Best way to manage these old flow frames?

I recently purchased this hive from someone else - they are about 5yrs old. Can I please get some suggestions on the best way to clean them up? There is some honey in there, so my intention was to leave what is there now for the bees through winter and to tackle this in early Spring for a fresh flow.

You can use the search tool to look for posts on Cleaning Flow frames. :blush:

I found one to get you started:


Thanks Dawn, I was actually just reading that thread. That propolis sure is stubborn stuff! I also read in that thread that an estimated 6hrs was spent on each frame!!! Kind of makes a time poor, full time working Mum want to just replace them with new ones… until you see the price.

And I have to wonder though what caustic soda residue will do to the frames, the bees and the honey… hence I am hoping for some other suggestions.

Hi Ashem0,
There are a few posts about cleaning so hopefully you will find some useful methods.

From my understanding you may need to think about whether leaving the flow on the hive throughout winter will be good for the hive depending on the hive population and how much honey is left in them.

Just worried about whether the hive could keep itself warm enough with that extra space above the brood box, especially for Katoomba where it can have surprise snow falls.

If the Flow is from another hive are there any hygiene/contamination concerns to be aware of?
Edit - just reread your post about freezing and use of hot water…

Cheers from Canberra!


Hi Emma, leaving the Flow frames on for winter is to be avoided in cold climates, as Birty explained. Another risk is that the colony can move up past the queen excluder but of course the queen cannot, and she could be left without enough bees to feed her or keep her warm. If you leave the frames on and remove the QX, then she could start laying in the Fframes and you have an even bigger cleanup issue :weary:

Aside from all that, you’ll have less propolis buildup if you’re placing the Flow super on strategically with the nectar flows and colony strength, and removing it when these are not in concert.


@Birty just a little off topic, just noticed you are from Canberra. Hoping to connect with other Canberrans to share local knowledge.

As @Birty said, “are there any hygiene/contamination concerns to be aware of?”. I’ve been harping on a bit about this lately. There seems to be a surge in new beekeepers acquiring second hand beekeeping equipment. I’m not a fan of using second hand equipment unless I can sanitize it, that’s because I always treat it as if it’s contaminated.

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I’m not sure why you would clean those frames? Other than the question of biosecurity.

They seem to look like they would function. The propolis is on the outside, from what I can see, and is just closing gaps in the frames. It may need some working to free them up for the first inspection or two.

I used a pressure cleaner on a few old moody and gunky frames and any propolis that was on the frames just flaked off. It took less than 5min per frame.

I too would encourage you to take the flow frames off over winter unless there is a flow that will yield honey. Leaving empty frames on in winter was what lead to my frames getting gunky. Warm, humid and sugars can result in some interesting mild colonies.

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Yes, I have considered that too Birty - I am now thinking best to remove it - as they are definitely more empty than full so not worth keeping it on and risking them having too much space to keep warm. I have actually just made some insulation blankets for them, but we are currently experiencing a lovely mostly sunny Autumn so don’t need them quite yet.

I think I’d feel more confident with it off!

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“Another risk is that the colony can move up past the queen excluder but of course the queen cannot, and she could be left without enough bees to feed her or keep her warm.” Interesting point Eva. Why aren’t the flow frames suitable for leaving on through winter? Or do you mean just a super in general?

The flow is not from another hive.

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It is not from another hive.

That’s very helpful thank you for addressing my question Adam.

I suspect these have been left on for several years running - which might be why they look messy.

Pressure cleaner is a great idea… I am just a bit concerned the power of mine may do some damage to the frames…

F/u - I intend to take the super off for winter. Thank you for the advice.

Just for everyone’s reassurance this is an independent hive. None of the components have been mixed with my other hives.


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Lie the frame down or stand with a back support. Start the pressure cleaner further away than you think and then just move in until you get the desired effect.


Hey KSJ,

Definitely hoping to make connections. Will be going to the May 19 ACT Bee Keepers Meeting to say hi to everyone. Definitely keen on learning about local beekeeping issues and information.


You said “I recently purchased this hive from someone else - they are about 5 years old”. You have me confused when you say “It is not from another hive”. However I figured that the hive had a colony of bees in it at some stage for all that propolis buildup to be present.

I bought the bees with the hive. … and sorry, f/u is a medical abbreviation for ‘follow up’. I tend to forget some are not common knowledge. Don’t test me on chat room abbreviations though! :grin:


Hi @Ashem0

I’d like to add my 2 cents which agree with some points already mentioned.

  • removing frames over winter if they’re likely to remain mostly empty will prevent mould from forming and support the colony immensely with their survival through the colder months. I understand wintering is quite important for the winter climate in Canberra.

  • Flow Frames don’t necessarily need cleaning. If they’re working fine and you’d like to make them aesthetically more attractive, soaking them in warm soapy water and using a pressure hose is a great method.

Otherwise, you could store the frames in a freezer and keep the nectar/honey for the colony in spring which will give them a great boost to prepare for the upcoming season. Make sure to bring them to room temperature before adding them to the hive.


My apologies Emma, I shouldn’t have jumped to a conclusion like that. I hoped to delete the first part of my last comment before anyone read it. I was trying to be funny, but then I realized it wasn’t all that funny, so I deleted it. I actually thought you were saying “fully understood”, which made sense in the context of the discussion. “Follow up” also works. cheers