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Cleaning the Flow channel


I got a great tip from Stuart Anderson last night. The channel sometimes gets a bit of debris or old honey remaining, to clean the Flow frame channel, wrap a clean cloth around the Flow lever/key and push this up inside the channel after removing the end cap. A couple of goes sliding it up and down and your channel should be clean for the next harvest.

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Cleaning the drain area of the flow frame

Ahhh. the versatile Flow lever/key. I have found the you can use the end that goes into the channel as a tool to remove the end caps and also it makes a great tool to remove those pesky ants and small hive beetles that get into hard to reach places. Looks like it is becoming something of a Flow multi tool.


I can see a new topic in the making… 1001 uses for the Flow key … :rofl:


We found that 3 channels out of 6 had a fermented honey odor. This was with the flow hive that was given to us last year. We found that rinsing the channel with warm water fixed the problem. The main challenge with doing that was all the sticky propolis while handling the frames.


Hi Jeff, the fermentation sounds bad. Do you think that the previous owners extracted unripened honey? Or alternatively, perhaps they left a water/honey mix in the channel after attempting to clean it after tapping and then put the plugs back in? Both things could result in fermentation I guess?

My thinking is that If the honey was ripe when tapped, and no water was added to the channel or anything afterwards, how could it ferment?


I’ve not cleaned the channels after 4 extractions. When I’ve extracted I’ve left the hive tilted back overnight and the honey drains out. It has always been fully capped frames. I’ve not been overly worried about it as honey has anti bacterial properties anyway. It would be interesting to get it tested though.
I have not had a problem with propolis on them either. At all.


Hi Dan & @skeggley, the lady admitted that she was one of those people that was only interested in harvesting the honey. She probably followed the original flow campaign sales pitch & didn’t realize that it would be better to physically inspect the frames before harvest. She probably did harvest some unripe honey after following the flow philosophy. The hive was sitting in the correct position for the honey to drain back out. I only smelt the rancid honey by putting my nose up close to the hole, seeing as the frames were out of the hive. I removed the flow super & frames one day, to lighten the load, then removed to brood box the following evening. The bees swarmed, that was what triggered the lady to give it all away. Everything to do with the bees was in a neat pile ready for me to pick up.

Anyway because the bees swarmed, it was ok to remove the honey super. I recognized the bees, because I sold them to her about 10 months earlier.

This colony must have been big on fresh propolis, it was difficult to handle the frames without getting it on our fingers. It was on every corner, the wires etc.

Because of the challenges associated with using the flow frames, the flooding issues, etc., the flow frames are still sitting in the super on top of a cupboard. Also my bees are bringing in some jelly bush honey at the moment.


And this is my point Jeff, i have had no challenges using the Flow frames, no flooding, no propolis etc. my challenges have been the bee husbandry thing which you seem to be pretty good at. :wink:
Fair point on the jelly bush though.
Apart from being difficult to extract, what is special about jelly bush honey again?


HI Jeff…why not approach the Flow frames like a glass half full. I wouldn’t judge them on the results of a beginner. What about all the things you know about bees and honey that all contributes to success with the Flow system? I bet that beginner lady knew nothing about honey being ripe or otherwise for instance. Most people have absolutely no understanding of the life cycle of an insect… probably don’t know a bee is an insect or even what an insect is.

Think of those 4wd ads on TV. Most people would get bogged in one 20 metres into the mud. Then when they finally get home they realise their purchase didn’t come with all those other glamorous things either. Should they sell their 4wd and give up?


It’s just what you’re used to, I guess. I’m used to the ease of handling traditional frames, in & out of hives, for example. I’m also used to being able to use the honey frames for brood & vise versa, as well as I’m comfortable with not having unknown amounts of honey spilling onto my brood.

PS, the jellybush honey is from a leptospermum species, similar to manuka. A university test showed that my jellybush honey is high in all the good stuff.


I don’t know Dan, all I know is that the flow hive is supposed to be the “beekeeper’s dream”. As a beekeeper of 30 years, I personally don’t see it like that, sorry.

Now, take the Perfect Pocket Hive Tool for example. I purchased one after first seeing one on this forum. I’ll give credit where it’s due, it IS the perfect pocket hive tool.


I thought from the start of coming on the forum, that if there is one person who could make a go of the Flow frames it would be @JeffH, with you experience and intelligence.

Take for example @Dawn_SD - and her results. I think a person could rush into it (beekeeping and Flow frames) inexperienced and have success, but it is a case that it would be much better all around with the Flow system, to have your attributes. I would think that you would need to have a go for a couple of seasons yourself with it, and then after that, if you think it is no good, fair enough. Surely you couldn’t really pass judgment on the Pocket Hive Tool for instance without having used it yourself?


