Thawing a box of frozen Flow frames


#1

An ongoing dilemma with the Flow hive is how to over winter the Flow super with the Flow frames.

With a traditional Langstroth hive, a common approach is to leave any unripe honey in the super, remove the queen excluder and let the bees move up in winter if required. This has a slight risk of the queen laying in the super, which is generally rectified in Spring by moving the queen down and reinstalling the queen excluder.

With a Flow hive, the queen laying in the Flow frames has serious consequences. If the queen lays in the Flow frames (which, contrary to popular belief… she does very readily), the entire frame needs to be disassembled to remove the cocoon and other remnants left by the hatched brood… otherwise this material interferes with the function of the frames.

One solution I put forward last season was to run an additional standard Langstroth super (in my case, Ideal depth) above the queen excluder and below the Flow super. This allows the colony to have winter stores in the Ideal super, and once this super is filled, the bees will move up to the Flow super. This allows the beekeeper to remove the Flow super and leave honey over winter in the standard Langstroth super.

This hive configuration looks something like this:

Orange: 10 Frame Flow super (7 Flow frames)
Purple: 10 Frame Langstroth ideal depth super
Blue: 10 Frame Langstroth full depth super

The queen excluder is between the blue and purple box.




This allows you to remove the Flow super for wintering, but still leaves the problem of what to do with the unripe honey that may be left in the Flow frames at the end of the season. In my setup, I didn’t want to drain the unripe honey as I (at some stage) want to see these frames full, so I froze the frames over winter in a chest freezer.

With the weather looking promising over the weekend I recovered the frames from the freezer and re-assembled the Flow super.

I didn’t freeze the box with the frames. You can definitely see the build up of propolis on the top of the super (and around the adjustment screws) from last season. I placed the super on an inverted Technoset lid to catch any honey/water from the process.


The Flow frames are stacked with other supers from the previous season. The Flow frames are stacked in the order they were pulled from the super, with more honey stored (and some capped) in the central frames (second photo), and less in the outer frames (third photo).


There was no visible impact to the frames from their time in the freezer, but they were a little less pleasant to handle / manipulate into the super. The frames were placed back in the super in the same order they were removed.


As with all Flow supers, there was some minor adjustment required to correctly fit the frames. In this case, frozen propolis had to be removed from the frames so they would seal up correctly against each other behind the removable observation panel.


The initial plan was to place the enclosed super (empty top feeder on top) in the sun to thaw, but the central heating proved more reliable than the Canberra forecast.

So in summary… I froze a Flow hive/super… and nothing has blown up yet :smiley: . Next step is to find out how the bees treat it.


Adding supers back on for the 2017 season
Building a two queen configuration for a Flow hive super
#2

I finally summoned up the courage to open my hive on Saturday. Had been putting it off for a few weeks. Not sure why… probably thinking that I’d be disappointed with the low numbers of bees after such chilly winter nights. They had been active over winter and were in a sunny sheltered spot. So my daughter and I pulled the flow super off, took one look at the hive and quickly stuck a new brood box on top and closed it up. It was going off!! Chock a block with bees. I was very surprised. I had left the queen excluder in place.

But…. traps for newbies.

Lots of moisture in the hive over winter so I had the hive on a rakish angle to enable good drainage. Still lots of moisture and mould. After pulling out the flow frames yesterday and cleaning them up I realised that I had the hive beautifully ramped the wrong way so the condensation drained in to and was retained in the bottom of the flow frame…. note to diary. Of course it makes sense. Flows are designed to drain out the back… maybe i’ll freeze them next year.

Anyway. Hopefully all good now. I’ll pop the box back on after the new brood box is run in. Colony will have its first birthday in October.

Cheers

C


#3

I find even when the hive is sloped forward, the Flow super regularly has condensation on the inspection window. I am hoping it will improve when the frames are closer to full. It comes and goes between days/inspections.

Perhaps it’s happening in other hives too, I just don’t have any others with windows to compare at this stage :smiley:


#4

I think that some hives actually need to be kept out of the rain. The rain tracks into mine, even when sloping. It’s a thing to note going forward.


#5

Hi there,

Does anyone know whether adding ideal boxes to a 6 frame Flow Hive possible?
I think this is a great concept.
You can check up on and add feed for your bees much more easily over the winter period.
I own a 6 frame Flow Hive. Will I be able to find a similar set up?

Saskia


#6

Hi Saskia,

Absolutely.

The 6 frame Flow Hive uses 8 frame Langstroth box dimensions, the 7 frame Flow Hive uses 10 frame Langstroth dimensions. If you purchase an 8 frame Langstroth Ideal super it should fit without any issues.

Example below:
https://www.becsbeehive.com.au/collections/hive-ware/products/hive-body-ideal-8-frame-size-assembled


#7

A minor update with some photos taken through the side window of the 7 frame Flow super.


Taken last week, you can see the uncapped honey sitting in the cells at the centre/bottom of the frame.




This week the uncapped honey is more obvious at the right of the photo


#8

Another update, the bees are now starting to cap off the cells of the Flow frames


#9

Happy to report that the frame visible through the window is about 95 percent capped with a few cells in the lower left of the picture still remaining uncapped. It’s been a long road to get all seven capped.

All things going well, I will extract the Flow frames next weekend.