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Honey leaking when drawing from flow frames

I’ve taken around 14kgs from my first harvest of six flow frames and am Stoked.
Loving it.
Just having a problem with honey leaking from the frames when I’m collecting.
Is there something I can do to stop this waste.
I am putting the tubes all the way in, to close any gap I can see in the connection. But it’s just too much honey too waste and it’s bothering me a bit if I have missed something

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Did you look inside the hive (rather than from the ends) and check that the cells were all capped before harvest?

I find that if some aren’t capped the honey will leak out down the outsides of the frames, which is what you are seeing on the bottom board there.

I also find that if I open the entire length of the frame all at once so that all the honey gushes out at once and the tube is full, and the trough is full then the problem is exacerbated.

I usually crack a third of a frame at a time, let the initial gush empty (few minutes) then crack the next third and so on, especially if I suspect there’s a the odd bunch of cells not capped.

Thanks for the reply.
I think it is because the honey is backing up. I was hoping someone would mention just that.
I will try only cracking 1/3 at a time
Especially with the tubes connected it makes a bit of an airlock in the tube and doesn’t flow as fast so builds up.

Hi Loish, some friends of ours discovered that it’s best to only harvest 2 frames at a time. They cracked the whole frames at once, however I have read that people are having no to very little spills by only cracking 1/3 of the frame at a time. They are also physically checking the frames before harvest to make sure the frames are sufficiently full & capped.

I have seen two types of honey leakage when extracting,

  1. backflow from the pipe - the honey flows through the frame is too much for the small diameter pipe - fixed by only opening a quarter to a third of the flow frames at a time.
  2. Honey leakage through the wax capping fractures when extracting - this only happened to me once on the very first extraction, all the subsequent extractions had no leakage, I believe it was down to the wax cappings being thin and not attached securely to the plastic flow frame cells, well that’s my theory

I made some observations the other day. I was watching bees cleaning up honey on a piece of ply. I noticed that some bees couldn’t help but walk in the honey. Once this happened, the bees spent ages walking around on dry ply preening themselves & trying to remove the honey from their legs & body.

That made me realize that bees don’t normally come into contact with honey, except with their mouths.

I never watched any bees long enough to watch them fly away. That’s how long they were taking to clean themselves up.

I started thinking about honey spills into the brood & came to the conclusion that after a honey spill into the brood, that the hive will be highly at risk of a SHB infestation, with all of those bees concentrating on cleaning themselves up for what seems like an awful long time.


When we had spills the first time we used my mothers flow hive- the bees bearded out the front of the hive- and some were flecked with honey. They set about all licking each furiously- and licking up honey that came out of the hive entrance. Working as a team I was quite surprised how little time it took them to lick up the honey.

Last month I helped a friend fix up a regular hive where all the brood combs were too fat- with a layer of honey at the tops extending out from the brood below. I shaved off all the excess capped honey- causing a lot of leaks down into his solid bottom hive where little pools of honey formed. Some bees got themselves caught in globs of honey and were totally covered - however within about 20 minutes other bees came and sucked up the little seas of honey freeing the entombed ones and then licking them clean.

I know nothing about SHB- so have no idea how much time it takes for them to wreak havoc. If you were concerned and had a flow hive- I think it should be OK (or at least better) if you harvest the frames say only two at a time (this is what I have been doing) and do them incrementally over an hour or three. If there are leaks (many times there are none)- I think the total volume that leaks is quite low- only a few tablespoons- and if it is limited to just a few combs at a time- I think a strong colony will be able to clean it up in no time at all? At the least that approach should mitigate the degree of disruption.