Brand new keeper - advice - comb too deep?

Hi there! Brand new keeper here - San Francisco Bay Area.

Short recap: received and built/stained/painted FlowHive 2, 7 frame, about 1.5 months ago. Package bees installed 2.5 weeks ago. I have done two inspections - first at 7 days, second at 15 days.

Question: I noticed during the first inspection, where the bees were building comb, the comb was “thick”. Meaning I had concerns that as they filled additional frames, there would not be the required room to move between the frames for the bees. On the second inspection, this remained true, but they do seem to fit. Whether this bee (ahem) because they made the next frame more shallow or my perception is off…is where I need your opinion!

Details: Here is the second inspection:2nd Hive inspection - Google Drive . The video is 11 mins long, sorry, so: It is the 7th frame from the top at 4:05 in the video. You can see what I mean before I even pull it. I know for the comb along the “border” of the upper frame, I can just shave it, but what about the rest?

  1. Is it too thick?
  2. If so, detailed instructions on the fix?

Thank you in Advance!!!


Welcome to the forum. Sadly I can’t view the video. Youtube works better for me. I find the best way to organize bees in a brood box, or honey super is by using frames with properly fitted wax foundation. Better still are fully drawn frames that are about 98% worker comb, that are nice & straight.

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Thanks Jeff. The video is open to all, but you’re in luck! I can upload to Youtube. My question is fairly specific and not about how to organize - but how this looks to experienced guys like you! Give me a bit, I will publish on YouTube (which uses the same engine and publish as Google Drive). Will update with a link for you - I’d love you’re opinion!

I’m heading out for a while. I mightn’t be back on the forum until tomorrow Qld. time. Just to clarify: When bees build a frame where the comb sticks out a bit, they will make the adjacent frame skinny, while maintaining their normal “bee space”. It’s less than ideal, and can be avoided by using the method I previously stated. Ideally, we should look down over the frames, & see almost nothing sticking out past the lines of the top bars.

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Thank you VERY much - I figured as much, but hope to post soon, the video is processing now. I really appreciate you guys helping us new guys out!

Speaking of - the SD version posted, it’s not great… the HD 4K is coming…ETA 90mins:


Hello and welcome to the Flow forum! :blush:

I appreciated you uploading your video to YouTube, as it is so much more convenient for me and means that I don’t have to download the file! You did a very nice job with the inspection, using slow and gentle movements. I will answer your questions first, then I have a few comments.

  1. It doesn’t look too thick to me. Bees chew and remodel wax all the time, so if it was interfering with their bee space, they would do something about it themselves. They won’t make it too thick for larvae, as the larvae are a specific length. If the cells are too deep, all the queen can do is lay drones. They can store honey in deeper cells, which is why the plastic Flow frame cells are so deep.
  2. I wouldn’t fix what you have demonstrated in your video. It looks fine, but you might want to modify your frame lifting a bit to help keep it intact until it is more stable. More details below.

Overall, I want to encourage you that it was very well done!

Now a few comments to make your life easier:

  1. I suggest that you start by lifting a frame from the furthest edge before lifting any others. As they don’t seem to be as active in the frame nearest the fence, I would choose that one. I then put that frame into a spare deep box (you can use the Flow super if you don’t have all of the frames in it) and leave it out until the inspection is done. This gives you more space to separate the frames before lifting, and makes rolling or squishing the queen and other bees much less likely.
  2. Consider practicing with the J-hook on your hive tool. Once you have separated both ends of each from the adjacent one, you should be able to insert it under the lug of the frame, and lever it against the next frame along. Lift one end, then use the hook on the other end to free it up. If you get a mini hive tool, you can keep it in your hand while you inspect the frame - no need to put it down.
  3. If you do put the hive tool down, try not to let it clank on the hive. :wink: At the moment, your colony is small and peaceful. However, when they get strong and there is a nectar dearth, they will not appreciate loud noises and vibrations. Just a thought.
  4. White capped cells in the corners of frames are usually honey. Capped larvae are usually a bit more golden yellow, as the bees make the capping breathable for the larva underneath.

Hope that helps. I love it that your whole family are involved. Great stuff! :heart_eyes:


@Dawn_SD Thank, thank THANK YOU! Good news - HD vid is processed!

-That extra tip re: empty super is GOLD!!! Logical, yet easy to miss!

-I’ll try to practice the J end of the tool next time- thanks!

-I have started to put into one of "X "pockets of my suit. I have noticed my nerves and my daughter cause slips-I’ll try and be better!

-Thanks for that! We couldn’t see eggs, after more research - we’re not worried, as we could see larvae with the good clean clear…“stuff”? in them (the cells).

