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Bees are filling cracks in flow frame with Propolis


The bees are putting propolis to fill in the cracks so that the cell is completely sealed, then I guess they will start to fill with honey. So my question is: Will this be a problem when I try to open the cells for the honey to flow? Propolis is so sticky and I am wondering if I will be able to separate when the time comes. I didn’t find any propolis comments.


It might be. The best thing to do is open the cells just a few at a time when you come to harvest. That is, put the Flow key in a little way, turn it to open, then put it in further, etc. The more resistance you feel when turning it, the less you should insert it each time.

If that doesn’t work, one person that Cedar (inventor of the frames) talked with put her frames in the freezer for 24 hours. When she opened the mechanism, the propolis readily shattered off. Of course, you may have propolis in you honey, but you could strain it out or leave it in - it has health benefits, supposedly! :smile:


Hiya phouseholder, how do you know it is propolis and not wax?
Why would the bees seal the frames with propolis?
Was your brood box full when you added the flow super?


I am not new to beekeeping (8 years now) I know it is propolis; in my area it is brown and wax is lighter color. My bees put LOTS of propolis in the hive - to seal any cracks. The cells have a tiny hairline opening/crack that I think they would need to fill anyway and mine are doing it with propolis. And yes my brood was appropriate. Someone posted that it can be put in the freezer and then the propolis will shatter easily. I have done this with frame, queen excluders, inner cover and boxes to get the propolis to come off easier. Like I said, my bees put ALOT of it in the hive all the time.


Ok thanks for clarifying, if you put some details into your profile…
Would the bees still fill the comb with honey if it was propolized? Would they lay wax over it?


The suggestion that has been made before is to insert the key 1-2" at a time to break the seal and then move it a little further etc etc until it is fully open. Then you are not fighting all the propolis the whole way down at once.


our bees definitely put propolis along the main central line to ‘join’ the cells. After that they used wax to complete the cells. I had no difficulty turning the key in increments- there is plenty of leverage. I did try and open one with the key fully inserted but there was quite a bit of resistance and flex in the key so I backed out and did incremental ‘cracking’ for all the cells. So it seems the propolis was not an issue- though perhaps after some years it will build up and cause problems.

Is propolis water soluble? How would one clean flow frames after some years of use?


Propolis is made from plant resin, and is NOT water-soluble. It is soluble in alcohol, but I think that would be a difficult way to get it off. I would try the freezer trick, then open and close the frames multiple times until most of it drops off.


I’m pretty sure if you break it open a little at a time (don’t put the crank all the way in at first) you will be able to break it open, but if they are filling it with propolis, I think you put the super on too early. I’d wait for the main flow.


I posted this earlier on another post/page thought I would put it here make it more views or understood.

Placing the flow frame set screw so that the frames would be tight within the box is not necessarily a great thing. Being a new beekeeper I probably had mine way too tight for I was not allowing any movement. In removing my frames recently a hive inspection, it was very difficult. Therefore I lessened the screws a bit to allow a little bit more movement. The bees had placed a tremendous amount of propolis around the box and the plastic flow frames and it was just really tight trying to pull them out, I hope this helps.

Additionally even with the added movement of the frames, still not enough space to let the bees escape from the end viewing window. I apparently did not understand the spacing needed.