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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Centennial, CO
    Posts
    19

    Smile FLOW? What exactly is it and how do I know it's time?

    I am a newbie Beek, this is my first hive. I'm super excited because it's doing well, and I've been enjoying it so much! I read/hear a lot about honey flow, nectar flow etc.. I live in Aurora CO, anyone know when that would be? And can someone explain what it actually IS! Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Houston, Texas, USA
    Posts
    460

    Default Re: FLOW? What exactly is it and how do I know it's time?

    Honey flow: Period when bees are collecting nectar from plants in plentiful amounts.

    Above is the definition from the glossary at the top of this section. As another newbie I think the trick is understanding the start & stop of the flow(s) in our area, plus any derth that feeding is needed. I did not expect any harvest during my first season while building up my first hive, 2June start and dealing with SHB issues. Also acquiring hardware as necessary to prepare for next season since I started late this year when box bees become available.

    How these periods are determined is also something I would like to know as each area is different.
    Mike
    N5RWH - 9a

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Centennial, CO
    Posts
    19

    Default Re: FLOW? What exactly is it and how do I know it's time?

    I have a good strong hive, I'm not sure I'll be collecting uber amounts of honey or anything, frankly the whole extraction thing is freaking me out a bit, it just seems like it's going to be such a hassle. However, I really wanted to do honey jars with comb. I saw an amazing article and wanted to do that, the author said you should be in flow, since we are having crops blooming and everything going wild here in CO right now (plant wise) even given the horrible heat, I think now is the flow time here. I have an acre of a huge garden myself that is in bloom and my bees are working double time in the corn and squash, beans etc... I think I'd be OK

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,368

    Default Re: FLOW? What exactly is it and how do I know it's time?

    here in northeast alabama it's easy to know when we have are in the main nectar flow of the year. it happens april-may, and there are blooms everywhere you look. the bees are coming and going in huge numbers. most come back to the hive with their pollen baskets full and their abdomens extended. wax is being drawn quickly and nectar is being stored in quantity, so much so that you can see an obvious difference from one week to the next.

    it's more difficult to judge the degree of the flow after the main flow is over. i notice that during periods of prolonged hot and dry weather, most of the activity involves the bees flying to the pond and back for water. after a good rain though, there is increased foraging for a few days.

    i think we get some on and off nectar flow through the summer months here. enough anyway to where the bees don't have to eat through too much of what they had stored by late spring.

    things pick up again in the fall, especially when the goldenrod and other fall weeds bloom. it is possible again during the fall flow to see stores increasing from week to week.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Houston, Texas, USA
    Posts
    460

    Default Re: FLOW? What exactly is it and how do I know it's time?

    I just planted a 4X12' plot of Borage in one of my raised beds, and hope I get blooms in Oct. But will plant in Spring again as it is suppose to be a prodigious nectar producer. I will also be looking for flow and feeding when necessary so I get a good start next Spring.
    Best of luck.
    Mike
    N5RWH - 9a

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,368

    Default Re: FLOW? What exactly is it and how do I know it's time?

    wickedless, you and i cross posted, but i have a comment on using your drawn comb. i've noticed that most of the comb i get is drawn in the spring. in the fall they just fill up what they already have. personally, drawn comb has been so challanging to get so far that i would not want to harvest any. i read somewhere that it takes several times more resources for the bees to make comb that to fill it. the drawn comb is not only good for a bigger honey harvest, but is useful for swarm prevention by allowing you to open up the broodnest and/or checkerboard in the spring. it is also handy for using in swarm traps.

    on the other hand, i love to chew on the wax cappings i get while extracting, and a lot of my honey customers say they would like a little comb in the jar.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,110

    Default Re: FLOW? What exactly is it and how do I know it's time?

    N5RWH de KQ6AR, I see you're in zone 9a, I'm in 9b. You shouldn't need to reseed you're borage it will do it for you.



    Quote Originally Posted by mmmooretx View Post
    I just planted a 4X12' plot of Borage in one of my raised beds, and hope I get blooms in Oct. But will plant in Spring again as it is suppose to be a prodigious nectar producer. I will also be looking for flow and feeding when necessary so I get a good start next Spring.
    Best of luck.
    Dan

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Houston, Texas, USA
    Posts
    460

    Default Re: FLOW? What exactly is it and how do I know it's time?

    Quote Originally Posted by KQ6AR View Post
    N5RWH de KQ6AR, I see you're in zone 9a, I'm in 9b. You shouldn't need to reseed you're borage it will do it for you.
    Now that is the second piece of good news I have gotten today on my beeking! I also just found out that Country Rubes has Freeman oil trays for their SBB bases and I have two, so I am ordering 2 trays on Thursday. Since I just planted my Borage on Sat. 28 July 2012 if they bloom it will be in Oct., assuming a 60 day to bloom. Now If I am REAL lucky I will also get seed. If not then I will sprout new seeds in the house 2 weeks before last frost for an early start.
    Thanks so much for the input!
    Mike
    N5RWH - 9a

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    26,592

    Default Re: FLOW? What exactly is it and how do I know it's time?

    When I talk w/ fellow beekeepers about a nectar flow I am talking about nectar producing plants doing so and bees bringing that nectar into the hives. Like today, goldenrod is iun bloom and nectar was shaking out of the combs while working the hives. The odor was in the air too. Some nectar flows have an odor one can smell.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Belews Creek, NC, USA
    Posts
    328

    Default Re: FLOW? What exactly is it and how do I know it's time?

