How to encourage bees to fill the Flow Frames

Just thought I would share this FAQ in case you have some bees who are not taking to the Flow Frames too quickly.

Why aren’t my bees filling the Flow™ Frames?
In: Frequently Asked Questions

There could be many reasons why the bees aren’t filling the Flow™ Frames.

The two main things we have found that increase the rate at which bees fill the frames for the first time are:

  • Lots of bees on the Flow Frames.

This is the main factor. If when you look in the rear window and the side window and there are not many bees, it will probably take some time for the bees to build up and start working on the Flow Frames.

  • A good nectar flow.

Honey won’t be stored in your hive regardless of the number of bees unless there is enough flowers around with plenty of nectar.

Things that you could try if you want to get the bees working on the Flow Frames sooner:

  • If you have other honey supers on the hive, removing some of them or all of them so the Flow super is full with bees is likely to get much faster results.
  • Pressing some bees wax into the surface of the Flow comb can get them working on the Flow frames earlier. You can use chunks of burr comb, wax foundation or wax cappings. The bees will then re-distribute the wax onto the Flow frames and start working them.
  • Heat up some beeswax and paint it onto the Flow frame surface. If you try this, be careful not to get too much wax in the base of the cells or in the upper movement mechanism as this may jam the mechanism when it comes time to harvest.
  • Sprinkle a little sugar water (2 parts water to 1 part sugar) on the Flow frames. To do this you will have to take the frames out of the super so that you don’t get the water in the upper parts of the frame where the tool is inserted. Using this method there is a risk that the sugar will crystallise in the parts of the flow frame and cause jamming issues. While some beekeepers have reported using this method, we have not proved that it makes any difference.
    The feedback we have received so far is; lots of beekeepers saying the bees filled all the Flow™ frames quickly, sometimes in a week or two, and some are saying it took quite a while for the bees to start work on the Flow™ frames for the first time.

Bees don’t always do what you would like. We received feedback from one customer that had two Flow hives beside each other of similar strength. While one hive filled the Flow frames quickly the other is taking it’s time to start on the Flow frames.

If your bees are taking their time to start storing honey in the Flow frames you may like to try try one of the things above. Please let us know how your hive goes.

What to expect to happen as the bees start to work on the Flow frames:

  • First the bees tend to seal the joins in the bottom of each cell, they will use either new wax they produce or recycle wax from elsewhere in the hive
  • Then they start to complete the cell walls
  • Then they start to fill the cells with nectar
  • Then they draw the combs out beyond the Flow frame with their wax
  • Typically they start toward the center of each frame and work their way out towards the edge
  • Once the honey is ready and the cell is full, they cap it with their wax
  • When you can see mostly capped cells in the end frame view, it’s likely that the rest of the frame is mostly capped and ready for harvest
    See also FAQ: Do the bees willingly fill the Flow™ comb compared to the traditional wax comb? -

We have done a lot of testing with Flow frames in the same hive box as other types of traditional frames.

The preference from hive to hive varies but we have generally found that Naturally drawn comb on a wooden starter strip is built on first, followed by Flow frames and wax foundation at a similar time. Plastic foundation seemed to be the last to be built on.

If you have feedback on this please write to us -

Here is a great picture which explains what the bees have to do first before the honey is stored in the Flow Frames:

A comparison of 2 hives, and how different factors will affect how quickly the bees fill the Flow Frames with honey



That was some interesting n useful information. More people really need to read n learn from such. Sure limits wondering if ya screw up a lot ! Hoping to order a 7 frame super this fall or winter. My 10 frame hive should be ready next summer 2017. Thankz … Gerald


Thanks for this. I’m not here yet but soon these tips will come in handy.


My girls are busy ^^ The flow super is well filled with bees. They mostly leave the flow frame when it’s pulled out, only the area where there’s already honey in the cells will stay covered in bees.


I have two hives in southeast texas. Both have 2 deeps. One has a traditional super and the other has a flow hive. The Flow Hive has been on the hive for 5 months. In both hives, the bottom deep is full of brood, pollen and some honey. The second deep in both hives is packed full of capped and some uncapped honey. In the traditional hive, the bees are building out the super. In the flow hive, there are always a lot of bees in the flow hive and they seem to be busy but there is absolutely no honey. Last week I pulled a couple of the center flow frames to check and there is no nectar whatsoever. They appear to be filling in the space in the cells but that is it and they are not doing all that much of that. I am at the point of pulling the flow hive off and selling it as it does not seem to be working at all.

