Bees filling frames from top and back

Hi All,

Im very new to beekeeping we just done our first harvest with the flow hive everything went well, after the first harvest the bees quickly started filling the backs of the flow frames, about half the way down is capped also.

So today I harvested two frames of honeycomb from the super and checked the flow frames while I had the super open only to find that the middle of the flow frames were untouched so far. The bees have started wiht a couple rows up the top and down the back.

Im just wondering if this is normal? its sure going to make it hard to know when to harvest without opening the hive. I thought they usually work from the inside out?

Thanks, Mitch


Very normal Mitch… If you look at you brood frames you might notice the same pattern where the honey is placed, so you should check your flow frames before harvesting to ensure they are majority capped.


Hi there Mitch - your post reminded me of a reply by @Dawn_SD some time ago so I pasted it here:

“For example, mine looked even more full than yours, but when I lifted out that 3rd frame, there was a huge arc of empty cells across the lower half of the frame, as if the bees were leaving space for the queen to lay. We made more space for her in the brood box, and they filled those empty cells and capped them in about 2 weeks. If I had drained that frame without checking, there would be a big risk of honey leaking into the hive through the open cells. You need the cappings in place to hold the honey inside the Flow frame and direct the flow into the collection channel.”


This is what I had initially believed also Eva…but I did a more forensic honey removal by taking FH supers off the hives into an area away from the hive…stacked them up and drained them with a catch basin below so I could measure the leakage. What I observed was it appears that the frames leak the most 3 inches in from each end…where the capping is. If you look at the photo, my finger is pointing to the wet, shiny area which corresponds to where the frames are capped…there is a wet band that runs the width of the super…on both ends of the super. Towards the center of the frame, where the cells are not capped, the area is dry on the top bars…that area would be directly above where the brood and queen is…and that probably explains why we haven’t lost any queens so far. This pattern was consistent on all 20 FD Flowhive supers we did the forensic study on. Remember we have multiple FH supers on one hive…so it’s honey coming from above supers. So my initial understanding of where leakage occurs on flowframes has altered from previously. Under my conditions, it appears uncapped portions of a frame do not leak…anyone have any theories on this?


The only fool proof way of knowing a Flow Frame is ready to be harvested is to physically check it, looking through the side and end windows cna’t be regarded as anything more than as a suggestion to check the frames. I accept that goes against the Flow Hive story but that is how I have found.

Bees will often do what is NOT normal just to keep us wondering; but I find the centre/bottom arch is the last to be capped the majority of times, it sort of simulated the are the queen is expected to lay eggs.
Welcome to the forum where you will find lots of reading and useful advise.
Regards Mitch


hello there Doug,

hmmm, interesting. On those frame pictured: it looks as if the uncapped central portions are largely empty of any nectar? So your frames are either capped cells- or empty cells? If that’s the case it may explain it: the frames only leak where there is honey to leak out. I have closely observed flow supers when harvesting through a window- and seen capped areas crack and honey leak out of the surface of the cappings as the frame drains. I have also observed bees licking up this honey even as it leaks out- so that very little of it gets past them.

i was curious about leaks and your set up: if you have four full flow supers and harvest them all at once- it seems the potential for a large leak into the brood is real. A lot of us harvest our flow frames in increments- and only a few at a time- to decrease any harm from leaking honey and lessen the size of leaks. Do you just harvest all four supers all at once sometimes? Anoter thing that may reduce leaks its to use two tools to crack the frame- which helps prevent any flexing of the frames when the tool in used. Perhaps flexing can cause more cracks in the wax capping.


An interesting though on the subject Jack. That makes me wonder when there is no leaking, as it should be, the cappings are flexible enough to stay in tact and stop the honey escaping past the end of the cells?? Must admit as I am curious about all things in bee keeping I haven’t thought on that point.
I see your still hot in Adelaide, have you had any worthwhile rain and honey?
Cheers mate

Thanks Semaphore…that’s the feedback I’m looking for.

That photo was of a freshly harvested frame…and all frame cells were full or close to full. The phenomonen you describe I’ve seen on a hive that is being robbed out where the robbers leave the capped cells for the last.

Every year is different but we haven’t had queen losses…or dead pupae/larvae being removed to indicate that this is a problem…but I’m sure you have watched videos of how the hive takes a day or two to settle back in after a harvest. This coming season we are trialing an insertable device that we’ve designed to address this issue.

Yes we wait until every super is full (what we consider full)…from top to bottom. That capping pattern doesn’t change much. We have tried different combinations as to the depth the keying tool is inserted into the flowhive…and weighed the leakage. Our results indicate that using small keying increments helps reduce leakage by about 10% versus a total single keying action of the flowframe.

A very important point.

