Do you need to clean Flow Frames?

Lately, on the forum, there has been some interest around how to clean Flow Frames.

Flow Frames shouldn’t necessarily need to be cleaned if kept in the hive as the bees do a fine job of keeping them clean themselves.

However, sometimes due to reasons such as pest/disease, mould, or excessive build up of propolis from particularly inclined colonies, it can help to give the frames a good wash after a few years, of use.

We recommend soaking the frames in warm soapy water (no hotter than 70°C/160°F) and lightly brushing in the open position. The frames are made from dozens of individual blades so if you want to avoid putting them back together, keep in mind to be gentle with the frame.

If you would like to give the frames a proper wash, you can disassemble them by removing the top and bottom wire. This will allow you to soak and scrub each blade more easily. See a video of Cedar showing how to reassemble a Flow Frame here when you’re done -

It is usually possible to remove all honey and some of the wax from the frames, yet even when washed in this manner some propolis and wax will remain on the frames.

Honey trough -

For helping to remove the build up of leftover honey in the trough after harvesting, there is a little feature to the Flow Frame called a leak back point. This is where the lip of the honey tube clicks into the Flow Frame and sometimes gets clogged up by wax and propolis by the bees. If you remove this blockage, the 3° tilt of the hive will slowly let the honey drip down into the brood box for the bees to recycle. You will notice their little tube-tongues sucking up the honey instantly.

Cleaning for storing (wintering) -

If you remove Flow Frames from the hive for storage it is a good idea to remove residual honey after your final harvest. Before removing from the hive, it can be helpful to leave the frames in the hive for a short time for the bees to do an initial clean.

To remove residual honey once you’ve removed the frame, set the Flow Comb to ‘cell open’ position and rinse in hot water (no hotter than 70°C/160°F). Allow the frames to dry thoroughly before storage.

Remember not to leave frames with residual honey outside the hive as this can encourage robbing.

Store your Flow Frames in the dark, in a cool and dry location. Flow Frames are UV sensitive and should not be exposed to light for extended periods.

Sterilisation of Flow Frames -

If required, such as for pest or disease contamination, see Flow’s support page here -

Have you cleaned your frames? How did it go? We’d love to know if you encountered any issues, or have any tips to add.


Thanks for the info Bianca.

Does Flow have any opinion on using Sodium Percarbonate to clean/sterilise the frames?

Thanks, Jeff (Brisbane)

Hi Jeff,

Flow doesn’t have any information on how this material pairs with the Flow Frame plastic for cleaning.

I suggest presenting this question to the forum community to see if any members are familiar with it or have used it before, and to test a small patch of Flow Frame with Sodium Percarbonate to see how it goes before treating the whole frame.

If I am not mistaken the flow frame plastic is food grade polypropylene. This is a commonly used plastic for food storage, yogurt containers are commonly made from this in the US.

You could test your sodium percarbonate at different concentrations and temperatures on some other scrap PP and see how it does.

It may be hard to assess brittleness in an “in use” scenario but you’ll at least have some idea.

However, I’m not sure that sodium percarbonate really accomplishes much more than other chemicals known to be ok to use (like dilute bleach). You might be able to find some info here:

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It would be good to see this information broadened out on how to clean the flow frames if they have residual mold, propolis and wax. Some safe water temps and pressures for domestic pressure cleaners and/or other methods. Adam

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