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Cracked top section of flow

Hey team,

We are wondering if anyone else has had issues with breaking/cracking of the top part of the flow frame?

If you look at the photo you’ll see where I mean.

This happened during an extraction attempt going from closed to open a couple of mo this ago. The first two bits cracked during opening and turning the key.

We were doing about one third at a time as we had issues with leaks in previous attempts. Even this latest time we had about 2 tablespoons leak down to the bottom board. Is this normal? I’m worried the queen could get injured in the brood box. Should we take the frames out to harvest?

The hive is only 1 year old and this was the first time opening that frame which had only been in position for about 2-3 months.

We have since extracted honey from the same frame again and it’s working fine however the honey doesn’t come out of the front area. Usually you can see it drain out during extraction but it just stays there.

Many thanks.
Ian

That isn’t normal obviously. You should email support to ask for their help if it is a genuine Flow Hive frame. There are a lot of knock-offs being made that are inferior so hopefully you didn’t fall victim to that. I had one flow frame crack on the bottom and Flow sent me a replacement. They need good pictures of the frame and the manufacturing code on the clear plastic part on the end to confirm it is their part and when it was manufactured to know if they have a design problem or if this is an anomaly.

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Hi Ian I have seen this reported once before.
Best to contact the flow team. They are very good at responding to these issues.
If you have an additional key do as you have done inserting in small increments two keys at a time and move them from side to side multiple times back and forth over 180 degrees particularly towards each outer edge of the slot where the plastic is less likely to bow. You may still be able to get those broken ones open and then closed.
I find some frames particularly when they haven’t moved in a while and when it is cooler are more difficult to open.
Good luck.

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No. There is no need. The chance that 2 tablespoons will catch the queen is extremely remote.

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Do you use 2 keys or 1 key?

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Seeing as hive beetles are in your area, it would be safer to harvest away from the hive. 2 tablespoons of honey leaking onto the bottom board could equate to a lot more onto the brood & bees that didn’t run through. While bees are cleaning up the honey, that can allow beetles an opportunity to get into the brood to lay eggs in it. Your queen would likely be safe at that point. However the last thing you’d want is a slyme out.

cheers

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Thanks for all the replies.

Yes that was our concern that if two tablespoons end up on the bottom board how much is all over the brood?! We have had a bit of SHB activity which has been worrying but the hive is strong and seem to have it under control. We have a trap in there too.

We have emailed Flow about the cracks. Will see what they say. It was the first time opening that frame so really shouldn’t happen.

We actually upgraded from a hybrid to 6 frame so I have the left over front and back pieces of frame that could make a good indoor extraction jig.

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Using one key. I do have two keys and that’s a good idea to use them both.

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Use your second key Ian, it will reduce the localized pressure on the plastic. I’m sure Flow will replace the frame if it is a genuine Flow Frame and your not the first to have had a fail with the same thing happening.
Make sure your frames have the correct wire tension, some are reporting flooding and found the wire tension is loose. Cedar has a video of the correct tension and how to adjust it.
Cheers

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Hi Ian, I like your indoor extraction jig idea.

Going by your comment, your frames are genuine. I’m sure that Flow will look after you.

In regards to the beetle trap. They trap beetles, however a few manage to not get trapped. They’re the ones we have to worry about. They hide in places where bees propolize them in. They are opportunistic parasites. They just hide & wait for an opportunity, if they live long enough, to wreak havoc in our hives. The beetle traps from my observations lull people into a false sense of security. I’ve seen a few hives slymed out where the owners were using traps.

A small leakage like 2 tablespoons is the experience of most flow hive owners. Doing it off the hive as could give greater leakage in the order of a litreor more. You will find that if you follow the instructions which came with the hive you will be fine the next harvest. 2 deg slope and small opening increments (75-100mm) most important.

Not sure what you mean by “working fine however the honey does not come out”
I am assuming it is the few few cells which are still full of honey and not coming out which seems to indicate the frame needs replacing. I take it you had no leakage this time.

Don’t be too hasty to extract off the hive just makes unnecessary and arduous work for yourself. Talk to others in the Sydney area about how they control beetle without taking the Flow super away from the hive. There are those ,even on this forum I believe, who would rather see the Flow Hive concept die than be the success it is and they continue to white ant the the ease of bee keeping with the Flow Hive and in the process, stop people thinking about buying a Flow Hive.

@The_garden_rooftop, it wont matter if a litre leaks if you harvest off the hive because you’ll catch it all. I’d rather that than to have an unknown quantity leak onto the brood & bees. Just use 2 keys will avoid any frame twisting. I believe the most leaks are a result of wet caps as you’ll see if you closely examine this photo.


cheers

Edit: PS, this photo clearly shows the difference between wet & dry cps. The 2 frames on the right are clearly dry caps, while the other two frames are mostly wet caps with a few dry caps mixed in. If my theory is correct, we need all the flow frames to have dry caps in order to have no leaks. I only went to third year high school, however I believe it’s the surface tension of the wax cap on the honey as in wet caps that allows the caps to split apart, thus allowing an external leak.

cheers

Hi Jeff what are wet caps and what causes them?

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Hi all, good news!

We just extracted a fully capped (we checked a week and a half ago) frame today and NO LEAKS!

We used two keys and did it in about four stages.

The only minor issue is our 18.5% water content. The last extraction was 16.5% which was ideal.

It’s not a huge issue and so we can live with that!

Thanks team for your time and advice. It’s greatly appreciated.

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Hi Rutteri, you’ll see a photo I posted when I edited my last comment. You can clearly see the difference between the wet & dry which until a few years ago I had never heard of it. I’d obviously seen wet & dry caps without giving them any thought whatsoever. I have no idea what causes it.

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Hi JeffH I was not aware of different capping types. Mine are mostly dry I think though I still have occasional leaks. Probably related to wire tension in my case.

I read the article posted by Busso above and it is apparently mostly a genetic thing. Italian bees tend to produce more dry caps, that’s why I’m not familiar with wet caps as mine are ligustica.

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I read that article a few years ago after that photo of the leaking honey got posted. The subject of wet & dry caps came up on this forum a little while earlier. It was fresh on my mind as I closely examined that photo. That was when I came up with the theory that wet capped flow frames would possibly leak before dry capped flow frames. With dry capped flow frames, there is no surface tension between the cap & honey. Therefore the honey should flow independent of the cap, allowing it to stay put & not crack as in that photo.

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Yes you can live with that. Make sure you adjust for temperature. I use cold pressed virgin olive oil to calibrate and try and get the olive oil the same temperature as the honey. This can make a difference of 1 or 2%.
When 20% and above you can pasteurise it (there is a thread somewhere on this forum). Won’t be be pure untouched honey anymore but you can use it in cakes, stewed fruit or in your coffee.

Well done I had faith. :wink:

Hi there Busso, I have two questions for you.

  1. What kind of refractometer do you have? I see they range in price from $40 to $400, with the cheaper Chinese ones being fairly inaccurate from the reviews I read. I can’t afford a $400 one so I just rely on visually checking the honey is fully capped. Works a treat.

  2. How on earth do you use honey in coffee? I tried so many combinations and none seem to work. I tried a little, I tried a lot, I tried in cold coffee, I tried instant, I tried moka, I tried espresso… but the taste is just not pleasant. And I’m not even fussy.