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How to encourage bees to fill the Flow Frames


Hello there,

personally: I wouldn’t worry so much. All I would do is get a lump of beeswax and rub it onto the frames as if they were cheesegraters. When you do that just a little wax rubbs off on the edges of the plastic. That is all that is required- and in point of fact- even that is not required. On our first flow hive we simply put the frames in without doing a thing and the bees started filling them immediately.

On another hive of mine I rubbed wax on and the bees ignored them for several months. I think the biggest factor is simply if the bees have nectar to store or not. If they don’t no amount of coaxing will help- and if they do they will set to laying it in.

the problem with putting honey on the frames is that it can attract ants and other pests.

A hive can seem ready for the super but not be- there may be a lot of bees but not much nectar around to spare… also when they are building up they eat a lot of nectar as they go - so there can be a period where it appears only to disappear. The good news is: when they are ready the bees do fill the frames!


DANG! I thought the nice men in white coats were other beekeepers! Silly me!


In New York I’m thinking the time to add honey supers has passed.


We still have a flow in SoCal. Nerr nerr nee nah nah!!! :smile:


California has a lot of things we don’t have :wink:


Don’t worry, we won’t have this kind of flow again for another 7 years. Totally dependent on winter/spring rains, and they are only good about every 7 or 8 years. :smile: I am going to freeze some honey so that we have uncrystallized stuff to enjoy for a year or two.


Hi everyone,

I’ve had my flow hive up and running for around 2 months now and the bees have shown no interest in using the flow frames! I have a thriving colony and good nectar flow, but they are still not taking to the flow frames at all.

I have tried all sorts of things to encourage them to explore the flow frames- rubbing wax over the frames, spraying sugar syrup over the outside of the frames and even adding a feeder above the frames to encourage them up through the flow frames. All of this has been to no avail.

The final straw was finding honey had been laid down on 3 of the brood frames during an inspection last week- so they are keen to start making honey, but not in the place I want them to!

So in short not going to plan- and all a bit disappointing: don’t think I’ll be harvesting any honey this year. :frowning:

Is this normal? Has anyone else had a similar experience? What can I do?
Be great to hear people’s thoughts, as the whole flow hive excitement is wearing off with such poor results.



Very common question, with lots of answers. Without seeing your hive and knowing your nectar flow, it is hard to answer specifically.

Just scroll up in this thread to find all the answers that others have already discussed on this topic. :blush:


Hi Seb, the fact that the bees have stored honey in 3 brood frames tells me that for some reason the bees don’t want to expand the brood. This happens to me in my sub-tropical winter. As soon as our spring starts, the bees expand the brood by emptying out the honey around the brood in order for the queen to lay eggs in.

It would be good if you could compare your hive’s progress with other hives in your area. You might have a queen & progeny that is not up to par, because I can’t imagine that your bees are preparing for winter in the middle of your summer.

PS. it’s probably nothing to do with the flow frames. Some people I know are having great results with their 2 flow hives. In both hives, the brood boxes were wall to wall brood. I think that makes the difference.


This is a brilliant observation, and exactly what mine do too. As winter approaches, they pack honey down into the brood nest, even when we don’t think it is winter and we are out barbecuing and picnicking on the beach. They know that "Winter Is Coming" and they make very strategic preparations.

Right now, we have 76F (24C)+ days, with sunshine and lots of flowers. However, my hive is defensive and all of the honey is being moved out of the Flow super into the brood boxes. The hive is down to gaining under 100 grams per day, despite huge flying activity. We won’t get another harvest this year, and actually, I would love to leave the bees with enough that they don’t need any of my icky feeding over winter. :smile:

Thanks to @JeffH for putting it into such a perfect description.


Hi Dawn, it’s my pleasure & thank YOU!!!

Sounds like your bees are doing similar to Seb’s bees in Dorset, UK. He might find that neighboring hives are doing similar to his.

Hi @seblester, don’t be too disappointed at this stage. In the mean time, do a lot of reading & learning about bees, find a mentor or beekeeping buddy, if you aren’t already doing those things. Learn how you can best manage your bees during the upcoming winter.


Amazing, isn’t it? My bees are 6,000 miles away from his, and several climate zones warmer. Even so, they know that winter is coming, and they don’t want to fill up my last 2 Flow frames in the super. :smile:


Stick with it, it will be worth it. I have found the bees will do what bees do. For you, go down the pub, a couple a quick pints, promise yourself to leave bees alone for 4 weeks, wait 4 weeks and…


Great post Ed.

@Faroe, is there any way to make this post by @Red_Hot_Chilipepper glow and flash and jump out?

A thought on this entire thread:

I notice the many posts about “my bees won’t use the Flow Frames” and wanted to throw out this observation as a conventional harvester:

It’s not always the Flow Frames…


Hi Dawn, that IS amazing, I would have thought that the bees in your climate zone would be still stashing the honey away & not constricting the brood yet. It would be good to have other hives to compare with. It has only been 2 weeks since the longest day up there.

I’m only going by what happens here. I’ve never kept bees in any other climate.


I have 2 other hives, but they are both new from this year, so the comparison is not fair. One has just about filled 2 brood boxes in 3 and a half months. The other has only filled about 12 frames in 2 and a half months, and gulps down a gallon of feed (with Vitamin C) in less than 2 weeks. I want to get them ready for winter, and stop feeding, but they just don’t have enough stores yet.

Assuming at least one traditional hive makes it through the winter, I can do the comparison next year.

This is our current nectar flow - 60 to 100 grams per day and some down days:

The couple of days’ gap between the graphs is because the weights were skewed by us dequeening and requeening the hive. I didn’t remove any frames, but the inspections cause big dips in the readings. :blush:


Hi Jeff,

I’m not a novice beekeeper- this is my 5th year or so! But yes, I do read and keep learning. My concern is that my flow hive is next to 3 other conventional hives- all of which have supers that are filling up or full up. The nectar flow is significant and other hives are laying down honey reserves. It therefore looks like a problem with the flow hive rather than the bees or the nectar flow in the area.
All very frustrating- considerable outlay of money for a system that at the moment isn’t delivering- along side the traditional methods that are. My worry is that I lose a whole season of honey whilst waiting for it to work.


Hi Seb, I’m still learning myself after nearly thirty years. i don’t think we’ll ever stop learning about bees.

I have a suggestion: How would you go mixing the flow frames with traditional frames in your other hives & putting some traditional frames in the flow super. I don’t have a flow hive myself, so I don’t even know if the flow frames would fit in a standard super.

The one thing that IS evident with flow frames is: once the bees have filled them, there is no problems next time.

I’m only going by some friends experience, the bees built up during the spring & moved straight into the flow frames without any wax or sugar water, nothing.

I sold them the bees & mentored them & advised them to use all frames with properly fitted wax foundation in the brood box. That probably helped the situation.


Hi Seb, G’day from Down Under. We drove into Poole with the family on holiday some years ago, driving I think from Surrey, and became very confused with the roads and ended up (completely unintentionally) in a big multi storey public car park that had lots of little roundabouts on the way in. Anyhow, we had to pay the entry/exit fee, but it gave us time to look up maps and directions and get our bearings a bit better, heading after Poole to Lyme Regis.

Following in the general gist of Jeff’s advice (but slightly different) could you simply swap the supers over? Put the unfilled Flow super on a strong hive and an ordinary super on the hive that had the Flow super. I run conventional hives and also have a Flow super and have done exactly this before. If you do it right now whist you have a flow on it would be better. It can only take a few weeks to completely fill a flow super with all the stars aligning.


My flow hives have been covered with bees for weeks, they get more and more dense. There is honey in there, but they have not capped off any. Has anyone tried using a fume board in combination with a flow hive?