I was harvesting my Flow frames for the first time today. My bees use a LOT of propolis and it’s always very difficult to crack the hive open and move frames for inspections. True to form, opening the Flow frame segments to harvest was really really difficult. I only opened one segment at a time as suggested, and it was still pretty difficult. I heard some cracking and I’m really hoping that the frame didn’t break… this is what I’m seeing when I look in the top
Welcome to the Flow forum!
Thank you for the photograph, but unfortunately it is impossible to tell from that view whether anything is broken. We really need to see the frame faces and the bottom of the frame. Having said that, it is normal for the frames to creak and make cracking noises as you open them. Even if you operate the mechanism on a totally new frame, it makes quite a bit of noise.
I know it is too late to do anything about the timing now, but you are probably harvesting a little late in the season. Most beekeepers in the US do their last harvest between July and August. If you wait much longer, you risk crystallization of the honey. With Flow frames, you will also get a lot more propolis applied in the fall, as you have now found and that makes harvesting way more difficult.
It looks like you are harvesting inside the house and the Flow super is off the hive. That is a very good thing. When the frames have finished draining, perhaps you can take some more photos and we can tell you if anything looks amiss.
Thanks for the reply! I will take some photos once it’s finished. I’m nervous because it looks like [whatever the key is moving] broke in the center, leaving that “A” shape in there. Sorry For the terrible description… mom brain!
I did pull the super off about a month ago and brought it inside the house. I am just now getting around to harvesting! How fun! My son (4 years old) was so excited to see the honey coming down the tube!
We had two deeps plus the Flow super… the bees used the bottom box for brood and the middle box as their honey super (despite us leaving it open to the queen). The middle box was completely full of honey and the flow was maybe half full.
We decided since it was late in the season to pull the Flow super since they probably wouldn’t be able to fill it before winter anyway. We will probably keep that honey to feed them over the winter if needed.
I see what you mean now. I agree, it doesn’t look good, but it should be easier to see when you take a side view. You may need to take the frames apart eventually to inspect the sliding cell pieces. It sounds daunting, but there is a nice video on how to do it, and it isn’t that hard.
If just a few pieces are broken, Flow may be willing to sell you (or replace) the parts you need. They would want a photo and your original order number emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our friendly Flow rep on the forum, @Freebee2 may have additional advice for you.
By the way, your very nice description of your hive management sounds perfect, right down to the double brood boxes. Nicely done! I think you deserve some of that honey that you are harvesting. If it wasn’t capped, consider keeping it in the freezer and once defrosted, eat within a couple of weeks. Your bees should be fine with double deeps over winter, but if you are concerned, you could always give them some fondant in the winter, or even pollen substitute patties in February or so.
Love your family photo too - very heart-warming.
Thanks SO much for your responses! The hubby and I have been doing as much research as we could to try and do the right thing for the bees… we weren’t sure that we were, so your words of encouragement are good to hear!
The segments seem to be able to open and close still, but I have to do the left and right sides separately. That would be fantastic if we could have replacements, if needed! I’m pretty sure I did everything right, I watched Cedar’s video at least three times before giving it a go! I’m just waiting for the last drops to drip out of the tube so I’ll be posting photos soon!
Yes it looks like a segment has broken. I haven’t seen that before but it has always been a concern of mine as they flex so much when cells are well sealed. I always use two flow keys at the same time and this spreads the load over the surface. The rest will still work but depending on the position of those cells the bees will not use that row if open and you may have some leaking until they seal it up. As long as the rest still open don’t worry too much about it…
When opening the key, do just an inch or two at a time if it’s difficult. You don’t need to open the whole thing at once.
Hi Michael! Thank you! I did use that piece of advice when harvesting but it still gave me trouble. When I harvested the second frame, I just loosened each side first before giving it a full turn of the key. Worked much better!
@ErinNewbeeMama yes Dawn is correct - best next step now would be to contact customer support via email@example.com so they can troubleshoot with you and provide assistance. We look forward to hearing from you soon
Thanks for your reply! I sent an email a few hours ago explaining the situation and I included photos of the bottom and sides as @Dawn_SD had suggested. Looking forward to the solution!
Perfect - thanks Erin
The cells of the affected segments are still closed… honey drained out from all the cells except those, so I’m willing to bet that means they’re broken
And yes I know that typically you wouldn’t harvest this frame because it’s not anywhere close to being 80-90% capped… but they had all summer to fill it and it was slow going, and winter is fast approaching!
I can see in those frames at least 5 spots on each side where honey could have spilled onto the brood. A good reason to harvest the honey away from the hive. Harvesting the honey in small increments while on the hive will minimize the spills, however will still keep the bees busy cleaning up the ongoing small spills instead of doing more important jobs like caring for the brood. This can lead to problems if SHBs are in the area.
Yes you can see the drips on the bottom trough however as Erin says the cells weren’t capped as the hive is being prepared for winter. Capped cells keep the honey in the cells when harvesting.
Unless you are freezing the frames its probably beneficial to put the super back on, perhaps above an inner cover, for the bees to clean up otherwise the unripe honey remaining in the cells may ferment.
You could be right Skeggley, but I wouldn’t risk it.
Perhaps try using the key, or better 2 keys, at the outside edges of the keyway to force the segments up.
Except it didn’t because she harvested inside the house.
She will get your point though, she is a smart beekeeper.
I will probably freeze the frames. We don’t plan on putting this super back in the hive for the winter. They have a traditional super full to the brim of capped honey for their own use, and we get pretty harsh winters here in Massachusetts. I wanted to keep the space as small as possible to help the bees stay warm and so they don’t wander too far from the cluster. Is this a correct way of thinking?
I did this… alllllll the way down the whole thing. Took a while to get to the end! They really didn’t want that honey going anywhere… I feel bad for taking it now! I can see why it took them so long to finish sealing the joints now, they were very thorough!!