Honeyflow.com | FAQ's | Community |

Capped cells leaking into hive when harvesting - photo attached


About 2 months ago I harvested the flow hive and litres of honey poured out the bottom of the hive. Researching the forums I concluded that the probable cause was that the frames were not fully capped.

Today I was careful. I took off the lid and removed one flow frame and stood it up on a stand. It was fully capped from bottom to top, both sides, for about 1/2 of the way along from the outlet. I inserted the key about 50mm and split the cells. Immediately the honey in the cells leaked through the caps and down the sides of the frame. 20%(?) of the honey was lost. There would be too much for the bees to recover. I tried 50mm more, and and another 50mm - the same leaking.

I tried a flow frame that was still in the hive. Capped top to bottom on the side I could see - did 50mm of splitting again and again honey ran down the side of the frame engulfing bees!

Extremely disappointed. I have had the flow hive for 18 months now. I had a two box (one brood, one honey super) eight frame hive for many years, and added six Flow frames in a Flow super body to the hive. The bees have been very reluctant to store nectar/honey in the flow frames and all this time I have never seen a fully capped side on a flow frame. The bees will fully cap the traditional frames. I have tried the flow super underneath my traditional honey super, or at the top, but the flow frames were always only maximum 70% capped. Btw I requeened about 14 months ago.

Any ideas - because I am about to give up.


Hi Tom, if you can put the photo onto the desktop, then drag it over. Thanks to my smart wife, that’s what we do. cheers


Thanks Jeff, I have uploaded - after browsing the forums for an hour or so my permissions were upgraded. Cheers, Tom.


I just saw them Tom & watched the video. This issue was discussed at length about 16 months ago on the topic “honey flooding extraction”. I had a theory that it happens more with wet caps, which your frames clearly have. We were given a flow hive with frames ready to harvest, which we did outside of the hive with the same results as yourself.

There doesn’t seem to be a solution to this problem, cheers

PS Tom, upon closer inspection of your photo, it’s also apparent that the bees have not built the comb out from the plastic mechanism. You can see that the caps are right on the widest sections of the flow frame. Something that I theorized could also cause leaking.


Hi Jeff, just read most of the topic Honey Flooding Extraction. I now know what “wet caps” means and I can see that the caps are right at the end (and almost still inside of,) the plastic cells. I presume that you mean that usually the bees extend the cells further out before they cap them.

The honey today seems quite thin. I am at Banora Point/Tweed Heads NSW and the honey I have got over the years, with several different queens, has always seemed a bit thin. Is it a location thing?

In summary, the problem is the caps tearing and your answer about one cause being that the caps are right on the plastic and cannot flex looks very right. Now how do I tell the bees to build out further…

Your other theory that dry caps which have a tiny air gap between the cap and the honey are less likely to tear is interesting. My capped cells looked dark so are probably wet caps. I presume the theory is that the air gap allows the honey to flow away without pulling at it by capillary action?

Thanks very much for prompt and informative comments. I understand a lot more now. (Can I blame the bees?)


I have watched the video clip that I take was shot at normal speed. The trickles of honey running down the outside of the frame is running really fast for being honey. Jeff uses a laptop and might have missed seeing, I use a 55cm monitor and it really makes details stand out. seeing your clip it is larger on my screen than in real life.
You also say the frame was only 70% capped. That then says that about 30% of the honey was too wet to be capped according to the bees.
Therein, in my opinion, is the problem. I am less than a klm from the beach and have had to wait till all the cells but a few are capped before I can do what I call a successful extracting without any flooding at all. My first extraction I guess mine was 90% capped and had severe flooding, when the hive was re-leveled honey and bees flowed out of the entrance. I think with the added humidity being so close to a beach can be an added and not considered problem.
Just food for thinking about, and what you are experiencing is not normal, I have two flow hives that perform well if I do a physical check that they are all capped. The honey behaves like honey when a spoon is dipped into it, I suspect your honey would not want to hold onto a spoon and easily run off.


