Bees in bottom of Flow frame (in the honey flow channel)

Hi Everyone,
I’m new to bee keeping but bought a classic hive a number of months ago.

I unlocked and released the honey a few weeks ago for the first time. All cartridges were fine except one. This one cartridge had bees flowing out with the honey. I thought it was my mistake of not securely locking the cartridge. I made a point of locking it securely but when I checked the cartridges 2 days ago the same cartridge had bees in it again and all others were fine.

Does the cartridge need replacing? It makes a heck of a mess too with honey going inside the hive when I unlock it. I didn’t want any messes, that’s why I bought a flow hive.

Any suggestions? Has it happened to anyone else? It’s only a new hive.
Cheers, Carol.

Hi Carol and welcome. Can you post some pics of your new hive? While it’s true that genuine Flow hives can also leak under certain conditions (see below), I’d want to be sure of your equipment’s provenance as there are many fakes out there and they tend to be of very poor quality. I’ve never heard of bees being able to get into Flow frames such that they would become caught up in the honey flow coming out during a harvest.

When harvesting a genuine Flow frame (or any honey frame for that matter), it’s very important to first check if it is capped and thus truly ready to be harvested. Then, you want to open the frame in smaller increments - not all at once - so the volume of honey doesn’t create an airlock in the harvesting tube. To do this, you simply insert the key a quarter-way in, and watch and wait for the flow to lessen before pushing it in another quarter further in to open the next increment.

Occasionally, the bees will leave an arc open in the middle of Flow frames to leave space for the queen to lay, which of course she cannot when a QX is in place. Empty cells can also allow honey coming from above the arc to dribble out instead of staying inside the frame. This is easily spotted when you make a habit of checking the super before harvesting. Frames that have an empty arc can trade places with ones on the ends that are or will become completely filled with honey.

Hope that helps! Looking forward to seeing your setup when you can post a few pics :wink:


Apart from @Eva’s excellent suggestions, I would lift that frame out and inspect it. Bees in the channel and honey in the hive make me suspect the the bottom of the channel may have cracked, broken and fallen out, leaving a hole in the bottom of the frame. It has happened to others on this forum, so it is worth checking. I also lift and inspect all frames before harvesting anyway, partly to check for holes, but also to assess capping percentage. If it is less than 90% capped, it probably is not ready for harvesting.


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Because the honey flowed into the hive when I cracked open the 3rd cartridge from the right honey went everywhere and the bees went outside the hive while the cleanup process went on inside.

Hi Carol,

Anything Eva & Dawn have to say is always worth listening to - they both have a wealth of beekeeping experience.

However, if you would like some product assistance or feel there may be an issue with one of your frames, please email so the team can help. Photos of both sides of the Flow frame would be useful to include, if you have any.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Flow team


Still hard to know exactly what happened, but I think that as @Eva suggested, you had a backflow issue.

If you don’t open each frame in about 20% increments, the honey builds up and backflows into the hive. It is essential to avoid airlocks in the Flow tube at the exit of each frame, otherwise you risk drowning many bees in the hive with honey that leaks backwards.

Take it slowly :blush:


As I’m only new at working with bees I asked a local bee keeper to take it out and look over the cartridge and the entire hive, which he did. There wasn’t anything obvious but I guess I could take that cartridge out again and look for a hole as you say.

I’m not very confident with all this bee keeping as yet.

I’ll get back to you.

In a nice way can I suggest that perhaps replace the word cartridge with Flow Frames. It’s the common terminology and makes it a lot easier for readers to understand what the conversation is referring to.

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This post by @Tim_Purdie shows what I am talking about:

I have taken two photos. Yes there is a hole at the bottom of the last row in the cartridge. That row also does not meet up cleanly as the other do.

No matter how I use the key this row does not align properly. I actually watched the bees going in and out of the hole.

Now what do I do?

Carol, I can help you out there. Using hundreds of Flow frames I have come across your issue a couple of times over the years. Each Flow frames exists of only four different parts, apart from the end plugs and the steel wires. One each of the clear plastic panels at each end, a tall yellow vertical strip that also forms the channels at the top and bottom and a shorter yellow vertical strip that sandwiches in between the taller ones.That shorter strip is the only moving part within the frame and moves up during opening (harvesting) and down again after harvest is done. When you have a Flow frame in the open (harvesting) position you can see the bottom ends of those shorter strips, they look like a neat row of ‘church pews’ lined up along the bottom edge just above the channel. Sometimes (very, very rarely) during the closing action with the Flow key a individual ‘church pew’ doesn’t feed properly into its bottom, closed position. Result is the whole shorter strip is under tension and will bend sideways, looking like a banana. That’s what happened in your case. You cannot fix that bend strip, once out of shape it will stay that way. But it is very easy to replace that indivudaul strip and only takes a few minute. In your situation it would be best if you would contact the Honey Flow Team (see @Freebee2 further above). Worst case scenario they will post you a new individual strip, but knowing their excellent costumer service they probably will replace the whole frame if still under warranty. Good luck!

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Thankyou everyone for giving me feedback. I so appreciate your help. I’ve emailed the flow team for assistance.
Regards, Carol.