Flow Frames On, Brood Boxes Full, More Room?

Hello All,

Long time reader, first time poster here, and I would appreciate some advice. I am located in East Tennessee with cooperative weather so far this year.

I have one hive, started from a nuc on April 15th this year and added my second brood box on April 28th. I fed sugar water from day-one with additive and they loved it, and built out great on foundationless frames. I added my Flow Frames & Super on May 25th after both brood boxes were an average of 80% full, and pulled the feeder off at the same time, sprayed the flow frames with sugar water + additive.

Since then, I did my first full inspection today, almost three weeks later: they have been prepping the flow frames ver nicely, lots of propolis on all sides, and lots of wax workings on the faces of the frames, they are also pulling the last 1mm of wax out and beginning to fill the frames with honey (pause for happy dance :crazy_face:) (see pics of flow frames).

I continued onto the two brood boxes below: boxes appeared very full of bees, lots of activity, lots of bees, larva, eggs, brood, pollen, and honey. I estimate that these boxes are currently 90-95% full, meaning - very limited open cells with only 1 frame still being drawn out @50%. There was some new burr comb built onto the sides of the top brood box that i removed. It appears to me that there is more honey in these brood boxes than there is brood. I saw no signs of swarm cells. There probably are a couple frames of only honey in these brood boxes.

Question: I want to continue to encourage them to build out the flow frames and store honey there, as they are doing, BUT how concerned should I be about brood box capacity currently?

My gut tells me to just check them weekly for a bit, hoping they continue to move more bees up into the flow frames and put any new stores there, and as brood hatch out the queen will have new room to lay more eggs :man_shrugging: .

Alternatives that I’m aware of would be: adding another full brood box with foundationless frames (all I have), removing a frame of honey-only from the brood box and replacing with foundationless frame, shaking a frame of honey out and reinstalling to provide room for brood ??

I’m hopeful there are folks out there who have experience at this stage of the Flow hive. I appreciate your feedback and will try to be as responsive as possible. Thanks!


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It’s not uncommon to have a lot of honey stored in a second brood box. That’s one reason why I like to use only one brood box, but make each brood frame count by using foundation. You’ll get a strong worker population that way. Hence, plenty of honey. You see, all of the honey that the bees have stored in your second brood box could be in your flow frames.

Having said that: I think @BigBadBob isn’t far from you & I think he uses 2 brood boxes. Look how much honey he took last year. Give your bees a little bit more time, maybe they’ll do the same or similar.


I agree with @JeffH’s comments, and have a few extra thoughts.

  1. Your photo is very helpful. It shows a half moon of honey storage in the lower part of the Flow frame. When my bees are feeling “honey bound” in the brood nest, they leave that half-moon area empty (I think they leave it for the queen to lay in, even if it is above a queen excluder). As your bees are putting honey in that region, I think you are OK not to mess with frames in the brood nest at this point.
  2. I would inspect every week if you can. If that last undrawn frame is fully drawn and filled, you might want to remove a frame or two from the brood boxes. If you do, I would pick a frame of 100% honey, or honey and a bit of pollen, and freeze it. Keep it frozen for as long your household has space - you can feed it back in winter or during a dearth.
  3. If you have to pull and replace empty frames, put the new frames one position in from the hive wall. That will encourage straight comb-building and rapid use. Any further in can disrupt the nest. Any further out and they love to build bridge comb, and cross comb, and all sorts of creative, artistic, unhelpful mess! :blush:

Looks like you have a great colony, congratulations!


@JeffH Jeff has given good advise and I would only repeat what he has said, Let the bees do their thing and they will move honey up into the Flow frames if they need more room in the brood boxes. I would not have a reason to disturb them. I think 3 weeks is too long between inspections, a lot can happen in that time frame, I do mine weekly for a quick check and fortnightly for a full inspection.


Agree with Jeff: There are roughly 70,400 cells in a 10 frame deep brood box. A good queen, laying 1500 workers per day and those workers using those cells for 21 days equals 31,500 occupied cells in any 21 day cycle. There are still half the cells remaining for drones, pollen, and honey.
So in your double deep hive there’s 140,800 cells of which 31,500 are occupied at peak season. The rest is the honey you hoped would be in the Flow Hive :open_mouth:


Thanks @JeffH & @Dawn_SD !!


Hi Peter, I just finished unloading some honey ready to extract tomorrow. I thought of this thread because one hive with a young queen, the daughter of the last queen you got from me had a full box of honey plus the lid half full of bees.

@glassutk1 & anyone else interested, that was from my standard single brood, single honey, wax foundation configuration. Normally I’d be taking swarm preventative steps with so many bees in the lid, however I’ll wait till after the shortest day, which is not far away.


Thanks everybody, I feel much better about sticking with my gut feeling for now.


My bees have sealed the cells, but are randomly filling cells then moving it. To where I’m clueless. So it’s boggling my mind as to what’s going on. But the hive is now forming a normal nucleus and hive structure since the “making queen extravaganza” they went through. Wow! After focusing so much on not killing my bees and all other things that go hand and hand with it I’ve not learned to much about honey!


You have a wonderful way with words Martha. Maybe with all the chaos you have gone through the bees are not sure how big a brood area is needed, so long as they are moving it to new cells it might be there for a ‘taste test’ come your fall. Here is hoping for you after all that has happened to you in the spring.

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If it is “like mother like daughter” your queen will be gold. That is the hive I just had to super with 6 1/2 frames of brood in an 8 frame hive. The bees needed room for stores, there was hardly an empty cell, and they needed something to do so a super with 8 frames of foundation will keep them busy and give them more room in the hive. Saturday is my hive inspection day if it is warm enough by noon.
Regards mate


Thank you Peter, I’m just in the middle of extracting now. I did 8 boxes yesterday afternoon. I have 10 more to do today. That hive was the best one. A lot of my queens are getting old. I’ll be working towards requeening those in the spring.

Let me know when you are re-queening and I will give you a hand mate.


He might prefer six legs… OK, sorry, that is the infection talking. :blush:

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Hope you are getting better Dawn. As we get older we take longer to get over things but for a young one like you that is what you can look forward to. Old age doesn’t come on its own, it brings friends like loss of strength, dementia and looking for something for an hour till you realize it is in your hand all the time.:wink:


Not so young… My husband will be 79 this year, but a “lady” will never tell you her age. :blush: :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: :heart_eyes:


Thank you Peter, it took me a while to get finished, after a few interruptions. Thanks for the offer, but I’ll be making my own queens from splits over the period of a couple of months.

I forgot how hard it was to rob during winter. The honey being so stiff & sticky. I’m psyching myself up to do it again in a couple of weeks, going by all of the frames that weren’t quite ready this time. Plus everything that’s in flower.

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jeff- will you make splits and then combine them with your old queen hives? Do you kill the old queens? How do you go about the process? And what signs do you look for to say that a queen is old and needs replacing?

and also- how was this season for you Jeff overall? I recall you saying maybe that the last season was not the best.

Hi Jack, it’s probably more the non-performing queens rather than old queens. I’ll reduce them to one super rather that try to build them up by adding brood. In the mean time I’ll make new queens from splits in single boxes. When the new queens are proved, I’ll sit those supers on top of the ones I want to replace. During good weather I’ll swap the supers over so that the new queens hive sit’s on the bottom, with the old queen on top. Then I can easily work on the dud queen colony by killing the queen, leave her body there, then introduce brood from a good colony with which they’ll make new emergency queens. In the mean time I can use brood to boost the numbers of the new queen colonies, raising the dud queen brood box so I can add a second super to the new queen colony as required. You can see the advantage of flat roofs in this instance. I’ll just make sure that I don’t keep any queen cells from dud queen’s brood.

The queens that I’m calling duds now may not be duds at all. Some colonies constrict the brood during our winters, having brood on only 4 or 5 frames, then take off in the spring. While with other colonies, it’s just as though winter isn’t here. They’ll have brood on 9 frames. They’ll be the first ones to want to swarm well before winter is over.

It’s just a matter of playing it by ear when the time comes.

It’s been a much better year than last year which was so dry. This year I actually got a chance to build some honey up for winter. This time last year I had nothing, I had to ration it out to my customers whenever I robbed, a nightmare for Wilma. What I got the last couple of days was a big help, plus there’s plenty more in the hives for the bees to finish off.

I was thinking of @cathiemac while taking the full honey frames. She was looking forward to the honey flow that I suspected might happen around now. All the trees are awash with flowers. The lorikeets & blue faced honey eaters that normally hang around for a feed of honey are nowhere to be seen, there’s so much in the trees for them.

I’ll get going, I’ll ttyl, cheers



I use 2 brood boxes because I live in Houston and our season goes from February to November. This gives the brood a long time to develop. I started my colony in May 2016 but did not start harvesting honey until February 2017. I suspect you just need to be patient and all will be good. Once I started harvesting, the girls started bringing in honey at a rate of 2.5 gallons every 2-3 weeks. I think I was able to harvest 7-8 times last year. 3 times so far this year even though I had to requeen in April.

Hang in there!