Beginner Beekeeper Q & A - March
Another day, another honey harvest, and another beginner beekeeping Q & A! Today Cedar explains how the windows in your Flow Hive tell a story about what’s happening with your bees. We got a lot of good questions about getting a nuc at this time of year, can a herb garden affect your honey flavour, and whether wasps can enter into Flow Hive. A beautiful Teddy bear bee was busy in the garden, and Cedar rescued a bee that ended up in the harvesting jar.
Good morning, it's beginner beekeeping Q & A. It's time to ask all the questions that you're afraid to ask. Sometimes you're afraid to ask the questions, but here, get on there, put your questions in the comments. It doesn't matter how silly they are, and I'll answer them. But if you also know the answer to the question, chime in and help everybody learn, that's what it's all about. It's about all learning together and passing on the bee knowledge that we all hold.
And while we're doing that, we're going to be harvesting some honey from this hive. And I'll just have a look in the window and see straight away, I'm getting a bit of a story from the back of the Flow Frames here. So while you're thinking of your questions, I'm just going to explain a little bit about the observations and what I'm seeing in this hive.
So you can see there's a bit of a patchy look to it, see how these cells were nice and full right out here. And then there are some missing ones and then full, then missing, then full. What that means is the bees are actually uncapping and eating a bit of the honey away. And what that means is this not enough nectar to actually build up stores at the moment.
So what we're going to do is just harvest a small amount of honey and leave the rest for the bees. We’ll wait till they really bring in some more nectar and start filling out those frames again before harvesting any more honey. With the Flow Hive, you can go ahead and harvest just a single frame, or you can harvest part of a frame. So let's choose a frame that looks nice and full. So the one that looks the most full here is this one right here. And you can see the capping all the way down this side. And it's not unusual to be missing a little bit of honey on the end of the frame, they usually pull it away from the extremities or fill the extremities of the hive last, meaning the edges of the hive right out here and on the sides.
It's also a good idea to look in the side windows and just gauge what's going on in the hive there. I'm seeing there's a moderate amount of bees. They're not too crowded. They don't need splitting or anything at this point. And I'm also seeing some capping here and some uncapped cells in this region. So this is almost full, but not quite. If we swap around to the other side, let's have a look. Now, this is a frame I’ve harvested recently and see the way they've chewed the wax capping away, waxed up all the cells again, repaired them. As soon as they have enough nectar to start really storing the honey in those cells then the whole process starts again. Okay. So while you're thinking of the questions, what I'm going to do is set up for harvesting into a big jar today. Often we're harvesting to small jars, which is great for giving away as gifts and sharing around. But today I’ll harvest into a bigger jar so I can keep talking without having to keep swapping jars.
You'll need to adjust this harvesting bracket until it's about right in order to go over the screw, like that and turn it. You want it nice and firm. so your shelf will stay there. Now it’s the cover of the actual back window here, which becomes your harvesting shelf. And the thing is of this bit, just slide right in here, and then you have to put your jar on.
So we've chosen a frame and this is our new Flow Hive 2+. I have just found a hive beetle up here. This tube here has a little tongue on it that goes in the little slot at the bottom, just there. And you want to make sure you give it a good push like that. And then you're all set up for harvesting. All you need to do is put this key in, there are two slots at the top. We're putting it in the lower one. And then I'm just going to turn it.
Now, if you wanted to harvest a small amount of honey, you just insert the key a little ways and turn it. If you want to harvest more, you can go ahead and continue to harvest the rest of the frame like this. Okay? Now you can see the honey pouring down the tube already, and you can also see it coming down that end frame view right here. So it's a beautiful thing to watch that process happen and watch it pour into the jar. It's kind of mesmerising to just see it pouring straight out and it's ready for the table. There's no need for any more filtration. Occasionally you do get a couple of little bits of wax or something that just float to the top, but generally it's straight into the jar and away you go.
Is it too late to buy a nuc?
Okay, so a nucleus is a going little starter hive. So if you imagine you've got a box here, that's got your conventional frames, just wood and wax in the bottom. Then it's about half of those in a small little box. It has a queen. It has stores of honey and pollen and larvae, it's a going little beehive. So buying a nuc is probably the easiest way to get going.
