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Bees honey storage pattern

I seem to have an extreme version of what others have reported - my bees have filled and capped several frames of honey without filling many of the cells which you can see in the rear harvesting window - read, hardly ANY. Flow frames went on January 1st and the girls have been very busy. A bout a month ago there were perhaps twenty cells showing filled on the back – none capped. I did an inspection lifting out a middle frame and found it loaded and capped but within a couple of days they had moved all honey visible from the back and have never replaced more than one or two cells at a time. Yesterday I checked again - maybe only 4 cells visibly full from the back - and harvested another 3kg frame! If I left them alone would they for sure fully fill the edge frames like it shows on the videos?
I noted that the frame next to it, which I harvested 2 ½ weeks ago appeared to be capped again. It got me wondering though, if it could actually be filled and recapped by now or if the capping just appeared that way because it isn’t badly damaged when the frame is harvested???

Hi Cathie, it’s difficult to tell by looking through the rear harvesting window. A good policy would be to inspect every frame before harvesting the honey.

I worked out the best way to check the frames- so good- so brilliant:

Starting at the side furthest from the window(I will call this frame #1) remove that frame- check it and then look down at the face of the frame beside it which you can now see without removing it. Replace #1 frame and remove #3. Check it and check the two faces of frame 2 and 4 that are now visible. Replace it and remove frame 5- check it and the revealed faces of frame frames 4 and 6.

If you have a 6 frame super you can check the last face of frame six through the window.

That way you only need to remove three frames to check every face of every frame!

Brilliant eh? :thinking::sunglasses:

Another thing to note: if a frame is tricky to put back in- push the adjacent frames up against each other tighter. when a frame is removed the two adjacent ones can ‘relax’ into that space- and even just a mm or two can make replacing the frame tricky… it gets snagged half way in…

Another tip: I find the j hook hive tool good for lifting out the frames- you can work the hook under the lugs at the front side of the hive, and lever them up like a standard frame (the shoulder of the tool levers off an adjacent frame)- then you can stick your fingers in the other extraction end lugs and lift the frame out easily :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Thanks Jeff… I am coming to the same conclusion. I do wonder however, if I were to wait longer, if they would actually go all the way to the edges. Also I wonder if they feel more threatened and don’t use those cells because there is more light penetrating the hive there. Interestingly, while the observation window face of the frame has been chockers with honey for weeks and weeks but there is no sign of capping yet.

Hey Jack, that is really clever - now why did you not post that before I did my last clumsy inspection??? Man, those frames are hard to lift and manoeuvre! It pains me to say, more than one bee paid the ultimate price so that I could determine that they had done their job. Shame…

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I use a similar method. Remove the Flow key cover panel. Remove one Flow frame and leave it out of the hive. Inspect the face of the next frame by looking in from the top of the box, then slide it over into the gap left by the first frame. Inspect the next 2 faces, slide that frame over. Repeat until all faces have been seen. So far, this works really well. However, I did put metal frame rests on the rebates in the super (makes sliding easier), and the frames have only been in the hive for a couple of weeks, so not much propolis for them to get stuck on yet.

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Hiya Cathie, I have been fooled be the bees same as you with the end cells not being capped. Being concerned the frames would not fill I did an inspection and found the lid (migratory) had been completely filled with honeycomb and all frames were full except the end cells! Crafty bees. I was thinking it was because I was removing the inspection cover daily and the light was putting them off but the side window didn’t have that issue. Even with a second harvest they had not filled the end frames…

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@skeggley - are they not filling the outer face, or not filling both sides of the outer frame? Have you considered switching the frames around after a harvest, to put “used” frames against the super wall, and untouched frames in the middle? My bees are only filling the middle Flow frames at the moment, so that is what I will do if I get to harvest this year. :smile:


Sorry, 2 in the morning, I meant end cells…

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Aww, get some sleep man! :heart_eyes:

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This is how I look at it:
Nectar is mostly water, honey is only 18%.
So an example: the bees have to store 1000 cc’s of nectar, evaporate the water out of it, and may wind up with 250 cc’s of honey. In order to make that 250 cc’s of honey, they need to have room to store 1000 cc’s; that’s why I keep 3-5 supers on my honey producing hives.


Is that what explains this observation too? Add a medium super and the hive humidity drops by half, because now there is a lot more space for evaporation.


So Chili are you saying to what might work in that situation is to put another super on with the Flow super, to provide the physical space both for storage and airflow/humidity dispersion?

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And Happy Cake Day too - looks like we share it :blush::+1:

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Yes but here in lies the concern:
As has been well documented, the bees prefer regular frames over the Flow frames. They may use the Flow frames to store nectar and then move it as needed to the regular frames for capping. That’s probably what is happening now when folks say the honey is disappearing from the Flow frames.

Maybe just be content with harvesting a few frames at a time to keep giving the bees room and keep checking the brood box to make sure it is not honey-bound.
A cool experiment would be to take a Flow frame, after the bees have deposited some nectar, and place it in the brood box as the outside frame and see what they do with it. That may shed some light on whether or not the perceived honey bee Flow hatred stems from the queen excluder or the actual Flow frame.

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I don’t think bees hate flow frames- I thiink they just don’t use them until they have to. Ive had hives where the bees don’t touch the flow frames for months- then suddenly they fill them all up. I had another hive where the bees filled all the wax to finish out the flow cells in 24 hours- and started filling them with nectar within days. The only difference was that the bees were not ready to use the frames. I think perhaps they have a slight aversion to using plastic in the same way as they do with regular plastic frames. I have used a few regular plastic frames and seen how the bees fill out their natural combs first- but as soon as there is no more space they do move onto the plastic readily. I think it’s the same with flow frames. I think in many cases where people add a flow super and nothing happens: the same thing would have happned with a regular super. the bees simply don’t need the extra storage space yet.

This year our bee societies apiary did not do very well. the regular supers were added in spring- but they never filled up. there was no good nectar flow in that area. Nothing to do with the type of frame in the super.

This year I started two new hoop pine flow hives with colonies at the same time. I have harvested 35kg of honey from one to date- and only 2 kg’s of honey from the other. Both colonies appear to be strong- but the one that didn’t produce honey has had mild chalkbrood throughout spring and summer. The brood box is completely filled out- but they have only stored a little honey in the hybrid super. I think that’s all they had to spare?

I have also put flow frames in without waxing them first- and the bees have taken straight to them- and others I have waxed have been ignored. I think more important than waxing is the bees need for the space. If they need it even unwaxed they will take to it.


[quote=“Semaphore, post:16, topic:11042, full:true”]
I don’t think bees hate flow frames- I thiink they just don’t use them until they have to. [/quote]

Oops, forgot which crowd I was responding to lol:
Bees prefer not to use the Flow Frames unless they absolutely have no other choice. Like when I was a kid and Mom put Brussel Sprouts on my plate along with chicken, rice, and cornbread. I didn’t eat the Brussel sprouts unless my Dad MADE me eat them. Then when he found out I was leaving the table with them packed in my cheeks he started checking my mouth lol.
It’s not that I hated Brussel sprouts, I just didn’t want to eat them unless I had to :wink:


Hello! I am new to this whole thing so I was thrilled to hear a cousin of mine who was coming to visit has a boyfriend who is a bee expert, and I got to bend his ear for 3 days! I Normally would know nothing but when I read your problem I immediately thought of two things told to me. First of all, they will not come back to cap or fill the remaining area. Try taking all but one of the flow frames out, leaving them one frame to fill. Once they’ve filled about 70% of one, place the second one and so on. Empty the partial one('s) as best you can and either utilize those as “the one” or save to include later. Bees are hard workers and want to do their job, but they can also behave as if they’re finicky or confused so just provide one at a time, they’ll work on it and soon you’ll have a full hive.
*Be sure you haven’t moved your cage, even a foot. If your hive is starting out and it’s been scooted over or moved at all, bees will not understand why their internal GPS isn’t taking them to their front door any longer.
*Also, be sure your bees have plenty of water available. No water, no honey.

What about the space for the other 5 frames? Leave it empty? Sounds like a recipe for a big mess to me! :blush:

Nope, no mess :wink:., and yes, leave it empty but the one. Just placing one in at a time will allow them to concentrate all their efforts on the one, which is what is needed. As I mentioned, include each additional frame as they’re about 70% full. They know their job, just help manage it for them. :blush: