My first forays into bee keeping are getting ready for spring. My Wife procured a flow hive for me for Christmas, which isn't my first choice of equipment, but i'm working on rectifying that with subsequent hives. I've decided that i'd like to keep two sister hives in my first year along with the flow hive, which will consist of two medium sized brood boxes per hive and medium sized honey supers.
I'm going with foundationless frames for everything. The brood box and the honey super on the flow hives are deeps, but the brood box does use foundationless frame with a glue-in guide strip that glues right into the groove in the inside top of the frames. They also use eight frames instead of ten. Those are the same style of frame i'll be putting in the other two hives with medium broods and supers, only the frames are cut down to 6.25" for the medium sized boxes. I will be using wire mesh bottom boards for natural varroa elimination from the hives and improved ventilation for the brutally hot summer months. I will also be using plastic queen excluders, inner covers with round holes and a standard top cover.
The two hives with the mediums will be started with bee boxes from two different local apiaries. The flow hive will be started with a 5 deep frame nuc from a commercial beekeeper friend of mine here in Jacksonville. They should be ready by April of this year. I'm hoping that we will have enough wildflower, saw palmetto, queen palm and other flowering late spring & summer vegetation in the area so that they can pull enough comb and store enough honey for each hive to make it through their first winter. I do plan to feed them with pollen patties and sugar water as needed, or until they can start to forage for pollen and nectar on their own to produce comb, feed brood and store some honey.
The questions that I have are:
- If the frames in the brood box have comb guides glued into the top grooves, is this sufficient for the bees to draw straight comb provided the hive is also balanced and level on it's stand? Or would it be better to have either a frame with foundation on it in the center as a guide frame?
- Would adding a little lemon oil rubbed on with a q-tip to that center frame (with or without a foundation) be a good idea?
- What gauge of fishing line would you recommend for support through the eye holes on the frames? Our area of Florida can easily reach 100f. degree + days in the summer and i don't want young comb to collapse if possible.
- I've seen where the Flow Hive honey frames are plastic drawn comb not unlike HSC frames. I've seen where some beekeepers advise dipping Honey Super Comb frames in hot beeswax to make the plastic comb more acceptable to bees. Do you think that's necessary if these frames are being used just in the honey super of the flow hive?