And whether you can buy a nuc or not will probably depend on the availability from your bee breeders. Because it's a going little hive, then it's not as dependent as if you're buying a package where they're starting from nothing, just bees, no, no wax, no wood, nothing completed yet. So a nuc is probably the easiest, all you need to do is get in your bee suit, get out your smoker, put it into the brood box, look after them and they'll grow. And then once that's full, you can put your super on.
I guess the most common time of year to buy your nucs is going to be in the spring and summer. But ask your local bee breeders. You may be able to buy them at other times of year as well.
Are all nucs the same size when you buy one?
They're not actually, you can get them in varying different sizes, but they're usually pretty close. It'll be four brood frames or five brood frames, perhaps six, but most common is five brood frames. Complete with comb and bees doing their thing, raising their young and storing their honey.
Is it too late to split the hive this time of the year? (Northern NSW, Australia)
If you're on the coast here in the subtropics, then it's not too late. You can take splits certainly in the autumn. And it really just depends on how crowded your hive is. If you open the windows and what you're seeing is solid wall to wall, and you can hardly see the frames then it's to alleviate some of the congestion in the hive. Otherwise you may get a late swarm, more likely in springtime for them to swarm, but depending on the genetics, they might actually decide to swarm if they're really crowded. So it's not too late to take a split.
I didn’t add my super because I was waiting for the brood box to be 80% or 100% full. But now the bees have swarmed. What should I have done?
So that’s a bit of bad luck. It's really going to be genetics that determine that. Generally, it's a good idea to wait till your brood box is nice and full before putting the honey super on. So you didn't do anything wrong. You've got a bit of bad luck and they decided to swarm before you got to put your honey super on. So you need to wait for the bees to build up again before putting the super on top. Just make sure the frames are all drawn out and there's a nice amount of bees in your brood box.
I cleaned the super when I removed it for winter. Now that it’s ready to go back on, do I need to add anything to make the bees use the super again?
So once the frames are all sticky, the word sticky is used in conventional beekeeping when the frames are all waxed up, and they do the same to the Flow Frames as they do any other sticky frame if you're harvesting in a conventional way, once it's all waxed up. The first time the bees use it when the Flow Frames are new, then there are a few tricks you can do to get them in there quicker. All I ever do is put them on as they are, make sure that you've got a strong colony and there's lots of bees and wait for a good nectar flow, and the bees will get in there and start using the frames.
However, if you're getting a little impatient, the best thing I think to do is scrape some burr comb off the top of your brood frames. Now if your colony’s really busy, they would have built a bit of comb on top of the frames in your bottom box here. Scrape it off with your hive tool and just mash it into the Flow Frame surface, you won't damage the Flow Frames. Do it near the window so you can watch the process. The bees will then recycle that wax and you get to see them spread it around in that local area. And that might get you started a bit earlier. Now it won't suddenly materialise full frames. You still need to wait till there is a good nectar flow that exceeds the rate at which the bees are using honey in order to really store honey in your Flow Frames.
My brood box is very full. Should I add a super now, or is it getting too cold in the season? (Victoria, Australia)
I would say yes. You might get a nice autumn flow and it would be a nice thing to catch that if you can, and if it doesn't happen, you can always just pull that off again for the winter. So it could be a good idea to get some advice from local beekeepers on how much honey you might need to store for the wintertime. Here, we don't need to store much at all because we get a good flow in the wintertime and we can pretty much harvest honey all year round. And that's simply because we're in more of a subtropical region, but if you're in those colder areas, you do need to make sure there's enough stores for your colony to survive through that time.
There’s not much nectar around lately? Is this due to a lack of rain, or what might cause it? (Northern NSW, Australia)
It ebbs and flows and like any kind of agriculture, you only get the wins when the weather syncs up. You can get bad luck as well, where for instance, we had the fires and then even eight months later, we were finding a lot of the species were reluctant to flower and it was a bit of a hangover from that really dry time. So there's a lot to it in knowing whether species are going to flower, and it's quite specific to those species. For instance, the Melaleuca, the paper barks down here, they flower after rain. And they'll do that in the autumn. They'll do that in the winter and in the springtime. So they get called the rain tree and it's going to be a matter of just watching and waiting and a bit of patience in order for everything to align with a nice healthy colony and the abundance of nectar.
