I have two frames where bees have capped honey to an exact vertical line on the flow super.
I am thinking that something happened with key closure and opening at last harvest. I checked and they are close. So I am confused??? Should I harvest and reset? I would have thought this is not normal bee practice although I am new to flow hive. This doesn’t happen in a Langstroth.
Hi Erin, like you, I’ve never seen this happen with conventional frames. Apparently this does happen with flow frames. Some of the earlier images of honey in flow frames on this forum showed that happening.
Perhaps then I won’t harvest unnecessarily then and just monitor. Thanks for your reply.
You’re welcome Erin. I think you’d be able to harvest the honey because the section the bees haven’t touched would be empty of unripe honey. If I was going to be using flow frames, I’d always physically check each frame before harvest. After recent observations re SHBs, because SHBs are in my area, I’d harvest the honey away from the hive.
Thanks for the tip:)
Hi Erin that part of the frame is probably not set right so just put the key in the top slot and turn it a few times back and forth across the slot. Any of the cells that were not set right hopefuly will align. All cells already in the correct position won’t move as the top slot is for closing them.
Once the remaning cells are aligned the bees should go for it.
I have a few flow hives and this has never happened to me.
It pays to be meticulous with the flow mechanism.
For a start, before putting the flow frames into the super, i open and close the cells of each frame and see it’s all aligned.
After each harvest, again, I close and open the frame several times and wiggle to ensure the key is right at the end.
The one time I harvested a frame away from the hive was just awkward, and the frame lacks the support of the neighboring frames.
Running my flow hives for 3 years now and rarely check pre harvest, only about 10%. Once you know the strength of your colony and have a sense of the nectar flow, you can have an educated guess.
Sure, in the beginning, it helps to check to gain some experience.
If unsure, I always check.
I can’t see the point of owning a Flow Hive and removing the frame to extract, that nearly completely negates the reasoning for owning one.
Suited up, smoke, brushing bees, squashing bees, stings vs turn a key, sit back with a coffee, put lids on jars.
As one experienced beek on here says, “if you’ve got a strong colony, the bees will take care of the SHB”.
I noticed the SHB larvae stain left behind in flow frames also follows the vertical straight lines. I’ve seen that stain in one frame of 60% of the flow hive supers I’ve observed around my area. Call me “paranoid”, but I don’t want squashed bees, SHB larvae or juice mixed in the honey I sell to my valued customers. Not to mention unripe honey.
On top of that, regardless of what anyone says, the unknown quantity of honey flooding onto the brood is disruptive to the bees. Way more disruptive than the few bees that get killed while removing the honey frames.
Jeff, your only one single experience with flow frames stems from a badly assembled and unmanaged flow hive, not by your fault.
Whereas your warning of SHB invasion is very valid and should be noted by everyone starting in beekeeping, there are no more SHB problems in flow hives as compared to conventional hives.
In fact, TBH (top bar hives) are mostly the ones I hear about slime outs.
The screened bottom of the flow hives enables us to detect a slime out on the coreflute in early stages as well, so it won’t even come to it.
As I said above, meticulously operated flow frames won’t provide any space for SHB. I run 16 flow hives (+ some conventional). Meticulously. I hardly ever even see a hive beetle ready to be crushed.
But I know, they can quickly take over.
Partially crystallized honey in a flow frame can be a recipe for flooding. (@JeffH, your experience) This can occur with overwintered flow frames. I’m aware of those frames, as I keep notes.
It’s all about getting to know how this new invention (flow) works and dealing with it in a year round apiary.
With learning about it, it helps to discuss issues with people and to find solutions. That’s what this forum is for.
It doesn’t help to hear about a one time neglected flow hive experience over and over on various threads, without solution, without explanation of the situation, without even ever having set up and operated one.
SHB vertical stains in 60% of flow hive supers in your area? I’ve only seen it once here, when we could determine the cause as not pushing the key in fully for closing after harvest.
That would make less than 1% of the flow hives I’m following up with.
I wonder how beekeepers who run solid bottoms ever keep track of what’s happening in the hive and how often you clean it?
I’d say, if you have SHB in your area, have screened bottom boards. Makes SHB a non problem, as long as you keep it all clean.
Hi @Erin2. Might be a good idea to pull out the frame in question to check for SHB. And see if pushing the key in all the way in the upper slot changes anything in the front cells (front being towards the hive entrance).
I actually would check all the flow frames if you didn’t do so at initial assembly or you didn’t make sure the key reached to the end after harvest by wiggling a bit.
I use 2 flow keys and I noticed often one only goes in all the way after I operated the first.
I am meticulous in turning the mechanism (use two keys- turn multiple times moving across the entire slot- visually inspect)- and I still had frames with the vertical lines of not fully aligned cells. These were very early first type flow frames- and flow replaced a few of them for me. This has indeed resulted in frames that are completely capped- up to the line.
For the OP: have a good look at the frame: if it is completely capped- and the part where the line is is empty- go ahead and harvest that frame. It should harvest fine. Reset the frame and then let the bees clean it up and after a few days remove it shake and brush off the bees and have a look - checking to see if the problem area is correctly aligned. If it isn’t - see what happens when you turn the key: place the key at both ends of the slot- and in the center- turning multiple times and if it is still out of alignment making sure it is pushed all the way in . Then feel the wire on the top: is it a bit floppy and loose? If it is consider tightening it a few twists.
Thank you everyone,
Very grateful for advice and your knowledge. My gut instinct was that the frames did not close properly from last harvest. (Even though where honey not put down the cells look closed.) I live in south west WA, so poorest nectar flow in 40 years apparently; therefore I’m being careful not to take to much honey. I now have 5 frames out of 6, 3/4 capped (the other one I harvested in Jan) and wonder do I need to leave all those frames there for winter or should I harvest? Very conflicting advice out there. Not sure what to do if honey candies in the frames over winter?
I’ve seen the stains on one frame in 3 hives out of the five where I’ve been involved with removing or inspecting flow frames, including the one I was given.
The most recent one had nothing to do with poor management or poorly setting up the flow frames at all. The man simply harvested the honey exactly how he thought it was supposed to be done.
The stain was there before the slime-out, the actual slime-out could be attributed to the fact that the queen got through the gaps that opened up in the plastic QX supplied by flow, within 2 seasons.
As far as he was concerned, the flow frames were full, after observing through the back window. He harvested the honey as usual, unaware that there was brood in the flow frames. No amount of checking the coreflute slider would have showed him that brood was in the flow frames.
The only way he would know would be to physically check the frames before harvest. Therefore I stand by my advice/recommendation to check each frame before harvest. Plus on account of flooding issues, as well as the possibility of squashing bees, harvest the honey away from the hive, in areas where SHBs are an issue. I think that’s more bee-centric overall.
PS, I should have responded to this comment you made: “It doesn’t help to hear about a one time neglected flow hive experience over and over on various threads, without solution, without explanation of the situation, without even ever having set up and operated one.”
I’ve read & seen enough, not to mention our one experience ourselves to know of the flooding problems without setting one up to see for myself. I’ve also seen the SHB larvae stains to know that it happens without setting mine up to see for myself. I’ve read enough on this forum to know that SHB larvae flows out with honey on the very odd occasion. I don’t have to set mine up to see that.
I admit to not giving full explanations. I try to keep things brief. I’m always ready & willing to answer any questions, should anyone need more information or explanation.
I’m not going to bite Jeff, it seems you like fishing.
I have not seen any of the above issues, yet. I am however interested in the reason for the op’s issue for future, a photo would also be nice…
I have my Flow keys marked so I know the key is fully inserted. Sometimes it seems to be, however it’s not. This is the only reason I could think of if it has not been an issue on that frame in the past.
I love fishing Skeggley, however I’m not fishing here, merely responding to weber’s comments as my right of reply.
I posted photos of the SHB larvae stain previously on the forum. Maybe that stain was caused by the key not being pushed in far enough, who knows.
The issue seems to be with me advising people to inspect the frames before harvest, as well as harvest the honey away from the bees, the same as the bloke did in that Catalyst program on the ABC. That bloke was concerned about flooding onto the brood. I’m concerned about that as well as eliminating any possibility of SHB activity.
I like to think of myself as a “straight shooter”. I wouldn’t advise anyone to do something that I wouldn’t do myself.
I don’t think that anyone is arguing about inspection of the frames before harvesting, that’s personal choice and after learning how your bees fill the frames the individual can make an informed decision whether they need to remove them or go off what the back viewing windows are telling them. I don’t recall anyone from Flow saying or writing that once the frames are in the super they need never be removed, I would think that at the least, every few inspections there should be a complete and thorough top to bottom.
Removing the frames for extraction is ridiculous, excess honey running into the hive was a problem that was found early on…by SOME people,then a solution was found early on. Open in incremental stages, simple. Or experiment like @FrederickDunn, he found the first time extraction had an excess leaking but subsequent harvests didn’t because the bees built out further (that’s from memory, feel free to clarify).
It’s obvious to anyone who reads the forum that small hive beetles are your “white whale” yet you don’t use any control methods for them ie, screen bottom board with oil trap, internal traps etc that would help your bees control them. Anyone who uses the controls available for SHB will be significantly reducing their risk of beetles in the super, I think that projecting your fears onto others is not helpful.
Unripe honey is another non starter, a refractometer is available for under $40 and ANY beekeeper should have one if they’re planning on selling or even giving honey.
Removing frames for extraction might sound ridiculous at this stage on your beekeeping journey. One day the penny might drop, then all of a sudden, it’s no longer a ridiculous idea.
I only said what I would do if I was ever going to use my flow frames. Inspect before harvest & harvest away from the bees. That’s what the bloke on that ABC program did & I agreed with him 100%.
SHB don’t bother me one bit, I don’t lose a wink of sleep over them, however with every strategy I execute, I do it with SHB in mind. If you want to be blase about them, that’s up to you.
You might say that I’m projecting my fears onto other people. The people I help may not see it that way.
Inspections are normal and not disrupted by the use of Flow-Frames - meaningful frame by frame inspections can be performed at any time the beekeeper feels the need.
What you posted is spot on Brad, the first extraction was a “shake-down” test with all frames drained and each frame opened full bore to “see what would happen” - the result was as you stated, the excess honey dribbled down the sides and the bees had quite a bit of clean up to perform. The test was done with solid bottom boards and the hive tilted to the rear at a 2 degree angle. By the following day, all was cleaned up, the bees were all back inside and reworking the flow-frames.
This never happened again and we now have 10 - flowhives in service.
Bee populations are key to ejecting small hive beetles and where I reside, SHB is not a problem as our winters are severe and the hygienic bee lines don’t tollerate them. The FH2 aluminum bottoms partnered with deep segmented trays below are helpful for both SHB trapping and Varroa Destructor - tangling their feet on Swiffer Duster Inserts. These tests and observations are ongoing this year.
The idea that the honey being “runny honey” or “unripe” has been thoroughly dismissed by the use of refractometers. By the time you visually see cappings on the end frames and through the back panels, it’s been my experience that frame by frame readings have ranged from 15% to 17.5% water. This really has nothing to do with flowhive owners, as many traditional beekeepers get anxious and pull uncapped honey supers after doing a “shake-test” or removing the frames when 75% capped which sould not show through flowhive end panels, so the flow hive observation capped cells are actually more “ripe”.
After extraction, when the flow-super is lighter, it’s a great time to perform box removal and lower box inspections.
Where I reside, I have a brood box (deep), then at least a medium super full of honey, and then the Flow-Super. If you go from brood deep box, directly to the flow-super, the bees tend to rise into the flow-frames when necessary and consume honey from the center, leaving an unobserved center zone which may be uncapped and even empty. They refill those center cells again when the nectar flows.
Ongoing studies and observations, let the learning continue and many thanks for watching some of my videos! Happy beekeeping. Fred
Thanks for your reply Fred, you are one of my many unknowing YouTube beekeeping mentors, love the videos, keep them coming. Brad.