Thanks for the reply Peter, you are correct about the speed of the trickles of honey - they really ran that fast. As I mentioned above the honey did seem very thin - but it came from capped cells. Do the bees cap cells where the honey is not fully cured? The cells I split were capped from top to bottom.

For 18 months now the bees have not come close to fully capping any sides of the flow frames. I have read that it takes a while for them to use plastic frames but this has been going on for a long time.

After reading what you and Jeff have said, my problem seems to be that the bees are not using the plastic flow cells (in my hive) for properly storing cured honey but just using them for temporary storage of unripe honey.

Cheers, Tom.


Ok, I’m with you Tom. Firstly do you have a refractometer to measure the water content % of honey? It may help in confirming the ‘wetness’ of your honey.
Normally bees only cap honey that is below 18% water but the honey in the clip seemed a lot more fluid than that. If both sides of the frame is not at least 90% capped(given your location) then I wouldn’t extract that frame.
What is your hive set up as in frames per box and number of brood and super boxes above a QX.
After a few extractions it seems the bees will extent the plastic frame outwards and so that flexibility might help reduce flooding with less damage to the cap.
How did the brood box look in your last inspection and how long ago was that. What I am interested in is was there capped honey in the top corner of the brood box, temperament of the colony, the size of the colony, on 1 almost no bees on some frames and 10 every frame had a good number of active bees. The number of frames with brood.
I’m making two thoughts, the extracting is being done with unripened honey being done too early, the second is along the lines of the colony not strong (big enough) for the hive so a lot of honey is only temporarily being stored.


If I understand correctly, you have the flow super on top of a traditional super?
If the bees only had the flow super, they would have no choice but to store and seal their stores properly.
Once they are using their flow super you can safely add any other super on top of that.
Wet cappings don’t necessarily create leaks in my experience. But if the bees didn’t build out their cells off the mechanism it can be a problem, as the cappings can get cracked.
This can happen on a weak flow, but a traditional super under the flow super could mimic that situation, unless the nectar flow is exceptional.

I assume all your problems are solved if the bees only have the flow super or your other super is overflowing before you add the flow super.



May I congratulate you on posting the most exquisite video I have watched for sometime and it begins to explain what may be happening in this photo of honey leakage patterns I posted on the Forum recently.

In my photos, the most honey leakage is from areas where the cappings on the frame were most complete…i.e. at the ends of the frames…where my hand is pointing to in the photo.

Under normal conditions what you say is correct Peter…but are we dealing with a normal condition? This last summer I experienced this abnormality too…so I took my refractometer and sampled uncapped and capped cells on the same frame. My results were 19-20% moisture under capped cells and 16-18% in uncapped cells…the total reverse of what theory says about “bees capping honey when ripe”. I had difficulty in accepting this so I tested some of our non-Flowhives and found the exact same results…so it wasn’t Flowhive specific. This was such a concern to me that I installed a de-humidifier inside my beehouses 3 days prior to honey removal. I also removed the lids from the hives at the same time during the de-humidification process.

Note that the de-humidifier only drops the moisture content in the uncapped cells…but the resulting combination of the capped and uncapped after this process was enough to get the honey in the 17.5% range…I was lucky.

Agreed…not in commerce anyways…but I’m sure the thomasalbert video is inspiring some of us as to how this can be solved.


G’day Tom, here at Buderim, near the coast, we also get low viscosity honey this time of year. I always make sure the cells are fully capped, (as you did) before harvesting the honey.

It’s not so much capillary action that causes wet caps to separate, causing a leak, I believe it’s the surface tension of the cap on the honey that causes the cap to move with the honey, once the honey starts to flow. Very similar to a leaf floating on water, that moves as the water moves.

I not long came home with some honey to extract today. This is 5 frames out of the 8 boxes I intend on extracting. I chose these photos because you’ll see wet caps, dry caps, a wet & dry combination, as well as sunken caps (concaved) & nicely convexed caps. I love them all to be convexed, it makes de-capping a dream. The bees don’t see it my way :slight_smile: It’ll still be a dream run because the majority of the cappings are convexed.


Frames are leaking honey

Thank you Jeff, Peter, Webclan and Doug for your relevant replies and information. Everything all of you have said is an answer to the leaking.

I think you are right Peter and Webclan, in that the colony is probably not strong enough to support the 8 frame brood box, one Langstroth honey super and one flow super on top. Next time I inspect the brood I will check your points. My solution might be to reduce the size by removing the Langstroth super and leaving the bees no choice but to use the flow frames for storage of cured honey. They do seem at the moment to be using the flow frames as a temporary space for uncured honey. I once tried the flow super in the middle of the hive, but the results were the same.

Great photos Jeff of the examples of wet and dry caps and the differences in the capping from concave to convex. The bees just do what they want to do, as long as it works for them!

Do you live in a cold climate Doug, in that you use a bee house? Your findings on the moisture content in the capped vs uncapped cells is fascinating - even in traditional frames. What is going on?

Well the bottom line is the bees know what they are doing and we often don’t.


apparently that’s maybe not strictly true. A while back I asked a question on the forum about weather capped combs were airtight- and @Michael_Bush came along and posted some information about testing that had been done in the past that showed that honey water content could be reduced in capped combs. There was something about US beekeepers in the 60’s or something- using dehumidifiers to cure watery honey. I tried to find the thread but I can’t remember enough details.


That is ringing a bell for me Jack, I recall that there was convincing talk about that cell cappings allowed air and therefore humidity to pass through the capping in prolonged humid weather, if my memory is right that may help explain @Doug1 finding the contradiction in his results.


Ask and Ye shall receive.


Hi @skeggley 14.9% is the lowest I have heard of, you must have had very low humidity recently while that frame was being filled. Over here on the coast we could only dream of that result. That is a very good result.


that was me Peter! but thanks. This year I harvested another hive that was even a little lower than that- and in that case the capped combs had been left in the hive over a long period- at least 12 months, and I think the honey had continued to dry out after the combs were capped.


It sounds reasonable that capped honey could have moisture content lessened over time… and especially so when exposed to low environmental humidity.

I wish I had both those options…but unfortunately didn’t. The dehumidifier was removing about 2 gallons/day of water…and the moisture content dropped in the uncapped cells to 16% within 48 hours. The capped cell honey moisture level didn’t change…but likely would of if I kept the dehumidifier going…it was getting to the end of the season and in this climate, winter preparations and varroa mite controls had to be dealt with as soon as the last honey was removed.


Sorry for the mistake Jack, what you are saying sort of confirms that capped honey can continue to evaporate water if the conditions are hot and dry. I get the feeling we are in for a long hot and dry Summer here. It is hard to get rain from a cloudless sky and this is supposed to be our wet season, I even dehydrate in a ventilated suit before 10am.


In comparison to Australia, I do indeed live in a colder climate and is one of the reasons why I use a beehouse. I’ve read that a beehive can consume in excess of 50 lbs ( 23kg) of pollen during brood rearing…imagine what they must consume in honey to generate heat 356 days/year to satisfy requirements. The commercial beekeeper-accepted consumption of honey in our area for a fully populated hive was 1lb/day. So I think the building alleviates some of that demand.

It is possible that, as mentioned above, there is some reabsorption of moisture through the cell capping and eventually into the ripe honey itself…that’s a cool thought.

I wonder if it could be related in some way to the dynamics of a heavy honeyflow…bees spreading a layer of nectar over a large area…day after day…the bees not really getting caught up on lowering the moisture adequately…the cell getting full of unripe honey. We can get days here where 10-15kgs/day is normal daily production…remember we have 18 hours of sunlight.

But thanks to this discussion and my own experience with frame leakage, I can think of an experiment that I can do this coming summer to prove how much of a link there is between capped/uncapped cells and frame leakage.