But the windows really do tell a story. So if you tune in with them, you'll notice when the nectar’s starting to flow in, because you'll see them putting the nectar in the cell, depositing it with the tongues. You get quite a different pattern here with a whole lot of cells partly filled all the way down and a bit of a meniscus shape in each cell as they're adding the nectar to each cell. And when they're hungry, you get this patchy look where you've got a full cell, nothing, a full cell and nothing.
When you first harvest the first quarter of your Flow Frame, and then you leave it for say a few weeks or a month, you go back and get the back half of the honey that you didn't harvest. What happens to the first quarter?
Okay, good question. You shouldn't then harvest it until it's completely full again. So you need to wait for the bees to fill it up and then you get something interesting, which is a two-tone honey. If they've foraged on nectar that's producing dark honey, the back of the frame might be dark and the front might be whatever's flowering presently, which will possibly be a lighter one. And then when you harvest, you might even see the two colours coming out together, and then you'll see different densities as well. One might float on the other in your jar. It's quite cool.
Is it too late to start a hive or should I wait until spring? (Tasmania, Australia)
Okay. You need to consult your local beekeepers for Tasmania. That's our Southernmost and coldest region. And coming into autumn might be getting late. It depends on which way you start. If you're starting from a package or you’re starting from a little split then I'd say it's too late. But what I'd probably recommend is see if you can purchase a hive that's already full-size off somebody and move that into your Flow Hive. So if you can get a brood box that's got a full set of brood frames already developed, or even better a double box and move that colony, into your Flow Frames. That'll give you a jumpstart and you might get an autumn flow out of it that way.
How much maintenance and care does it take to be a beginner beekeeper?
Okay, great question. So as far as the bees concerned, I'll touch on that first, the Flow Frames allow this easy method of harvesting that's nice and gentle. You can experience and enjoy this with your family. And it's really different to conventional harvesting, which was quite a long involved process involving equipment and a lot of labour.
But it doesn't change how the bees need to be looked after. We have put some extra features to make some aspects easier for looking after your bees, but you'll still need to get in there and do your routine brood inspections. It's not a daily practice like chickens, where you need to feed them and close them up at night and so on. You can still go away for four months at a time, and your bees are generally fine. However, you need to keep an eye on them.
And if the numbers drop, you're going to want to get in there. If you want to see what a brood inspection looks like, if you dial back a few videos, you'll notice one called your first brood inspection. And you can get a good idea of what's involved in pulling those frames out. And you'll need to go through each frame in the brood box at least a couple of times a year. And if you don't want to do that, you need to get somebody to do that. And that's here in Australia.
Or if you see that the numbers are dropping, you need to get in there and have a look. Perhaps you've lost the queen, or perhaps there's a disease issue in your hive. And you'll need to rectify that.
Here in Australia and we don't have the Varroa mite. If you are in another continent that has the Varroa mite, then things can get more involved depending on your management strategy for those little annoying mites. And I'm glad we don't have them here. And you may need to treat your hive a number of times throughout the season. And if you want to know more information about that, go to TheBeekeeper.org. We've got an in-depth training course with experts from around the world, covering all things beekeeping and its aim to take you from square one, right through to a deep scientific knowledge. And it's also a fundraiser raising funds for habitat regeneration and protection for our bees.
If your hive is near a herb garden and the bees are pollinating the herbs, do you think your honey will taste like the herbs?
There are almost as many different flavours in the world as there are flowers, flowering types that produce nectar. And it's an extraordinary thing to taste that. And certainly you can plant lavender and get lavender honey. You'll have to plan a lot though, because the bees really forage on a lot of flowers. A hive like this in full flight could reach 50 million flowers a day. So yes, you can certainly plant flowers, but if you want to make a difference for your honey crop, you'll need to plant a lot. So you'll need to get busy and have enough room to plant those species.
There are some other effects though of planting just a small garden like this one. One is you are encouraging not only honeybees, but all of the native species of bees that we completely rely on. Purple flowers, yellow flowers, white flowers, a lot of the native species love them. And you get the blue banded bees here in Australia. You'll get the fire-tailed resin bees, you'll get the leafcutter bees and all of these beautiful native species that are really important to us. And it provides some stepping stones across the urban landscape because some of the distances that those native species fly are quite short. So they might only go a few hundred metres.
So an important thing for us to do is rewild our world and provide habitat for our species of pollinators. Here's one right here, have a look at this. This is a Teddy bear bee. This is an incredible native bee, and it's just landed on a flower here. Thank you. Good, good timing. Right on cue.
And here's one of our pollinator houses here, we were doing a great show and tell here, it's just been put here, but it hasn't actually been populated by the pollinators yet. There's one up on our veranda that has an amazing amount of traffic of different native bee species coming in.
So that is the reason why you might plant a small amount of habitat in your backyard, even though it won't likely change the honey crop of your Flow Hive. But it's a wonderful thing. Some say there are medicinal benefits of planting certain herbs as well for your bees.
Does the Flow Hive come with bees? Where can I get bees?
So the answer is no, they don't. The hive comes flat-packed. You will need to put it together. We do provide the tools to do so. Although if you have a drill, it will make things a bit quicker. You'll then need to put either a coat of oil or a nice paintwork like this on your hive in order to make it last longer.
The next stage is putting the bees in the hive and you'll need to do that by one of four methods. The most common being buying bees off a bee breeder, and the easiest one is buying a nucleus hive, which is a going little starter box full of frames. It has a queen and has maybe 10,000 bees in it. And they're there, the queen's laying eggs, they're collecting pollen that they're collecting nectar, they're feeding their babies. And all you need to do is get in your beesuit, get out your smoker, transfer your bees from your nuc into your Flow Hive. Look after them and they'll grow.
Other methods are but a package, get a swarm or take a split, which is a nice one. If you've got a friend with a hive, you can take a split, which is taking some frames out of their hive. Or an unlikely method is a bait hive, which is probably what you're referring to. If you set up your hive, will the bees come? The answer is well sometimes, but not usually. If you look up bait hive, there are methods of making your hive more attractive for bees to move in. It's more likely to happen if you're positioning your hive near other colonies of bees in the springtime, and you just might get a swarm of bees moving in, but I'd highly recommend just starting with a nucleus, much easier than waiting for a swarm of bees to move in.
So we've got a bee that's just jumped into the honey jar. Now, if you're finding that happening, then you'll need to cover up your jar and make sure the bees don't jump in. You don't want bees consuming honey outside the hive. We're going to show you how to fish that out. You can just get your Flow key, which I've taken out of there. And it's just a case of scooping that up. And what we're going to do is put it right back on the landing board and the other bees will clean that up. So here we go. So it's really not too hard. All I’ve done is put it back on the landing board and you see the other bees quickly coming to clean her up and she'll be quite okay.
In order to cover up your jar, I'll just show you how to do that, but it does look cool watching the bees coming and going. They're a bit quiet today because we've got a rainy day. It's a great thing to be looking at the entrance of the hive. And they're more likely to give you a sting if you're hanging around in front of the hive, so do wear your protection and make sure you're looking after yourself and learning the easy way by wearing your protective gear in the beginning. So if you want to cover up your jar, you need some kitchen wrap, or in this case, it's a piece of fabric with a wax and oil coating that you can use for packaging your kid's lunch and so on. And you can just wrap it around like that and that'll stop any bees or rain getting into your jar.
Can I harvest honey when the frames are 70-80% capped?
So conventional beekeepers usually will take honey frames if they're 70% capped. The reason being is they're in there doing it anyway. However, they're usually blending it with a whole lot of other frames that are more capped. So the moisture content you're aiming to get down around the 18% mark. Now, in order to get it down that low, the bees need to do an incredible amount of work. And when it's ready and that moisture content is low, they'll put their capping on.
