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Flow Frame Extraction problem


Hi all.
Having extracted a week or so ago I put the flow super on top of a crownboard above a regular super for the bees to rob out and keep the remainder as stores.
Checking today, they have cleaned out a lot of the open cells but not touched the capped cells.
Thinking this was an opportunity to see the frames in action outside the hive, I removed a frame, supported it in my kitchen and used the flow key to open the frames.
No flow.
The frames are cracked open - you can see in the cells that arent capped that it’s open, and the cells toward the bottom are deformed so it’s definitely open. Nothing is coming out though.
Thought it might be a temperature issue if the honey was particularly thick, so they’re now in my conservatory (super hot in there - probably 30+C ). No flow.

Question’s are - why is the honey not flowing, and what do I do now?

(NB - The honey is not crystallised, but is quite thick)
(PS - I have a video I’ll try and upload showing the open, not flowing frames)

Thanks all


Would be interesting to see the video, how much of it is left capped?


Scratch the caps open from the top and give them back to the bees, or if that honey is capped, just store the frames where pests (ants, mice, moths) can’t get to them. Capped honey won’t spoil and next spring just add the super back on.

I found this an interesting topic when the hive was first introduced: What do northern beekeepers with a 4 month flow do with their frames for the remaining 8 months?
I’m a conventional frame beekeeper so I just use the honey frames to feed splits or place them on top of the hives for winter feed. The following Spring I usually place new frames on the bees for honey so I have fresh, clean wax.

Fresh! :slight_smile:


This is the video


Thick honey yes…but is that also propolis I see at the end of the vid on the far left side of the Flow frame? Appearing to seal up some of the cells? If so, in addition to avoiding certain types of nectar, you may also want to delay putting the Flow super on until the overall nectar flow is strong enough. It’s my understanding that the bees may treat the Flow frames as any other excess space in their hive & try to seal it off, if they are placed on the hive too soon.


It certainly will be propolis. Not enough to seal the flow frames though.
These frames have already been harvested and haven’t had significant extra propolisation since then. They’ve just been refilled and capped and I wasn’t going to harvest again but wait for the bees to clear them.
(Plans changed as per my original post)


and I think the propolis you’re talking about is on the spacer lug. It’s not a single large lump, just on the surface.


There is a reason they say “slow as molasses in January” and it could easily apply to honey. Honey at 93 F (the typical temperature in the hive proper) flows pretty well. Honey at 70 F (room temperature) doesn’t flow nearly as fast. I would heat it. If the honey is thixotropic (A quality of a liquid where its viscosity gets thinner when shaken, stirred or agitated and thicker when left undisturbed so that it becomes a gel) then running the cells back and forth a few times may loosen it up. Jellybush and heather are two examples of very thixotropic honey. If the honey was in regular comb and was thixotropic there would be pretty much nothing you could do to stir it easily…


Yup I saw it on the spacer lug, but I thought there was also some inside the cells along the seams, in the empty cells next to the capped ones.

Close to the color of that honey so I can’t be sure from just a photo :thinking: But it could account for flow problems. It is odd though, to have it happen after they’d used it for nectar already, as you pointed out…


you’re right Eva. That is Propolis at the back. It’s a deep colour but pretty minor TBH. If I’d got the angles right you’d have seen it at the same level on the other side of the frame which has opened up fine (but still not flowing). It’s like this on pretty much every frame and doesn’t seem to cause any major issues.


93F is just under 34C. It’s 36C in my conservatory and still not flowing a few hours later. About to add a heater to see if I can prompt it.

It COULD be heather - I haven’t been for a walk recently but there is a quantity of heather heath about 1.5Miles away and in less concentration closer to the hive. I’d have thought it more likely to be himalyan balsam, but I’ve seen bees going bonkers over Ivy recently (I thought it was a bit early for Ivy - nature disagrees) so it could also be that. (Loads of balsam and Ivy in between the hive and most of the heather).


Try running the frames open and then closed and then open and then closed and then open. Stir up the honey. See what that does. Heat, of course will also help.


we are all just guessing unless someone else has had the same problem, but I’d say when in a normal hive position and above the brood box, covered in bees, the temperature is higher, by placing them above a super and crown board, less bees etc temp drops, although your conservatory maybe warmer, it’s not directly on the frame,


So the outcome of this is as follows :- I believe what I had in there was heather honey. I thought it would be a little early for heather but apparently not. It tastes good where I scraped it away but I couldn’t get it to flow whatever I tried.
Eventually resorted to letting the bees rob it out (which took them quite a long time as they were pretty full and the honey was very thick),
The frames are now clear and stored ready to rock n roll next year, where I’l be sure to take them off before the end of July to avoid this problem recurring.
Wish me luck!


Looks to me like you put the flow hive frame in the hive already open… The cells are in the cracked position… Is it possible you didn’t have them closed at placement? Warm the frame - should eventually flow…