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How to encourage bees to use the Flow Frames


Hi there,

I received my flow hive recently and waited until my hive was ready to harvest and then took off the full super and replaced it with the flow hive. This was three weeks ago and there are a few bees exploring the flow frames but they aren’t building or filling them.

I live in Brisbane and my hives are very busy. I checked the brood box before putting on the flow hive and saw the queen and good laying patterns.

Has anyone else had this issue with the bees not using the flow box?

I appreciate any tips you can offer.


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Hiya Katherine, how many frames had brood on them?


So you have taken off a full super already?
Spin it off and put it back wet on top of the Flow.
Keep an eye that they are not backfilling that brood nest and making swarm preps from lack of space


I have a 10 frame brood box, 8 of them had good laying patterns with brood, the outside 2 were honey. I took the honey ones out, and put 2 frames with foundation into the centre of the brood box to encourage the queen to lay there.

So it’s possible they’re using the 2 clean frames in the brood box for honey storage, but it would be odd for them to do that in the centre of the brood box when they have an empty super above them…


Hi @Dee,
The full super was from my existing hive. I’ve had it for several years. I took it off once it was full so that I could harvest it and then replaced it with the flow hive super. Which the bees aren’t using at all. (Yet.)


I agree with @Dee, if you can put a used wet “sticky” or drawn comb above the Flow frames, the bees will smell it and move up. If you can’t, I might try a drop of lemongrass oil. May not work, but it mimics the Nasanov pheromone and makes it smell more like home. Don’t use much, just one or two drops of the pure essential oil.



Thanks for the tips, @Dee and @Dawn_SD - much appreciated. I can put a super with stickies above the flow hive - but won’t the bees just use that instead of using the flow hive?


It would be nice if you could keep us updated. I will be putting mine flow frame on an existing hive as soon as we start our spring flow. I’ve never had good luck with plastic frames and this makes me a bit apprehensive to read this, but we will see. One thing I decided was not to split my 7 frames up into 2 converted lang boxes and mix them up with wooden frames but went with one converted box for all 7 frames. The bees won’t have much of a choice once they run out of room to put honey in the brood chambers and will have to move upstairs to the new plastic flow frames. I suppose I’ll just have to wait and see. I do wonder if this has been a problem for others as well.


They might well do that, but at least they won’t jam up the brood box, plus you will force them to explore the plastic! :wink:


I set up my full flow hive beginning December last year, so the colony has been busy building up. The bees are only just moving up and starting to work on the flow frames now. We are on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria and it has been a terribly dry summer. I will have to wait until next spring before I can harvest any honey!


I did another inspection today - checked the brood box and they’d filled one outside frame with honey so I took it out. The rest is looking good. I put a fresh frame in the middle of the brood box and will try the lemongrass oil in the flow frames.


Just one or two drops is enough - don’t want to stink them out with a lot! :smile:

Having just read Dee’s comments below, you might want to try a Michael Bush trick. Just dip the soft tip of a Q-tip (cotton swab) in the oil and rest that on a frame. You can always remove it if it doesn’t work and you want the smell out of the hive.


Not only that but if you’re not careful you’ll end up tainting the honey.
I drop in 5 litres of syrup perfumes the whole lot and leaves the container tainted afterwards.


How are the bees going with the flow frames?


Are you using a queen excluder? Could they not like passing through it? Maybe get a different one or remove it for a few days and see what happens.

Bees adjusting to flow super

There are more of them exploring it now. I think it’s just taking time for them to get used to it. I’ll give them a couple more weeks and then take another good look.


I am using a queen excluder and it is a new one - so that’s a good point. They’d sold out of metal ones at my beekeeping supplier, so I had to use the plastic one. Maybe they’re not as keen on going through it …


I live in Yarra Glen, a town in Victoria’s Yarra Valley wine growing district. I have two 8 frame Langstroth hives that have been on my property since June 2015 (local mid winter). My first delivery of 3 Flow frames I installed in one of the hives on 23 Dec 2015 and a later delivery of 3 frames I installed in the second hive on 20 Jan 2016. In each case all frames in the supers were packed solid with honey.
From time to time I check activity through the end observation windows and see that the bees in both hives are actively moving over the surface of the frames and in and out of the cells but to date (13 Mar 2016) no nectar has been deposited in so much as a single cell of the Flow frames.
Any suggestions as to what I should now be doing?


The bees need a reason to enter the Flow super and start figuring out how to store in it. To make sure that the bees know what to do when the flow starts, I decided to get them used to moving and storing in the Flow super well before the honey flow.

Our honey flow here in central Texas is the wildflower, Indian Blanket. It will be blooming in about 6 weeks. To get my hive ready for the flow, I put down a queen excluder and the new Flow super on top of that. I put a half gallon feeder on the top of the hive.

The bees have to travel through the Flow super to get their feed. It took about a week to get them comfortable with the new super, but now they have moved in. A lot of the bees are head down in the cells and I hope they are working to get the cells ready to receive nectar.

I’m going to keep them moving through the Flow super 'till the flow starts in about 6 weeks. The cells will probably contain some sugar water, but when our flow starts, I will drain whatever is in the flow frames to get them empty for the wildflower nectar. They should have no problem, then, knowing were to store all that delicious wild flower honey!


Just over 3 weeks now and while the flow frame super is chocked full of bees none have yet decided to start depositing honey.

Sorry about the reflection. Bad time for that hive face.

I am not particularly worried. Been a funny year for the blossom, which has dropped off considerably of late. Maybe next week I will take all the flow frames out and inspect them again but was sure they were double checked and looked OK, but didn’t look for any church pews the wrong way round.

I think at 8 weeks I will start to be concerned.