So you might find that if you harvest a frame that is 70% capped, the moisture content is a bit too high, and you'll be able to tell just by how runny the honey is in the jar. It's warm when it first comes out, let it cool down and if it's behaving like honey then it's probably got a nice low moisture content. But if it's quite liquid in the jar, then you'll need to consume it before fermentation occurs.
No problem for us in our household to consume the honey. But just a thing, if you can go ahead and harvest, but if it is quite liquid, you're just going to need to consume that before it turns into honey mead. Or you could keep it in the fridge, which will prolong that process. So if you can't wait any longer, you could also just harvest a small amount of the frame just by inserting the key a little ways.
I'll just give you a demonstration of that. So you’ll be going in the bottom slot there. This one's already open, but for a typical jar of 300ml, you'll be going in about a sixth of the way to harvest one of those jars. And you go turn that, and then you'll be able to experience some honey harvesting if you're not quite sure whether it's time to harvest yet.
My Flow Frames are ready to harvest. Should I leave some for the bees? (Sydney, Australia)
Definitely a good idea to leave honey for the bees, especially if you're unsure. the best knowledge of that will be your local beekeepers. So ask them how much honey you'll need to leave for your bees to survive the winter ahead. In our case, we don't have to leave any, but in the colder regions, you'll need to leave some for your bees and you might even need to leave a whole box if it's if you're likely to get a really long, cold winter.
Teddy Bear bee
So look at this, my sister Mira is doing some photography in the garden here. Here's a Teddy bear bee foraging on the salvia.
Mira - She actually looks like she's just resting. Like she's just holding on a little bit.
Isn't that amazing. Look at that. So if you've ever watched our channels, you'll notice there's an incredible amount of macro bee footage, slow motion bees. And most of that is filmed by my sister. She’s a complete bee nut! Her friends won't hang out with her when she goes out in the parks these days, because all she does is chase bees around the garden. And it's an incredible image that she's able to capture. She's got a little lens lens attachment there on the phone, but it's very unusual to see a Teddy bear bee. So it's a pretty exciting moment here. See it hanging there.
So that's one of our native Australian bees and look at its eyes. Isn't that incredible? It's called a Teddy bear bee aptly named because of just how furry it is. It's furry all over and it looks like a little Teddy bear.
Has Flow Hive ever considered selling hives already painted or hot-dipped in wax?
Okay, pre-painted or pre-treated wood we definitely have considered it, but we don't have that one in the pipeline. So the best thing to do would be to get some help from somebody else if that's a step that feels a little bit too daunting for you.
Is it easy to maintain the garden with all those bees flying around?
Well, that's a great question for Trace, who's asking the questions.
Trace - It is, but I always make sure I wear a veil and hat, especially around the front of the entrance. But most of the time the bees here are pretty easy. So yeah, I do wear safety equipment if I'm getting a little bit too close.
Genetics plays a big role in that one. And we did have one grumpy hive in the row, which was being annoying for the guy that was doing the mowing. So what we did was we requeened that hive by putting a queen from a bee breeder with known calm genetics and that sorted out that issue. And now we can mow in front of the hives, still wearing a bee suit just in case, but these bees don't seem to get upset with that. But mowing in front of beehives you'll know pretty quickly which ones are cranky and which ones aren't.
Will native bees work in a Flow Hive?
No, they don't. In fact, these ones don't even form colonies. The teddy bear bee won't actually create a colony like the European honeybee. There's not that many species in the world that do actually form colonies and store honey that we can harvest. We do have a native bee in Australia called the sugar bag bee. It just looks like a tiny little black fly, and you can harvest a very small amount of honey from that, but it's a completely different structure. It has this incredible spiralling structure inside with their brood, and then around that, just more like globules of wax. And they store the honey and pollen together in these globules. But it's not a structure that could work with a Flow Hive at all. And they don't really produce enough honey to warrant making a mechanism for harvesting.
Is it a good idea to use an entrance reducer during winter? (Melbourne, Australia)
It could be a good idea. We do have an entrance reducer available now, which is neat. And it might be a good idea to just reduce the entrance down, give your bees an easy time with ventilation, as well as making sure that there's no issues with robbers coming in and preying on the hive if your hive is in a weak state. Ask your local beekeepers whether they use entrance reducers and that might give you a good idea of whether to put one of them on the front.
