Beginner Beekeeping September

by Flow Hive 28 min read

It’s Beginner Beekeeping Q&A from Cedar’s house. He talked about pest management, Flow Frame troubleshooting and painting your hive, among other topics.



Video Transcription

Hi, it's the first day of spring here in the Southern hemisphere, the bees are buzzing in the blossoms. My son, Jarli's just been finishing off his beehive this morning here, and he's done a great job of painting the roof and it's all ready to go. And, hey! There he is. He's finishing off the inside of the windows there and it's almost done and ready for the bees. All right. So we've got beginner beekeeping Q & A this morning. So if you've got any questions, Trace in my pocket is going to read out those questions for us. We're in lockdown here. So we're at home. Hopefully, the internet holds up. I've been rigging up a crazy internet thing with an internet dongle connected to an old satellite dish. We'll see how it goes. 

Let's have a look right here. See what's happening with these blossoms on the trees first day of spring, and you can see the blossoms have timed it perfectly. They must have got the memo that the calendar ticked over and then just opened today. These are Mandarin blossoms and the bees are buzzing in them, which is a beautiful sound to wake up to in the morning. If I come over to the hive here, we just took the windows off a second ago. It's good not to leave them off though, because when the sun shines in, it'll heat up the hive. So let's have a look and see there's a little reflection there, but beautiful. So there's the bees on the capped cells moving around. So we're looking at the other window, got a lot of honey there that we actually need to harvest to make room in the hive for spring.

Beekeeping Questions

I’ve only got one hive and accidentally killed the queen. Now the hive is honey bound and I’ve got a queen coming. What’s the best way to introduce her? And do I need to get rid of some honey frames so she has somewhere to lay?

That's a bit of an advanced question this morning. The answer is it could be a good idea if there's a lot of honey and nowhere for her to lay, to make a bit of room. A couple of weeks ago, we showed you how to just pull a frame out of the hive andcut out the honeycomb. And then you can just put it straight back in. What will happen is the bees will then draw some fresh comb and prepare it for the queen to lay some eggs. If you've got an issue where the queen has died, you want to get in there quite quickly. Because if you leave it too long, you can run into this scenario where the hive actually gets what's called hopelessly queenless. And then it might be hard for them to take on a new queen. So as quick as possible, give it some eggs for them to raise their own queen. Or it sounds like you might've ordered one in the mail, which is a good way to go because you get some known genetics from a bee breeder. So it's a good idea to get in there, make some space in that brood nest. It's a good thing to do in spring anyway, because it limits the swarming tendencies

For first-time beekeepers do you recommend nucleuses or packages?

The nucleus is probably the easiest way to go because it's a going little beehive. It's got a laying queen, it's got honey stores, pollen stores and brood. It's a functioning little hive and all you're doing is giving it a bigger home. And to do that, you get in your bee suit, get out your smoker and transfer it in. I've got lots ofvideos showing you just how to do that. Look after them and they'll grow. Now, it's a little bit of a case of whatever you can get. If you can't get a nuc, you could try a package, which is a bit like an artificial swarm that you shake into your hive and away they go. Or taking a split is a really good option because in springtime here in the Southern hemisphere, it's often easy to find a split because in a way you're helping an existing beekeeper by alleviating room in their brood box, which limits those swarming tendencies. And you can take a few frames from there to start your hive.

We are expecting to receive a nuc next week. When installing a nuc at this time of the year, typically how long should it take on average for the colony to fill out the brood box enough to add the super? (Sunshine Coast, Australia)

It really, really does vary. So the two things are how strong the colony is, which is largely dependent on how virile the queen is and how many eggs she can lay and the general genetics of the colony. And when that coincides with when there's a lot of nectar in all the blossoms, springtime is a perfect time for that. Then it can happen really fast and it can happen in weeks they can fill out that bottom box and even start to fill the top box. But typically it might be a month or two, or in some cases you can have a poor season or genetics that are a bit slow and it might take a whole season for them just to get on their feet. So like anything in farming, everything is reliant on different factors to get a good crop. And in this case, you've got the genetics of the bees lining up with the nectar flow and that's when it will happen quickly. So you might need to throw in the ingredient of patience and having more hive than one will help, because often you can get one harvest going slow and another hive it's going fast. And it's really good to see that the experience of how one colony can be different to another.

Should the entrance reducer be used to protect the colony after transferring a nuc into the brood box, until the hive reaches sufficient strength? (Sunshine Coast, Australia)

I don't use entrance reducers. Here in Australia, we live in a subtropical region and the weather is not cold enough. We don't have the wasp issues. We don't have the mice issues. So really, the only time I'm using entrance reducers is when I want to move a hive. And I turn it up the other way and use it as a closer. However, people in those colder regions, or if you happen to have a very weak colony and there's the potential for robbing behaviour, then the entrance reducer is a good idea. People in colder climates may decide to use the entrance reducer, it could be still a bit cold and you want to limit the entrance size. So it depends where you are in the world. I wouldn't worry about it here in Australia.

The small hive beetles at the moment seem to be extra abundant around the tops of the Flow Frames. Could I use wax to block the areas where they are hiding? 

It's an interesting one. When you think about it, the hiding of the hive beetle isn't actually the issue. It's if those beetles are allowed to get out from hiding and start to lay eggs in the comb. Bees will use any crevice or any crack or an empty Flow Hive or an empty brood frame to herd the beetles down and keep them captive so that don't lay around the place. So it's normal for them to hide in every crevice. Now the time when you need to really worry about the hive beetle is when your hive is weak and there's not enough bees to cover all the frame surfaces. And if your hive is just starting out and it has gotten weak, let's say they've changed the queen, the numbers have dropped, or they've swarmed, then get your beetle trap out, however you're doing that. The Flow Hive 2 has a nice big tray in the base you can use for catching those beetles. Put in a bit of oil or some people like to use detergent and water, and the bees will inevitably chase quite a lot of the beetles down into that trap below. So I wouldn't worry about trying to patch up any crevices. The bees like them to herd the beetles into. They'll use empty cells everywhere, all over the hive anyway. Any empty comb on the brood frame or a Flow Frame will be used to hide beetles in anyway. There's millions of little holes there, so a few more around the place doesn't really matter.

There are a lot of little bugs in my super and the bees haven't produced any honey. What should I do? (Melbourne, Australia)

If they are little black beetles, they'll be the small hive beetles, which are a pest in beehives. And when the hive is weak, it is good to catch those beetles. When the hive is strong, generally, I find that the bees look after themselves. So as soon as the hive is weak or it's starting off weak, if you can catch those beetles, you'll be helping your hive. You can just get in there and squash a bunch. Or in a Flow Hive 2, you can use the tray at the bottom to catch them by putting some oil or detergent in there. 

Or if you've got a Flow Hive Classic, then you can usevinyl tablecloths. On the underside they're a bit furry and it's cloth that you can get down at many fabric stores. And what you need to do is cut a square of that out and stick it to your corflute slider, make sure it's, well-stuck down with multiple lines of double-sided tape. Because if you leave it raised up a bit, the bees will tend to pull it up through the screen and it all gets in a bit of a mess. So you stick it well and put it down in the lower position and you can catch a bunch of beetles that way. Or you can find a little container that's small enough, like even like the lid of a Tupperware container and put that in between the corflute slider and the screen put some oil in there. You catch some beetles that way. You just want to make sure that container is 10ml deep, a bee tongue can lick about seven millimetres through that screen. They can poke their head through a little bit and I've detected that can go about seven millimetres through the screen. So if you are putting a Tupperware container below, you want to make sure that it's more than seven millimetres, so the bees can't get down there and lick any oil. Not that they probably will want to lick oil, but you don't want them having a go.

I got some bees for my Flow Hive recently and there's a fair bit of chalkbrood. What's the best way of treating that?

So chalkbrood is when the brood is partway through, it turns into a little chalky mummy. That's like a little mummified baby bee. So it's a problem in the brood nest that can be rectified. There's two things I would suggest doing. One is moving the hive into the sun, if it's not already. Get plenty of ventilation and plenty of air, you can take the tray out of the bottom. Getting plenty of ventilation up through the hive and in a sunny position will often clear it up. Or replace the queen. Genetics can really help with that as well. Some people throw banana skins into the hive. The jury's out on whether it works or not, whether it's Hocus Pocus, but many say that banana skins just laid on top of the frames will turn the hive into a cleansing mode where the bees will get in there and clean not only the banana skins out, but also chalkbrood from out of the frames as well. So it's said to be a bit of a trigger for a spring clean.

