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Honey Super Empty and discoloured

I know it is just after winter but we have almost zero activity in the honey super. There were a number of honey frames that were dark in colour, dirty looking.

Further to the above, only half of the brood frames have bees even though it was full during last summer.

Hey Dean - looks like mildew to me, and maybe some propolis? Guessing you had left the Flow super on over winter and maybe in your area that isn’t doable. Other Aussie beeks will definitely have the best opinion on that.

About your population - is it small because of a cold winter, or could there be another problem like pest or disease? Or maybe they swarmed?


Hello Dean, From the guys in the Adelaide areas they have said it was a wetter and colder than normal Winter than normal years.
I’m thinking from the photo there is nothing in the frame cells for the bees to go into the Super for if the photo is the same as other frames.
What is the situation in the brood box, if you are running a double brood box I am wondering if there is only enough bees to ‘pack it down’ to a single brood box.
I am also wondering if you left the Flow Hive Super on for the Winter and didn’t take it off? If the bees don’t have stores feed them with 50/50 white sugar and water, that will give them a boost. If there is not much stores and not a lot in your area for them to forage on at the moment you could consider feeding them a supplement of Unbleached White Flour. Place about 1/2 cup of it on a sheet of folded news paper on the QX with plenty of space for the bees to get up to it. My thinking is the bees suffered badly over winter with not enough bees to keep the hive warm and so there is mold and mildew on the frames from the damp and cold.
A bleach like White King liquid in warm water and soak the frames for a few hours then wash off with clean water should kill the mold and clean up the frames.
Hope that has helped, let me know.
Welcome to the forum, there is lots of reading and good help here.

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Thanks Eva and Peter, I learnt plenty from that simple post and answers, so thank you very much. I did leave the flow hive super on over winter so will not do that again. I will give the cleaning suggestion a go and hopefully that will help. Thanks again very much appreciated.


Hi Dean, I think I’ve the same problem and a mild wet spring hasn’t helped. It could be common mould, yuk. As a result of chilly bees. I’ve posted about 'chilly bees". I think my bees were cold. I’m working on an all year ‘bee cosy’.

Hi Peter, thank’s for your advice, [Peter and Steggley talked me though my ‘chilly bee’ problem] I haven’t had a chance to post pics of my set up (i am not very good with the camera especially when fully suited) and… you know what, my beehive looks like a bee hive: one super one brood, a queen excluder and a single bottom board. The micro climate of the hives situation appears to matter a great deal. I have my hive in a valley - cool air sinks - hence i have chilly bees.


Sounds like you need to condense the bees Dean. Too much space to keep warm over winter. Maybe bring the hive back to 1 brood box so they can concentrate on building instead of maintaining.
Do the bees have any honey stores in the brood box?

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Thanks and that is exactly what I have done. I have brought it back to just 1 brood box and will let them build it out again then add the honey super once it is looking healthier :slight_smile: There is plenty of stores in the brood box and there is plenty of flowers around so they should be good to get it back to a strong state again.


Yes we are in a valley as well so may need to look at ways of keeping them warmer next winter.

Hi Dean, and @BeeShack Probably all you will need to do before next winter is to pack the hive down to a single brood box, the colony will reduce when the winter hits.
Also buy enough in length of the black thick plastic sheeting so that you can then tape it to the hive with duct tape leaving the entrance clear and a second layer of plastic over the roof with about ten sheets of news paper between the two layers of plastic for insulation. The plastic around the hive will reduce the wind chill as well as the frosts.

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Hi Dean, seems you have had lots of great support on this one. I just thought id jump in and mention that although it is not looking great, bees are really effective at cleaning, so it shouldn’t pose an issue for future harvests. However to take some of the added stress away, and the possibility that they might not want to clean the mould if it is quite difficult for them to do so. Your best option would be to rinse them out. Be sure not to hold the Flow Frame, horizontally, as this could cause them to fall apart, requiring rebuilding (although that would allow for an intensive clean - its not recommended) Instead, soak them in warm water no hotter than 70ºC/160ºF Holding them vertically as they would sit within a hive. Open and close them several times, and use a soft bristle brush to scrub the cells a little. Now you could also look at using a little vinegar to clean them, but be sure to rinse this out as it might be a bit off a potent smell for the colony. It would be great to see how clean your able to get these and whether you use any other methods. –Kieran (Flow Team)

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Hi Kieran. Thanks for the tips. Would you use a soap/detergent or just warm water?

Thanks Kieran, they are still a little dirty but much better than before. Thanks for the advice.

You could do this, however it would need to be cleaned off, rinsed out and you might find it needs a couple of rinses, if the wax is retaining some of the smell. Vinegar is a good easily rinsable option. –Kieran (Flow Team)

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Hi Kieran,

well i’ve taken the worst effected flow frame apart and cleaned it piece by piece. It took a long time and i don’t want to do it again!

I’ll use water and vinegar on the second frame, and will not take it apart.

I am reluctant to put the flow frames back in the hive until i am sure i am on top if the mould thingo.

Ok, Wishing you the best with the remainder of the Flow Frames,

I completely understand, mould really is not something you would want, ensuring that the Flow Frames are kept in a cool dry location will be beneficial. For drying you will need to keep them out of direct sunlight, under a tarp, or in a shady location will be best. You will want to ensure that moisture is no longer present. They are quicker drying, leaving the Flow Frames in the open position, as they are less likely to trap water in cells.

Do keep us update with how you progress with this.

–Kieran (Flow Team)


Buy white cleaning vinegar and mix it 50/50 with water. soak the frame in the solution for 15/20 minutes then a good rinse off. Dry the frames in the shade preferably where there is some air movement, that should do the job.

Thanks Kieran. I’ve washed out my second frame. I did’t take it apart but soaked it in water and used a brush to romove the mould. Not quite as thorough a job as the first frame. But it’s serviceable.