Checking installed flow frames

I’ve had my flow frames in place now for about 5 weeks (in central California coast). I have a Flow box with one full set and one hive with a box of 3 flow frames and 4 regular plastic frames. I can see from the observation windows that the bees are actively using the flow frame area, but I see no evidence that they have drawn out any of the frames. These hives started as packages the last week of April. They now have 2 deeps below the Flow frames.

I guess I am a bit confused if I should be checking on the boxes with flow frames as I normally do with standard frames? Do I open them up and take a look? Or should I try not to remove them and keep them in place. I don’t recall from any of the videos seeing the flow frames being removed…only the brood boxes below. But, I have to admit that I am curious as to whether the bees are actively using the Flow Frames or not. What have others been doing? I see there are many who have posted that it has taken a LONG time for their bees to start using the Flow Frames.


There is no reason why you shouldn’t look at them, if you want to. You don’t need to inspect them as much as the brood frames, but I check my honey supers when I need to know if the bees are drawing out comb, filling with nectar, capping etc. After a while, you can get a good feel just by hefting the super, but that just saves time. To be sure, nothing beats direct inspection.

Thanks, Dawn. I am always confident in following your advice, and it helps that you are in a similar climate/geographic area. I have noticed (through an observation window) that the girls are starting to draw out the plastic frame on the outside of the one box that has a configuration of 2 plastic, 3 flow, 2 plastic.

Also, on the hive that is totally Flow with a configuration of 1 deep, 1 standard, full flow box I have noticed for the last week or so that there is some “bearding” at the entrance of the hive in the morning and evening. If I could figure out how to attach a photo, I took one this am. It’s about an inch or so deep all along the entrance to the hive. My other two hives do not exhibit this behavior.

I thought if they were lacking in space, they would move upward into the flow box, so not sure what is going on. I have been gone in the mid-day, so don’t know what is going on then…if they dissipate or what. I do notice though that there are fewer bees in the flow box (observable through the window and at the end) in the early AM and later PM than during the warmer part of the day. So maybe these clustering on the outside are doing so because it is too crowded inside after those who were working the Flow Frames move back down?

We’re into the June Gloom here in Lompoc right now with the current temp 55 and the high today only getting to about 69. The highest this week is expected to be low 70’s with partial sunshine.

I bet your humidity is pretty high though. That may be why they are bearding. It isn’t that hot outside, but the high humidity makes regulating the hive temperature a bit tricky, so extra bees hang out outside. I don’t think it would be crowding, but only an inspection would truly answer that.

When you open a Reply window, you will see a little menu bar across the top of the typing area. The seventh symbol from the left is a horizontal bar with an arrow sticking up out of it. If you click on that, you can find your photo file on your device and upload it. Alternatively, you can apparently drag and drop a photo into your post, but I have never tried that - it isn’t convenient with the way my desktop is laid out.

Thanks Dawn…you are spot on! This high humidity issue seems to be what that hive is experiencing. And, the fanning (which I did not mention) is right in line with that. As I write this, it is 6:30 in the evening 61 degrees and 77% humidity. I had been looking at them an hour or so later and they are already starting to gather after being dispersed all day. I think you have nailed it! This hive is a bit more sheltered from the sun than the others, so that would also be why they do not exhibit the same behavior.

I will try to get into those hives, however, this weekend and see what’s going on. And thanks for the advice on adding a photo; I thought that was the case. I’ll give it a try.

Thanks again!

interesting topic as I am hot and humid. I will place mine with a little shade. I was going to put them in full sun as a class instructed.

I just want to clarify that my two hives that are in a more sunny location have NOT exhibited this bearding behavior in the early morning and evening. The hive that receives less sunshine does seem to have issues with high humidity that they are trying to correct by bearding outside the hive and “fanning” when the humidity is very high.

I think what Dawn was trying to explain is that this behavior occurs when the colony is trying to regulate humidity issues within the hive. I always try to give my hives some protection from the sun during the heat of the day; but that is based upon where I live. I don’t always have these humid conditions. Best to check with your local beeks and follow their recommendations. If your climate is HOT and HUMID maybe full sun is the best?


I would start with what your local beekeepers recommend - we don’t know the conditions as well as you and they do. As you gain experience, you can finesse and refine your decisions.

So @en2gen is right, I understand her humidity, because I have the same. Your correct actions may be different because your latitude and climate is quite different.

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Well funny is I have a hive regular version of a friends on the farm and he put in one of my ChristmasBerries. Shade and rain protection. The class I went to has them out in sun with a big tree to partial shade and says full sun. I think airflow important, some afternoon shade and sea spray barrier so some low shrubs. Yep everything over here seems different. One thing I farm so I know the land and the conditions. Hooking up with our association also and picking peoples brain so to speak. Oh wind also. So trying to think of all bases. Bees in a couple weeks.