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Flow Hive Harvest

Just been watching The Great Australian Bee Challenge and one of the contestants harvested a Flow Frame that wasn’t fully capped hence some unripened honey not to mention creating leakage through the hive. My question is… Do you have to open the Flow Super and inspect each frame to observe whether they are fully capped to ascertain whether they are ready for harvesting? You can’t observe all frames thoroughly through the windows?

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I agree that you can’t tell by observing through the windows how capped the honey is. I think that the consensus on the forum is that the flow frames should be checked before harvest. I watched that show twice. The portion that wasn’t capped, could have been empty of honey anyway. However they did a test on the harvested honey, on account of the uncapped portion. The result came in (as you know) at 20%, the upper limit of water in honey.

I was given a used flow hive. I’m not using the flow frames, however if I ever did use them in the future, I’d check first before harvest. Plus I’d harvest away from the hive, on account of the flooding issues.

Like Doug, the expert in the show, I don’t want unknown quantities of honey running into the brood box.


My view: YES, you have to inspect the frames the day of harvest if the frames aren’t fully/mostly capped. You can’t just rely on looking from the back. Very rarely is that view from the back reflective of the condition of the frame overall.

(I say you have to check on the day of harvest because I’ve seen noticeable honey movement between frames across different days)

Also, as far as capping goes, I’ve harvested frames with only about 50% capped but with a water content of 16.5%. If the frame is less than 80% capped I will always sample at least 4 different cells or regions on each face of the frame, and I never sample cells in relatively close proximity to each other.


I was given a used flow hive. I’m not using the flow frames, however if I ever did use them in the future, I’d check first before harvest. Plus I’d harvest away from the hive, on account of the flooding issues.

I’m not sure I’d agree. In my first year I did have a minor issue with flooding, especially my first harvest (as almost everyone seems to comment on with a similar experience). The rest of the first year I put a spare lid under the Flow super while I harvested so I could more easily see the pooled honey without flooding the brood box while trying varying section lengths to open at a time. Since then I typically crack the frame in quarters and have had absolutely no issues with flooding. I now only ever harvest with the Super in-place with no barrier above the brood box. I’ve had no issues at all.

I also use the honey level in the flow extraction tube as a guide to the general timing to crack the next segment. If the level is less than 1/3 the depth/diameter of the tube then I open the next segment of the frame.

I have done an end of season harvest away from the hive and that actually gave me more issues with leakage. The frames almost buckle (due to the frames wanting to rotate as you open them) if they aren’t firmly wedged in amongst other flow frames or held in place by some other means. If you are going to harvest away from the Flow super you either need a very tight frame (the twisted tight stainless bands/cable that hold the frame together) or another way to stop it wanting to twist. If you don’t you’ll have more issues with leakage than if you harvested progressively in-situ.


Checking is best, removing 1 frame gives you 4 visible frame sides. I have found removing the Fframes can bend them breaking the sealed cells with bridging comb though.
I agree with Snowy with the external harvests causing twisting and leaking. Using 2 opposing keys mitigates this.
I watched the program and it didnt really give Fframes a great rap. One key, one full awkward turn held in hands, guaranteed leak.
I have not had any noticeable flooding issues. Yet.


Totally agree as we to have had no problems ever with flooding as long as you open in segments and watch the tube level. We also record which frames we harvest from ,don’t harvest all at once plus if you are doing a regular brood inspection take a quick look at the inside flow frames.
After a while you get to know the condition of the flow frame by the volume you get in the tube as you incrementally crack the frame. Typically a good flow on both outer edges with reduced flow towards the middle if they have left an arched section as if for brood. If you gave good flow at the middle chances are its going to be complletely full or close to.


Love this Forum, am getting so many good hints. Will inspect Flow Frames on next Brood inspection due in a week, saves me disturbing them again. Was going to keep records of which frames harvested… confirmed, removal of one frame gives me a birds eye view of four fascets. It’s amazing just how fast my bees are filling the Flow Frames and I will be very interested to see the full extent when I look next week. Lots of glistening honey in all cells in side windows and a noticeable amount appearing in the front window! We sure have lots of food sources here in sunny Tuross. How exciting, got the Ball Mason Jars ready for harvest!


The spare lid under the super is a good idea to help save the bees.

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Your quote “I now only harvest with the super in place with no barrier above the brood box”. That’s fine when no SHB’s are present. That IS somewhat risky when beetles are around.

I saw through my observation hive window when excess honey enters the brood. The bees that normally coral beetles get preoccupied with cleaning honey off themselves, allowing beetles a chance to lay eggs in the brood.

Before the honey flood: not one beetle in sight. During the honey flood: beetles running all over the brood. It was kaos for a while.

People have reported bearding during/after flow harvests. I would suggest that a similar kaos to what I observed was taking place.

There is a beard in front of the hive in the photo of the home page flow website. Is that beard because of hot weather, colony preparing to swarm or a recent flow harvest? which appears to be the case.

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