Founding Supporter, 2015....Finally unboxed and built


OK, so not sure where this post is going, but maybe just introducing and looking for some initial guidance.

So I was an original supporter back in 2014/5 and received the hive in Feb 2015…I’ve moved around a bit and never really got around to it (plus the wife kept veto-ing), but finally have settled in a permanent location in Austin, TX and finally decided to unbox and put this thing together.

I’ll attach/post better pictures later (at work…firewalled)

Did anyone paint or seal or oil the cedar? I’m concerned it will get waterlogged and rot. If not paint, did you oil/condition the wood and seal w/ a polyurethane?

So I’ve got a few questions about the build:

  • there’s the white grid sheet. Is this the queen excluder?
  • where does the sheet with the big circle hole go?
  • i’m not sure which way the roof goes…it seems to be not aligning well. Is the short side go on the access side or the other side?

Regarding placements of the hive:

  • It gets windy here in central TX. These boxes/roof/sections feel like they would blow apart and separate. Does anyone ever strap the pieces down/together? I was thinking using those wide/flat ratchet straps.
  • What did yall use for a ‘stand’ for the hive? I don’t think I can just place it on the ground. Did you make your own stands?

You don’t need to, but most people do. The normal recommendation is to seal it with 100% Pure Tung Oil (not available in Home Depot). Do not use a Tung Oil “Finish” product - it will almost certainly have toxic chemicals in it. I used this one:

You can use Polyurethane, but I would then delay putting bees in the hive for a couple of months to avoid exposing them to solvent off-gassing.

Yes, you don’t need it until the super goes on. You won’t put the super on until the lower box is bursting with bees - usually at least a couple of months.

That is called an “inner cover” in the US. It goes just under the roof, either on top of the Flow super, or on top of the brood box if the brood box is not full of bees.

The short side goes at the back of the hive, just above the knobs on the Flow super. It will fit better when you have the inner cover on top of the highest box. :blush:


I bought the one in the photo above. It was about $80 and I am very happy with it. You can use cinder blocks too, but you want to raise it 14 to 16" off the ground to avoid attacks from skunks, raccoons and possums.

I suggest you join a local bee club and get some books on Beekeeping too, so that you can learn about the names of various hive parts and beekeeping basics. Beekeeping for Dummies is not a bad place to start. :wink:

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@surfer349 I have seen several people that have painted the roof but most have used tung oil to coat the exterior of the hive. I used tung oil on mine.

The white plastic piece is the queen excluder. This is used between the brood box and the flow frame super. Keeps the queen from laying in the flow frames.

The board with the circle hole is the inner cover. This is placed on top of the flow frame super when you have it on or the top of the brood box when you don’t have the honey super on. It helps keep the proper bee space and allows for ventilation out of the top of the hive into the roof.

The roof piece that has the flow logo faces the front of the hive. You can use ratchet straps to hold it down or you can put small latches on the sides to keep it on the hive. It gets very windy where I am as well. We can have gusts up to 70 mph. It blows tractor trailers over. Once the bees build up comb inside the hive it would take a pretty good wind to blow them over. Although you will need to put something on to hold the roof down.

With regards to stands some use pallets, others use cinder blocks and then put 4x4’s running lengthwise. There are many stands that you can buy as well. I think the important thing is that the base is stable, you can get the boxes level, and its at a height that you can move the boxes around without hurting yourself. I would also recommend making it long enough that it has room to sit the hive on but also put a box down off to the side while you work on another.

Hope this helps!


Nice post @Dawn_SD! You beat me to the punch.

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do you like using the ratchet straps? If I installed snaps/brackets/latches on the sides, would the clicking of them open/close cause bees to attack?

For the inner cover, so the bees are free to move around up into the roof area? What keeps them from building in there?

For the frames, its just a wooden rectangle and that small fin. That’s enough to get bees to

So I get terminology down,

  • the super is the plastic flow frames, to expand to after the hive is growing and thriving?
  • what’s the lower box called? brood box? Is this all I need? i seem to be confused, as a lot of the flowhive docs talk about langstroth boxes.

So it sounds like I need to setup a base, anchor the brood box and close that up, letting the hive grow out for a few months, before placing the flow frame super box on top, correct?

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I do. I prefer them to hook and eye or other types of latches that I have tried in the past. Latches tend to get in the way when you are closing up a big hive, but the strap is much easier to manage.

I put a tile over the hole. Some people put some hardware cloth or insect screen over it, to keep the ventilation. My bees ventilate just fine with the tile over the hole. :wink:

Sort of, yes. The super is any box on top of the hive intended to be used for harvesting honey.

The lower box is the brood box. Your local bee club will be able to tell you whether you need one or two brood boxes. Cold climates use 2 or even 3. Warm climates with year round nectar flow only use one (like much of Australia). Warm climates with long dry seasons (like mine in southern California) often need 2 brood boxes, so that the bees don’t run out of food between the rains. It takes local expertise to know what would be right in your area.

Langstroth refers to a size of box - width by length. Your boxes look like 8-frame Langstroths in your photos. They are also known as 8-frame Langstroth “deeps”, being around 9 3/4" deep. There are also mediums and shallows. Many beekeepers use mediums for honey supers, because they are lighter when full and so easier to handle. Shallow Langstroth boxes are not used very often, but they can be good for comb honey, because the size makes it convenient to cut the comb.

Sounds like a plan


Yes, brood box w/ 8 frames.

from my email receipt 3 years ago (ha)

Includes: 3 Flow frames, tool and tubes + custom-made Flow Box to fit 8 frame Langstroth hive. Place the 3 Flow frames in between four standard frames in the new Flow Box.

My area is Austin TX…I will be contacting the local club here soon…we only get maybe 2-3 days/year of freezing temps…maybe one brood will work?

