Bees won't use plastic frames NorCal

My bees aren’t using the plastic frames. I’ve tried beeswax and sugar water as lures but they’re just not taking the bait so to speak. My local bee store has said they haven’t seen any success with Flow Frames here (Coastal Northern California). Anyone have any other great ideas? At this point I’m ready to dump the plastic and put some empty frames in there to prevent disaster. I’d rather have bees with hard to harvest honey (or no honey) than no bees at all. I’m very new at this so possibly missing a key ingredient to making this work. Thanks in advance.

When did you set up the hive and what was your source for the colony? Tell us a little more about your setup and surrounds.

Hive was set up the first week of May, and my source was a local bee shop (3lb package of Italian bees). I supplemented with sugar water for 4 weeks and the bees filled out the frames before I added the super to the top. They have taken no interest whatsoever in the plastic frames, but they’re building like crazy in the dead space between the wood frames and the plastic. I’ve been scraping that off.

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Are you still feeding with the super on?

Depending on your location and the advice of your local beekeepers, you might consider adding a second brood box instead of the flow super.

It’s possible that there is just not enough nectar flow for them to take interest in building out and filling the super but if you get them stocked up and strong through the winter they should take interest for the spring flow.

It does seem to me that the individual colonies perform differently with regard to the flow super. It also seems to me that depending on the colony they may build out foundationless frames remarkably fast, even faster than wax or wax coated plastic foundation so maybe there is some individual bee strain/breed/genetics that is playing a part.

But I think it’s too soon to tell for you, odds are they just aren’t strong enough in their first season, especially if they started from a (late) package in May.


This is such helpful advice, thank you. I’m gonna get another box and get it set up this week.


Hello and welcome to the Flow forum! :blush:

You have already had some excellent pointers from @chau06 and I don’t have much to add, although there are a couple of things that I would like to highlight.

  1. You almost definitely need 2 brood boxes in NorCal. I am in coastal SoCal, and virtually all hobby beekeepers here use double brood. Like us, you will have long nectar dearths, and double brood means that your hive has enough stores to last out the lean times
  2. I have never had a package start from scratch and produce a harvest in its first year. I am talking about both traditional and Flow hives. Starting in May is late in the season, and even if the hive looked very busy, it was probably already peaking. You said that they are building in the space above the frames, but how do the brood frames themselves look? Are they all fully drawn with comb, and full of brood or food? If not, what percentage would you estimate on average is full?
  3. The main nectar flow in most of California is done by early to mid July, so you might want to take off your Flow super. If you are worried that the bees may be crunched for space, you could consider putting on a traditional medium. If there is no nectar, they won’t work it, but it isn’t too much space for them to heat and defend so late in the season. If there is still nectar, they can store it for winter use. You should take off the queen excluder by September though, if you are going to leave the medium box on the hive.
  4. Your local bee store is a good resource, but many traditional beekeepers are conservative in their approach, and have issues with the Flow concept. I would take what they say with a grain of salt. We have beekeepers of all climates from subtropical to very cool (Canada and Scandinavia) on this forum, and they can all make the Flow frames work for them. Keep an open mind, as you have been doing, be patient, and I am sure that it will work for you too!
  5. One last thing, is this an Australian Flow hive, or a Chinese version? Bees really seem to hate the Chinese ones, perhaps due to off-gassing from the plastic frames. If you are not sure, send us a photo of the outside of the hive, and we should be able to work it out

Good luck, and please keep us updated


Thanks so much for your input! My local bee shop has definitely not been supportive of the flow hive when I asked questions which left me feeling deflated. And of course local bee groups also skew that way. In any case I’ll follow your advice. And it’s definitely the Australian version so at least I’ve got that going for me. I’ll also take a closer look at what the bees have built so far but it’s looking very healthy and full from what I can tell as a novice. Thanks again for taking the time to give me all of that advice.