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Flow frames and when to empty


How do you know when all the flow frames are full?


You will pull them out during a hive inspection and look for the cells to be capped.


Ok I didn’t know if you could just look down on them and tell or not.


I would look at the outside window and the end windows. In my experience when the ends of the frames are full they are usually capped and if the outside frame is full they are likely capped in the middle. Then check to see if you are right. This may vary by climate and flows but the more you check without pulling them out and then pull them out the better you will get at knowing what you will find and soon you won’t have to pull them out anymore…


You can remove one frame and then just look down into the other frames when it is time to check.


In my limited experience (4 month, single brood and single super), the four central frames get fully capped except for a CD/DVD sized semi circle area in the central bottom of the frame. The two outside frames however do get fully capped.

Unfortunately, I can’t rely on the window or frame ends to tell if the frame is fully capped or not, except for the 2 end frames. The middle frames need to be lifted and inspected.

The uncapped area is 90% empty (no nectar/honey) with only a little bit of nectar/homey on the boundary, so it probably is ok to be extracted if I wanted to but I am happy to just extract the end frames and leave the middle frames for the bees.

So far I have extracted the 2 outer frames twice since putting the flow super on in late February, the middle frames have never been fully capped.

I am located in Brisbane (SE QLD, Australia, sub tropics)


I would recommend lifting out the frames to check. I thought my bees had done nothing from both observation windows, but turns out they had 99% capped the 4 middle frames, they just dont like the edge cells for some reason! It seems each colony is different and marches to the beat of its own drum. (i’m also in brisbane)


This is interesting- our central frames were exactly the same- fully capped except for roughly circular patches in the bottom/center of the frames. These ‘holes’ were the same as yours- almost no honey except for a few cells near the edges which were nearly full.

The honey was perfect when we harvested it- though we had leakage through the hive and we think this was caused/exacerbated by the capping ‘holes’. However at this stage out two external frames were not yet capped- they were the least worked. So we harvested two central ones. Since then the bees have worked fast capping the outer frames- they are nearly capped now.

Anyone have any ideas why the bees leave these central patches empty? They have filled all the gaps in the flow cells with wax. Is it possible these cells were capped- and the bees have uncapped the cells?


and BTW- I agree about removing frames to see how capped they are. If you remove one frame and brush the bees into the hive- you can set it to the side- then move the frames from side to side in the super and look down to see how capped they are without having to remove them. When fully capped- those frames sure are heavy!


My theory is that the pattern matches what you would typically see on a brood frame.
Kind of looks like they are leaving a spot for eggs that won’t ever get there.