Honeyflow.com | FAQ's |

Drones trapped above queen excluder... I feel sorry for them- can anything be done?

I put a hybrid flow super onto one of my hives last week- it has 3 flow frames and four standard frames. I moved up one built standard frame to the super- it was done at the last second- I had prepared 4 frames with foundation to go in the super but when I inspected the brood I found a new comb that was a bit wonky so I decided to put one of my new foundation frames downstaires to try and correct the wonky frame. I moved a freshly built comb upstairs- I looked briefly and thought it didn’t have much brood on it…

Anyhow: to cut the story short- today I looked in the back viewing window and saw some drones scrabbling about in the super. Just a few. But I feel sorry for them- I assume they cannot exit the hive- and that they desperately want to get out and see if they can find any virgin queens…

I could remove the little top piece of wood at the rear of the flow super- where the extraction tool goes- and that would make an upper entrance that the drones could exit from. However then I would have an upper entrance at the rear of the hive… would that cause any issues? At the moment there is no problem with having an upper entrance that i can think of- the flow frames are all completely empty and the bees havn’t really started working on the new foundation yet. So could I open that rear exit- leave it open for 10 days or so- and then close it back up? Will that cause a lot of confusion for the bees if they start using it extensively?

Any other options to let the drones out?

EDIT: this thread has me wondering again about upper entrances: assuming you have a mated queen- can you have an upper entrance above a queen excluder? It seems it would be helpful for the foragers if they could fly straight back into the super (as an option) rather than having to work there way up through the brood box/es. Is there much risk a queen could/would exit the hive and re-enter above the excluder? I have several small swarm and split hives set up at the moment with upper and lower entrances and the bees seem to enjoy it…

Hi Michelle, just crack open the lid at about 9am and close it after an hour or two. If there are any still in there then do it again the following day. Drones will leave the hive to mate and re-enter in the normal entrance. That should fix it.


yes i agree…take the top off

rather than taking off the inner cover- could I just remove that little cover piece of wood at the rear? It makes a 4 inch entrance and bees readily start crawling out of it when I remove it. I just looked in again and saw a drone stampeding around looking quite frustrated…

Hi Semaphore,

When I assembled my flow frame hybrid, I glued tiny blocks of wood next to the top back corners of the set of three flow frames. Kept the bees out although there was still enough space for hive beetles to scurry around. A month or so later one block broke off along with a little chunk of western red cedar from the super.

It wasn’t a problem for long. I glued the chunk back in place and drilled a 2mm hole for a steel pin ( aka galvanised flat head nail). I could take some pics if anyone is interested.

My girls are busily filling up the hybrid super right now. I think there are some eucalypts flowering in the Mullumbimby district right now so lots of nectar is coming in. Lately, I’ve needed to move a few frames around so I get good views of the side flow frames. Many of the cells in the centre are capped, but the cells near the end window are still empty.

We found with our flow frames- sometimes the ones at the very ends are not capped when the frame is actually 98% done. So looking at the back can be misleading.

I noticed today my bees are just starting to work the foundation and explore the flow frame cells. I have high hopes for this season with all the extra rainfall we had in early spring- I feel the nectar flow is upon us.


All of my hives (50) have a top and bottom entrance so drones can leave through either even though I don’t use the excluders.


I don’t see why you couldn’t do this. If you don’t want bees exiting (and possibly entering) the back of the hive, you could turn the box through 180 degrees for a few days, until all of the drones are out.

I left the roof off the flow hive and just left the inner cover on. The drones came up thru the hole on the inner cover and flew off. I suppose you could prop the roof up for a little while as well. The only thing you would need to be concerned about is robbers. I know when I have had the top off the flow super quite a few yellow jackets showed up.

Hmmm… Starting a robbing frenzy vs a few drone ?!? Maybe I’ve been a farmer too long … I wouldn’t bother or worry myself ! Maybe I’m just too hard CORE !


1 Like

A good tip Jack, would be to remove any drone comb that contains any brood from frames before putting them above the QX. That’s what I do.


I should have mentioned I was inspecting the hive when I did this too. Closed it back up when I left.

I inspected a hive yesterday that had previously had brood above the QX. As soon as I lifted the lid, there was a huge noise of all the drones flying out. I left that lid off until I finished inspecting the other frames. By the time I put it back on, maybe 20 minutes later, everything was back to normal.

same thing Jeff, today I opened the lid and immediately a few drones popped up and flew out. I left it off for 25 minutes- then I had a quick inspection of the super- i couldn’t see anymore drones and think most of them have left now. Turns out the comb I had put up there didn’t have brood in it after all- there must have been some drones just sitting on the comb. I will re-open it in a few days to release any stragglers.

1 Like

If opening up the top of the hive to release drones, then do it around midday or just after on a warm sunny day.
That’s when drones will be most likely to want to fly off to a congregation area to find a queen to mate with.
Then close it up before they return (mid afternoon) to make sure they reenter the main entrance.

… but I wouldn’t worry about a few drones, they should be considered expendable in preference to avoiding robbing or heat loss from the colony.

I actually did do that on a warm day- I opened the hive around 11 am - drones immediately flew out. After half an hour I couldn’t see anymore and closed it back up. I haven’t seen any up there since and think they are all free now.

when I was reading about drones above queen excluders I found this story from someone who managed to kill his hive due to trapped drones:

there was no fear of this in my situation as I had only a few drones up there.

1 Like