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I am not seeing ANY honey in my Flow Hive


#1

I installed my Full set of 6 frames on top of a mature extremely active hive in March 2016. At every inspection I see many bees on the visible frames, crawling into cells, etc. but to date have not seen a drop of honey. Possible explanations I have thought of include: they are preparing the cells by sealing up cracks and building out the walls to get ready to deposit nectar, they are adding honey to the inner reaches of the frames out of sight on the harvesting end or the side window, they are filling every nook and cranny in the frames below to avoid the Flow Hive, they swarmed and fled without detection, they don’t like me.

Our early spring seemed a bit wet and not very conducive to foraging but things improved. Yesterday I harvested about 25 lbs of honey from one hive that has never seemed as active as the hive under the Flow Hive. I didn’t even go below the top super and guess that I could easily have harvested 50 lbs from that one hive if I had wanted to be more aggressive. It is clear that foraging is good and all other hives have honey.

I have been avoiding inspection of the lower supers, one deep and two mediums, since I planned to let them have all that honey for winter. My next step is to go in and see if there is some honey forming in the interior and to check for status of lower supers.

Does my experience ring true for anyone else out there?


#2

Generally when you have comb that has not been used before or isn’t drawn (The Flow frames are new plastic that hasn’t been used) they hesitate to cross the excluder. Also they only fill what they need. If this hive swarmed or failed in some way to get established then they are not needing the space to store honey yet. Figure out if there is a flow. Look below and see if you have eggs and capped worker brood etc. See what density of bees you have so you can speculate on whether they swarmed or not.


#3

Rome wasn’t built in a day, wait, wait, they will build.


#4

I do not use an excluder. There are many bees working on the Flow Hive. I will check tomorrow to see what is going on below. The thing that surprises me is that there is so much activity of bees coming and going (top entrance) and they seem to be working hard in the Flow Hive (which is on top) but no honey appears. Less active hives are making a lot of honey. Maybe I will find a ton of honey in the two medium supers. Maybe I misjudged how developed those supers were to start with.


#5

I had a similar experience. I live 15 miles West of Richmond, Va. I attributed the empty Flow frames to missing most of the flow. I just installed a package in early April, and two nucs in late April. In this area, the main flow is typically the Tulip Poplar which was almost entirely rained out in May. The bees in one hive were extremely busy patching the cracks, but no honey appeared. I just pulled the Flow frames off in early July.

With 5 hives, I am hoping and praying that two will winter successfully, and that I’ll be able to harvest next year.


#6

I did an inspection this morning. My top super is chock full of brood, honey and bees. In fact there was honey rich comb connecting the top 10 frame super with the Flow Hive which ripped apart when I removed the FH. Lots of propalis work being done and I found a few drops of nectar in 4 cells on one Flow Frame. Seems like there is an intent to move up into the FH but some hesitancy as well. This hive maintains its position as the most active by far. I resisted the temptation to harvest any honey from below even though there seems to be a surplus since I don’t want them to replace that honey before moving up to the FH frames.

We are entering a dry period of the summer (up until now plenty of rain) so I hope the flow is good for the next couple of months. Call me ‘patiently waiting.’


#7

If you want them to put honey in the flow frames, I would not harvest any of the rest of it yet.


#8

I’ve got honey in mine, but it is definitely slow-going. None of them (maybe half a dozen) are capped. It took a while for them to fill the holes in the flow hive. I had a handful of ladies visible in the observation window working hard (lots of little wiggly bee buts!) to fill the gaps and now there’s some gorgeous honey to look at, but I also added a 2nd brood box in between 3 weeks ago, so I would guess most of them will be busy building out comb on the foundationless frames.
(If you couldn’t tell, this is my first season!)


