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How to encourage bees to fill the Flow Frames

Sounds good :slight_smile: Let us know how you go :bee:

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Excellent article :slight_smile: we will be waxing our supers shortly bees arriving in the coming weeks , looking forward to posting pics and results .

Kind regards
Mark and Kate
Melbourne
Australia

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Yah ! Old eyes, wayward fat fingers n auto-corrections get me all the time !

One year exactly-- and my healthy hive (active queen, brood, and resources) will not use the flow hives and I have a sense that something is wrong with the set-up, the spacing of the frames or … i don’t know what.

I am an experienced beekeeper with two other very healthy hives and will be extracting three supers next weekend from my other hives.

ARE THERE ANY Successful flow hive keeps that I can talk with by phone to sort out what must be wrong here???

Frustrated in northern California
Ryan

I melted some beeswax and used a brush to paint some wax on both sides of the flow frame. Once I did that the bees immediately started closing up the cells and put nectar in them. I am sure you know that the bees will start storing extra resources when they are ready. I have read examples on the forum where the bees took to them right away and others it took a few weeks. Although everyone that put wax on the frames it helped the process.

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Have you tried applying wax to the plastic frames? I just put my Flow super on this week (SoCal). I pushed some blobs of burr comb into the frames and drizzled a little sugar syrup with Honey-B-Healthy onto the frames. We will see whether that works.

Here is a list of other suggestions direct from Flow (not me):

  1. Establish your brood box only first and wait until it is 90% full of brood comb (you should experience a carpet of bees coming through the inner cover hole) before you place the Flow Super on top
  2. Add some wax to the Flow Frames - when you add the Flow Super, use wax from the same hive and melt it so that you can scrape it on to the Flow Frames.
  3. Add a sticky to the Flow Super - replace a Flow Frame with full and capped brood frame. Be aware that the sticky may include brood, which will all be hatched within 2 weeks. If you see drone bees inside the super (where they shouldn’t be), they will be able to find their way back to the brood box (they will be looking for the queen) if you just open the lid of the hive for a couple of hours, ideally in the morning.

Hope that helps.

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I was also getting deeply frustrated as my bees were refusing to use the frames to the point that I thought they would swarm through lack of space.

What worked for me was temporarily removing a flow frame from the super and moving up a frame of worker brood (number 3 on Dawns list above). The bees moved up to look after the brood and started working the adjacent flow frame. Yesterday we harvested our first flow frame & all went well :).

I will now use this method with all new flow frames, though obviously the bees need to be bursting at the seams first. Also, the back window shouldn’t be used while there is a frame of brood up there or all the bees will fly out.

There is no doubt that the bees took much longer to draw out the flow super out the flow super than the standard box of frames. However, As the sealings on the flow are mostly in place and the box now smells of bees, hopefully it won’t take them so long next season…

Cheers,

Julia

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Make sure you have waxed the Flow frames
http://canberrabees.com/encouraging-bees-to-use-flow-frames/

I saw an issue recently where bees were backfilling the brood nest in preference to using the Flow frames, which was quite surprising. I have since coated the Flow frames with wax using the above method to encourage them up.

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Your colony may not be strong enough yet, or you may not be on a decent enough honey flow for the bees to have surplus honey to store in the flow frames. A strong colony on a honey flow will be looking for somewhere to store honey & the flow frames will work just fine if there is nowhere else for them to store it.

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Ryan, you may have already considered this so please ignore if you have, but following on from what Jeff has said, even though the hive is healthy, is it actually packed with bees or is there empty space in the brood and rest of the hive? I found that a busy looking hive can sometimes have too much room when you really open it up and get to the bottom of it. A quick lift up of the back of the hive (if you can can) will give you a rough idea about the weight of honey etc. in it. Because you have your other hives you can do a quick comparison. Not sure what you have below the flow super but I have found if you only just look below the flow super it can be deceptive because sometimes they move the honey up high. RBK’s suggested wax coating looks excellent too.

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Hi Ryan, I would be interested to know if you are using full flow supers or a hybrid box. Mine and a fellow flow beekeeper have found our bees refuse to use hybrid box flow frames, but freely use the 6 frame box of flow frames which is directly above it, no problem.
Cheers Tim

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Have you coated the Flow frames in wax? If so, which method did you use?

…and my experience is that the bees preferentially use the hybrid super over the full flow super irrespective of how I have the supers stacked.

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Hi RBK, yes I coated the frames with wax, I used a roller to put the melted wax on. The bees have sealed the frames and store nectar in different cells, around the edge, nothing in the middle. Then I check a few days later and it’s gone😜 This has been going on for about 16 months.

Hi Alan, well that’s interesting! I guess all bees are not the same. I wonder what would happen if I requeened from a different supplier?

@Timbo2 If you remember to ask me in about 2yrs I might be able to offer an answer. That’s about how long I think it will be before I commit regicide…

My queen is fantastic thus far…I wish I could clone her…!

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Thank you all for your helpful comments and encouragement. Weather permitting this weekend, I will remove the flow frames, wax them and I plan to move up one frame of worker brood and place in the center. It will be a bit odd since I do not use deep frames, and I assume they will add some funky comb below to fill the gap. This will be the first time i do any hybrid mixing of frames.
Below my empty flow hive super i have a queen excluder and two supers with shallow frames all filled with brood and appropriate resources. It’s a healthy hive…

Hi there @RyanPhelan - so much good advice here…not sure if someone already said this and I missed it, but I thought I’d suggest to check that your flow frames are set in the “closed” position.

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Follow-up comment. We inspected our hive in urban San Diego today. The recent hive weight gain has looked like this, about 600 to 700 grams per day:

The Flow frames are largely unfilled, but the two center frames are about 10-20% filled with uncapped honey, and there are many cells which are being lined with wax. Looking at the brood box, there are plenty of food stores, but also plenty of empty cells for the queen to lay. We spotted the queen and she looked peaceful and busy. So I don’t know if we will have a harvest this year, but I would say that pushing in blobs of burr comb and dribbling Honey-B-Healthy syrup onto a few frames worked for us. Wishing you luck too!

:blush:

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My bees have gone into both of my flow hives with no problem. No loss over winter.

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