For the reader of this post, keep in mind the ambient conditions our hives are kept in…i.e. an insulated building with adjustable ventilation…where the bees hold the temperature to their convenience (27C) 24/7…day and night…we observe them as being incredible heating/ventilating specialists…and the hives share that duty. The statement referring to continuous warm conditions during harvest may not mean much to a beekeeper in an area where night and day temperature don’t fluctuate much…here we have large temperature swings.

But back to the point, ambient temperatures may affect the structural characteristics of the flowframe.

Moisture content of the honey also may play a role in leakage…and every year is different.

We annually compare honey production between our Flowhive units with traditional hives…for the first year, the Flowhive scenario out-produced traditional hive production so is honey leakage that significant?..I guess time will tell.


Good point Peter…if you look at the photo, it appears as if sections of wax cappings are shearing off the comb.


Did robbing occur? The rest of the frames look beautiful!

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No robbing Martha…try to avoid “bees behaving badly”


Hiya Doug, appreciate your input on this forum.
It seems where the leaked honey is on the lowest point of the frames above, the 5° pitch?
I find it interesting that the empty arcing is occurring so far from the brood, does this happen with traditional frames also?

Good eye skeg…the leakage area is mostly above that 5 degree pitch…but if you look closely at the photo, there is also a band on the other side of the super…with less leakage.

Peter addresses this issue above "but I find the centre/bottom arch is the last to be capped the majority of times, it sort of simulated the are the queen is expected to lay eggs.

This pattern definitely occurs in traditional hives here…and is more pronounced the closer you get to the queen excluder. When I put on the FH supers this coming summer, I’ll check and see if this is always the case. The photo was just a random super and I don’t know exactly where it was originally located when it was still on the hive.


from our experience thinner honey- and very hot weather- can increase the chance or size of a leak. Also thankfully in our case leaks have never caused any discernible problem for a hive. In a good year we get multiple harvests and havn’t had any queens die- or signs of damage to colonies.

when I asked about if the uncapped portions were completely empty: that’s a thing we have seen with frames with the arc shape above the QX: at times you can have a frame that has the main sections completely capped- but that arc above the QX uncapped and completely empty: no nectar at the bottom of the cells. We have harvested such frames with no issue. But all these are single super hives- and the arc thing is something we see in spring mostly- and then it goes away- unless their is a nectar dearth.

I have a theory that the actual diameter of the cells in the FH frames may have something to do with this…just a theory. Flowhive design chose to use a cell diameter that was between worker cell and drone cell…so the workers may veiw that area as potential drone comb. In traditional hives I have seen sections of drone cells in the honey supers…above the queen excluder…totally ignored for storing honey…and that was during a year that was the largest honeyflow I’d experienced. My style of beekeeping up to that time was to keep my single brood chambers almost free of drone cells…just clear worker cell brood frames. I was intentionally starving the colony from rearing drones (had my reasons)…and them not storing honey above the excluder in the center/lower section of frame was their way of telling me…“Quit that!”. So this last season I gave them some full depth frames…with a starter strip of foundation (1" down from the top bar) on the very outside frame positions of the brood box. They free built the remainer 80% of those outside frames with solid drone comb…and raised drones. Michael Bush brought to my attention that this is a good way to stretch the brood across all the frames in the brood box…where as typically they will store feed there and have a tendency to compress the brood nest.

To make a long story short, this last season I didn’t observe them avoiding storing honey in that area…albeit they were not capping it as quickly as the adjacent areas of the frame. I want to continue raising drones on those outside frames…and see if I can get repeatable results.

That free built drone comb has two other uses…varroa trap and later in the season, cut comb honey.

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that’s very interesting- I have kind of done this by happy accident when I have removed an end frame of pure honey and put a foundationless frame into a hive- and the bees have built it out as solid drone. It’s kind of nice to have all the ugly (to my eye) drone comb at one end of the hive. Funnily enough- that very hive was pure brood all the way across this spring- and this year it has been the most productive hive by a long shot…


Hmmm, if it ever had drones in it, the cut comb would be a bit tough, and also flavored with larval feces… :nauseated_face: :astonished: :rofl:

I wonder how much feces would be in the brood cells. Aren’t the bees cleaning the cells pretty well before storing honey?
The visible cells in the flow frames sometimes look clogged up with crystals and wax residues for a while, until a flow starts. Then the bees clean the cells up to look as new before depositing any nectar.
Wouldn’t they do the same clean up for old brood cells?

The faeces are “outside” the cocoons. In other words the larva empties itself before capping the cocoon. The “silk” of the cocoon remains inside the cell, with the poo just outside the spun material. The larva metamorphoses, emerges, and then cleans the inside of the cell, but the poo is sealed outside. :blush: If you eat the comb, you eat the poo. If you spin the honey, you probably don’t. In any case, @JeffH says it tastes OK. :smile:

However, my point remains, the wax will be toughened by silk, shellac and poo, if you are using it for comb honey. :wink:


gulp…correct…:tongue: don’t recommend using comb that has had a cycle of brood raised in it