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Frames are leaking honey

I have had my flow hive for over a year and only harvested 1 frame. The bees are filling the cells and capping the majority of them but I have noticed that the hole where you put your tube into is always half full of honey on all the frames.
I have used my key to make sure that the cells are closed properly but it still keeps happening.
Any suggestions to why??

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Hi Fiona,

I’m sorry to hear that your Fow Frames are leaking. Please have a look at this topic and see if any of the solutions offered will help you:

It would also be great if you can send some photos and more information about your Flow Hive to info@honeyflow.com - my colleagues who work in Flow Frame troubleshooting will be able to assist you further in resolving this issue.

Thank you for your patience.

:honeybee: Faroe

Hi Fiona, I have seen this from time to time. It may be that the tension on the frames was not tight enough to start with. We check tension before install just in case. We also see it after a harvest as the remains of the honey slowly works its way through the cracked cells. We leave the last bits to drain for an hr or two to reduce that.
Given that you get 3kg from one frame it is not a lot left in the channel so what we do is take out the bottom drain cap put the drain tube in to break the propolis then loosely place the cap back in ensuring it is clean. The remants will slowly drain and the bees will clean it up. We regularly loosen the drain caps by twisting them a bit. For this reason we also use a long narrow bottle brush to clean the drain channel with warm water before harvests. We insert a cut down drain tube about 25mm long before inserting the brush so that no water gets in the hive.
Good luck.

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Just some points that you may not be aware of - any cells that are not capped can potentially still have a high water content and ferment, you should only remove honey from a frame that is at least 90% capped.
The ‘trough’ that you have honey building up in at the bottom of the frame has a blockage of wax, drain the frame till there is just an odd drip and look where the tube sits in and at the bottom you will find a small slot for any spilled honey in the trough to be returned to eager bees wanting to lick it up. Fitting the tube in you will see a small raise at the end of the tube that might clear the slot, but a thin flat bladed screw driver will also open up the slot.
Mark the length of your key to five equal parts and only open the frame 20% at a time. When you have closed the frame up with the key wait 20/30 minutes before taking the drain out and refitting the bottom plug.
All that said don’t be surprised if you have a little first harvest flooding but it should have a better sealing up for any further issues.A big welcome to the forum Fiona, you will find lots of reading and videos as well as people very willing with good advice.

IF the bees have prepared the cells properly then they shouldn’t leak into that part of the flow frames - you’ll get honey there after draining but then it should go down the drain holes if they have not been waxed over by the bees - I use a tooth pick to unblock these if there is honey to be drained back to the bees - this is what I would do with what has leaked out of the Frames into that bottom section right now - its very little and at this stage I would not worry about it - the bees tend to get things fixed up sooner or later :slightly_smiling_face:

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Hi Faroe
I am trying to attach a couple of photos. As you can see there is also a lot of propolis building up in between the frames.

These are the 3 worst frames, the other 3 have a smaller amount of honey sitting there. Since I have only harvested from 1 frame - this seems to be a big problem.


Hi Fiona, if I can add my two bobs worth: I think, make sure the tilt is towards the back, then make sure the drain holes are free of propolis. I’m thinking a meat skewer, similar to Andrew’s suggestion.

Thank you Gaz for your suggestions and support.

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Hi Peter, thank you for your welcome, support and suggestions, a few people have mentioned the keeping clean of the small slot - shall check that in my next hive check, together with some other suggestions.

Personal question for you Peter, were you in Fiji 7 years ago? You look like a teacher I met there once.

Thanks again, Fiona

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Hi Jeff, yes the hive is tilted backwards slightly and I will be checking those drain slots next hive check.
Any other suggestions now the pics are up would always be helpful.

Hi Andrew, thanks for your suggestions. I shall be checking the drain slots. A few people have said just leave it to the bees. But I smell the honey aromas wafting through the house and I have only harvested that 1 frame. I am getting a bit downhearted. The old look but don’t touch scenario.

I kept finding bees in that channel in one frame, one of the sections of the frame wasn’t seated in the bottom and had obviously slipped through quality control. The key would still turn, opening and closing the cells but left a gap big enough for a bee to fit through right above the trough.

Sadly it wasn’t me you remember from Fiji, I was there for 3 months sailing my yacht in the Pacific but that must be about 15 years ago. Enjoyed the people but not the commercialism.
I just looked at your profile for your location in NSW but you haven’t said, I’m wondering why you haven’t more honey in the Flow Frames. My first harvest of 4 capped frames was after only 5 weeks on the hive on July 1st, but then I’m in a great climate and lots of nectar year round for bees.
The wax and propolis in the pics is totally normal, it seems if a bee can’t crawl through and build more comb in a gap they just seal it up.
How long has the super been on the hive??

