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Flowhive not working well

couple of my flowhive had honey down both columns but wh
en went to harvest only very slow flow and not much honey came out. usually get 1.5 jars from each FH yet only received about 1/4 jar.
am i suppose to clean them each year?? as they have been on the hive for couple years… remove the QE beginning winter and replace in warmer weather

Hi @cottles

There are a couple of important initial things to check after your harvest was much less honey than you expect. This includes:

  1. was the frame full of capped honey before you harvested? The observation window view doesn’t offer absolute clarity on this unfortunately
  2. has the honey crystalised, preventing it from being able to flow?

Did you inspect the super afterwards to take a closer look for what may be happening?

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thanks bianca

i did not check regarding fully capped as previously when both columns almost full i get wonderful flow… my mistake

i will do an inspection and check it out…

thanks again


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A third possibility would be jellybush honey in the frame. That would always depend on the location, if bees have access to any Leptospermums (jellybush). This is where local knowledge comes in handy.

Hi Dennis, I take it from this that you have cold winters where you are, which might mean your bees have put some propolis up in your Flow frames. That’ll certainly gum up the works.

arvo… pulled frames out and about 90+% capped.
what do u mean by crystallised… how do i determine i have crystallised honey please

Honey left sitting a long time will naturally form sugar crystals that eventually multiply and cause the honey to have a paste-like texture, that will not run but stay stuck in wherever it sits (jars, cells of comb or Flow frames). It’ll re-liquefy with heat. To determine whether that’s your problem, just lift out your frames and gently dig some cell contents out with the tip of a knife, or a toothpick. If it’s crystallized honey, you’ll see that it’s opaque and sandy.


My middle frames in the super are about third full of honey, some capped and some not. I think we will be nearing the end of the nectar season soon. Is is possible to harvest a couple of frames if they haven’t been filled or fully capped or should I simply wait until next year? The hive seems very productive as the super is filled with bees each time I check. If I don’t harvest the honey will the bees consume it over the winter?

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This is your first colony, right? I’d say your Flow hive is working better than expected for your climate then :wink: It takes a lot of nectar and a strong workforce for the bees to even prepare the cells in such a large volume, so you lucked out with a good season and a strong population. Flow hives were designed based on beekeeping in a climate with year-round nectar available, so we folks with shorter seasons just need to make some adjustments.

In our cold winters it’s best to harvest it at the end of the season - capped or not. I’ve emptied my partly capped frames in August and found that a lot of it was shelf-stable (18% water or below) in spite of not being fully capped. Sometimes there’s enough capped/ripe honey to mix in and lower the total moisture content, and sometimes uncapped honey is just ripe anyway. If you do get a lot of unripe honey you can use it to feed back to the bees (freeze or keep it in the fridge), eat it yourself or make mead :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

Leaving the Flow super on over a cold winter is a bad idea because it’s not designed for it. Bees will propolize open spaces, plus the freezing and thawing would stress the plastic over time. An even bigger problem is that the queen can get left behind when the cluster moves up to the stores because she can’t get thru the QX. And if you take off the QX to prevent that, she starts laying in your flow frames in late winter before you can put it back on :flushed:


I was going to say the same, flow super or otherwise, given your weather recently and the new colony, I’d say you’re doing better than most!

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Great information–thanks so much!! Yes, this is my first colony and the nuc I received was super productive–so much so that they swarmed the same day I added the super so I have had to restart, but the hive formed a new queen so all is good now with new brood in the cells and I am back to the numbers I had when they swarmed but I see enough empty cells for the queen to continue laying–at least I hope there are enough.


I have to say something whenever someone mentions for example: “I see enough empty cells for the queen to continue laying”.

People should understand the relationship between the queen & the rest of the colony. The colony, or the “hives mind” knows how many eggs it wants her to lay, so therefore the colony will prepare cells for her to lay in & they will feed her accordingly.

Remember that bees are working around the clock. It is no problem for bees to remove honey from brood frames before consuming or placing it somewhere else so they can prepare more cells for her to lay in.

You’ll see this relationship beautifully illustrated in the Youtube video “City of the Bees”. After watching & comprehending that video, you’ll come to realize that the empty cells you think are somewhere for the queen to lay may not necessarily be ready for her to lay in.