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How to encourage bees to fill the Flow Frames


Harvested 3 of the centre frames today so 24 days from when they were first put on. I pulled the frames to have a look before harvesting, centre 4 frames were all full and capped outside frames full but only 50% capped so decided to just harvest the centre frames and give them some more room to work with.
Interestingly one of those harvested was the frame that was removed when I moved a conventional frame up from below to entice the bees into the flow frames so has only been on for 17 days.

Took about 5min after starting to extract for bees to start tearing at the wax and salvaging what was left in cells.
Edit: Not the best pic, taken with my phone but interesting regardless


Short video showing the same thing https://youtu.be/a8VJNUjzhYk


Ok am I missing something who cares if they are making queen cells. There is no queen in there so she cant lay an egg in the cell.


The thing you are missing is: the bees will build emergency queen cells using worker eggs or 3 days & under worker brood. They will sometimes do that if you segregate the brood too much. It is ok to put frames of brood directly above the brood, above a QX. However it’s not really a good idea to separate brood with a honey super.


Hi Bee peeps! It’s mid March here in Nashville and the weather here is 70 then snow. I conducted 2 inspections and treated for veroa 2 Times 5 days apart. My girls were in the lower brood box so I shifted some brood the the upper brood box and put some drained of honey frames down in the lower box. I took some burr comb to coat my frames. :grinning::+1::raised_hands: (thanks for the tips!) My brood box is looking full with some drone cells which are probably hatched now. The girls have brought in pollen and some nectar on warm days but I’m sugar feeding with the external jar to insure they are not going to starve. My second hive has arrived and is near completion in the paint and build. :+1::grinning: A nuke is ordered arriving in April. Extra brood boxes are ready Incase I need to do a split. (Clueless on how that’s going to work but have a basic idea) Local beekeepers say April is our flow season but I’m among doubters! My fear is timing and swarming. That’s my current situation and I’m not sure what to look for to stay the course during weather highs and lows. I am looking for queen cells or any other signs swarming.

Thanks for suggestions! I made it one year with my girls! Whoop!


Now you need to treat for Varroa also… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: :heart_eyes:


A 3rd time on the same hive?


Oh spell check! :joy: ya got me!


Hello Lola, once they have started they have accepted the new comb and will power on from there, It seems that some wax on the Flow Frames is a help to get the bees accepting them.


Hi, I’m a pretty new beekeeper. I had a nuc installed March 19, and it was very strong, and swarmed April 17! I have seen quite a few bees crawling around the Flow Super, but couldn’t see any honey activity there. Hive activity has remained strong after swarming and I suppose a new queen should be hatching any day now.

Yesterday April 23 I inspected the Super and pulled all the frames. Frames #2 and #3 have a few, perhaps a dozen, capped honey cells middle bottom, with more uncapped honey cells around these. No evidence of honey storage on the other frames.

Is this normal progress? We are having a strong nectar flow (I’m in California) with fruit trees and flowers blooming prolifically. In such an environment, when could we reasonably expect to harvest the Super?

Thanks much!

  • Rich


Many California beekeepers run double deep brood boxes, to help the bees survive our long nectar dearths in times of drought. You might consider what your local beekeepers do, but here in San Diego, just about everyone (except for the commercial guys) runs double deeps or triple mediums. If that is what you need to do too, I doubt that you will be harvesting this season.

Last year, I set up 2 new nuclei in 8 frame deeps, one in mid March and the other in late April. As you may know, last year we had an exceptional nectar flow, following the El Nino rains. Despite that, neither nucleus completely filled 2 deeps. Of course, if you are in the central valley or near some large orchards, your nectar flow may be very different from mine. I strongly suggest that you join a local bee club though, so that you can ask what they would expect in your location.


Thanks, Dawn!

I’m getting conflicting advice. I live in an urban part of the Bay area, and it seems like something is in bloom most of the time around here except mid winter, which is quite mild. Two of my friends have double deeps, one did not get any honey at all, and lost his bees over the winter for some reason. The other one did get honey (and also lost her bees over the winter). The beekeeper that I got the nuc from is actually worried about the hive becoming honey bound and recommended putting in a small honey super, which I have not done since I’ve seen all the activity in the super. For now I am encouraged by the presence of at least some honey cells in the super. Next month I’ll see if the extent has grown.

I do belong to the local beekeeper’s club, but haven’t been able to attend for a while because reasons. Thanks for the input!


Helpful info, thank you. :wink: Conflicting advice is a normal state of affairs in the beekeeping world. :blush:

By the way, the commonest cause of overwinter loss is Varroa (not starvation), followed by condensation. Make sure you have a plan for varroa monitoring, if you are willing to treat.

If your nuc supplier is worried about them becoming honey bound in the brood nest (which may well make them want to swarm), I have a couple of suggestions.

  1. Remove a frame or two of honey from the brood box and freeze it for future use. Replace it with an empty frame (or with foundation if you like to use it). That will give them work to do on drawing comb (helps distract them from having swarmy ideas!), and more space for the queen to lay. Put the new frames at least one in from the hive wall. This would be my strong preference if you don’t want to go to double deep brood. You can give it back to them over winter as they use up food stores.
  2. Put a box of medium frames on top of the Flow super. Bees tend to fill the hive from the lower levels upwards. They may not use the traditional (non-Flow) frames, but if your bees really hate the plastic, you are giving them another option. It will be less effective in preventing swarming than removing honey from the brood nest, but it is better than not doing anything. I don’t really recommend this concept, but some people do it.

I am very happy to hear that you have local support and input. It is also great that your bees are storing honey in the Flow super. I wish you much success, and please let us know what you decide to do and how it goes. :sunglasses:


Just to explain, conflicting advise comes because of personal experience and probably different climate locations and conditions, remember this forum is world wide so what suits some might not suit you and so you need to look at where a contributor is located. Nobody here will give you wrong advise, what they say is from what works for them.


@ Peter - Oh, I get it. If there’s one thing I’ve learned is that beekeeping is full of lore and personal anecdotes. Everyone is influenced be what did/didn’t work for them last. That’s pretty human.

@ Dawn - Thanks for the suggestions! I’m pretty intrigued with the idea of your #2. I’ll see how they are doing when I inspect them early next month. Also, thanks for the tip about Varroa. I suspect I’m good for right now because they swarmed recently, and the is no brood. Later on I’ll have to figure out what the received wisdom is around here on Varroa treatment.

  • Rich


Hi Rich @rkmvca, I have a tip. Keep the @ close to the person’s name otherwise it wont show up in his/her inbox. For example @Dawn_SD, you’ll also see it greyed over in the preview on the right side of the screen.


Had my flow super on the hive for aver a month, but the bees seem to be ignoring it.


Have you checked out the FAQ on the website first? We get this question a lot. It can take the bees up to 2 seasons to be ready for a super and then you need a good nectar flow.


the bees will ignore it until they are ready and have surplus nectar to store in it. If they are ignoring it they either have more work to do downstairs, their population is not yet large enough and/or there is not enough nectar around for them. When these three criterion are met- they will start using it.

You can try taking out the central frames and rubbing a pice of bees wax on the surface of the cells- like they were cheese graters. Only a little wax will be left there but it may trigger the bees faster to start working. Howeveer it won’t work if they are not already ready.

This can happen with a normal super too: the bees can only fill it if they have the strength and resources.

Rodderick is correct that it can take two seasons- but if a colony builds up very fast- and it’s a good year- it can happen almost straight away. There are a lot of variables.



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