Hi Peter, I am in Parramatta, I shall change my profile to be more exact. I purchased the flow hive thinking it would be easier to harvest with neighbours very close to the fence-line here in the city.
I think this leakage is why I haven’t had more honey, when I opened them up a lot of the cells are capped but as you can see the end ones never get a chance to fill with honey for the girls to cap them.
I started with a 1 brood box in September 2017, then added another box at end October with an excluder between, then added the flow super on top in early December, as each box was filled. I found the weight of the boxes when full was too heavy for me to lift off. So the 2nd super box I removed in November just gone, getting 18kg of honey. The flow super has always had honey in it but never fully capped to harvest.

Im very confused as to why it doesn’t seem to work. I also have 2 conventional hives at a farm down south which produces more honey each fortnight than I have ever had from this one flow hive.

I think this may be a misconception/“non sequitur”. The cells around the edges of many frames are often not capped. @JeffH posted some beautiful photos of capped frames within the last 24 hours, but if you study them, you will see that virtually every frame has empty cells around the edge.

This is just what bees do. I don’t believe it contributes to leakage from the Flow frame. Just my opinion, and I would of course defer to @Cedar, @Faroe or Flow company experts.

Hi Fiona, Let me get us both on the same path, A brood box is anything below the queen excluder(QX) and any box above it is a super, be it a Flow Super or a langstroth(conventional) super. So what you are saying here is that you have a single brood box, the Flow super and a conventional super above that. And that now you are reduced down to the Flow super.
I know the Parramatta area a bit and from memory it is very much built with flats and units and short on open space.
You have done the right thing by removing the 2nd super. Foraging flights for nectar and pollen could be to the flying range of a bee, your area is heavy in concrete and short on shrubs and trees that flower. For that reason a 2nd super will be a ‘bridge too far’. You will find that the Flow Super will be where the honey goes now simply because that is the bees only choice for storing excess honey. The last frames to be capped will be the outer frames if the bees do what is normal, but sometimes bees will change the rules of the game just to frustrate you.
Worker bees normally store honey in a super as they would in a brood box with a new frame, the top corners and down the sides; but nobody told them what the QX is for so they leave the middle are for the queen to lay in, which she can’t do, so it is the last area to be used for honey storage and to be capped. Herein lies a dilemma, Flow doesn’t say to remove the flow frames to be sure it is ready to extract or should you assume from the viewing windows it is ready. From my experience I remove each Flow Frame in turn at least a day, preferably two days, before the day of extraction and do an eyeball check that at least 80% of the cells are capped, further you can hold a frame horizontally and give it an up and down jerk to see if any honey come out, if that happens the honey that is uncapped is not ripe so I would not extract that frame. It might be right in a week or two but not now.
The result of extracting unripe honey is that it will ferment and spoil and ruin the rest of the honey it comes in contact with.
Re the bigger honey yield on the farm, that is to be expected, there is more to forage on and it is closer to the hive so the bees will do many more flights to a tree in flower in a day so they will bring in more nectar.
Make sure the hive at home has a supply of water for the bees to drink and to cool the hive in the hot weather especially, a shallow tray with twigs, corks, stones is needed, anything the bees can land on to get a drink of water, any open space of water is a place they could land on and drown, so the more floating landing places the better…

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Hi Peter,
yes that is/was the set up of my hive. We are very close to Parra Park and Wistaria Gardens, not too many flats around us yet. So there is a lot of pollens and nectar around for the majority of the year. We have a giant pond in the garden where the bees get their water.

I am going to check the individual frames a week before harvesting from now on to double check that most cells are capped. This is why I have only taken from 1 frame in a year - the rest hadn’t had enough cells capped.

The problem of leaking honey into the tube tunnel is still my biggest problem. Maybe after harvesting from all the frames it might improve. But the circle continues with the girls not capping them because they can never fill them and around we go again.

I do thank you for your help and advice and some great suggestions which I have taken on board.

I get the picture of where you are, the park should supply good nectar when it is in flower.
Going down to just the Flow Super will be a big step forwards for the honey production and capping of the honey when it is ripe.
Any other issues give me a yell, there is a lot of regulars here for advise.

I have 5 hives here yet I only get harvests from two of them. The others are still busy colonys they just don’t seem to hoard as much for some reason.
Yeah I probably should requeen but who knows they may be the most productive next year, besides its just a hobby anyway.

Maybe try the Flow super on a different colony.


Hey mate, bee keeping is like a merry-go-round, you get on for the ride that goes nowhere so we wonder why we get on in the first place. Bee keeping often gives us more questions than answers, but hey, it is fun.
A non productive hive can suddenly become a great honey producer for no apparent reason and we wonder why. We give ourselves a pat on the back and take the credit but deep down ‘mother nature’ is just playing with our minds to keep us hooked on our bees.
I’m rambling on, time for my meds :grin: