Bees cleaning flow frames after removing super

I took my flow frames off for the “winter” (Los Angeles) and I wrapped them in plastic wrap and put them in a giant cooler. Some honey drained out and they are now pretty messy. One or two frames look spotty with a little (possible) mold. Could I just take these out, un-wrap them and let bees just find them and clean them? Would they find them and clean them? Anybody ever try this?

Bees will definitely find them - so will ants, wasps & bees from other apiaries. You can either prop the Flow super with frames in it against the front of your hive, or put it above the inner cover/under the lid so only your colony has access. Either way, be sure to take it away in a day or two - otherwise if outside it’ll increase chances of attracting the wrong kind of ‘cleaners’ :ant::raccoon::mouse2: and if inside your bees will start propolizing it.

You mean the whole super? I was thinking of just taking individual frames and propping them up on their side around the hive for a day or two (off the ground on a shelf) until they got cleaned off. If I put the whole super on top of the hive they will just start filling it- No?

You don’t want to expose the frames to light unnecessarily.

If you put the super over the inner cover, especially if the cells have all been open, harvested, and re-closed, they will clean up the leftovers and not refill.

So obviously you remove the roof… and just set it on top? (of the cover)

Yes, with the hole from the inner cover open. And then put the roof back down on top of the super.


OH! I thought you meant one frame from the super. So the entire super on top of the top cover, hole open, and then the super (then roof)?
Won’t they just begin to fill the super again when I don’t want them to? I’m confused a bit- I only want them to clean my messy flow frames so I can put the super back on next spring

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Not one frame, the whole super, including the box.

The concept is this:
Anything above an almost solid roof (for bees this is the inner cover/crown board), is considered to be outside the hive and valuable contents need to be brought down into the brood area. Valuable contents will include honey, unripe honey, pollen and bee bread, propolis, but not wax (usually). Anything else is left behind, for a while…

After more than a week or so, bees seem to adopt the new roof space (at least in my colonies) as part of the hive. So if I use this method for cleaning supers, I only do it for 2-3 days, then the super comes off the hive and goes into storage.

Hope that helps :blush:

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yes it does. Thanks. yeah I would think after more than three days you’d be in danger of the queen getting up there and laying? So- Do they really clean out all those frames in 2-3 days?

I leave the queen excluder on, under the crown board. Curious workers still get up there, but there is no danger of the queen being in the super (assuming the excluder is intact).

It depends on the state of the brood box and the local nectar flow. If the brood box has space, and there is almost no forage, yes, they move it all. If you have a strong fall flow from ivy or other late blooming plants, you may not get them to empty it, but I still wouldn’t leave it on for more than 2-3 days. After that it goes into the freezer for 48 hours (to kill off wax moth and SHB eggs), then gets wrapped in burlap and stored in the garage for next season.


Very helpful. Thanks. That’s what I’m going to do for next season after I harvest the last time. I think these frames are too far gone at this point.

Maybe I missed something but how are they too far gone?

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Leave the Flow Frames in the open position this will buy even more time, as the bees can still crawl in and out between the cells, they are likely to do an even more thorough job to as they figure out what is going on with the misshapen comb. If left for too long in the open position the bees will try and build out the Flow Frames when they are in the open position, but it is likely to take them a week to figure out if the numbers are strong and a further week or two for them to start building comb on the surface, but even if they do build some comb, they will be a long way off filling them with honey.

Dead bees inside, and some mold.

Dead bees inside, and some mold on the surfaces

Thanks Kieran. But will bees clean mold?

Yes most of the time they will, unless it is damp then they might just avoid the area, but their little mandibles and claws work on a more minute scale then we can and they would clean them before using them. But they might also leave cleaning them to last if they have empty cells to fill before hand. There is another thread similar to this one, I just linked them here and now Ill link you there, as I posted another method of cleaning.