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They look great to me. I reduced the number of frames in my box but that is because I had seen others do exactly the same. The comb on your frames looks perfectly good t me. I wouldn’t worry too much about that

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Hi Chris, you’re welcome. I totally agree with @Dawn_SD , & @john_lawson .Especially about removing the least used frame first. I just stand it up against whatever is handy. The back of the hive, for example. The white cappings, as in your video go over honey when it is “ripe”. That’s after the bees are satisfied that the correct amount of water has been extracted from it, as you’ll learn along the way. After a little while, you’ll get to know the difference between capped honey, & capped {sealed} brood. You’ll also become familiar with drone comb, once the bees start building it. In the mean time, the bees are fully focused on producing workers. Once they reach the level of workers they are happy with, they’ll start producing drones.


I notice that you are using the sharp side of the hive tool to stick under the middle of each frame to get it out. If you use the other end and put the curve into the slot outside of each frame, you will see that there is a ‘wedge’ on the other side of the curve which catches the adjacent frame and acts as a lever to lift the frame upwards. I think you will find that an easier way to get the frames out, specially when they get heavier…and you wont damage any comb in the process


Aha! Thanks for that!

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Hi all! Back again. Same question as before, as is seems to be getting worse. This 3rd inspection took place yesterday, approx. 10 days after the one I previously did.

Pics and vid via Google drive:

Video via YouTube:


  • At 2:05 you can see the looking down it where the comb is not only thick, but is connected from one frame to the next.
  • At 4:28 you can see a close up and hear me narrate this.
  • At 5:35 you can see and hear me narrate that I had to “crack” two frames apart, which destroyed some hard bee work!
  • At 6:55 you’ll see me actually “scrap” some of the comb to at least get it in line with the frame.

I appreciate all your thoughts and advise! What is going on?

@Dawn_SD @JeffH @john_lawson

P.S. - We clearly identified drone cells, so…cool! =)

Nothing there would be a worry to me. The bridging comb at the top of the frames is normal, you just scrape it off to make handling the frames easy. As for the “wide” comb again there is nothing there I would be worried about. It looks like they are building a good lot of straight comb so I would just let them get on with the job.


Hi Chris, @Dawn_SD & I probably didn’t talk it up enough: the strategy of taking the least used frame out first. What we do is take that frame out first, before standing it up somewhere, out of the way. Then we leave that frame out during the inspection. That gives us a one frame gap, so that we can lever the next frame away, making it much easier to remove without damaging or possibly killing any bees, or the queen… You just repeat that process with each frame. What I sometimes do is move the frames back to where the first frame came from, then replace the first frame to the position the last frame sat. Basically leave that frame out during the whole process, & replace it last.

I can see that the comb is tending to go off course. What you could do is cut that section off & place the empty part of the frame (by reversing it) between two straight sections of comb. In doing so, you’ll need to make sure that no bulging comb is up against other bulging comb. Just scrape it off, back flush with the frame.

Just to clarify: The drones don’t mate with “the” queen. They go out daily (weather permitting, I guess) to a DCA (drone congregation area), a place where virgin queens from the district visit in order to get mated. The drones in the dca are from different hives, so therefore that decreases the chance of interbreeding.

@Rmcpb Thank you, much appreciated!

@JeffH Thank you again! I appreciate the tips. I will try and remember the “set a frame aside to make space”. I’m going to be a little less worried about the comb now and let them do their business. Thanks for the info re: the drones. No idea they had a…drone zone - hahaha!

Question: When should I add the super? It’s too early now, I know that. Wait until all frames are full or maybe…80%?

You’re welcome Chris. To answer your questions: You basically answered that yourself. Somewhere between 80 & 100% full.

I wouldn’t allow the bees to continue as they are going. At the 6 minute mark, the bees are definitely building that comb in the direction of cross combing, which can be harder to rectify at a later date. At the 8 minute mark, you can clearly see that the bees are building the comb towards the adjacent frame.

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Ok. So, cut out those sections?

I’m worried about doing damage…like cutting out and killing brood, taking too much of thier “supplies” etc. Any tips?

Cut just enough out so that when you reverse the frame to place the empty portion between straight combs, they wont touch each other. It’s best to do it now, rather that wait till later on, when the job will be much bigger, with more bees to contend with.

I wouldn’t recommend to a “brand new keeper”, putting a package of bees into a box full of foundationless frames. The best way to get bees to build on foundationless frames is to have at least one fully drawn frame to start with. The bees will start on that, then as long as the empty frames are hard up against each other, they will build nice straight combs, below the top bars.