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Beginner question on patterns


Hi there,

Quick question on patterns in the brood box as I am only a new beekeeper. A few months back I had a 5 frame nuc installed into my hive and have been running just the brood box waiting for them to get stronger. With winter coming I figured that I would probably stick with the 1 box as there is plenty of feed around and I would look to put a super on once winter clears. But hive is getting stronger all the time so may have to put something on anyway.

I wanted to ask just one question but thought I would put up a few photos at the same time. I did an inspection today and the queen is laying great. I am in Brisbane and it is cooling down a bit but plenty of flowers out and looks like queen is powering on. What a great queen she is and bees are seriously docile letting me be get away with being a beginner and not get upset with me - thanks @JeffH .

Anyway - the question is…

Q) The next photo below is of a frame that is the 2nd from the outside and it looks like there is a lot of nectar there almost competing with the space for laying workers. I wanted to ask is that what you would expect? I guess that as I don’t have a honey super on there that this would be the case as they need to put it somewhere and seems they want to put pollen in the outer frame so 2nd in is a good dumping ground.

I have 1 empty frame left in the box - which is on the opposite side on the outside. It is a foundationless and at this stage they haven’t built it out so still got a while to go until consider putting on another box I guess. Frame next to that I put in with foundation and bees have built it out, but I wanted to keep a couple of foundationless frames to let them do whatever cells size they want etc. I expected the queen to slow down, but I guess winter here in Brisbane isn’t really what you would call a normal winter - so I could be putting on a box sooner than later.

Just in the interest of sharing, I took a photo of the frame which is on the outside and next to the nectar/brood frame above (on the opposite side to the empty frame)… it was foundationless and they have built it out and have a great range of colours coming in with the pollen. So many flowers around my neighbourhood at the moment so nice to see.

As indicated, I am only new so go easy on me… ha… but any shared knowledge would be greatly appreciated.



Hi Jeff, I’m glad your bees are nice & quiet.

The bees will move honey around so that the queen can lay, if that’s what they want. Never be concerned about that. It’s a noble thing to let the bees build whatever comb they want, however, letting the bees build a lot of drone comb is only asking for SHB trouble. I would only give the bees fresh wax foundation. Those other frames with large gaps, I would lift them up into the honey section when the time comes to add the honey super. You want only frames with mostly worker comb in the brood box. Cut any drone brood out of the frames before putting them above the QX.

If you are using a migratory lid, that is ideal, coupled with a vinyl mat to give the bees some more room, should they fill the whole brood box. If the bees want to move honey, in order for the queen to lay more eggs, they can store it up there. Once you see that happening, it’s basically time to add the next super.

I’m seeing a lot of gum trees in bud right now, I’m hoping for a good honey flow in the next few weeks. It might be similar down there, fingers crossed.

Good luck with the bees Jeff, …cheers


I know this post is old, but I wonder how many people follow advice from experienced beekeepers to adopt their old way of doing things rather than finding their own path with the new equipment they start off with when they get their first flow hive.
So you got your flow set, but the first thing you hear when asking anything on this forum is get rid of your screened bottom board, replace that beautiful roof with a migratory lid, put a vinyl mat, use foundation, cut out drone brood. Really?
What is left is a box of flow frames that may work or not, possibly depending partially on what advice you follow.
I reckon the foundationless is a trade off, like a contract with the bees; you guys have all the freedom downstairs, but up here it’s all provided. Just seal and deposit your excess honey, down there do as nature has intended and as you wish. Use your wax glands down there.
If you force foundation size upon them downstairs, they may not be happy to fill honey upstairs, as they always look to make up for things not possible in their free space.
I believe in giving them free reign, and even in my double brood hive all foundationless I don’t see much drone.
I think the bees will react to build drone cells only if they believe they have to fear survival.
Even my commercial mentor (3500 hives) can’t believe my bees don’t build more drone cells being foundationless.
Why does nobody give advice to a new beekeeper how to handle foundationless? Why convert them using a toxin introducing foundation if they only seek advice on how to handle a more bee centered way?
There is some recent research that suggests screened bottom boards are a thing of the future and recommended, where the flow mob already adopted it years ago. Can’t be bothered to find the link now. Will post when I find it again.
It’s a big learning curve starting beekeeping, and we need our mentors and advice from their experience.
But I feel we need to let go of old practices and need to get our head around the new equipment.
There are huge differences in beekeeping practices according to different regions, but there will also be huge differences according to the new equipment we use.
I do appreciate advice, but I sure don’t always follow it. My experience so far is good, getting to know my colonies.
I will not kill their drones because there is no excess. And while we don’t have varroa, we should let the genes get out there, no?
The entire flow set up works excellently. I explore and swap and change, but generally I don’t feel inclined to go change the flow configuration where I am.
Why would a flow set up need to get changed when it works so beautifully only because a traditional beekeeper says it’s my way or the highway?
We all have to deal with SHB and wax moths. Never had a problem with managing them, the flow way.
The advice from experienced beekeepers we get is very valuable, but as flow beekeepers we have to find our own way.
Not sure if this is a rant, been on my mind for a while. That’s why it’s hidden here, where I found a new beekeeper with perfect beautifully built foundationless going well being told to do it otherwise - again.
Rant over.