I’ve got a Classic Flow Hive. Should I remove the corflute slider or leave it in the lowest slot? What’s best for ventilation? (Canberra, Australia)
So, yeah, generally with the Classics you want to leave the corflute slider in the lower slot, that'll provide plenty of ventilation. If you leave it in the top slot permanently, what can happen after six months or more is the bees will stick the corflute slider to the mesh and it's just a pain to move out. So the general thing you do with the Classic is the corflute slider goes in the bottom slot and you move it to the top slot when you're harvesting. And that way, if there is any honey spilled inside the hive, it will sit on the mesh and on top of the corflute and other bees won't be able to access that. Whereas if you leave it out or in the bottom slot, then you could get a little bit of honey dribbling out of your hive, which could attract other bees and, and start robbing issues. So the corflute slider in the top for harvesting and in the bottom generally.
Do nucs come with queens?
Yes. So a nucleus is going a little hive. It's got a queen who's laying, it's got brood, it's got pollen, it's got nectar. And it's basically just a going little beehive that you transfer and provide some more room for it to grow. A package, on the other hand, is an artificial swarm where they'll shake a bunch of bees into a box they'll then put a queen in a little cage. They'll provide some sugar syrup for those bees to feed on in transit, and they typically get sent in the mail and you'll get some funny looks from your post person as a box of buzzing bees rocks up at your door.
Can you switch the frames around in your brood box to get the bees to start using the outside frames more?
You can, that's one way to go. The other way is just to wait. Now it's typical to rotate the frames a little bit, but usually putting fresh ones back in the centre to provide some nice virgin cells for the queen to lay her eggs in and relieve a bit of pressure in the hive in terms of congestion. And that's a typical springtime thing to be doing. But by all means, if you're getting impatient and you are wanting the bees to finish drawing some of the outer frames, you can put them in between two other frames and, and that way they'll get straight in there and start drawing that wax on that frame.
How can I add a feeder to my Flow Hive?
There are a few options for feeding. So if you have a look under the lid here, we've included a plug here. Now, if I pull that out, the bees will start coming out. So I won't do that right now because I don't have a veil or a beesuit on, but under there is a hole and you can either make a feeder.
And if you look up making a feeder on our Flow Hive YouTube channel or our Facebook page, you will see ways you can just make a quick feeder using a jar, putting some holes in the lid, putting your sugar syrup in, turning upside down on that area. Otherwise, you can use a Ziploc bag. You can fill that full of sugar, put sugar water in, put some pinholes in it. And the bees will come up through the hole and forage on that under the lid.
There is a round top feeder you can get, which is a circular shape, which fits good enough under the lid. If you want to make a feeder, with a big jar like this, then you'll need a box to house it. So imagine a jar this size with holes in the lid, your sugar syrup in there, turn it upside down on top, put another empty box on top of it. And then the lid on top of that. So that's another way to go if you want to make your own feeder.
The timber on my hive is starting to look a little bit shabby. Can you re-coat your hive with oil?
You can, now be sensible, protect yourself with your suit and so on, but giving it a bit of TLC can be done with the bees in it. You can sand the outside a little, give it another coat of oil, a great thing to do. After six or 12 months, you will get the hive needing a bit of TLC if you're wanting it to maintain this beautiful wood look outdoors. The entrance, you might want to do that early morning while there are not many bees coming out yet. And you can choose your moment to coat the front of the hive as well.
Fantastic, I think Mira is finding more Teddy bear bees. I was getting distracted over there. It's beautiful to plant a pollinator garden, really, especially if you've got kids and you've got a family and you can tune in, if you have a look at TheBeekeeper.org, we've got great videos on there, not only training videos, but a lot about the importance of our native pollinators as well.
What do you put in the new ant caps?