    You might get online and see if you can find a Local Bee Club. I know the local club in my county publishes a calendar that outlines everything you need to know and do for every month in the year. For instance, it tells what is in bloom for the month, when you should be concerned about mites, when treatment should take place, when to start prepping for winter, etc. I am attaching a copy for you to look at and give you an idea what a valuable tool this can be. You just need to find a calendar that represents your area. Hope this helps.
    http://http://forsythbeekeepers.org/beekeeping-calendar/

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Houston, Texas, USA
    Posts
    460

    Default Re: FLOW? What exactly is it and how do I know it's time?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wickedlees View Post
    I am a newbie Beek, this is my first hive. I'm super excited because it's doing well, and I've been enjoying it so much! I read/hear a lot about honey flow, nectar flow etc.. I live in Aurora CO, anyone know when that would be? And can someone explain what it actually IS! Thanks!
    Take a look at this link for the Houston area. You need to look in your local beekeeper associations websites up to your state beekeeper association to find your local "generalized" flow periods. Weather and water conditions can cause a shift, but they are excellent guidelines specific to your area.
    http://www.houstonbeekeepers.org/hbayear.htm
    Mike
    N5RWH - 9a

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    santa monica, ca
    Posts
    175

    Default Re: FLOW? What exactly is it and how do I know it's time?

    I think when the flow is on is a particularly hard question for the urban beekeeper to answer. We in the urban environment do not have masses of native plants nor do we have fields of crops for our bees to forage on. However, local gardens and landscapes do provide forage. If you live in an urban area look around and see what is blooming that the bees are working. As an example, I find in my own neighborhood that rosemary is often used as a landscape element, and the bee work it intensely when it is bloom. They also work many kinds of trees, for my area avocado, citrus, eucalyptus and pepper trees all are good sources when in bloom. The calendars mentioned will also help you figure it out.
    Buzz Abbott
    USDA zone 11a, Western Garden zone 24 (75 ft elev. n34.0w118.47)

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    26,592

    Default Re: FLOW? What exactly is it and how do I know it's time?

    I spent a cpl of hours this morning transfering some nucs into full size boxes, most of which were ten frame nucs, dbl 5 framers. And then I supered them w/ shallow supers above excluders. I also put one shallow super on each of the hives in my home yd which showed bees up in the super above the excluder or those which have a medium of honey already and lots of bees.

    Going back 4 hrs later I found bees in the shallow supers and some of the cells already have nectar showing in them. That tells me a flow is on. If I find tomorrow that there is a lot of nectar in the combs then I will be able to determine the current strength of the flow.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,368

    Default Re: FLOW? What exactly is it and how do I know it's time?

    awesome mark. i think we're just around the corner here, the first goldenrod is starting to pop.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Bartlett, Illinois
    Posts
    217

    Default Re: FLOW? What exactly is it and how do I know it's time?

    I tell my my hive scale. Check out the flow for me this year. It seems good and has not really stopped all summer.

    http://home.comcast.net/~khaas15/Weight.pdf

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,368

    Default Re: FLOW? What exactly is it and how do I know it's time?

    pretty cool 15, what did you start with, and how many boxes now?
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Bartlett, Illinois
    Posts
    217

    Default Re: FLOW? What exactly is it and how do I know it's time?

    squarepeg, I started the spring with what I would consider a fairly weak hive. This hive swarmed last year in July (pretty late in my area) and was decimated by mites. I treated with MAQS and had a very impressive mite drop. A lot of folks said the hive wouldn't survive. Well, it made it through the winter (I insullated and fed up to weight) and started the spring off farily weak. However, the hive has grown into a strong hive.

    I wintered in two deeps and added two medium supers in the spring. I have harvested 45 lbs of spring honey from two medium supers. Since then they have filled two medium supers again. I will be harvesting these soon, but am letting them backfill a little for winter. Depending on my weight of the two deeps when I take the two supers off I may put two more supers on for the goldenrod flow. If the hive is light I will only put on one super so they can continue to backfill for winter.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,368

    Default Re: FLOW? What exactly is it and how do I know it's time?

    very interesting 15, and a nice success story. happy to hear you were able to turn that hive around. sounds like you should get about 100 lbs. or so from it. it's also interesting that the weight increased steadily like that. i guess some of it would be a few lbs. of bees, and some pollen, but a steady increase none the less.

    i think we usually have a mid-season dearth here, with occasional small flows. most of my hives did not have to use much of what i left them after the spring harvest. i didn't weigh them, but i think i would have seen a plateau. hopefully, the fall stuff will be just around the corner. thanks for the reply.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Harrisburg, PA
    Posts
    69

    Default Re: FLOW? What exactly is it and how do I know it's time?

    Being very new to beekeeping (1st year) I'm finding that I'm very observant about my hive and noticed differences from one week to the next. I think that I have noticed that there is a flow on because of the activity of the hive. For the past few weeks I've not witnessed a significant number of bees flying out and foraging. Then the past two weeks they've gone absolutley crazy with foraging. I noticed hundreds of bees leaving the hive and coming back in a very short period of time. So I think the bees tell me when there's a flow on.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    26,592

    Default Re: FLOW? What exactly is it and how do I know it's time?

    Quote Originally Posted by khaas15 View Post
    I tell my my hive scale. Check out the flow for me this year. It seems good and has not really stopped all summer.

    http://home.comcast.net/~khaas15/Weight.pdf
    I was going to mention that many people keep a Scale Hive. Noting it's weight regularly will indicate when a flow is on. Along w/ the activity level at the entrance and other indicators like white wax on the top bars.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

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