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Do I need to do a deep dive on a healthy hive


I have a flow hive that is now 2 years old. It has a second brood box. The Brace and burr come is ridiculous. Everytime I think of pulling frames for an inspection. it looks messy. I’m going to do lots of damage pulling the frames out. The hive is healthy. The Honey is great. The frames are all pushed together as they should be. If it’s a happy hive should I just leave it alone ore should I carve out the frames and see what happens.


If you don’t fix the mess of the frames how do you undertake an inspection to check colony health etc? If you can manage an inspection without fixing the mess than perhaps there is no need to fix it. If you can’t, then you probably should.


If you are in the Northern Hemisphere and a cold climate I would wait until spring to fix things. If you are in the Southern Hemisphere and it’s spring, I would go through it completely and rubber band crooked combs back into frames, harvest capped honey that is in crooked combs and scrap comb that is too uncapped and too soft to handle.


I have found that if you periodically clean away brace comb- comb on the tops and bottoms of frames- that over time the bees seem to make less and less of it. And then when you do have to inspect you don’t run into as many issues. I’m like you though- I hate disturbing the bees- i think- if they want comb there who am I to go in there and mess it all up?

The other day I inspected my long hive after winter- when I removed an inner cover all of the combs below were attached to it with bridge comb that was full of honey- the actual frames started to lift up with the inner cover. For a moment I was suddenly daunted by what to do… but it was too late- I had to keep moving- I didn’t panic - took a deep breath- and used the hive tool to pry the frames off- then I shooed the bees away with some smoke and scraped all that honey comb off. Next time I will add some hive mats on top of the frames to stop it happening again…

a stitch in time- saves nine.


Hi Jack, I went through my long hive a couple of days ago, found same thing, I had around 8.5mm gap between top of frames and inner covers, I’ve reduced that now to 4.5mm to see what happens, if that doesn’t work I will use hive mats as well. They were full of honey maybe that didn’t help, next time I won’t leave quite so much stores going into winter.
Cheers Tim


I think you should be right at 4.5mm. I’m going to use vinyl mats and that should do the trick. Other than that how is your long hive? Can you remind me: do you have flow frames in it? Are the bees taking to them?


No flow frames in this longhive, maybe the next one, still considering how to go about it. At the moment I have a flow hybrid which I am still to harvest. But bees are storing in the flow frames now, if it works well, I think I would be encouraged to include them into my next long hive🙂
Cheers Tim


I’m on tenterhooks with mine- the bees have started exploring the flow frames- but no sign of nectar yet. I’m hoping it suddenly starts to happen in my long hive. Every where I look there are trees in full bloom… I’m doing my first deep inspection after wintering over the weekend if the sun stays out.


Let us know how you get on Jack, thoughts I have about flow frames in the long hive, do I slope the hive backwards all the time, what about flooding issues some talk about, screened bottom ( I have found they encourage wax moth, I have gone back to solid in my hybrid, but still wonder about flooding in that hive, i have put in on the back burner till I Se how the hybrid goes. Cheers Tim


I went with a screened bottom- and I have a pull out tray underneath the flow frames. The horizontal design actually has an advantage here as if there are any leaks they will fall through the screen into the tray and not bother the bees at all. then I could take the tray out and put it in front of the hive for the bees to clean up. I will also be able to see exactly how much if any honey leaks- which is difficult with a brood below the flow. I also built the entire hive on a slope to accommodate the flow frames. I haven’t had any issue with wax moth so far- and I guess with the pull out trays my hive is kind of a hybrid screened/solid bottom.

the only thing that remains to be seen is if the bees will store honey as readily on a side of the hive as they will above the brood. I hope that in 6 weeks from now I will have an answer to that question… If it turns out they don’t I’ll have to convert the hive to standard frames and use it for comb production.

I ran one hybrid last season but it didn’t do very well. I don’t know if that was because of the hybrid setup or due to it being a weak colony (more likely). The one thing I didn’t like about the hybrid was that there was a little too much room in between the standard and flow frames and the walls. If I was going to use one again I would modify it for a tighter fit. This year I am going to convert that hive to a full flow super.


Your screen bottom board, does it run the full length of hive, or just under the flows, can you close it up?
Thanks for the feed back Jack. Cheers Tim


It runs the full length- and I have two slide out trays. The trays sit several inches below the screen so there is a void space there. I’ll have to keep an eye on that to see if I have any critter issues- but it’s quite easy to slide the trays out and have a look. The idea with the trays was that I could fill them with diatomaceous earth if I had any bug/moth/beetle issues. currently they are empty and I periodically clean off any wax and pollen crud.


Other than removing lid to look in and removing window covers to watch, I do 0 inspections, 0 treatments, feed no sugar except for giving them a jelly jar (have only done once) to clean out and will use no smoke, I feel this only irritates them and loses you honey, maybe even bees, I do not know if they come back after fire goes out or not, they all look the same to me. My bees are very calm as I do not go in hive to see how their queen is doing, (I’d move too if someone came in my house every few weeks and moved all the furniture around to see how me and my queen are doing) I can just look at entrance or in windows to see how she is doing, they’ll take care of any problems, they know better than I do what they need in a queen. Man gets too involved and we are loosing and the poisons that we use for treatments doesn’t help.

This is only my way, very few if any agree with me but my Flow Hives are 8 frame western red cedar on 2.5- 3 inches lime base. (started with 3.5 but it has settled over the years)(used 2x4 for frame) My hives have screened bottom boards that I leave open except in the dead of winter to allow beetle eggs and any other harmful critter eggs to fall through and the lime will not allow eggs to pupate as earth would. I had a local wood smith install windows front and left side to boxes identical to the one on right of super to allow further inspection.

I am a 80% disabled veteran being paid at 100% due to I U (Individual Unemployable) because of a severe closed head injury which has resulted in very slow motor skills, double vision and other vision difficultys

I started bee keeping with 2- 10 frame hives (white pine) in 2013, lost both hives after feeding sugar and giving pollen patties. Both went into winter in very good condition but both died by spring.

Didn’t like western red cedar at first (too brittle) till used with bees, it has proved so much easier to care for bees as I am having problems with white pine hives, now it is only wood I’ll use for hive boxes. I have entertained the thought of using eastern aromatic eastern red cedar but wonder if it would be to strong for even the bees, but this would work even better for moths and other nuisance bugs.

I ran across this while looking for another letter I was working on about 5 hours ago. I keep seeing saved at bottom but where has it been saved to?Any way I’ll go ahead and send this and continue looking for other.

Blessings, Mark