Okay. So what we put in here was some cooking oil. If we open this up, you need to put oil in the cap. You can easily use the cap of the oil bottle and raise up the lid and pour it into that little cup there. And that provides a liquid barrier, which makes it hard for ants to get across it. If you want to take it a step further, there's also an area we provided under here to put some Vaseline or grease on. And that way you can limit those ants from getting up onto your hive. They can be a bit of a cosmetic annoyance. If you've got large ants, you'll need to leave this cap up a bit higher, the small ants, you can move it down lower. And that works quite nicely.
You'd thought at first that the Flow Frame that you're harvesting wasn't very full and yet you seem to be getting a really big jar of honey out of it.
I was pretty sure that one was full. But you're right, it did have a few cells missing. It's not that unusual to have a few cells missing. If you have a look at this frame here, I'm pretty sure this one's full too, but they've just started to eat away the extremities. So there should be a lot of honey in that frame too. And you can still see the capping on most of it down the side here. If you have a really good look you can see that wax sheet, perhaps it's better on this side, that the bees are actually capping across the frame.
Would wasps go into Flow Hives?
So there are no issues with wasps here in Australia, but other countries have wasp issues like the yellow jackets that will actually eat bees and they can be quite an issue in some countries. The entrance reducer will help with that. It'll provide a small entrance for your bees to defend themselves. I'm not an expert on wasps, but we do have content from experts around the world on TheBeekeeper.org on how to deal with pests in hives.
Will the ant caps work on an older Flow Hive?
Yes, we knew the question would come. So it'll work on our Flow Hive 2. It won't work on the Classic because it's got quite a different base structure than the Flow Hive 2, which has this larger base. There are two options. You could replace the whole leg, which is this new cast aluminium with a stronger leg here. And you could also just get our and caps and put them on to the legs. We're making those for you now and they will be available soon. They're different because they have a different size bolt.
We just got our bees. How long should we wait before we put the top box on?
It’s best to wait until the frames in the brood box, making their wax in each frame, then that's a good time to put on your top box. If you have a time coming with no flowers like your wintertime, then you may not get a chance to add the top box until the following spring. You may need to get some advice from local beekeepers on that as well. In some cases, you might need to feed them up a bit to get enough stores to last a long cold winter, if you're in one of those colder regions.
Will you harvest the rest of the Flow Frames that only have little bits of honey in them?
I will leave them just because I can’t see the bees bringing in a whole lot of nectar at the moment. I'm not seeing a filling pattern. What I'm seeing is a little bit of a hungry pattern. So I wanted to harvest some honey both to fill our jar for our tea room, but also just to show you how it works. So I'll leave the rest of it for the bees. And that's a neat thing about harvesting with the Flow Hive. You can really easily just take a little bit and leave the rest for the bees.
Finish the harvest
Thank you very much for tuning in. I'm going to show you how to complete the process now, while you could wait longer for the last dribbles to come out, you can also just give them back to the hive simply by taking this tube out and replacing the cap. Now we'll provide space for the bees’ tongues to come up through what we call the leak back point and finish off those last dribbles. So pretty soon you'll actually see the bees licking up into that area. And what I'm going to do is just lean this tube on this jar like that, so the last bits go into the jar. I'm going to go ahead and replace the top cap.
Now I haven't reset the frame. So if I try and put this cap in, you'll notice that it doesn't quite go in properly. And that's a thing we wanted to remind you of, because we found that we were forgetting to put the cap back on. When we were developing the hive for a decade, my father and I, we thought “aha, we need a little tag to remind you.”
So in order to reset them, this goes into the top slot like this. And you're going to need to push that all the way in till you feel it stop at the back. Once you've done that, you can then go ahead and turn it to 90°. It’s not a bad idea to wait 30 seconds or so, just for the parts to move back into place, because you can imagine the cells are covered in wax and propolis, and they all need to move from that position back to that position. So leaving it there will assist in that process of just putting them back in the right place. Once you've done that, you can then put the key back to a 90. You take that out and your cap should fit in nicely now, and that completes the harvesting process.
You can then take your jar of honey away and close this door here, because you don't want to leave that open and for light to get in. And don't forget to close the top cap, the top bar access cover as well, which is this little one here, goes in here like that. And you can then turn that to lock it all into place. Thank you very much for watching.
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