I’ve just got a Flow Hive 2 and getting my first nuc next month. Should I fill the rest of the brood box with empty frames or should I go with wax sheet foundation? (Victoria, Australia)

It's up to you. There's a strong tradition of beekeepers, and I started off this way for many, many years, putting foundation sheets in the frames. Where I'd spend a lot of time at night, wiring up frames, getting the jumper leads out from the car battery, getting the wax hot to melt the foundation sheets onto. It can be a bit of fun for a while, but I found it quite tedious. And I much prefer these days to let the bees do it themselves. Because we're harvesting with a Flow Hive, we don't need that level of support through the wax honeycomb. We're not putting it in a centrifuge. So you can go ahead and allow the bees to draw their natural comb themselves, which is what I always do these days. I just put the comb guide in the top that we supply and let the bees draw the comb themselves. To me, that's more fun. And while it's less work preparing the frames, you've got to do a couple more brood inspections to make sure they're going straight on the frames. And if they're going a bit wonky, get your hive tool out and just push them back into line. You want nice straight frames so that you can get in there and inspect each one for pests and diseases periodically.

Can you use a pollen catcher on the Flow Hive?

Okay. I haven't used pollen catchers, they are is a brush that brushes the pollen balls off the bees' hind legs. And people collect that and then they eat that as a pollen source. Now the idea is you don't do the whole entrance because obviously the bees also need pollen for themselves. So pollen catchers usually have a partial entrance. So it'll just be about adapting that particular pollen catcher to your Flow Hive. So there's no reason why not. It's just about making whatever one you're using fit to the entrance.

If the super doesn't have honey in it, can you feed the bees sugar water through the top lid using the Mason jar technique?

You certainly can. I've got how to make a quick feeder in ourvideos on YouTube. And it shows you how to make a feeder with a sugar syrup in the jar. Lots of little holes in the lid, you can do with a nail or a tiny drill bit. And you simply just upend the jar and it air locks. And any droplets come out, you can put that over the hole in the inner cover, which then gives you a bit of feed for your bees. Great thing to do if your bees are starving.

I want to do a hive split in the next few weeks. How far apart do I place the hive to ensure the bees don't go back to the old hive?

So they will go back to the old hive. And the way I generally do it is I put it right up against the original one and even move the original one over a little bit. So the new hive gets the lion's share of the bees coming home. So you can use that as a little bit of a juggling technique. The bees coming home, you're simply positioning the weaker one more in the flight path, and then it will then get more bees. So that's if you're planning to do the split on site, if you really want to move it away, then the best thing to do would be to take that split and move it more than four kilometres, six miles away. And none of those bees will return. However, some people do just move it a short way and they put up with the forager bees returning to the old hive. The nurse that you put into your split, a bunch of them will change over and become forager bees. So while you can just move it a ways away, I would recommend just putting it right up against it and moving the original one over a bit. And that way you're sharing the forager bees that are coming home between those two hives.

Can I leave the super on my Flow Hive over winter? (Midwest, USA)

So some people do, some people don't. Regardless, I would recommend at least removing the queen excluder. So if your bees are moving up to eat some of the honey in the Flow super, then they are free to move and the queen is free to go with the ball of bees. Otherwise, what can happen is the queen is orphaned below the excluder and she can perish in the cold. So remove the excluder if you're going to leave the super on during a long winter. Might be a good idea to ask your local beekeepers that question, whether to downsize for winter. In many places, beekeepers will take some or all of the supers off for the winter.

How you can tell if the Flow Frames are in the closed position once they are in the hive? Looking through the side window at the outside frames, it looks like the comb is not right.

