Harvesting honey from hive front, not back

I have an established traditional Langstroth hive. I’m assembling a Flow super to replace a traditional super on top of my brood box. It never dawned on me that you are supposed to harvest from the back of the hive, not the front over the hive entrance.

Can I orient the super to harvest from the front? It makes sense to me also because the hive is tipped forward slightly to allow water to flow out in case of a flood. And I read you want to have a slight downward slope when harvesting.

I’m excited to try the Flow super so I can extract honey without a lot of heavy work. Thanks for your input.

The idea is that you are not interrupting the activities of the bees while working around the back. The observation window is there too. The landing board is more angled than the 2 degree slope of the hive so water does not go inside when it rains.

I think it would be best to harvest from the back of the hive. Can you make some drain holes in the bottom board, before elevating the front of the hive to a permanent tilt back. Alternatively you can adjust the tilt every time you harvest.

I understand your excitement at watching the honey flowing out of the Flow frames, however I don’t regard harvesting honey from a single hive as “heavy work”.

Sorry, I missed that you haven’t got the whole assembly. You might be able to insert wedges (or attach them to the bottom of the flow super) it would take a bit of work but is a more permanent fix

Like @JeffH suggested, tilting it backward for the harvest is pretty easy - you don’t need much slope but it does help it drain faster if you can get 2-3°.

I use a piece of 2x2 (a scrap piece of square railing spindle) that I use for an entrance reducer as well as my harvest wedge.


Hi Merry, definitely don’t try harvesting from the front - it will quickly become chaos with bees going after the honey as it’s flowing, drowning in your jars and you’ll probably get stung by guards before you even get started. As beekeepers we need to put what makes sense to us in context with, or often aside from, what makes sense to bees, and anyone lingering around the front of their home is going to be treated as an intruder, the longer they linger!

I also use shims like @chau06 described to tilt a hive back at harvest time, because my Flow super often ends up on a colony that’s sitting on a regular bottom board instead of the Flow one with the angle.

Also, when you say flooding, does this happen often in your area with heavy rain? Is your hive up off the ground on a stand and is the entrance reduced? Another helpful item is a slatted bottom rack, put that into the search & consider adding one between your bottom board and the brood box. It provides extra space for a large colony to circulate air in hot weather, it buffers cold air coming in, and acts like a basement allowing water or honey spills to descend away from the brood.

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Harvesting is heavy work for me. I have a beekeeping partner who lifts hive boxes.

Merry Luskin, Oakland CA
Reference librarian

OK, I’m sold that I should harvest from the back. One more question: the hive is assembled as in the instructions, with the observation window on the left as you are looking at the front. The hive is a few inches from a lathe fence on the right. If I set the super so to harvest from the back, the window will be on the fence side and will be unusable. Is that a problem? I was under the impression that the window was for enjoyment only. I planned to open the super to see if it was time to harvest. I don’t remember the instructions saying that you could assemble the hive left or right handed.

Merry Luskin, Oakland CA
Reference librarian

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Correct, if you’re talking about the Flow classic super, which can only be assembled one way since there is a notch in the back panel to allow key access and the sides need to meet it properly for the key access cover (long thin board with a knob) to fit. You could go ahead and cut out another one on the other side, for fun - but it does come in handy to gauge when to look into the super. Plus it is really fun to look!

But no, the window is not strictly necessary, and it’s good that you plan to check frames before harvest anyway.

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you don’t need the window - but it’s good to have. Is there any chance you can move your hive a little? It’s good to have clear access to the sides and rear of the hive when you work the bees.