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How well does the Flow Hive work with the Rotation method?


Hi All,
I have received the flow hive and will soon get a new nuc hive set up in its new home. My current method for keeping bees is “the rotation” method (also known as the up-and-out method) where I have a typical 3 box high langstroth hive:

  • bottom box is the brood box with queen excluder on top
  • middle box is the “rotation” chamber
  • top box is the honey super

I go into the hive on a very regular basis (2-3 weeks) and:

  • take any capped honey from the top box;
  • move uncapped frames where worker brood has hatched from the middle box to the top
  • move only capped worker brood up to the rotation chamber above the queen excluder into the middle.
  • fill in any gaps in the brood box with new frames and fresh foundation

This system keeps the bees really busy and works well. Has anyone tried this method with the flow hive?




Great question! I’m not sure how this will work for a full Flowhive kit. We’ve chosen to modify a 8 frame standard Langstroth box (see the Flow Hive website for directions on how to do this) to take 3 Flow Frames. We are hoping the rotation method will work using the 4 standard frames on the out side of the flow frames. Will let you know once we’ve had a chance to try it for a season.


I bet it keeps them real busy - it’s like someone coming into your house while you at work and rearranging all your furniture every couple of weeks :wink:


Your method will still work, you only need to keep the Flow Hive Super as the upper most box. I am a little puzzled as I can see that you may have some issues with your middle rotation chamber. What will happen to the drone brood that hatches in your rotation chamber? They won’t be able to get through the Queen Excluder to exit the hive and will probably die trying. Can I suggest that if you want operate a rotation then move the Queen Excluder up above the second box, place the Flow Hive as the third super and then a honey only super as the fourth. You can then rotate any honey only frames up to the fourth super. This is known as a double brood box. I think you’ll find the Rotation Method to be really hard work as you’ll need to pull apart your entire hive every 3 weeks or so… these boxes are heavy so be prepared for back problems down the track.
I keep the Flow Hive very simply, a single brood box with Flow Hive as the second and a spare super ready to go as the third. The third is used for swarm control and winter storage. Just remember the more complicated your hive system is the sooner it will become a major chore and less an enjoyable experience.


Very wise words, my friend! :smile:


I agree
Yes, awful to see and I picked up on that but OP says[quote=“vicparkhoney, post:1, topic:4994”]

  • move uncapped frames where worker brood has hatched from the middle box to the top- move only capped worker brood up to the rotation chamber above the queen excluder into the middle.

Now, you can tell which cells are capped drone and which ones are going to be before they are capped but I never had a frame that had no drone in the swarming season.


Hi Helmuth, I like that rotation system of yours, you must be able start up new colonies with that system plus keep your combs relatively new. I feel the same way as @Jasbee, use only 3 Flow frames.
I’m tipping that you’d be like me & cut any drone comb out before placing any brood frames above the QX.


I can see lots of other advantages with your rotation system: #1 Your keeping your worker population strong. #2 Your constantly looking out for any sign of disease, & #3 If SHB is in your area, your keeping on top of that by keeping your worker population up & keeping your combs relatively new.


Talking of drones, how about this?


More like someone coming into your house and cleaning your bed every second week :wink:
Would you not like that?


Correct if you have many mixed cells.
Typically drone brood sits on frame #2 (if you know the numbers), not in the centre of the brood box. Those drone brood frames (mixed with worker brood) stay in the brood box and can move to position #1. once hatched, the drone cells in position #1 will be filled with honey and that can be moved to the honey super above the queen excluder.


The whole idea of the rotation method is that there is no swarming. There will be no congestion and enough work for the bees to stay happily where they are. When bees want to swarm that is when they first start making more and more drone cells, then the queen cells will appear at the bottom of the brood box. I have had very little drone brood and if these appear they appear on frame #2 not in the centre of the brood box. It is easy to tell which frames should be moved above the queen excluder.


Insightful conversation!

Where do you store the spare honey frames (uncapped wax) you pull out of the hive?

How does this fare in the winter? Do you remove the excluder to allow them to cluster around the suppers?


Only capped honey comes out of the beehive. uncapped honey goes further up. If necessary a fourth box (honey super) can go on top. In winter I drop the beehive back to two boxes with queen excluder and leave the top box full of honey.


@vicparkhoney do you have very cold winters where you are? I have heard of a risk that the bee cluster will move up above the queen excluder to feed- leaving the queen to die from the cold below if you leave the super on like that. We removed our Flow super here in Adelaide, Australia for that reason- but as our winters are quite mild- I am now wondering if we really had to do that?


That is exactly why you take it away.


@vicparkhoney Sounds something similar to what I have been doing with my checker boarding.

Once the brood box in the bottom is full of brood I swaped the bottom brood box for the one above it - well I did in the beginning but I don’t use a QX and the Flow Frames are in the top box. 3 Brood deep boxes top being Flow frames.

This is my Double Brood Flow Hive and it is bursting with bees - was even able to draw 3 frames off the other day for a new Nuc giving me 3 nucs now.

This is also the only hive I’ve not had to feed in the rain we have been having almost every day for nearly a month now.

Many said double brood would not work in the UK - I can understand that if the boxes are 10 frame Langs or 11 frames of Nationals but because they are 8 frame they become equivalent to 1 1/2 Brood Nationals and many beeks do that here in the UK


Double national brood is quite common in the UK but it depends on what bees you keep.
Carniolans and Italians will fill them quite easily. A lot of suppliers like to use Carniolans because they are gentle, they make more bees very easily so you can split them. The down side is, of course, that they have to be fairly actively managed to prevent swarming.
Native mongrels do better on single brood or brood and a half.
There is a distinct advantage to using two brood boxes because you can swap frames about as you need to.


I found I can cope with the swarm prevention quite well - I love my Carnies


You can certainly stop them swarming by splitting them but then you don’t get honey from the splits…or not much.
I use two colonies to supply the others. They are in poly nucs and they have been for three years. I take brood frames out to bolster colonies I have ASd but you have to get the timing right and you mustn’t overdo it or you will demoralise the donors. The trick is to have a big hive that doesn’t swarm in time for the summer flow. Demarree is a good method but it might be a bit difficult with a Flow super. I don’t do it because I can’t lift a full 14x12 off a tall stack.