The best way to have a look at that is to make sure you're looking at a bit of a downward angle because the cells slope upwards at about a 13-degree angle, and that will give you a better idea of whether the parts are lining up like this. But if you notice that some of the cells are up and some are like that, then it's possible that they've moved in transit and you've forgotten to do that part of the setup where you return them all into thecell-formed position. So to do that, you take the cap out of the top of the frame, put a key in the top slot and turn it and that'll push all those cell parts down. Now if it's been a long time and the bees have started to wax up that frame, then it may be the case that they're stuck up in that position. If you find that's the case, what you'll have to do is remove the frame from the hive, put a key or two in the top slot and turn it and put that frame in the sun in a black plastic bag. It'll get nice and hot and all the parts will move back into position. And you can put that frame back in the hive again. Otherwise what happens is it causes issues down the track where the bees either can't use the cell lines at all because they're too far. Or if they're just partway like that, they might decide to use it, but then it doesn't harvest properly because if it lifts a little bit, it's not making much of a pathway there. So you really want it to be in the down position. So when it lifts, you've got a nice, clear pathway all the way down. And remember if you've been harvesting, put the key in the top slot and turn it, leave it there for 30 seconds or so, wax and propolis does move a bit slowly. You want all the parts to reform before you take that key out. If you've just gone for a little quick close, you might find a bunch of the cells bounce back to that position, which as said can cause issues later.

If that has happened, can you just go back and then do a second close on it, just to double-check if you didn't leave your key in long enough?

Yeah, absolutely. So you can just put the key in the top slot anytime and turn it and even leave it there for a while if you're concerned. You might even feel some resistance. You should feel a bit of resistance, but if you can compare that to the next frame, and one's got a lot of resistance compared to the next one on closure, then it's probably that a bunch of the cells are stuck up and sitting up. And in that case, you could try just leaving the key in there for a day or so and that might push those parts back down. But if it doesn't, then you have to go through the procedure we just talked about of taking the frame out and rectifying it.

Do the Flow Frames ever need replacing and if so, why would they need that?

Okay. They shouldn't. If you have any problems do get in contact. We don't have a flawless record. There have been problems and we have had to make replacements. If you have any problems, get in contact and we will help you. So it's a new technology. We now had it in the wild for over six years and we've got plenty of frames that are working great six years later. Lots and lots of people enjoying their Flow Hives. And we hope they last many, many years beyond that. There can be issues that you need to fix, like let's say if your frames aren't returning properly, we were talking about that earlier, that has created issues out there for people. But we built the hive to last many, many years, and we will look after you.

Can you harvest honey from the brood box?

So the brood box, generally you leave for the bees. There's often a bit of honey on the edge. If there's a lot of honey around, you can harvest a bit of honeycomb from there if you want to. But generally, we just leave that to the bees. And when it's nice and full, so you've got a brood in the middle, pollen, you've got honey on the edges and there's a lot of bees in there, then you go and put your Flow super on top. And as the bees expand, they'll expand into that area. Start the process of waxing up those Flow Frames and storing nectar and turning it into honey.

How much honey can you expect to get from a Flow Hive in a good season? (Queensland, Australia)

It does vary a lot. In a worst-case scenario, you get none in a season and best case, you'll be harvesting all your frames multiple times during the season. If you harvest all of them, you've seen the typical jars we fill up, you get up to 50 jars per hive, six, seven, sometimes more of those jars per frame. So there's a lot of honey there. And if you do that several times during the season, then you might end up with 100, 200 jars of honey from your hive in a season. So it's about 18 kilogrammes of honey when all the frames are full. So 50 kilogrammes or so would be possible from your hive. A lot of people are able to pull that amount of honey from their hive in a nice season, but as said, it does vary a lot, sometimes more than that, sometimes a lot less.

What sort of area do you need in your yard to have a Flow Hive?

So the great thing about beekeeping is it's such a small footprint. And when you use a Flow Hive, all the harvesting equipment is contained in the box as well. So you really don't need a whole lot of space. You just need the space for your beehive to sit in and a little bit of a flight path at the front so they can get up and away without bothering anybody. So people actually keep bees on balconies in the city, on rooftops, in urban backyards. And even some people keep observation hives inside their homes with pipes going out for the bees to fly out. So there's a few options there. And the wonderful thing is with a very small footprint, you can create very real produce. Because even though you might be planting some great flowers in your garden, the bees are actually foraging on up to a 10-kilometre radius and bringing all of that nectar back into your hive. So it's really an amazing amount of work. Some people view it as almost a superorganism that can spread itself out over a 10-kilometre radius and bring itself back in, in order to do its foraging work. So you can do that from a very small backyard. Of course, there are considerations about the flight path and the bees. And we've got videos helping to teach you about that. You can have a look, or you can have a look at a video calledsituating your hive on our YouTube channel.

What's the best way to provide water for our bees and keep them away from the neighbours' pool?

So the reason why they're probably going to a swimming pool is bees need minerals. Fred Dunn did a great video calledbees need minerals, and it shows an exercise of filling up water sources. Some of them with salt in it and the bees will go for the salty ones. Move that around and they'll find that salty one again. So if you want them to go to your feeder, in a bottle of water like that, put a teaspoon of salt. The bees will prefer that over just fresh water. So that's something to keep in mind. If you are making a bee feeder, you can you can do upside down jars the same as you do with sugar syrup and the bees can lick that little bit of water. Or you can do pebbles with the bees being able to land on those pebbles and lick down through them. They definitely prefer some kind of structure to stand on. So if you've just got an open birdbath style feeder, filling it full of stones or wood chip or something like that will really help your bees.

What do you do when the brood box is totally full?

So when the brood box is totally full, it's a good idea to put your honey super on. Because you want a nice thriving colony down in the brood box and then it's time to put your honey super on top. Let's just go and have a look at the hives over here and I'll explain what's what, and that might help a little bit. We'll go back to the hive in the garden here, we're home at my place today and look down at the bees doing their thing in the garden. So looking at this hive here, the bottom box is called the brood box simply because that's where the queen is doing her thing laying potentially a couple of thousand eggs a day. And all of that brood is then emerging to maintain the numbers that we see in a beehive. Now, the idea is the brood box down here is for all of your wooden frames, that the bees naturally draw their comb on, or you might put foundation in. And when that's full of bees and comb, every comb has been drawn out so it's looking all waxy like that. And you open the lid and there's lots of bees. That's when it's time to put the super on, which is this top box. Now this is the honey collection box. So any box you're using for honey collection is called a honey super. So in this case, it's a Flow super. Now you might be asking, what do you do when a whole hive is full? So what do you do when the brood box is full of bees and up here is full? If you're looking at the windows and you can't even see the comb because there's so many bees and you look around to the front entrance and there's so many bees that they're spilling out of the hive, well, then that's a sign that you're best do something before they swarm. And to do that, we showed you a video a couple of weeks ago where we removed honeycomb from the bottom box. And we took that away as honeycomb and left the remaining empty frames. We put them back towards the middle and that will limit those swarming tendencies. Great thing to do in springtime. However, if you've got a lot of bees in your box, you might need to take a split or add another box. So you can either add another super or another brood box which is basically just a plain box with the frames in it.

How long does it take for the hive to be ready for a super after you add a nuc?

Okay, so it really does depend. In the worst-case scenario you won't get to do it that season. But best case, it might be a couple of weeks and they're ready for the super box. Often when you're catching a big swarm, you get this amazing thing where they go really, really fast. They're all geared up to do their work swarming, and they can build comb very quickly and fill out a whole box in a week or so. Look at that, the bees are coming home. This hive, hasn't got the bee numbers yet that needs attention, but it's still a good idea to get in there and see what's going on. Maybe they're making a whole lot of queen cells getting ready to swarm, and you might like to take some splits at that point to lessen the chances. Now catching a swarm is fun, but you can't always hang around all day, waiting for a swarm to happen.

When you cut out the comb, how can you eat it without it being all waxy?

We really enjoy eating honeycomb and a lot of people do, but you spit out the wax. So if you want to eat the honey without it being waxy, then harvest it from your Flow Frames. If you want to chew on honeycomb, then cut that out and you can simply just chew on it and spit out the wax and save it for making a candle one day.

I have ordered a Flow Hive 2+. If I buy a nuc, will it come with wax foundation and wire, or do I add that myself?

A nucleus will come with five frames already filled with brood and honey. It's a going little beehive. So if it's a nucleus, then all you need to do is transfer those five frames into the brood box down the bottom here and add the remaining frames to fill out the rest of the space, which will be another three in this case. If you've got the Flow Hive 6 there's eight brood frames in that, the same as the eight-frame Langstroth and look after them and away they'll go.

Is gloss or semi-gloss paint good for the roof of the hive?

It doesn't matter, either way, just go for a hard-wearing outdoorpaint. You're painting the roof to protect it. It's the one that gets a lot of sun, the dirt falling on it and so on. So you really want to make sure you give that a good, long-lasting house paint is what you want for the top of the hive. I mean, you can do anything you like, but that's what will last the longest.

What kind of stain can I use on my hive, is an oil-based stain okay? What sort of stain is on the hive at your place?

This is a decking coat we've put on this hive, one called Aquadeck. Now the decking coats are the ones that are built for the most outdoor hard-wearing coat. So that's what we tend to recommend these days, go for a decking product. That's what they're built for. And that will last a bit longer than if you use one of the oil-based ones. With some oil in a humid climate it can start to attract the mildew sooner. And the thing is with decking products, a lot of them have a tint in it. This one's got a slight tint, that depends on the look you're after. You can get ones without tint, but what the tint does is stop the greying effect of the sun bleaching and greying the wood. So that's why they put the tints in decking. But it depends what look you're after, I guess.

Can you paint the hive while the bees are in the box?

You can do it while the bees are in the box. So if you're starting out and you haven't put the bees in yet, then you're far better off doing it prior. But if you have to do the TLC and you want to give it a re-coat or a bit of a rub with the sandpaper and a coat. I find I can do that with the bees in there. Of course, look after yourself, protect yourself, get in your bee suit, wear your gloves. And depending on the colony might even add a little bit of smoke to calm them while you're doing that. Early in the morning is a good time to coat the front of the hive because the bees are inside at that time. So you can usually get around and give a bit of a coat without having to take your whole hive apart.

I'm getting ready for winter and need to do a mite treatment and need to take the super off. How do I encourage the bees to move south and into the other box?

Some beekeepers use what's called a clearer board, but in this case it doesn't really help you. What you're going to have to do is brush off the bees off the frames. So just pull each frame out and shake the bees off and brush off the remaining ones downstairs and then put those frames aside and then you can take away those Flow Frames and store them for the winter if that's what you're planning to do. So if anyone's got great help on the process of doing a mite check, please chime in. It's not something we have to deal with here in Australia. We do have videos on all things beekeeping.

If I am making a split, is it absolutely necessary to put the old hive right next to the new hive or can I put it about 10 metres away?

You can put it 10 metres away, but what's going to happen is that will become quite weak. So you'd want to make sure a lot of bees go with that. If you're planning to do a split and just suddenly move it 10 metres away a lot of the bees will return to the original colony. So you'll have to keep an eye on that. Make sure there's enough bees in your split. If there's not, you might need to swap the hives around and swap the positions so the weak one gets the flight path coming home. I'd recommend splitting it right up against it moving the original hive over a bit. And then as it gets established move the new split to your new location. If it's 10 metres away, then you could move it up to two metres at a time and you could do that twice a day. So in three days you could have it hopped to the new position.

I did an inspection 14 days ago and implemented swarm prevention techniques, by swapping frames out and extracting 3 frames from a full brood box. However, they swarmed yesterday, (recovered and donated to another beekeeper). As this same hive swarmed 3 times last year, and it’s not looking like prevention is working this year, would you recommend introducing new genetics now at the start of spring or later? (Sydney, Australia)

I think you're right on to the best answer there. We've had that issue before, we had that issue at Flow HQ. We had some bees that a staff member brought in actually tended to propagate themselves as swarm multiple times in the season. So what we ended up doing was replacing the queen to change those genetics. Now the timing of it is up to you. If you're replacing with a queen that's coming already laying, then there won't be much downtime and you can do that at any time really here in Australia. Having those swarming genetics is a bit annoying when your hive keeps swarming off before they've even filled up the honey super.

When is the best time to put the hive out and hope for a swarm?