I spoke with another beekeeper here that has 5 flow hives. She said she had the same problem in a couple of her hives but was able to solve the issue by swaping out a frame from the empty flow hive with one from a flow hive that the bees were filling regularly. She said that seemed to jump start them. I do not have another flow hive and am not in a position to buy one. We are coming up on our fall flow and I am concerned about a swarm as the bees may feel that they are running out of room. Any suggestions other than pulling the flow hive off and going back to traditional supers?

One thing I have considered is taking a couple of frames from the second deep and using them in the middle of the flow hive. Not sure how that would work for spacing etc. Anyone have experience with a mixed box and how they did it and what worked?

I need to do something in the next few days to avoid losing the hive altogether.

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I’m only coming into first spring with the flowhive (plus its my first and only hive so far) [I’m in Australia] but I’ve read elsewhere that brushing beeswax over the flow frame helps. I just inspected my hive today and noticed that the bees seem to be working on the inner flow frames and not the outer ones yet (not entirely unexpected I guess. Have you seen any difference in the level of activity across the frames (inner versus outer) filling the gaps etc?

Use the magnifying glass at the upper right to search the Forum. Lots of great suggestions. This is the official word from Flow on what to do:

You shouldn’t lose the hive just because they aren’t using the super. If you have 2 full boxes, they should overwinter fine. The nectar flow is probably mostly done for the year now, so I would take the super off and try again next year, coating the frames with wax, or rubbing some burr comb on them. :wink:

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It looks like we might have a pretty heavy fall flow so that is why I am worried about the space issue. I have tried the wax coating before on some plasticell foundation and it did not work at all but maybe it will work on this. I believe there is some burr comb in the other hive I can use to rub the cells.

I’m in Dallas. new beekeeper starting with my first package on April 30. Added a second brood box in July and I am continuing to see new brood and honey production. I decided NOT to add the flow frames in favor of just letting the hive strengthen and prepare for winter. It’s still really hot and the last time I checked the hive, I saw quite a bit of uncapped honey and lots of workers bringing in pollen.

I’m trying not to worry about overcrowding in the hive… thinking the bees know what they are doing with the space they have. Planning to put the flow frames on next spring.


To add to what others have said I had similar situation with a flow hive which took over six months fir the bees to take any interest in the flow frames…they spent a lot of time wandering g around them but it was only after I put some traditional frames in with the flow frames that they started building, out the traditional wooden frames and once they were built out and full of honey did they continue on filling the flow frames…but in the end they didand its now being capped off so im looking firward to my firsy harvest soon. Like many others I was concerned that the flow frames were a flop for me but it was all a matter of patience and they got there in the end.

In the meantime I bought a second flow hive and once the brood box was at a point where the flow frames could be put on…I heeded all the hints by Flow and others and prepared the flow frames first. I washed them thoroughly to remove any possible manufacturing contaminants, then melted beeswax and used a foam paint roller to roll on a layer of beeswax on both sides of all flow frames and then used a spray bottle filled with sugar water mixture and sprayed a layer all over both sides of the frames.

That was only done a couple of weeks ago and I’m not expecting the bees to start filling the flow frames yet but the numbers of bees all over the flow frames is promising. So from a newbie Beek who was starting to doubt the flow system my lesson learnt is that the number 1 rule in bee keeping with flow hives is patience. :slight_smile:


Did you see the top post in this thread? It starts off with all the advice of what you can do to encourage the bees to take to the Flow Frames.
Rub some burr comb on then.
Paint on beeswax, Bobby above provided a nice video.
You can also have a combination on FLow Frames and standard frames = that’s what our hybrid supers are.
With the Flow Hive, you would just have to be careful about the opening at the back which is normally completely saled off from bees by the end of the Flow Frames. I guess you would have to leave the window cover on so no bees can get in and out.

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I am sure he will love that name!!! :blush: :blush: :blush:

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LOL woops, didn’t see that. Better edit it, although he may prefer it the other way bahahaha :joy:

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Well, at least you didn’t call him Mooby. And if you can’t understand that, so much the better for my longevity with my husband… :smile:

What’s Mooby, Moby popped into my head, the music producer…
I just found the Mooby song? …ummmm

Try googling moobs… :smiling_imp:

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Bahahaha found it :slight_smile:

Sigh* Can’t say it hasn’t happened before .