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A harvesting question


My bees have adapted to my flow frames beautifully and we’re looking at about 75% capped already! Just wanting to know what happens if a bee is caught in the frame when we turn the key, or does it have to be 100% capped before we harvest? I’d hate to get one of my girls head stuck!



Yes, wait until it is fully capped Shelly, you want your honey to be of the lowest moisture content as possible which comes from harvesting fully capped frames, if a bee gets caught its unfortunate however she will get cleaned up by the other bees when you finish harvesting and reset the cells.


At my local beekeeping meeting in January, @Cedar was kind enough to join us and answer questions on Skype. Somebody asked him exactly this question, and he said that the cells are designed NOT to squish an adult bee with her head in a cell when you open it. They may squish larvae, but adults should be fine.

If turning the key is a bit stiff, just back it out, and turn it on about 1/4 of the frame at a time, advancing it after each turn - should be a lot a easier. As my wrists get stiffer with age, that is golden knowledge! :wink:

Beautiful photos, keep posting, please!


I was looking at this when I first got my Flow. I worked the mechanism to see the difference between open and closed…it is only a small movement so the shape of the cell hardly changes. Bees should be fine and able to back out of the cell without damage.
I envy your beautiful capped Flow…it must be so exciting to actually use it…we still have some time to wait…and then it will depend on the summer nectar flows.


How much has to be capped depends on the local. Some locales the bees will have it 100% capped and it’s still too wet. In my local if it’s 90% capped it’s fine.


Yes, i worried about the same thing.
My theory is that because the cells are slightly separated and are of uneven heights, it gives bees that wiggle room to get out of the cells when its being harvested.
Personally, i prefer to wait til its 95% capped at least, and by that stage 100% of the cells will be brimming with honey anyway.
By the way I cant really see a scenario where you would want to turn the lever with a half empty frame anyway, let alone one with lots of bees still climbing into the cells?


If you want to be certain - just wait until all your Flow Frames are capped. That way your honey is ripe and when you harvest - the bee’s remain undisturbed on the honey comb surface, while the honey drains out below them.
Due to the design of the Flow Frames - the wax capping shouldn’t be disturbed or tear on the surface where the bee’s are. The wax will only split down the middle of the frames where the honey comes out.

If there does happen to be a bee down an empty cell it wont get injured as there is enough space between the comb walls.

After the honey has drained out the bee’s notice that the cells are empty beneath them and proceed to then chew the wax capping off. This can take a day or two for a busy hive, and longer for a quieter hive. They will then start to fill the cells with honey again and re-cap when the honey is ready/ripe :slight_smile: