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Harvested honey,now bees won't go back in hive


Hello,I’m a first timer so please be patient with me. Yesterday,I harvested the honey from my flow hive for the first time and it was a great success. However all the bees came out of the hive and are staying on the outside and I don’t know what to do about it. It has been a whole day that they are out. Any suggestions or reasons why this happened ?



Some colonies of bees have issues for awhile from these comb quakes under their feet. Nothing new around the forum.

There’s not much you can do except WAIT … it would be like us with an earthquake… a little gun shy to go back in our house :house:… Give them time …

Not sure :thinking: where these hive quakes n other thots are on this forum but it’s been dealt with before.

Bee :honeybee: patient n they will settle … might take hours or couple days … I’ve not personally had that situation yet on mine.
Hang in there n don’t panic !

Good luck :four_leaf_clover:



Thank You Gerald. That makes a lot of sense. Now for the patients part…



Pretty likely that the hive flooded. Did you open the whole frame at once? How many frames did you drain?

If it is a flood, you may see honey on the ground under the hive, and you will see it on the slider. The bees won’t go back until the floor is dry. If it is more than a couple of ounces of honey, it can take them a few days to clean it up. :blush:


Yah Bob,

Bees are marching to a different drum. Give them time n space. They’ll work
the quake thingy n get back to work removing the capping, sealimg the cells n
If the forage/flow pressure to gather is still around the girls will get with it rather soon per what I’ve read over the last couple years on here.

Ya ta,


Hi Dawn, Yes,unfortunately,I did drain them all,but I knew enough to save some for the bees. Now that you said that about flooding,that is exactly what happened. I only brought 2 jars out with me and they filled so fast it over flowed on the ground. By the time I got back to the house to get more jars there was honey everywhere. Also,in my panic I forgot to close them when I ran back to the house. I cleaned up the honey with water the best I could. I appreciate the advise.



If I was a Bee, I would be in love with Dawn!:honeybee:


I am not just talking about flooding outside the hive. Inside the hive is more of a disruption. Honey drips from the flow frame channel inside the hive, and runs over the frame faces down to the inside hive floor. If it is only a couple of ounces, no big deal, but if it is a pint or more, the bees will move out of the hive until it is gone.

Not much you can do at this point, but next time, please consider opening each frame in about 3 inch sections, waiting a few minutes before opening further. That way, you avoid an airlock developing in the Flow tube, which can then push honey back into the hive. I made a video of my hive harvest, which shows you what I am talking about with making sure the Flow tube doesn’t overfill:

Lesson learned. I hope your bees recover quickly. :disappointed_relieved:


Thank You for that info,it was very helpful. Yep…lesson learned.



Hi Bob, I see you are in Ky. Are SHBs in your area? If so, your hive will be very vulnerable to much SHB egg laying at this point in time. This is because all the workers will be preoccupied with cleaning up all of the honey, as well as themselves to be able to stop the beetles from laying eggs.

I’m going by what happened to a local flow hiver near me. Two days after a flooding harvest, a slyme-out.


I’m not a bee, but I love Dawn :slight_smile:


So what you have done in bee terms is caused an earthquake, wiped out their crops and caused general flooding and destruction to their home. If you were a bee would you rush back inside? Probably not.
But hey, your a first timer as you say and you have learnt a valuable lesson for next time. Don’t fully open the frame to drain the honey if the weather is warm and the honey is thinner so it flows faster, open it 1/2 way to begin with. Be prepared with enough jars or a bucket for all the honey.
It is all a learning curve so take your time so you cam minimize mistakes.
Welcome to the forum where you will find nice folks happy to pass on their experiences, and enjoy your bees


Sometimes honey backflows into the hive and they drink it up and clean the hive out. They will go back in and be ok. They just gorged a mother load of honey and are doing what all holiday overeaters do and go into a temporary food coma. This vid shows and experienced beekeepers experience with a situation like your describing. Richard Dunn is on YouTube and loads lots of flowhive vids. I hope this helps. If I didn’t understand what you were describing disregard. https://youtu.be/wh6PzdumZTo


I just watched that video & paid particular attention to the honey flooding part. I don’t believe that disrupting a hive in this manner is a good thing for the bees. For the reason I outlined earlier, plus why put the bees through this much stress? Frederick pointed out about the bees chilling outside of the hive on a cold night. My thoughts were more towards the brood getting chilled with all of those bees outside of the hive when they should be inside keeping the brood warm & getting on with normal hive duties.


Hello there,

as Dawn said: next time open the frames in increments- and if you live right near the hive and have the spare time- only drain a few each day and stagger the harvest over a week. When we say drain in increments- we mean you put the key into the slot say 1/4 of the way. You turn the key and then wait- I leave it for 25 minutes or more. I set a timer. then I come out- put the key in another 1/4 of the way and turn it again. And so on until you have done the whole frame. By harvesting in increments- and only a few frames a day- any honey that might spill inside the hive is isolated, greatly reduced and will not affect all of the hive at once. it will give the bees more time to lick it all up and/or move out of the way.

the next thing: Never harvest a flow hive without having everything ready! I don’t recommend harvesting directly into jars- as the chance of bees become interested, honey spills and stress are too great. The best thing to do is to get some clear tubing and a honey bucket with a honey tap on it. Make a few holes in the lid and harvest into the bucket. You can easily fill individual jars after using the honey gate. the biggest advantage of doing this is that it is bee and spill proof- and you can leave the frames draining slowly all day without millions of bees coming around to see if they can eat some of it: no bees drowning in honey that need to be fished out!

This is what I am talking about- it is very simple. I have three holes in my lid and cover any I am not using with a golf ball. In these photos you can see the two frames on the right have been drained a few days before. The two on the far left I am leaving to drain later. i am only draining the two in the middle that day: and over this entire harvest i didn’t see any spills or upset bees. I have my coreflute in the BOTTOM slot- so if honey spills it doesn’t pool on the floor and bees can’t drown in it. Afterwards I pull it out to see if any honey leaked down that far. Usually none has. Flow recommends the top slot but I don’t agree :wink:


Good points Jack. As with most things, hands on experience is a wonderful thing.


I see an invention or improvement here:
Since these things tend to leak and it is advisable to check frames for readiness, maybe a special pan could be fabricated and placed under the super for harvesting. This way, when leaks occur, the honey drips into the pan and not down through the brood nest.
After the harvest, the pan full of honey is removed, honey strained, and the bees resume their normal activity.


The removable bottom board of flow hive 2 has such a pan. It can also be turned over to provide a solid bottom board.

I think a simple rule during harvest is, if the bees start bearding outside, you have a major leak and opened too many cells at once.
I personally never had honey reaching down to the coreflute during harvest, but I always harvest in at least 5 increments.

Obviously it helps to be prepared. For a single frame I have a 4l glass jar with a food grade plastic bag over, with a hole for the extraction tube. Just in case the bees come enquiring. It happens.
If I extract 2 frames at a time, I have 2 jars. I like to keep them separate. :face_with_monocle:


personally I don’t see any need for anything like that- and lifting a flow super when its full- not much fun. Getting that tray in there would probably cause as much or more disruption than a leak would? I think if you follow the procedure I outlined any leaks are minimized and as far as I have experienced are a non-issue.

I might consider doing something along those lines if I had to quickly harvest an entire super in one go. But you may as well just take it off and harvest it inside in that case. I have done that when I’ve removed a super at the end of a season.


no one has ever asked me that Jeff- If I do explain Flow Hives to people I tell them how I have been doing it. Just as I did here.

For what it is worth- and in defense of Flow- I think there are many ways to go about it.
And some of them depend on where you are, local conditions. Some of those methods wouldn’t have been apparent to the Flow folks when the frames were first introduced and had only had limited field testing. Now that there are tens of thousands of hives all over the world - people are refining the ways they go about things.

When we first ever harvested a Flow Hive I guess we did it as in the videos. We cracked the entire frames- all at once. We had a reasonably large leak of honey- some came out of the front entrance of the hive and the bees bearded afterwards. However even in that case it didn’t seem to set that hive back at all- but then we don’t yet (touch wood) have hive beetles. Apparently they are on their way here right now.

Now: that leakage could have been for several reasons: one the frame were virgin- first ever use. Two: we harvested all at once. Three: it was a coastal hive with rather runny honey.

Since then we developed our incremental harvest strategy and have not had any major leak at all. There have been minor ones but I am not at all worried about that. Collectively in my family- I estimate we have now harvest over 450 kg’s. All our hives are in good health- things seem to be going perfectly well! That’s why I have no concern saying that- for me- flow hives are a great success. i love them!

To conclude: my personal belief is that the original videos, etc may have made things look a little less complicated than reality. However; the way i feel about it: that’s advertising! take it with a grain of salt. And I don’t think the intention was to mislead.