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Flow hive and queen excluders🐝

Hi there
I’m a newbie to bee keeping. I live on an island called Tasmania which is a state of mainland Australia. We live by the sea. I have 2 flow hives. Our winters are long and the season for honey short.
Our Bees arrived as nucs for their new homes in November and December 2019.
I concentrated on building the colonies up and gave them ideals as needed to store there honey, ready to bunker down for the coming winter of 2020. I stole no honey from them. They went into winter loaded with stores and came out strong still loaded with stores.
We added flow supers a week ago. It was almost instant: the bees raced up in great numbers to the flowhive plastics. I was amazed at how quick and accepting they were.
Then a couple days later I thought crap, I forgot to put on the excluders. So we took off the flowhive supers and put them in place under the flow hive super. Within an exceptional short time, they abandoned the flow hive supers. Couldn’t believe it. So today we removed the excluders to see if they would go back to working the frames.
Woosh, straight back in there, within minutes in lots of numbers They still have there ideals above the brood chamber. So I’m hoping the queen will stick down. I don’t want honey from the ideals so she can brood in those also if she wants to. Hoping this will keep her happy and away from the flowhive super at the top.
Both bee hives had this exact reaction to the excluders being not placed, then placed and then removed. I’m keeping them off for now.
I am very much just a beginner. So have no option whether to exclude or not to exclude the queen. Just rolling with the vibe from the bees :honeybee:.

I started with bee Nuc

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You need an excluder. If the queen lays in the super it will cause you no end of trouble.
Try different types. Try to get a quality excluder. I like the one with steel bars. Plastic has not got a good reputation.
Then patence. They will go up eventually.


Well, having an ideal on top of the brood, you may be lucky and the queen is happy enough down below.
She can only lay drones into the flow frames. If she does, you may have to pick the cells clean before harvest.
Best to check the flow frames before harvest. Especially the Centre ones.
Having said that, I would use a metal queen excluder above your ideal. Once the nectar flow sets in, they sure will go up. Just be patient and trust in the flow.

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Thanks for the replies. I will keep a check on the centre flow frames and buy metal excluders. I might wait a week before putting the excluders on. So they are really into it.
Their initial reaction to the placement of the excluders bothered me coz both colonies are boiling and are in urgent need of space. I’ve even set up a swarm trap in case they swarm.
This is the first season the super flows have been used.
Already today, I can see they are waxing the cell gaps/ cracks in the flows and I saw nectar shining in a few. Amazing the progress they can achieve.
They are jam packed in between each frame.
One hive has 7 flow frames and the other has 3 flow frames in the middle a total of 4 timber frames on the outer sides that need to be drawn.
One hive has larger size worker bees and drones than the other. For some reason. It’s how they have been from the start. Both hive bees look plump and shiny and healthy just the same.

I have had a lot of negative experiences with plastic QX’s and won’t use them in my hives. They sag and so the slots open up and there is enough gap for the queen to pass through and lay in the super. They also become brittle with age. You really need to have a QX and I have had no issues with a metal QX.

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:honeybee:Thanks Peter. Next week I am going to townand will call in to the bee supply shop and grab a couple of metals ones.

Also a newbee. Why do you say she can only lay drones in the flow super?

I’m waiting for my first Nucs to arrive and have been studying a lot. Regarding the queen excluder, I have become a Fred Dunn fan. His YouTube Q&A sessions are gold. He runs several flow hives with medium supers above the brood as what he calls a honey bridge. He says he generally doesn’t use excluders.
My plan is to do the same as Seaside Bees and before extracting, inspect for brood. If brood is in the flow my understanding is that you just ensure the queen is below, pop on the extractor, wait for the brood to hatch and the bees to clean the frames and keep going. I wonder if the bees need a better quality metal excluder though?

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My understanding is that Cedar has designed the flow frame cells to be to deep for brood laying in general. Maybe drone laying is possible coz bees make a a larger cell for drone babies?

I think if my colonies won’t accept the metal excluders going forward then I may end up having to leave them off. I’m not wanting to halt bee activitiy in the flows for to long. As they are on a mission at the moment. They are loving their new flows. Each hive has two ideals above the brood box. All ideals are loaded to the brink with honey, the ideals went into winter full and came out full. Not sure if it’s enough to keep the queen away. I’m going to metal exclude and see if the bees will accept the metal ones and continue working their flows. Sounds bad if brood gets in flows. Just out of interest: ( my hybrid frame flow: bees are working the flows, all three first and not the outside timber frames that they need to be drawn. I guess they will do what’s best for themselves) In the meantime I will check out the Utube you suggested.:tropical_fish:

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Here is the link to the specific Q&A that discusses queen excluders. https://youtu.be/pw7HQWv18fc

There is no way I will use a Flow super without a proper queen excluder. Having said that, if you think a free range queen is for you then go for it. Apparently, the manufacturer is quite flexible about the idea himself:

Let us know how it goes.

You haven’t considered the cocoons that are left behind from emerging brood, these will prevent the Flow from operating as it was designed, and once those cocoons remain there is a higher chance that the queen will be directed to lay there due to the smell. I have seen brood laid across four boxes.


Plus the drones that may be trapped above the queen excluder… They will die trying to get out, unless you provide an upper entrance/exit.


Have you seen any brood at all in Flow frames? According to Flow themseves, they claim on their website that running the Flow Hives without a queen excluder they never saw worker brood, and only rarely found drone brood. They say this is because the size of the cells in the Flow frames is neither right for worker, nor drone brood.

I do suspect this may be true, or at least more likely if they use foundationless frames in the brood box, so the bees have the opportunity to make drone comb in a more convenient place. I’m not sure whether they still do, but when I bought my Flow hives, they seemed to push foundationless at the time.

This is from the Flow website, and I find it quite curious why they do not strongly recommend a QX, considering the risk involved:

Having said this, most of our experimental Flow Hives did not use an excluder and we never found worker brood in them and very rarely found drone brood. We have designed Flow comb to have deep cells of a size that suits neither worker or drone brood.

I am in no way endorsing this view, and personally strongly suggest using a metal queen excluder.


No worker brood just drone brood and it wasn’t a pleasant experience, not my hive but a local club member. It was fixed by unwiring the frame to disassemble the segment and then the use of a brissled brush to remove out the cocoons, just glad it wasn’t mine :roll_eyes:


Before she lays an egg the queen measures the diameter of the cell with her front legs. If it is a large cell she will lay an unfertilised drone egg. If its a smaller diameter cell she will lay a fertilised worker egg.


Ok. I will keep you posted. I hope the colony will like the metal excluders once in place in a resonable amount of time. Otherwise it will be a difficult decision going forward as to know what to do. One small step at a time, I guess.:whale2: