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How to keep the bees busy


I just had a conversation about the flow hive with a bee keeper. He likes the idea, but is concerned about the bees to swarm if they get “bored”. He said (sorry I’m a noob) that the bees must be kept busy otherwise they will start to swarm. So if the combs are pre-made of plastic they might get bored easily. Any hints for me on this topic?



Hey @bastibasti & welcome! I see you’re in Germany and don’t have bees yet - are you planning to start any colonies this season? I believe there are some German beekeepers on this forum, who also have Flow hives.

The beekeeper you spoke to sounds like he hasn’t really seen a Flow super in action, and has taken the general observation that because bees prefer plastic the least for building comb on and expanded it to assume that Flow frames would be less desirable - boring even! :roll_eyes::sweat_smile: to bees. This is a common assumption, that gets reinforced when inexperienced beeks put their brand new Flow super on too early in their eagerness to harvest honey, when there isn’t much nectar flow and/or the population is too low and can neither forage or store such a volume - or too late and their colony has already begun swarm prep! :honeybee::honeybee::honeybee::honeybee::honeybee::honeybee::honeybee::honeybee::running_woman:

It’s important to remember that the Flow super is like any other type of honey super - therefore the same things can happen regardless of what kind of equipment you’re using and it’s more a matter of beekeeper judgement of timing than the ‘system’ itself. Also, it’s been well-established by all the early adopters of Flow that preparing the frames with some beeswax usually does the trick to bring busy bees right to work on them. There is a whole section on this here on the forum, with great pics and video links!

I hope this makes sense and let us know if you’re setting up for bees - there is a wealth of info and support here for newbees with all kinds of questions! :hugs:


Hi Eva,

thanks for the words.

I think he is concernced about “less work load” for the bees, since the structure already exists.

Actually. I am planning to learn as much as I can about bees before starting to have an own hive. Like I would for any other animal, too. Especially since I am allergic I must be aware of behaviour etc.

The person I talked to, is also new but is pretty conservative, also about other things.

Dont worry. Before going out and buying any bee home I have to talk to neighbours and visit the local bee keepers club to learn about the local type of bees and locality related issues.

To ‘harvest’ honey is a good motivation, but I dont think bees are the type of animals to be pushy about progress to. So If I would start with a hive, (probably from a local beekeeper) then they would have all the time needed before installing the super.

Greetz, Basti

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Ah, I see :wink: - well, even Flow frames need a decent amount of preparation work by the bees before they can start filling them. Maybe the beekeeper didn’t know, but they have to wax up all the seams and raise the outer edges of each cell to a uniform surface ready for capping. This takes so much time that sometimes that’s all that gets done the first time it’s used. That was the case for me - but at least the super was all ready to go for the next year and on.

Good for you, taking time to learn all you can before starting! That is sure to make your eventual start more rewarding :blush:

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Even with plastic, there is plenty for them to do. They wax all of the plastic comb before filling it, and that takes quite a lot of effort. Once a plastic frame is full and capped, it can be drained on the hive, creating more space and more work for the bees. So I think his concerns are misplaced. :blush:

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Thanks for the answers! Sounds great!



Like Eva n Dawn wrote … trust me bro … plastic, wax n no foundation the bees have plenty to occupy their days. I don’t like to mix foundations in a hive box. Bees seem to lean to the natural wax if give a choice.

Bees will swarm if they are cramped n no limited space to keep working n expanding. Not because they are BORED ! Your acquaintance is NOT familiar with the plastic frames n only deals with natural wax thus is very opinion weighted against plastic it sounds of any kind. That’s his choice n okay … I keep hives that are all three. Like I said, I try to stay with a single medium in new hives. That way they aren’t selective which frames they will use.

Most of our new Nuc’s come on frames that have plastic foundation bases. Thus they will usually be okay with the Flow frames if there is s good strong nectar flow n flow frames have been waxed some like wax foundation is.

Many many older traditional beekeepers are Flow-hive illiterate n very opinionated. Just turn an ear away n stuff cotton in your other … just study :open_book: n learn good Beekeeping. Even those old guys have treasures for you to learn. Just dodge there prejudicial ideas n you’ll be on a good course to good Beekeeping !

Good luck n cheers,



@Gerald_Nickel: Thanks. Your words reflect somehow what I thought, too (about beeing oppinionated) I’m also interested in nuclear power as a part to keep air clean, so I’m used to people having a strong oppinion. LOL

BTW: how to tell if they are about to swarm? (Is that the time to buy another flow super and expand??)

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You look for queen cells every week to 10 days from March to July. There are a couple of excellent documents written by Wally Shaw of the Welsh Beekeeping Association. The first explains what kind of queen cells are made and what to do about them. The second tells you how to prevent swarming once you have found queen cells.

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If your colony has a strong :muscle: nectar supply n numbers quickly growing get another super on them FAST or the next thing you’ll be finding is Queen SwArm cell (usually across the bottom of central frame or so… I try to adear/hold to the old roughly 80% rule of bee to frame coverage

If you find those cells … it’s usually to late to prevent the sWARMing … But you still need the additional box.

If I find the Queen Cells I do an immediate colony split … Find the Queen n move her n couple good frames of brood n food frame then fill in space like you would a New NUc.

Carefully push the old colony frames together n fill in the empty space. Hopefully you haven’t got to the emergency level yet. :+1:.

Hopeful these comments are helpful. I’ve got a couple of very strong colonies outback in my yard. This weekend I’m hoping do one “Walk-Away Split” to prevent the swarm issue n give me one more starter hive. If one of my colonies is on the thin/lean side I could steal a frame of brood n fatten it up brood n workerwise…

Thankz for the note.

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