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Bees stuck in flow hive cells?


Hi, we have one Flow Hive… we installed new bees on April 15, so now it has been about 3 months. Population is booming, with hot weather they are bearding on the front of the hive during the day. When we look into rear observation area, we are seeing a lot of dead bees seemingly stuck in the flow hive cells. It looks like they went in to work, then got stuck and died. I would say 80% of the visible cells have dead bees… the rest of them look normal, the bees go in and back out.

What would cause this and what can I do about it? I can pull the frames to check what’s going on over the whole frame, but my guess is that this is occurring in all cells… almost like they are getting stuck.

Please help!



Hi Mike,
Could you post an image of the stuck bees? And
Did this happen after you harvested a frame?


If the bees are head first in the cells without being squashed & dying, I wonder if the colony is starving to death. Do you have ample food in the hive? Are you in a honey dearth?

Be careful with all those dead bees if SHBs are in your area because beetles will lay eggs in the dead bees bodies.

Do an inspection as quickly as possible.


I have not harvested the frame yet… I have posted a short video clip to show it…

I see in video that some of them the antenna are still moving, others there is no movement.

We have a ton of activity during day flying in and out, i was assuming they are still finding food. We are not currently feeding them.

They are also bearding heavily on the front during the mid afternoon until evening.


That’s pretty odd Mike, have you performed an inspection to assess their stores and general health of the hive? Are there any honey stores in the brood box? This is where the bees keep the food that they are readily consuming, the Flow super is just storage for excess honey. My first assumption is that they have starved.


We will do an inspection tomorrow… I suspect you are right they are starving. The last time we did an inspection (about 2 weeks ago) there was a ton of new brood but not so many honey stores in lower brood box. My guess is the population is growing faster than they can support it and the bottom brood box is very full so not much room for honey. I was hoping they would start packing the honey into the flow hive but it seems they just mess around in there and don’t do a whole lot (eg, the cells that don’t have dead bees don’t have any nectar stored in there either).

I’ll post back after we do the inspection, thanks for the help!


Sure they are dead? I see bees “stuck” in those cells very often, but they are just working there.


This looks like a well populated hive. There seem to be many bees between the frames.


I’m a few hundred miles north and it would be abnormal to see starvation during this time of year. Does your area have the coveted Sourwood trees? They should be blossoming now and bring in a huge crop of honey.


Hi Mike,

I just had a look at your video, and I could see bees moving a little bit while they were in the cell. I certainly hope they are not stuck or dead, that would be the first time I have heard of that happening to a Flow Frame.

The bees have to go into the cell and fill in all the little gaps with wax, and then they also put wax all around the inside of the cells before they fill with honey.

Please have a look at the first video on this page:

You will see a bee inside the cell - she’s not moving much, but she’s in there working the cell.

Here is a picture of the before and after the cells have been completed by the bees.


Light microscope images of Flow Frame honeycomb cells (x7 magnification)
(a) ‘clean’ unused Flow Frame with partially formed honeycomb cells;
(b) & © top surface of a used Flow frame showing honeycomb cells fully drawn with wax (b) and gaps filled with wax/propolis
©; (d) Single row of fully-drawn honeycomb cells from a Flow frame, note wax lining sides of cells;
(e) and (f) Surface of a single Flow blade from a used Flow Frame showing wax added by the bees coating the entire surface of the blade.

We also welcome you to email Flow customer support with your photos, videos and information for further Flow Frame troubleshooting.

:honeybee: Faroe


Yes, I do see some of them are moving slightly, others appear to be dead. However, we do seem to have a very healthy population otherwise. Here is a short video from yesterday showing the bearding behavior on the front and a view in the side observation window.

Thanks to all for your help, I will report back when we do a hive inspection tomorrow morning and likely add a top feeder.


Even IF they were dead, the other bees would clear them out. Don’t worry. And if you have a flow going on, why do you want to put on a feeder?


@mshaffer I’ve noticed bees seeming very still inside Flow cells too, but they’re working to seal up the cells with wax. Apparently bees do sleep a bit now and then too :slight_smile:️ How about putting a mark or sticker on the outside of the cells where you see bees that appear dead, and go back to see if they’re still there the next day?


17 seconds of video is not long enough to tell if a bee is dead or working to seal a cell. From the way other bees are moving about I suspect the colony is not starving but by all means you can feed them a sugar/water solution if you think that is the right thing to do.
How long have you had the hive? How long have you been a bee keeper? Is this you first experience with the flow hive? I am asking as “newbee jitters” might be the problem.


Peter… newbie jitters are very likely the problem!!


You won’t see bees moving about in the cells, they are sealing up the voids and the rest of what I see is totally normal bee behavior so I am not suspecting they are starving.
You need to relax and check again in a week to ten days and be prepared to see a difference, but hey, they are little creatures so don’t expect a miracle, just look for a change.
Sit at the hive entrance and look for bees returning with pollen sacks on the legs full of pollen and those coming back without pollen are bringing home nectar. If you see that happening then all is ok…
And a welcome to the forum, there is lots of info and folks happy to give you good advise.


Your hive is well populated & it looks like the bees inside the viewing window are washboarding. I would have liked a few more seconds to be certain. Your bees are probably struggling in the heat. Anything you can do to cool the hive & make it easier for the bees to air condition the hive will help. How hot does the roof get? If it gets hot, I’d paint it white. Close off any ventilation so that the bees can air condition the hive more effectively via the entrance.

I believe that if you have an eight frame brood box, evenly space the 8 frames with a 2-3mm gap between each frame shoulder helps. I think it gives the bees more room to circulate the air.


Hi everyone… thanks to everyone for all of your great responses! We did a bee inspection yesterday and confirmed that their honey stores are very little… we have one frame at the end of the brood box that has no foundation, and they had built some nice honeycomb down from that and so there was some capped honey, but every other frame was completely full of capped brood, and the population was huge, but no other honey stores. So, for that kind of population (and future population) there certainly was not enough honey. We have now added the top feeder back on and they are consuming it voraciously.

Regarding the “stuck bees” you guys were also right… I didn’t see them the next day when I looked… so either some died and they were pulled out, or more likely, they were just working in there and not appearing to move… in either case, it looked great now. The Flow Hive had tons of bees working on it and I even saw a small patch of capped honey.

Regarding it being too hot… yes we have had some hot weather here, and they had been bearding on the front. But the hive is nestled down in a lower area and only gets direct sun from about 11 AM to 3 PM…otherwise it is pretty shaded… so in general I don’t think the heat is a big issue, but in the past week or so it has been one of the stressors.

So, we will continue to feed them and monitor it… but looks like all is OK.

Thanks to all for your help.



G’day Mike, I believe that 4 hr. period during the hottest part of the day is enough to cause heat stress. I would suggest you place your hand on the roof during that period to see how hot it gets. If it gets hot, give it a few good thick coats of white paint. The thick coats will also help with water proofing.


Hi Mike - so glad to hear the bees were not really stuck. The only problem I see at this point is that you’re feeding sugar water, which may well be important to do, but will likely result in stored sugar water in your Flow frames, instead of or along with nectar.