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Honey Flooding Extraction


Hi Dan, your closing statement is the focus of my latest observation. @skeggley There is no propolis inside the flow mechanism to hinder the flow of honey, so we can rule that out.

Back to Dan, upon inspecting the frames, I also discovered that the bees aren’t removing the caps in order to empty the honey out. I guess in time they would have removed the caps if they were hungry enough. But I was keen to see if there was any propolis inside the frames. HOWEVER, MY LATEST OBSERVATION.:- In the end I started removing the cappings with a putty knife by going under the caps. That’s when I noticed that a lot of caps were well out from the moving mechanism, but a lot of caps were right on top of the moving mechanism. It’s the caps that are right on top or very close to the moving mechanism that, coupled with being wet wouldn’t stand a chance of holding together & not leaking externally.

I can clearly see how that the caps in the areas where the comb is built well out would hold together (maybe not wet cappings).

I see this all the time while extracting honey. Sometimes the bees build one comb out full. While at the same time the opposite comb is built shallow. It’s just something that bees do.

Even by using 9 frames in 10 frame supers, I still get some frames where the cappings are concaved. In finding them, naturally the opposing frames will be more convexed than normal.

In a perfect beekeeping world, by using 9 frames in a 10 frame honey super, every side should be convexed & easy to decap. But that’s not always the case.

My conclusion is that a lot of the flooding could stem from uneven comb buildup, some full, some shallow, coupled with wet caps.


hello Jeff,

I have found that the bees tend to cap some of my flow frames right at the mechanism level- when those frames are on the south side of my hives. Generally it’s the frames that the bees cap last- in my hives they all seem to cap from north to south with the south being the last to get fully capped. I’m not sure if that’s because those tend to be the warmest frames facing the sun more but it seems that way.

As to the bees removing the cappings- they always do in my experience- only sometimes they leave sections for a while- I am guessing if they are busy elsewhere.


G’day Jack, if I didn’t get under the caps with a putty knife, the penny wouldn’t have dropped. As soon as that happened, it all made sense.

I only had the super sitting oven an empty super on a nuc size colony. I could see that in some cases they were removing the caps. I’m fixing the super up now to get ready to paint it all white. I think they’ll handle the heat better if the whole thing is painted white. In the mean time I put the flow frames in standard boxes on an angle to get cleaned up.

I cut the guts out of the crown board. I fit the outside frame under the roof. I’m fitting the ply over the sbb with the help of some automotive body filler I had sitting around. I’m just waiting for it to go off so I can continue.


I have learned a lot under this topic, mainly the wet/dry capping bit. I will watch more closely from now on where, when and why those wet cappings occur. Or capping close to the moving mechanism.
I have never extracted a frame away from the hive, because I believe the warmth of the hive plays a role in successful flow extraction as it allows the cell sealing to be more pliable. Heron’s photo above clearly shows leaking and ‘wet’ caps.
I heard Italian bees favour ‘dry’ capping, but occasionally mine do a patch of wet.
My Carnies currently do 100% dry capping, but in autumn they made a lot of wet.
If on the Sunshine Coast the bees do mainly wet cappings, maybe a change of bee genetics could hold the answer. Worth a try.


This topic took many of us on quite a ride, didn’t it? Bit odd that Bruce deleted his posts, can’t quite remember what he said, but must be of some importance because he had the leaking issue in 6 flow boxes! We can’t just disregard that.
Then I thought you were being funny, saying that Sunshine Coast honey must be so different to Byron honey, with you guys just being up the road.
It is interesting too that many people in your area have your brumbies (lol).

Let’s just observe cappings in relation to leaking issues over time and share our observations here.
Thanks to you all for the lessons.

  • it would be good to keep on investigating the issue. Who knows, there could be a fix somewhere…

Dawn drained 6 Flow frames and had 50ml of honey leak - all up. She obviously had the Frames out to see it all, and knowing Dawn like we do :grinning:, I am confident that 50ml or about 10ml per frame was accurate. I don’t know if that was a best case scenario, but I don’t see a problem there. She collected 2 gallons of honey, and her 2 fluid ounces that leaked out is comfortably less than 1 per cent. Hope I’ve calculated that ok :thinking:

However for those like Jeff on the other hand, who lost a lot of honey, presumably litres - ( who are surely not concerned about the loss of honey for consumption - the bees made it and get it back after all and use it), it is damage to the brood that is the issue, or as Jeff says too- there is that issue of the SHB.

Keep watching this space…


On the issue of “frames flexing”. Another flow hiver & myself was discussing that yesterday & observing the amount of flexing on my empty frames that were free & easy to move. The bloke reminded me that Cedar was using 2 keys. I instantly agreed & then we both realized that 2 flow keys opposing each other would make opening & closing so much easier as well as cancel each other out, thus eliminating the flexing completely.

Luckily we don’t live far from each other, so we can borrow each others keys when it’s time to harvest :slight_smile:

Also his roof sounds like it’s as dark as mine was before I painted it white. I’ll do the temp comparison between the two, below them on a hot day.

This is my video comparing a painted galvanized to an unpainted galvanized lid.

PS, sometimes in the campaign video you’ll see one key being used (effortlessly), other times you’ll see two.


Hello Jeff,

I have half a dozen flow keys so could use two if i wanted to- but to date I have only used one. I think when you crack the frames in small 1/5 increments- the flexing would be minimal? Also doing it in increments it’s no problem to crack the frame- it can be quite tough when you crack one all in one go (which is what we did the first few harvests). Later today I am going to harvest another flow frame- this one is special because I have large windows in the two brood boxes directly below it. I will be able to look in all three windows and see if honey leaks out of the face- and also if any honey flows down through the brood nest- and how the bees are affected. I’ll take photos if I see any leaking or flexing. Out if interest- I would say these frames are ‘dry capped’ at least mostly. I have some other flow frames nearly full that are clearly ‘wet capped’ so I will be able to compare the leaking between the two types of cappings.

The issue of cracking frames in increments- and also only harvesting two frames at a time- brings up one pitfall of using flow frames. At home in my own backyard it is no problem at all for me to stagger a harvest over several days- and to harvest frames over a long period The two frames I harvested the other day were done over around 5 hours in total.

The hives I have recently set up on country properties are a different matter. If I had flow frames on them and wanted to harvest them the way I do it I would need to spend half a day out at each location. I could crack the frames all at once and harvest quicker but it would still take at least an hour and I’d prefer not to crack frames all at once- and certainly not an entire box all at once. . With standard frames I could simply pull out a few frames of honey- replace them and take them away to harvest whenever. So the entire operation could be done in 15 minutes.


Hi Jack, the flexing we noticed was from the top view. We did a bit of looking towards the bottom of the frames & couldn’t see any flexing there, that was with an empty frame & easy to open. It appears that the flexing is more obvious at the top of the frames.

While harvesting the honey, we noticed a lot of flexing when we opened even 1/3rd of the frame. It would be good if you did it with the crown board off. Having said that, it just occurred to me while typing this that bridging comb as well as bridging comb under the crown boards would probably stop the frames from flexing. Anyway two keys would certainly stop it even if the bridging comb didn’t prevent the frames from flexing.


Jeff - I just did my experiment and couldn’t see a single drop of honey leaking down to the brood. Also I was thinking about this flexing issue so as I cracked the frame I watched in the observation window and couldn’t see any appreciable flex- or bees pushed up against the window. The bees barely reacted as the frame under their feet was cracked. No bees were harmed :slightly_smiling_face:

As for burr comb- most times people harvest they will have inspected recently and broken that all up?


[quote=“Semaphore, post:116, topic:12386”]
As for burr comb- most times people harvest they will have inspected recently and broken that all up?

Hi Jack

On the Flow Facebook site there are videos showing Cedar harvesting. I don’t see him pulling the frames out to inspect them for capping prior to harvest, or for that matter taking a long time to harvest. What I notice is that he looks to see if the frames look full from the end window (and perhaps the side window too) and after inserting the key part way in and turning, he waits for a bit and moves it in further to crack all the frame. Given the way bees fill frames, perhaps his method is sound. Even if the bees have not capped the arc to allow their queen a space to lay eggs, who is to say that the uncapped area is not ripe anyhow?


you could do it that way- but I like to do it mine to be extra sure that no honey leaks. Initially we cracked the entire frame at once and we did have some leaks. As to using the rear window- on the frame I am harvesting today that is 90% empty- but in fact the comb is 99% capped. So it’s not always a good indicator. Then the arc area that can be uncapped: I have often found that those areas are not just uncapped- they are 100% dry without a drop of honey in them- and I have harvested such frames without issue. I now think that’s generally a seasonal issue- and the bees end up filling those sections when the time is right. The three frames from this hive do not have the arc- they are all well capped and getting close to 3 kg’s per frame which indicates they are full to near capacity.


Well done Jack.

The flexing or bowing that Wilma & I saw wouldn’t be at all visible from the viewing window. It’s obvious while looking down while the crown board is off. It’s the actual top bar that bends while operating the flow key. It bends in the opposite direction to the way you turn the key. So as you can imagine, by using two keys at the same time like we saw sometimes in the promo video, the action that caused the bow would be cancelled out. I probably didn’t explain that properly before.

@Dan2 Hi Dan, I thought about the burr comb being removed as folks inspect the frames before harvest after posting that comment.

Did anyone watch “Gardening Australia” last week. They showed a beehive inspection. The honey in that hive had wet caps. Just as a matter of interest.


Hi jeff,

my tower hive has larger windows than a standard flow- and I can almost see the top part of the frame. I would be amazed- really surprised- if any bees get squashed by the frame flexing- there is so little movement. I just finished up today’s harvest- and I literally dodn’t see a single drop of honey out of place. Several things to note; my capping were dry- and the honey was VERY thick- slow flowing like molasses. At a guess it will be 16% moisture or below. All three frames were 99% capped- however there were a few cells here and there uncapped. I watched these and no honey dripped from them as they were cracked beneath. I would be interested to see what the average moisture content is in hives that see larger leaks. My mothers hive seems to make slightly thinner honey and we have observed more leakages there- though it’s never had any noticeable be affect on that thriving hive.

In a week or so I will harvest a hive that definitely has wet caps- with the frame in the window capped at the mechanism level. I’ll observe closely to see if there is any difference.


Hi Jeff
I’ll have a look for that gardening aussie section soon :grinning:. Here is a thought. I guess if you are inspecting your brood from time to time (like a good beekeeper) , you’ll be removing the Frames one at a time (otherwise you might do your back in) and so will have an idea about their fulness and capping throughout the season. One might have had a few days to a week between the last inspection and the harvest, so one might be able to crack open the frames (with 2 keys if you have 'em or can get 'em) with only a cursory look at the rear window and side frames, thus leaving any burr comb recently built in place. One would (hopefully) remember a peculiar full frame that didn’t display it’s fullness in the rear window as well. Thing about Cedar is he is probably the most experienced Flow hive owner on the planet, but Jack is up there with the best of them experience wise too. Like anything, we get better (hopefully) with experience.


HI Jeff. good bit on Gardening Aus. thanks. Was that the queen at 5:08 that walked up past the hatching worker bee?

p.s. nice bread on your video too.:grin:


Thanks Dan- just two seasons in is all- but I am working 5 hives with flow frames and the experience is building up… Basically I do pretty much what you describe: this time I hadn’t actually looked into that super in the last fortnight- but I just knew the frames were all capped. That particular hive it’s easier with just three flow frames and two windows.

And yeah- I saw that bread too - damn but it looks good!


Hi Dan & @Semaphore, thanks for the comments about the bread. Yes Dan, that was the queen, Wilma & I couldn’t work out why they didn’t comment on it. I guess a lot of good stuff gets unused when trying to make a half hour show. We thought the queen would have been worth mentioning.


After a bit more thought about that queen, the producer editing the videos probably didn’t even recognize or notice the queen.

I put my flow brood box to use yesterday. A swarm turned up into my back verandah. Only a small one, I thought it must have come from one of my splits. However I couldn’t recognize any noticeable drops in bee numbers in any of them. If it did come out of one, that’s a bonus, because the one that it left will probably still have a young queen to carry on with.


I just got another swarm yesterday too- this one was odd- a guy rang me he had a swarm moved into his chimney a few days ago. I told him it was beyond my skill level to attempt removal from a chimney and that in any case I had too many swarms to deal with… I told him to call some of the more experienced bee society swarm guys.

hours later just before sunset he rang me and said he had caught them himself. i went over with a Nuc and he had indeed caught the entire swarm and had them in a box. he did this without any protective gear- or bee experience- and didn’t get stung at all. the bees had built one tiny piece of comb already. He had just gently pulled them out of the chimney as a big clump. He did light a smokey fire in the chimney so that must have helped to pacify the bees I think. It was actually a good sized medium swarm. Any way- now I have 12 colonies!