It can happen, but typically you will need to add bees to your hive. You can make a bait hive and place it near some current beehives and you put it 6 to 12 feet off the ground. And then you just add the brood box only. That's about the size the bees are looking for to start out and you'd put the inner cover and lid on. And you'd put that possibly a few hundred metres out the front of where there's already a row of beehives and up a bit, six to 12 feet off the ground. You can put some lemongrass scent, or there's a product called swarm commander in there, which might help. And you might be lucky and a swarm moves in. However, it's going to be far more reliable to purchase some bees or take a split off a friend.

Do you need to fix the hive down so it doesn't fall over in the wind or in a storm?

Generally not, the hives are really heavy. Now at Flow HQ, we have 80 km an hour winds that come right up the side under the hives. And what we found is the roofs were blowing off. And that's why on the Flow Hive 2, we put this little roof lock on. So in windy times, you can screw that in and that'll hold your roof on. But otherwise the bees will tend to stick all the boxes together and the weight of the hive will hold it firmly down to the ground. Make sure it's got a good footing. You don't want it all wobbly. Adjust your adjustable feet down here to make sure it's nice and steady. Then you might want to put those on bricks if it's in the garden because on soft soil they'll sink after a while, and that could lead to the hive being less stable. But if your hive is stable and the bees have been in it for some time, there's very little chance of it blowing over. However, if you just put it together and you put the top box on, and then there's a strong wind, I guess you could run into an issue there. But I really don't do any strapping down of my hives. But if you're living somewhere where there's like cyclonic winds, then you may need to put some cyclone-stays on your hive. Some people in the far north of America, they get really intense winds and they'll be weighting and strapping their hives during those times.

Will the bees buzzing keep me awake all night?

Bees are very quiet kind of pets to have. So you really can't hear much at all unless you put your ear right against the hives. So you should be good there.

How long can you keep the side window off for?

Let's see, there's no sun coming in the window at the moment, but later on in the day, the sun's going to move to this side and you might get some sunshine coming in. So the bees can handle it off even in the full sun for you know, half an hour or so, but you really want to avoid leaving it off altogether. So if your kids have pulled the window off, make sure you get that back on. Otherwise the sun will shine through all day and really warm up the hive and potentially melt wax and everything.

The local beekeepers said to add a second brood box on the Flow Hive 2 to ensure there's enough honey for next winter. Do I need to fit the second box with all the frames or can I reduce the number of frames in the second box? (NSW-Victoria border, Australia)

So you will need to put all your frames in. So experienced beekeepers do all sorts of weird and wonderful things when they get a Flow Hive, but often beginners have better luck setting it up because they just do what we tell them to do. And that's just putting all the frames in. So basically get your brood box going first, which is the bottom one here, when there's lots of bees in there, starting to burst out, put your super on top with all of the frames in it. Always put all your frames in a box. If you leave a gap, what will happen is the bees will fill it with random comb and that random comb isn't actually serviceable. You want your beehive to stay serviceable. That's a requirement of beekeeping. So you do need to make sure you put all your frames in. The random comb is pretty hard to deal with it. You'll end up having to chop that out and it'll be a bit of an ordeal if you leave big gaps in the hive.

Is it possible to put a Flow Hive on a second-story balcony?

My sister Mira kept bees in Berlin for a few years on her balcony, got somebeautiful footage of harvesting there. And it certainly is a wonderful thing to do, bees on balconies. Of course, you do need to be mindful of others around you and make sure that there's not somebody in really close range that is going to be bothered by the bees. And it's also a good idea to purchase those bees from a bee breeder, making sure you're getting nice calm genetics, and that'll limit the troubles you have there with neighbours.

Is it normal to feel overwhelmed when starting out?

Absolutely. You've got this box with thousands of insects in it and it can be quite overwhelming. So if you are feeling like that and it is very daunting to open the box for the first time, then get some help. Even if it's from another person beginning, just having somebody else there will be a way to take away some of that apprehension for getting in there. But it's a good idea when the hive is small and just starting out to get in there and get comfortable with it. Because when the hive is smaller, it's easier to work and then you'll build up your confidence that way. Also, have a look if you want a handhold from an online training course. That will really take you through your first brood inspections and so on. So it's a fundraiser for habitat regeneration and protection for bees.

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