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Honey Flooding Extraction


Well I am back again this year with the same problem of honey flooding during extraction. I used the methods suggested to prevent flooding during extraction after I reported the problem last year. I did a bench extraction with a capture tray under the screened bottom board. I opened one frame at a time, advancing the key about 1/4 of the length. The problem persist. I have taken several pictures. I have not found the function to load the pictures.
My observation is that when I crack the frame it also causes the wax capping to rupture thus providing and avenue for the honey to flow outside the frame rather then staying within the flow frame. On a single frame I estimate that 1 cup is recovered from the capture tray. One could waste a considerable amount of honey and damage the hive if extractions of all frames was done on the hive. I am wondering what experience others may be having with flooding and how they are dealing with it.

Flooding of flow hive when extracting

Sorry you are still having the same issue. I have done 3 harvests this year, 2 on the hive and one in the kitchen.

The 2 in the hive went well with no flooding. I opened the frames in about 20% increments and the hive is tilted back about 4 degrees. I made sure that the Flow tube never completely filled, to avoid an airlock and back flow into the hive.

At the end of the season, we took the Flow super off, as it was about 80-90% uncapped, and I was worried about unripe honey flooding the hive with no cappings to hold it inside the collection channel. We drained about 2 gallons of honey (ripe and unripe) from 6 frames, over a large baking tray with a 1" lip. The angle of the Super in the kitchen was about 5.5 degrees, downwards towards the back (measured with a phone bubble level app). I would estimate that we got about 50ml (less than 2 fluid ounces) of leakage from the frame face, even though many of the frames were not capped.

I therefore have another hypothesis for your experience, which may be wrong. I wonder if your tensioning wires are too loose on the frames. When we opened our Flow frames in the kitchen, the frames flex and twist a huge amount as you turn the key. If the wire isn’t tight, it may allow all kinds of leaks though the frame. Just a thought. :blush:

By the way, on the faces which were capped, we saw about 3 or 4 vertical rips from our kitchen experience. Not much. I wonder if you are harvesting in cooler temps than SoCal, which may make your wax more brittle?


I’ll second @Dawn_SD 's hypothesis as a possibility: my mum’s hive had some leaks the first few times we harvested. We re-tensioned the wires by adding a few more twists and since then haven’t noticed any leaks. Tensioning the wires is quite easy - it only took about 20 minutes to do all 6 frames.

Also- if your hive is located in your back yard with easy access- it’s no big deal to stagger a harvest over several days. I now generally harvest two frames at once- and do them over several hours. I set everything up- crack the frames in fifths and leave them for at least 30 minutes between increments. I havn’t had any notable leaks at all using this method. Last time I extracted I looked carefully at a frame face when I turned the key- and the wax cappings did not rupture. Whether they rupture or not could be influenced by how far out they are capped- there can be quite a difference in the depth of the cells from hive to hive and frame to frame.


Thank you for your comments. I have three empty frames that I am allowing the bees to clean up prior to my clean up and storage. I will tighten the wires. At no time was the flow tube and channel too full thus causing a pressure that might rupture the cappings. I have three more quite full frames that I will extract next week when my granddaughters are here for a visitl. Thank you again for your comments.


This problem comes standard with these frames. No matter what you do you will need to accept this fault as the down side of flow frames. The only solution is to remove the frame and harvest on a bench or risk the hive. For those who are yet to have this happen to them either has not done a harvest and checked the brood after or don’t own a flow hive. After two seasons of operating six flow hives i can count on one hand how many cells that haven’t leaked. The honey is great but leakage is bad.


Hi Bruce, I’d imagine with so many Flow hives and two seasons you might be one of the most experienced Flow hive operators on the forum - other than Flow team members, so it is great to have your input. Do you think it has anything to do with the tightness of the wires in your experience? Are you doing all your Flow super harvests on the bench now? Thanks.


Hi Dan… i have had many challenges with the frames. I do agree that the wire needs to be tight however I also notice that temperature plays a big part… if the frames are stiff to open I have seen them still flex then leak, some more so than others. I stopped harvesting on site by removing the super. By doing this i am able to ensure the frames drain completely also which is time consuming. Yes some days they may take an hour but other times it can take much longer. The honey flavor is the best part of the Flow Hive.


Hi Bruce, it IS a major problem that wasn’t mentioned in the original campaign video. It basically goes against the original concept & philosophy.


I’ve been using flow frames and a regular spinner this last season- and whilst I agree that the honey flavour and clarity are a great aspect of the flow frames- for me- the ease of harvesting is also huge plus. Even if you remove the super to harvest- it still has to be a lot easier than spinning the frames out? I am sure I am quite slow at uncapping and spinning- but it takes me hours to do just 4 frames, get them from the hive, get the bees off, uncap, spin, strain the honey, deal with the wax- clean everything up afterwards and get the stickies back into the hive. To me there is no comparison- using the Flow frames is a walk in the park- spinning honey is a labour of love.

Also I a closely observe when I harvest for leaks- and the last few times I did it I haven’t seen anything to speak of. These hives have the later second version of the flow frame- I am not sure if that makes any difference. Also I do it all real slow- and only ever two frames at once.


Hi Jack, you will get quicker at doing it by hand, I assure you. How do you think a commercial beekeeper would go using flow hives, as stated in the campaign video? Seeing as you have discovered that you have to “do it all real slow- and only ever two frames at once”.


I think we all get leaks to some degree regardless of harvest. When I remove some big fat conventional frames sometimes I bump them coming out and a cap or two will tear. It’s not what was advertised but we can’t expect Flow marketing team to advertise, “only a few hundred bees will die from honey leakage each harvest but they are quickly replaced.” Think about when the microwave oven came out and if they had advertised it the way it actually works: “Simply place your food inside for the recommended time and it might cook; or it might be frozen on one side while the other side is searing hot. On some occasions, it cooks the food just right.” lol


I too have this same problem with the foundation year frame series of the Flow Hive. I too have tried all remedies to no avail. (tightening the wires, small openings of the frames, etc). As you can see from the photo the leaking is coming from the broken caps. The temp was about 20°C.
I now have a bench top set up to extract without losing any honey, I like the flavours of the gentle extraction of the flow concept verse with using the extractor.



Bruce- maybe re-read what I wrote. I didn’t say I’ve never had leaks, I didn’t say it doesn’t happen, and I said I was slow at traditional spinning… and I have no doubt Jeff is 100% on the money- I’m one of his biggest fans!

I’ve posted photos on this forum of leaks I’ve had. within my family we also have 6 flow hives in operation. Ive made many many harvests.

All you would need to harvest 6 at once in the time it takes to do one - is six seperate buckets with hoses.


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How condescending, rude and unnecessary :umbrella:️ Please read what I write before you react. You accused me of saying things I didn’t say. I have gone to some lengths on this forum to share my experiences with flow frames and to help people deal with the leak issue. Also I have nothing against traditional spinning and do it myself.


I’m wondering if a vinyl hive mat over the brood would stop the honey getting on the brood?
I completely buried some bees in a whole lot of wax and honey in a trad. extraction session this year and was surprised the next day (after further processing that mush) to see the then freed bees clean themselves off and fly away. I thought (before reading this topic) that any honey dripping on them during harvest wouldn’t kill adult bees.

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

the first time we harvested flow frames there was a largish leak of honey- it flowed out of the front entrance and pooled on the coreflute. We heard the queen bee piping inside the hive- she was not amused. Many bees bearded out the front- and they were flecked with honey. they set about cleaning each other and licking up the honey on the landing board- within an hour they had everything under control. We didn’t see any dead bees. I documented that here:

By contrast I harvested 4 traditional frames last autumn - after I was done I put the stickies in a Nuc box and put it in front of a hive to let the bees clean them up. As I did a poor job at spinning some remaining honey dripped out of the stickies onto the nuc box floor- the next day I was saddened to see about 150 bees had got caught up in it and drowned. I won’t make that mistake again. I have rescued bees that are buried in honey- and been surprised how readily they recover even when they were seemingly drowned good and proper- but if they struggle for too long they give up the ghost :sleepy:

Edit: and this reminds me- from what I recall Flow says you should have the coreflute int he top slot when you harvest so the bees can lick up the honey through the screen if there are leaks: I disagree with this approach: if the pools are big enough the bees could drown in them. I either put the coreflute in the bottom slot- or remove it and put a tray under the hive. That way if honey leaks it flows right through the screen and there is no chance bees can drown in it. Afterwards I put the coreflute in front of the hive so the bees can clean it up- though- the last few harvests I have made there has been ZERO honey on the coreflute and no signs of leaks.


I agree about advertising- it’s not like Volvo said in 1994 when you purchased an 850 wagon: "After some years the aircon tank will fail: and you will need to remove the entire dashboard in order to replace an $18 dollar part. The labour bill will exceed $1000- and your dashboard will never quite be the same… ":sunglasses:


You really can’t compare the advertising of the flow hive to the advertising of microwave ovens or Volvo’s. The flow hive clearly doesn’t work like in the promotion video. It was claimed to be the “beekeepers dream”. People compared the flow hive to motor cars vs horse & buggies. Old experienced beekeepers were described as “old died in the wool beekeepers”, just one example.


maybe so- they went too far with their enthusiasm and claims- though for me: it still is an ogoing beekeeepers dream.

The only point I was making is that I don’t expect advertising to exactly (or even closely) match reality. We purchased two full flow hives on the original crowd funding: at that time I had no expectation that they would definitely perform as advertised- and I accepted that it was a risk. I was worried particularly about honey candying- and couldn’t find much info at all about that as a potential issue. Two years and hundreds of kilos of honey later: I am completely satisfied- and ended up buying many more. By the end of this season I will have at least 9 flow hives in operation. I will also continue using traditional frames, spinning and making comb honey.

Also- I fully understand and respect it’s not for everyone and it’s not perfect. For you Jeff for instance- you clearly have a working efficient system- and at are at a scale- that works brilliantly for you. I totally understand why you don’t own a single flowframe. I am helping a friend with some hives he has started- and I have been trying to encourage him to go with traditional frames as he is on a tight budget and can borrow my spinner when he needs it.

but for those who can afford it- and in certain situations (especially back yard hives) I definitely recommend them to anyone warts and all.