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Cycling out brown old frames in a FLOW hive

Hi I have some old frames with brown comb that I think is a good idea to cycle out. How do people with FLOW hives do it because langstroth frames do not fit in FLOW supers.

My other question is is it really necessary to cycle frames and what happens if I do not cycle them out.

I have Flow Frames that have been in constant use for more than four years and the bees are still happy to use them. :face_with_raised_eyebrow: If your bees are still using them then I wouldn’t change them out.
You could if your in a dusty type of environment you could extract the frames and wash in warm soapy water then air dry in the shade before putting them back into the hive. The other option of course is to buy new frames from Flow, but I haven’t seen frames having gone brown because of their age that still can’t be used. As I said if the bees are happy to use them I would be happy to use them.
As for brood frames I cycle them out every two years as the cell size reduces with each cocoon made in the cell for each larvae so with each generation the emerging bee is smaller.
Maybe edit your profile to add where in Australia you are, it might help with future questions so you will get better more accurate advice for your location and you might even find a local on this forum.

@Ruttneri I think the answer here is that the Flow Super is notched specifically to accommodate the Flow Frames, that would be on purpose. You could put regular Lang frames in a flow super box but you won’t get all frames in as I understand the flow frame is a smidge bigger than 2 regular lang frames so you might have to put one less frame in the box and mind the beespace by making the set of lang frames in the centre. If you mean your Flow Frames (the plastic ones) are brown, @Peter48 provides guidance that is sound-- generally because your flow honey super isn’t where the queen can get to you are only dealing with non-brood age and I don’t think you need to do anything at all unless you are OCD and want to wash them down like Peter describes. I’ve had mine for 3 and 4 years and they aren’t really very brown, so perhaps it depends on your environment how they are. Picture? That would help make sure we know what you are talking about.

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Put another super on top of the flow super until the brood have hatched.

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I just read Fred’s reply and I might have miss understood your question. If you are asking about cycling out brood frames I take a couple of frames from the brood box and shake all the bees back into the brood box making sure the queen isn’t on them and move all the frames together in the brood box to the center and add two wired frames with full sheets of foundation to each of the outer positions. Put the two ‘dirty’ frames into a super box and fill that box with new frames that are wired and foundation fitted to fill that box and as Fred says put that box above the Flow Super. Bees will work on the new foundation in both positions to build the comb.
After a week to 10 days I would then remove another comb of brood shaking the bees off again and fit a partially made comb frame from the super on top and the frame of brood to the super. Do that every week to 10 days until the brood box is full of clean frames and the queen is proven to be there with larvae and eggs. Once all the bees have emerged in the top super it can be removed and the wax removed and rendered to clean wax.
Watch your weather is over 24C and little to no wind when you are working on the brood area. Work slow and smooth and it will all work out well, but if your in a cooler part of Australia it is a job best left till the Spring/Summer, definitely not a cool weather job where you might risk a chilled brood.

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You need a second hive, a traditional hive that you can use as a resource hive. A second hive is one thing most forum members agree on.


Thanks guys.

Yes I was referring to old brood frames with dark comb which do not fit in a FLOW super.

So I either need another standard super which I place above the queen excluder or as jeffh says another hive.

I’m having another hive but it is going to be another FLOW hive.

So if I understand correctly most FLOW hive users will have a secondary traditional hive or have 2 supers on a flow hive.

Thanks again.

I think there is still a misunderstanding. The flow super is where the plastic frames for honey go-- why are you trying to put brood frames in the honey super? If you need to cycle out the brood frames then just pull the old frames 2 at a time and put in new frames-- foundation less is the way Flow Hive starts by default but you could also use foundation frames (plastic with wax on them) if you wanted to. The recommendation for a second hive is simply so that you have more bees and something to compare health from one to the other and have the option that if something is going wrong you can take from the healthy colony. The recommendation for non Flow for other hives is personal preference-- I have 6 Flow Hives, and 2 Langstroth and enjoy all of them. If I understand things correctly JeffH has recently spoken about his personal choice to move away from using Flow Hives in general in another post, and Peter48 is currently selling his to go to Polystyrene hives instead. They both have a lot of beekeeping experience, as do many other people here. Ask any two beekeepers there opinion you are likely to get three answers :slight_smile:


Another option is to rotate the old comb to the edge of the broodbox. They will fill with honey and you’ll be able to remove and crush and strain the honey comb.


8 Frame Flow boxes, whether supers or brood boxes, are the same size. As are Flow10 frame boxes. Which are, incidentally, the same as all Langstroth full depth boxes give or take a few millimeters.
The cheapest, best and likely most common way is as Adam says above, best done in spring. It would be unlikely there would be brood on the outside frames during late winter so these are removed and frames added in the brood nest, alternately.

Let’s stick to facts eh? The cell size will not get smaller than 4.6mm and small cell size is recommended by treatment free beekeepers in varroa areas.


Better still @skeggley lets stick to facts that would be of a help to Ruttneri and not possibly confuse him. I stand by my advice, cocoons do reduce a cell size and further reduces with each time the cell is used with a result of smaller bees. If you think differently that is fine by me. :smiley: I didn’t say any measurement of a cell size to start a competition who has the smallest or biggest cell… :laughing:
Ruttneri is in Australia so your advice on some who go for treatment free varroa management in preference to smaller cell size foundation, well, I doubt that is helpful for him.

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No kidding, but this is an international forum and the question posed is not just relevant to Australia.
Your reason, Peter, for cycling out frames was because they get smaller each brood cycle. Yes they do get smaller however only to a point and no more and this is fact otherwise feral ehb’s would either be really really tiny or unable to continually use the comb in their hive.
Sorry but instead of trying to have a dig why not engage the conversation in a positive way like, what are the other reasons for cycling out frames? Pesticide build up, disease or just because someone said it somewhere? :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


It is a criticism I hear from traditional beekeepers about the flow hive “system” with only a single brood box and flow frame super you can’t swap out frames. There are a couple of ways to do it as have been outlined in the posts above - remove end of winter when empty, move to outside of brood box, use a flow hybrid super, remove flow frame and have in flow super for 2-3 weeks depending on age of brood, adding other supers. All work, it is about what is best for your management.

The general rule of thumb in Western Australia is to swap out comb, particularly brood comb, every 3-5 years. So in an eight frame super that is a couple of frames every year…


Sorry @skeggley that you feel I’m having a dig at you when I haven’t, Nor am I interested in an argument. I give advice here to help bee keepers who want to get more knowledge in general or about a present issue. I am not going to prattle on about Varroa to a beginner in Australia, that is neither reverent or positive. My reasons for cycling out old frames has been explained already on the forum. May I suggest if you are interested then use the magnifying glass and you will find heaps of information about those subjects so saving me time in answering an old question already covered.
Keep the forum friendly and civil, stay safe

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Well said Adam. it isn’t so much it is hard to swap out old brood frames as about choosing which way to do it easily. They are all good options and none are even beyond a novice bee keeper doing well. Done as a part of routine hive inspections and add an extra minute or two.

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Hey AdamMaskew, that must be right. I am from Western Australia too and had my nuc ordered from Beewise in O’Connor 4 yrs ago. He gave me a lecture on why the FLOW hive is rubbish and because I never had a hive before I didn’t have any counter arguments to make. He did mention to me the issue with swapping out frames that at the time I didn’t understand. I went home wanting to smash my FLOW hive with a sledge hammer thinking I bought a lemon and a gimmick.

I largely managed to do beekeeping on my own since then but now I need some advice now and was hoping I won’t get into more for-and-against-arguments on the FLOW hive. I love mine, and I love it because it is so easy to harvest honey without any mess. Is it perfect? Probably not but I’m happy to deal with its shortcomings.

Thank you. I knew that it was good practice to cycle out frames but didn’t know why. I’m glad you brought that up.

I will move two frames to the edge then as advised. I probably should have done that last year.


Yes it is an interesting stance that has changed over the years. I know that WAAS have worked very hard to understand and cater for flow hive owners/users. I hear very little negative about flow hives beekeepers in my area (Greater Bunbury) but follow with interest and sometimes engage with the knockers in other parts of the country or world. I think it helps that I do bring a observation nuc with flow frames to meetings occasionally. The last time was to a talk about the different uncapping and harvesting methods. It showed the flow frames work, that to harvest 2 frames (one at a time) was quicker than uncapping and spinning a box of deeps with no clean up or prep.

Sounds like you are on to it and have found your way. There is a good network of WA beekeepers on this forum too.


Good advice. :wink: :wink:

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I would say most Flow hivers have a second hive but it is more than likely to be a second Flow. Some like me run 2 broods. I got my second hive by splitting the two brood boxs on my single flow hive. I now run 2 Flow hives each with 2 brood boxs which can be used as frame resources. It does not have to be a traditional lang hive.


How I wish there was a general acceptance that Flow Hives are here to stay and are an option for someone wanting a couple of hives. I have a bee gear shop 12 klms away, he is incredibly anti Flow Hives but the true reason is he sells alternative conventional hives.
His argument against Flow Hives is based on ignorance like bees won’t use a plastic frame to store honey and while you listen he will spew out false information.
I prefer to travel an extra 100 klm round trip to avoid buying from him, a small price to avoid listening to his BS…
A shame that his anti Flow Hive stance is affecting his business as it would great to have a bee gear shop locally and not 60 klms away that wasn’t so negative on Flow Hives.
Cheers Adam