So it only came w/ 3 flow frames. So I need to go buy 4 standard frames for the Super? hmmm…so I guess only 3 of them will be “flow” and the other 4 will be regular traditional frames with comb honey?

Looking at the end of the flow super it has been cut to fit all flow frames (6 in an 8 Frame Lang) rather than a central hybrid super with 3 flow frames in the center and two “normal” frames either side. Are you sure you didn’t receive more?

If you put normal frames along side your flow frames when you open the door to harvest you’ll have bees pouring out.

You’ve managed to tap into some good quick responses to get you going from Dawn and John. My suggestion is that you paint the roof with an exterior grade paint. It will help with it’s longevity. You may also want to look at some building adhesive on the roof slates to help with weather proofing.

Enjoy the journey and remember to point the hive entrance away from were people will be walking and you’ll be working the back of the hive. The guard bees will be much more relaxed.



Totally agree with this. If you don’t have 6 plastic frames, you should contact Flow with your order number and they will put it right. @Faroe will also be your knight in shining armour in setting it right. :wink:

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Paint the roof- tung oil the hive body. You could also paint the base if you like as that cops more weather.

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Roger, I will escalate to customer service…yea, they only shipped me 3 flow frames.

can you elaborate more on building adhesive? Do you mean at the seems where the roof shingle pieces come together and at the roof cap?

I’ve got TUNG oil coming soon in the mail.
I also purchased some propolis and lemongrass oil to try and catch a swarm…it seems to be that time of year here in Central TX. Someone just announced they caught one near me yesterday.

Regarding starting and growing a hive, if I don’t catch a swarm, what is next option? The 8x frames for the brood box are empty rectangles. The local bee group offered to sell Nuc’s and frames for ~$150…I thought I could just buy a bunch of bees and a queen and they would start building. Do I need old combs/frames for them to start?

@Dawn_SD: your picture of your two-hive setup
are the broodboxes set into the stand or just resting ontop of the outer perimeter? Is that a tray or something?

That wasn’t my suggestion, but some people use exterior high quality caulking around the edges and between the shingles on the inside of the roof. The roof tends to leak if you don’t do this.

That is a good price and probably your best option. The other choice is to order a “package of bees” which are about 3lb of loose bees shipped in a fine mesh cage with a queen. They are a lot slower to establish than a nucleus, and a bit more risky to install in a new hive. Here is one source, but the price is pretty close to the nucleus you have been offered:

It helps to persuade swarms and packages to stay in your new hive if you have some old frames, but you don’t absolutely need them.

The hive bottom boards are resting on the stand. The ratcheting strap goes around the hive and the stand of the left hive, so it is very stable. The right hand hive is on top of a hive scale (dark green metal plate), so the strap cannot be around the hive stand or the scale readings would be messed up. The strap stops raccoons from lifting the lid off the hive, even though it isn’t as stable as the left hive. I have a slatted rack on top of the bottom board, below the lower brood box. This increases ventilation and helps to encourage the queen to lay right to the bottom of the lowest frames.

Hi Adam,

Sorry to hear there is some confusion over your order. From your description, it sounds like you have ordered a Flow Super Hybrid with 3 Flow Frames, but somehow got a Flow HIve Classic body shipped to you… As mentioned on the phone, my colleague will email you some solutions.
In regards to painting your Flow Hive here is our extensive faq on it:

Did you receive an assembly and instruction manual? We have a new one, which may answer some of your queries, about the position of the queen excluder, roof, etc.


so for the finish and sealing…

  • whatever you do, do not oil or finish the inside of the boxes --> leave these natural.
  • if using tung oil, only do the outside.

So next questions…can I use tung oil on the outside first and then put a finish on? Any details about specific types of finish?

Yes, but why? If you are going to use a synthetic finish, just go with that, but wait before you put the bees in. I can tell you from personal experience, they do not like synthetic or strong solvent smells at all. If you only use Tung Oil, you can probably put the bees in within a week of sealing. When you need to reseal, you can do it on the hive, just wear a bee suit. Pretty easy.

The only exception for me is the roof. I am going to sand mine, put flashing under the shingles and seal the top with marine grade polyurethane. Tung oil tends to go moldy on the roof. I have a spare roof to use while the polyurethane cures.

how exactly do you plan to do flashing? I assume yours is the 4 piece + top cap roof, right? Just one big piece anchored/pressed tight to the underside of the roof?

For sealing, I’m looking to get that awesome natural wood color. Don’t you need to stain or oil it first, before putting on a sealant? What sealants have you seen used? A high gloss polyurethane?

You can see my left hive in the photo above. Flat roof with flashing. The flashing is stapled to the sides of the roof, on the vertical surface. Pretty standard for Langstroth hives.

The Flow hive roof is the 4 piece that you describe, and is around 22" long and about 15" wide in the horizontal. Without resorting to trigonometry, I bought a roll of flashing which is 20" wide and more than long enough (and very useful for other purposes in beekeeping too!). I will take off the Flow roof shingles, and run the roll along the roof ridge (so it will be 20" wide, and length TBD when in place). I have tin snips from an old remodel to cut it to length. I have a pneumatic stapler to attach the flashing (I also use it for assembling frames). I don’t have a metal shaping tool, but I have block of wood and a mallet, so Heath Robinson will probably find a way. :blush: When I do it, I will take photos and post them.

Not really. If you use a polyurethane varnish, the color will go a couple of shades darker than the fresh cut wood, even without staining. As cedar is a thirsty wood, I would recommend a couple of coats of 1:1 diluted varnish to start, then put on the final coat. I work a lot with a marine wood finisher, and she says to use high gloss wherever possible, because satin finishes have additives which make them more vulnerable to UV degradation and wear and tear. Hope that helps.

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