For sure one has to do their own experimentation to work it all out, and it helps if you can have several hives going at once to try different things. I have three different floor set-ups at the moment. With experienced beekeepers they have already done their own experiments and learnt through trial and error - it would be such a waste not to listen very carefully to them. It doesn’t mean that you can’t experiment yourself or that their way is the only one.
In Tasmania at present there is some momentum behind polystyrene hives. Supposed to be the “new way to go”. They are something that in this climate might be worth experimenting with too - only thing is they are deep boxes which I don’t like that much here.


Hi Dan, a lot of blokes are building native bee boxes out of 35mm thick timber for the added insulation. That might be worth considering for your ideal supers. You could just add another layer of hoop pine to the outside of the boxes. Or at least on one hive to compare the difference. I know that when I added a layer of 1 inch poly styrene to the covers of my observation hive. The improvement was almost instant.

  • good idea. I like wood too. It was said to me with great authority that, “the only beekeepers who got honey in Tasmania last year were the ones with the polystyrene hives”. I take that under advisement at this stage.


I was thinking it will make an ideal heavier that a standard deep, but I think it will be worth the extra weight. If you had a good supply of cheap wrc, that’d be ideal.


Apparently WRC is a better insulator compared to radiata (monterey) pine, which is generally used here. If I could get cheap and thick WRC I’d like to use that. The naturally occurring chemicals in it help delay rot too.


Forget about getting WRC cheap in Australia. If by some miracle you find some let me know. In general it costs 5 to 10 times what pine does. Your only chance might
be gluing less wide planks- even then I doubt you’ll have much luck.

An affordable option might be golden cypress- it has similar anti-fungal properties as WRC:

As to Polly hives- just heard from an SA beek with 1500 hives that he is getting rid of his and going back to all timber- but he prefers thicker timber: 25mm.


Hi Jack, I carried out all of my alterations & put the last coat of white paint on this morning. I’m going to still use the flow roof, but as a migratory/telescoping hybrid. I’m going to do a comparison, next time I get my hands on an unpainted roof of the difference between the temperature under the roofs just sitting on an empty super in the sun on a hot day.

Jack, I just spotted your inclusion to the post. If it’s the same as cypress pine, like some of my supers are, it’s quite heavy. The timber in my supers is termite resistant, so it could be the same stuff. I guess ideals made from 25mm boards wouldn’t be too bad.


we modified all our flow roofs- adding a little insulation, wax dipping them, adding a layer of aluminum foil. As they come- especially the cedar ones- they are not quite heavy enough or weatherproof enough. The hoop pine ones are thicker and more robust. I note that nowadays Flow always shows them as painted in their materials.

I have just set up four standard hives with migratory lids- the ones I got are not that much better than flow roofs I would guess. I quite like the flow roofs as I don’t have to remove comb from the lids or worry about vinyl mats. But then I like the migratory ones and removing honeycomb from the roofs. Recently we have added ideal supers for comb honey to most of our flow hives. Here is my hoop pine flow hive with foundationless ideal inserted below the hybrid super- my plan is to move the ideal to above the flow super in a few more weeks. Can’t wait to see what’s in there:

I purchased several hives in 8 frame- that came wax dipped- with 24mm timber- very simple yet nicely finished and affordable hives:

I also grabbed 3 wax dipped and painted Nuc boxes- so far they have come in very handy for catching swarms and housing splits- they should see good service for years to come:



Hi Jack…interesting…do you have any idea why he they were no good or why he is going back to timber?


It was my Mum who went to an open day at his apiary- so I missed the actual description- from what I understand it was several issues: quality, maintenance and colony health. He just found wood was better for his operation. Having said that much of SA is quite different to TAS conditions I imagine.

I must say- for what it’s worth- I just like the idea of wood and turn my nose up when I see plastic hives. The Polly ones that need to be painted seem especially unlikable to me… I am all for hot wax dipped timber- aesthetically - functionally. Even more so dipped in bees wax and gun rosin instead of parrafin and microcrystalline.

All my flow hives have been dipped that way by me. The standard hives and the Nuc boxes were parrafin dipped and come assembled for about $35 for a box, base or lid. The Nuc boxes were $75- being dipped and painted they should last for years.

Recently I wax dipped 8 boxes, some lids and other bases- now I am set up it beat the carp out of painting… and I will be advertising my honey as coming from natural timber hive components wherever possible.

The hives I made myself have Zero paint, glue, any unnatural products beyond the screws :sunglasses:


When I took my first nuc home, not quite a year ago, I had read up on beekeeping for months and did a beginners course. Had all the gear, suit, smoker, hive tool.
Then I dived in with my first inspection, the day after the nuc came. Had to center the frames and retrieve the queen cage that had slipped down during transport.
Then looking at the frames I wondered if all was good. Despite all reading, in reality it looked different.
Getting into the hive every few weeks and overcoming that fear that something may be wrong was the hardest. But any time I asked questions I got told to change my equipment. Not just on this forum, elsewhere too.
I have since learned that there are many ways to beekeep, and one is as good as the other, depending on climate and desired outcome.
But - when I started off, it would have been way easier to just hear advice according to the equipment I had.
I was really confused and kept questioning my new equipment, yet kept at it, just because I had it and I knew others whose experience had been a good one.
The experienced here, I have learned so so much from Dawn, Jeff, Rod, Dee, Michael, Gerald and some others. Where would I be without your write ups and conversations?
But when you are a total baby beginner with a flow hive and just put it together trying to understand all the bits and want to embark on a foundationless journey, it would feel more comforting to get encouraged to follow my ideological path and receive advice to get me that step further, instead of being told this is all wrong.
One could also assume on the flow forum one gets advice according to the flow equipment.
There probably is no right or wrong in beekeeping, but we could keep the forum flow centered.


I’m sorry you felt overwhelmed at the start with your beekeeping journey with the Flow equipment, and with foundationless beekeeping.
I guess, the important thing to remember is that the Flow Forum was set-up so that beekeepers from all over the world could share their experience and advice.
For some beekeepers, they swear on foundation, and for others, they go foundationless.

Yes, this must be confusing and overwhelming at the start for a new beekeeper when you are trying to learn with what you have been given - e.g. foundationless frames with a comb guide. But these frames also come with the option of adding, wire, foundation, etc.

The Flow team has done their best to try and share knowledge, faqs, videos, education about beekeeping, but Flow is only one source of knowledge.
There are many foundationless beekeepers out there, @Michael_Bush being one of them, who shares his foundationless beekeeping advice on the forum a lot. I guess that is easy to miss when searching through the thousands of posts on here :wink:
Here is an example of a search on foundationless with @Michael_Bush bush in the search:

Here is a search just on foundationless:

Here is the foundationless info we put up on our website from @Girl_Next_Door_Honey :

Here is the page on brood frames and their options:

The other important thing to mention is that it is important to follow the advice of experienced beekeepers who can help new beekeepers with advice on their brood, and hive health etc. Flow encourages all new beekeepers to join their local bee club or find a local bee keeper or mentor to help them out.
For some, this is not possible, and alas, the forum exists and our other online educational resources. + the multitude of other beekeeping resources online in videos, books, etc.

You have to follow the advice around, but also follow your intuition/gut, personal experience.
I am very grateful personally to @JeffH on the forum even if what he says isn’t always on par with my thoughts, but alas, he gives a lot of his time, and shares his experience.

I am also grateful to all the other experienced beekeepers on here who have posted on here and on our website, too many to mention (you know who you are :slight_smile: ) from all different walks of life, and all with their own experiences.

The Flow Frames are an invention to be put inside a beehive - there are so many options for how this can be done.
Here is the basic modifying faq we provide:


In this case, we do not tell the beekeeper anything about their brood box, roof, bottom board, etc., as this info is provided for a beekeeper who wants to utilise Flow technology in their own beehive, not the beehive Flow built.

Anyway, that’s a few of my cents for ya :wink: :slight_smile: :honeybee: