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Harvesting Honey

We are getting ready to havest honey from our Flow hive for the first time. The question is, “Is it better to harvest as each frame is capped or is it better to wait until all the frames are capped?” If I only harvest one or two frames at a time does this interrupt the production of honey at all since the bees have to reline the cells with wax? Or does the producction of honey continue while the repair/rebuild is underway?

I guess that is actually 3 questions.



I suppose you could do it either way. However, sometimes the frames leak honey back into the hive, and it is easier for the bees to clean that up if you don’t extract from too many frames at the same time. Equally, several users have found it is better to open each frame gradually in about 20% sections over 20-30 minutes, to reduce the flooding risk.

That will depend on your bees, and strength of the nectar flow in your region. Some bees love to move honey around all the time, others do that rarely. If the nectar flow is strong, the bees will refill the frame very quickly.

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Just wondering where your location is ?! It helps in giving best ideas n advise. If your asking I’m guessing it’s your first ever Flow-harvest.

I’m going to assume you are in the southern part of our Northern Hemisphere. Only harvest capped frames. Each person has their own amount. I’d personally harvest only a couple so you have time to take care of less honey until you get the hang of it. After you harvest n close frame(s) bees will deal with prepping n refilling.

I’m guessing others will pop in here n give their 2 cents worth … I see some Flow-Hjvers slowly open each frame a 1/4 or 1/3 at a time to reduce loss of honey into the hive. Doing slowly n part at a time reduces chance of over pressuring the caps n loosing honey down into the hive. Just a thot.

Enjoy your harvest n take care !
Cheers bro


I’m in the Southeast of the US. Charlotte, NC. I guess the real question is
does prepping take away from honey production? Seems to me it would no
matter how many bees you have. They can’t do both at the same time. Might
make sense to not harvest until the honey flow quiets down in mid summer.

If it’s your first time, harvest just one frame. It’s quite exciting, and you learn to handle everything. The next harvest you will be way more confident to open several frames.
The bees seem to continue working on the unopened frames.

Do the one, eat some honey toast, honey crackles, put honey in your cup of tea, show your produce to your neighbours and family, then if you feel like it harvest some more frames. The bees will do what they have to do, whether cleaning, capping storing…
The most important thing is as Valli stated above, only open flow a bit at a time to stop honey overflowing into hive ( I do 25, 50, 75, 100% or thereabouts) it should not take much longer to complete as I imagine charlotte is reasonably warm this time of the year and honey will FLOW.

Dawn, not Valli, sorry to all

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Do the one because I don’t think they could ever cap them all at the same time.

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Hello there,

this year my hives all filled the flow supers in a similar fashion: the frames int he middle generally filled first- and the ones on the south side next- the one of the North last. So I harvested the middle two first- then the two on the south. After a few weeks those four had refilled- and the ones on the the south were finally ready. So I harvested two at a time over a few weeks.

basically- I think if a frame is fully capped- go ahead and harvest it. It doesn’t slow the bees down- they clean up the frame and start refilling it within days. It won’t stop them from working on the other unfilled frames either. I also like to harvest two at a time- and I do it in increments over several hours to minimise the impact of any spills, etc. If you have the time there is no harm in drawing the harvest out over a few hours.

I also use a bucket with tubes and holes in the lid- so that I can walk away and leave the hive alone as the honey drains out. If you do the harvest over a few hours there is more chance a few bees will become curious as to what is happening at the rear of the hive. here is my simple set up- in this photo the two frames on the right were drained a week before- the two on the left have yet to be drained:

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Sooner or later you’ve got to mess with the “girls” daily life … Inspection are needed to check mites. brood, (honey-nectar-pollen), so cracking a flow-frame really is minor. Any harvested honey does need to be capped so it does not spoil. So you should be lifting the frames you want to harvest.

This is an awesome interest n hobby. I wish you many years of great beekeeping.



Thanks. This is really helpful. Love the pic.

Oh and I have one additional question.

What is a sema for?


Just “flag” it for attention. Sending a signal here… :smile:

How do you know that the flow frames, other than the one with the side window are capped and ready for harvesting? Do you have to lift them out or can you see that they are capped through the window?

Lifting the frames is the only way to be sure.

You can look through the end window, to see if the middle frames look full/capped, but that view can be deceptive too. Mine looked like this 2 weeks ago:

Those 2 middle frames looked full and capped. However, when I lifted them, they both had a huge empty arc of open cells below the capped honey. If I had drained them without inspecting, I would probably have lost a lot of honey leaking back into hive from the frame faces.

I thoroughly recommend inspecting the frames before harvesting. :blush:


Thanks, that’s what I was thinking.

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Is there any way to encourage capping. I seems like our bees are working on
all six frames at the same time and they never seem to fully cap any one
frame. If you removed a frame or two would that encourage capping on the

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Your flow is probably winding down, capping costs honey that they aren’t willing to spare. Test it with a refractometer and if it’s good, open the frames!

The Spring flow is winding down for sure…I’m in the South East US (North
Carolina) so much of the summer is still ahead, but the honey flow slows
down until the beginning of the fall.

Do you guys get the Sourwood flow?