fixes.

Good advice. I'll leave well enough alone then where the flow hive frames are concerned then.

Quote
John,
Luckily for you, where you live with a lot of residential homes around you, If we have a half way decient year this year, you will probable have flows on and off from the end of this month until August. Sometimes it is extended through to October. Last year was a really bad year for FL and I still collected over 300 pounds of honey.
Jim

Jim, is that 300 lbs. per hive? That's quite a lot. Frankly, i'm just hoping the two hives started from boxed bees and the flow hive started from a nuc will be able to raise enough brood and store enough honey to make it through winter to do splits and for a healthy start in 2017.
"It was so cold last night, I had to pull up another dog." - Grandpa

Offline OPJohn

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Re: As natural as I can...
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2016, 12:21:30 pm »
Oh wow such high expectations for a newbie.
I am as natural as it comes in beekeeping but I would encourage you to start with foundation until you have an inventory of drawn comb in two boxes per hive.  The success of the flow hive is going to depend on how fast you can learn the flow characteristics in your location.  For most people this takes some time and experience because nothing is ever exactly the same.  If you start with foundationless it will add the resources the bees need to draw out the frames.  There will be loss resources because of fixing wonky comb.  Once a flow is over or tapers off it is too late and your flow frames may not fill up.  Plan on making mistakes.  Everyone does.

Usually someone going the natural route does not use chemicals for combating varroa.  You will have your hands full trying to get your hives through the first season.

It is an addicting hobby.  I like to see everyone succeed the first year.  It is the toughest.

I'll do everything I can to ensure that the hives are successful. With a little luck, mentoring and hopefully not too many terrible mistakes i'll get them through their first year. With the flow hive deep brood box, I will be using a nuc hive, so I should have 5 frames of mixed brood, pollen and a little honey comb to get that one off and running in April. The other two hives are comprised of all mediums. I plan on using two mediums for brood boxes and an additional medium super for each hive if they manage to draw out that much comb throughout the season.
"It was so cold last night, I had to pull up another dog." - Grandpa

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: As natural as I can...
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2016, 10:09:18 pm »
John,
"Jim, is that 300 lbs. per hive? That's quite a lot. Frankly, i'm just hoping the two hives started from boxed bees and the flow hive started from a nuc will be able to raise enough brood and store enough honey to make it through winter to do splits and for a healthy start in 2017."

I wish. About 1/2 of it came from one hive and the rest from 5 other hives.
Several years ago I got 1200 pounds from 12 hives.
Jim

"If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed.  If you do read the newspaper you are misinformed."--Mark Twain