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I hear a lot of people talking about "there's a flow on". How do you know when there is a flow? Is this gauged by the number of foragers coming in and out of the hive?

Thanks for any info.
 

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Put out a plate of honey on the picnic table. Go inside and wait 15 minutes.

When you return, if the plate is mobbed by 1000 bees frantically trying to lick it clean, there is **no ** flow.
If the plate is untouched, there is a flow on.

Its really that simple. When a flow in on, bees will ignore any forage other than nectar. When the dearth settles on the prairie, any sweet thing is the object of unwanted fascination.
 

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I never experienced this before. I pulled a frame of from a hive the other day and all the contents dumped on the ground, the nectar came out like water from a bucket. The best visual for me has been looking at people's graphs of hive weights. When the flow is on the weight of the hive triples in maybe a few weeks.
 

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I live in middle tn about 140 miles from you. The heavy flow usually starts in May and starts to taper off the First week of June. Of course the weather has a lot to do with that. When the clover is in full bloom my bees can fill a med super in a week. They have done that the last three weeks. I do expect that to slow down now. With the rain in the forecast we may get an extra week or two of heavy flow. I will keep my fingers crossed. I hope this gives you an idea of the flow here in TN. I normally put my supers on the fist week of April sometimes end of May.
 

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Thanks to everyone for the answers! This forum has really made my first beekeeping experience a great one.

I live in middle tn about 140 miles from you. The heavy flow usually starts in May and starts to taper off the First week of June. Of course the weather has a lot to do with that. When the clover is in full bloom my bees can fill a med super in a week. They have done that the last three weeks. I do expect that to slow down now. With the rain in the forecast we may get an extra week or two of heavy flow. I will keep my fingers crossed. I hope this gives you an idea of the flow here in TN. I normally put my supers on the fist week of April sometimes end of May.
Hey Marty - Does the flow stop completely in the middle of summer or just slow down some? There is an autumn flow here too right? If so, how does it compare to the spring flow?

Thanks again everyone!
 

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There is a dearth July and August normally. When the grass stops growing because of dry hot weather there is no flow for the bees. There is a fall flow and the bees can sock away some winter stores. It is normally nothing to compare to spring. I sometimes use the supers for a hive with low winter surpluses. I rarely extract in the fall but some do.
 

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Beekeeping is very local, but anywhere you are when there is a flow on, you will have huge numbers of bees going in and out. Bees heavy with nectar often miscalculate and miss the entrance and end up in the grass in front of the hive, too.

Our main flow here is usually May, although this year it's a bit late and we still have some basswood in full bloom and the persimmons are still full of bees. From now on out, it's clover and miscellaneous stuff, no big tree nectar sources. While they may still collect quite a bit of honey, the real flow is over for the year.

We also have a definite dearth in late July through August, and I've taken to putting on entrance reducers early in August, I always have robbers hanging around then.

Peter
 

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The most reliable way I have found is to get an old farm scale. Set it up under an average hive, and track the weights. This allows you to correlate the weights to your observations.
My hives are on a hill 40 yards or so above my house. On a hot summer evening, as the temps cool, the air flows down the hill and my backyard is bathed in a delightful floral scent. Ahhhh.
 

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This is my fourth year and for the first time I'm really noticing 'flow' behavior. As psfred said "when there is a flow on, you will have huge numbers of bees going in and out. Bees heavy with nectar often miscalculate and miss the entrance and end up in the grass in front of the hive, too."

I didn't have enough drawn comb in reserve this year to handle the flow as I divided several hives last year. So I had to pull capped honey frames, extract quickly and put the comb back on the hives. When I took frames off a couple weeks ago, the bees didn't seem to mind at all and I could set them in a box nearby and the bees paid no attention they were so busy coming/going from the hive.

When I was removing some honey frames yesterday and set them in a box, there were immediately bees around checking it out (but not desperate like in the fall). So I am thinking our flow is lessening due to lack of rain in this end of the valley. When I have taken off honey in the fall, the bees seem to fight me for every frame! It's amazing how different their temperament is depending on how the flow is going.
 

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This is my fourth year and for the first time I'm really noticing 'flow' behavior. As psfred said "when there is a flow on, you will have huge numbers of bees going in and out. Bees heavy with nectar often miscalculate and miss the entrance and end up in the grass in front of the hive, too."

I didn't have enough drawn comb in reserve this year to handle the flow as I divided several hives last year. So I had to pull capped honey frames, extract quickly and put the comb back on the hives. When I took frames off a couple weeks ago, the bees didn't seem to mind at all and I could set them in a box nearby and the bees paid no attention they were so busy coming/going from the hive.

When I was removing some honey frames yesterday and set them in a box, there were immediately bees around checking it out (but not desperate like in the fall). So I am thinking our flow is lessening due to lack of rain in this end of the valley. When I have taken off honey in the fall, the bees seem to fight me for every frame! It's amazing how different their temperament is depending on how the flow is going.
 
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