Hi Dan, I forgot to mention that I do have a ppht. I was transferring bees into a customers box the other evening. The bloke asked me what that little thing in my hand was. So I showed him & told him how I first saw one on the flow forum.


dan- I have realised something about Jeff: he sticks to his guns no matter what. Sometimes I have asked Jeff for advice about how to do something, asking if I can get away with an easier method than what he has previously recommended. I am hoping to get his tick of approval… generally I don’t get it. Now I realise that’s a good thing- Jeff has opinions and theories, they come from experience and he is strong on them.

I tried to turn him around on Flow frames: nothing doing.

Now I am happy to agree to disagree- though I actually do agree with many of his points- to a degree… In general though my opinion and experience is different and I love the flow frames still. I understand why Jeff doesn’t- and that’s fair enough.

one thing though Jeff: the proplis issue you seem to have had is not something I have seen in 6 hives with flow frames after more than 24 months… (have now harvested over a quarter tonne of honey from those 6 hives collectively). Just not seeing much proplis- frames are not sticky to handle. We do get wax on them- but not much propolis beyond a little around the frame lugs like you would on any frame. So I am thinking those bees that lady had must have been those propolis loving bees? I wonder if you could clean yours if you would have any issue going forward? Maybe bees in tropical areas make more propolis than down here- I don’t know.


Not quite sure what you are insinuating there, but I am sure it must be alright, as you seem to be a good bloke. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

@JeffH and I differ in our experience of some things, but he is generally a good beekeeper with his heart in the right place. I think tolerance is sadly lacking in our modern world, and we should enjoy our differences. After all, if I only wanted British food, I would never have tried Thai cuisine, which is probably one of my favorite styles now.

Anything done with one’s intentions in the right place, should be tolerated, in my humble opinion. Maybe Jeff will try the Flow frames again, but in the meantime, he is in my “traditional beekeeper, knows a lot” box. I will listen to him about traditional beekeeping, and I will take his Flow frame comments with a pinch of salt and a big smile.

Got any spare lemongrass and ginger root, Jeff?? :smile:


Hi Jeff, yes, I knew you had one. That was my point really (probably not well made sorry!) in that you are able to pass judgment well on the ppht as you have used one yourself.

Hi @Dawn_SD

I was meaning that you have put your experience and intelligence to good use in successful Flow frame harvesting. :grinning:

Hi @Semaphore
I agree with all that you have said there. Also, as to propolis, I read recently that some types of bees are more likely to produce propolis.


I hate my ppht…
It was great for a while. Until, that is, when I dropped it somewhere in the yard after an inspection. Now it’s hiding from me. Probably deliberately…


Hi Dan, the personal experience that we had with flow frames was harvesting the honey from the hive that we were given. I’ve had a lot to do with flow hive customers that have acquired bees from me. Actually @Heron was the first flow hive customer to acquire bees from me. Also @BrucenKelcy acquired several colonies from me. It’s no secret about their flooding issues. We sat the flow super containing the frames on our table, then proceeded to drain the honey. It became very apparent that we were having the same flooding issues. Surely that’s enough experience for me to decide whether to use the frames or not.

I really don’t want any unknown quantities of honey flooding onto my brood.

I could use the flow frames & then extract the honey with my extractor. However that would be counter productive because I find normal frames easier to handle.

I could take the frames away from the hive & harvest the honey like I think @Dawn_SD does, outside of the hive, or like @Heron’s photo. I think it would be less time consuming & less mucking around for us to use normal frames & spin the honey out by hand.

If I did use the flow frames, I’d have to be selective when & where I used them on account of jellybush honey that comes in around this time of year. I’ve recently been reading on this forum about the challenges associated with storing flow frames while not in use. I can do without those issues at the moment. Especially while I’m rather busy.

Hi @Dawn_SD, plenty of lemongrass & ginger growing at the moment. My dragon fruit looks like having a bumper crop. The star in my backyard at the moment is my burgundy sugar cane plants. The juice from that really goes well with lemongrass, ginger tea. Wilma’s uploading a photo now.


I have done it both ways, @JeffH. I prefer in-hive, and I think my leaks were minimal, so I would do that again this next season. I don’t want honey on my brood either, so I do it cautiously. Works for me. Your results may differ. :smile:

Some day I will fly down to you for the home grown goodies. For now, I just have to deal with the 100 passion fruit from my own vine next to the hives, plus about 300 avocados. Fortunately the possums help us with the avocados :blush:


Hi Dawn, well done with the passions & avos. I can’t help you with the avos, however here is my passionfruit skin jam recipe.


PS, maybe you could make a large batch of guacamole & freeze it. I think that’s what I would look into doing.