#9

I live in Western Oregon. Have a new flow hive for several months. Initially, placed on VERY active deep and active super. Initially just like yours with much activity in observation window but no honey. When examined super underneath, saw that it was almost but not completely filled yet so… placed FH between deep brood box and almost filled super with excluder just below FH. That was about 6 weeks ago. Well, I have a million bees in upper super, another million bees in FH, and another million bees in deep. Everything in FH is same, with propolis filling cracks, upper super filling slowly with honey and nothing in FH, except bees and propolis.
I hate to be mentioning the emperors new clothes but, he’s either naked, and the bees just don’t like the FH plastic gizmo or the almost filled upper super needs to just be crammed full before they move to the FH, (maybe just wont happen this year). In the end, I like watching the bees. I’m new at this so I really can’t say what’s going to happen. Everyone on this site is optimistic so, I might as well be also…


#10

Hmm, I make that 3 million bees. At about 2,000 bees per frame (assuming each frame is totally covered), you must have 1,500 deep frames of bees! Let’s be generous and say you have a 10-Frame Langstroth setup, your hive is 150 deep boxes tall - I don’t think I have a ladder that could service a hive that is over 107 feet tall! :astonished: How do you manage with high winds??? I think you have a wind issue causing your Flow super not to be filled… :smile:


#11

Well, maybe not 3 million…

Sam L. Collins


#12

the emperor has clothes. Fear not- the bees will fill the flow frames-



#13

I live in Brisbane Australia added a full flow frame super as soon as it arrived as my existing hive was totally full and ready for some room to expand into. Plenty of flower around and being January - one of our best months normally - I added the super with total confidence… Bees immediately appeared in the new super and appeared to be busy getting it ready for use. But nothing ever happened, nothing was ever stored in any of the frames - plenty of activity but no progress. I was extremely patient and eventually removed the super in June in readiness for winter approaching. Not one cell in any frame had any content after all that time. There were signs of filling some of the cracks in a few cells on the frames near the centre but that was all.
Listening around it appears that a solution to this problem that I will be adopting come spring is to either melt some wax and using a paint roller lightly coat each face of each frame or rub the surface of each face of each frame with a piece of a ‘sticky’ or some form of bees wax. This has worked in at lease some other cases that I have heard about.
But you are not alone in this problem and patience alone does not appear to be the solution…
All the best…


#14

This is odd to hear- as we didn’t do anything to our frames and the bees took to them rather fast. 34 days after the flow super was put on it was half full of honey. Over the short season we harvested 16.5 kg’s of honey. We harvested another 5kg’s of unripe nectar when we removed the frames for wintering the hive. We froze that and will feed it back to the bees in spring (probably). Our hive was started in early January from a 5 frame Nuc- so we only had half a season. In that time the bees filled the bottom box- and rapidly expanded in numbers. I wonder why it is that some bees seem to really avoid the flow frames and others take to them readily?


#15

Hi Dawn, can you please elaborate about the possible wind problem? I seem to have the same issue as the others. I am near Donnybrook, W. Australia , set up flowhive end of Jan with 5 frame nuc, fully drawn & almost completely full brood box by mid March when flow frame super was added, lots & lots of initial bee activity on flow frames. We have natives like gravillias flowering throughout our winter which attach lots of bees but no honey.


#16

I was joking… :blush:


#17

I would say that I am not alone. I would like the Flowhive folks to chime in. Surely in 10 years of R&D they had some times when the bees didn’t cooperate. Not? Is it the bees and their preferences? Conditions (temperature, nectar flow, hive preparing to swarm…)? why would some suggest that painting the cells with wax might help if there wasn’t a problem in the first place?

I was patiently waiting. Now call me skeptical. Hate to write in my next entry for my series in xxx that it was all for nought.

Honey honey everywhere and not a drop to tap.


#18

the xxx stands for Bee Craft Magazine (a British publication) where I am doing a series on my Flow Hive experience along with a Brit.


#19

In the FAQ: Why aren’t my bees filling the Flow™ Frames?

Things that you could try if you want to get the bees working on the Flow Frames sooner:

If you have other honey supers on the hive, removing some of them or all of them so the Flow super is full with bees is likely to get much faster results.

Pressing some bees wax into the surface of the Flow comb can get them working on the Flow frames earlier. You can use chunks of burr comb, wax foundation or wax cappings. The bees will then re-distribute the wax onto the Flow frames and start working them.

Heat up some beeswax and paint it onto the Flow frame surface. If you try this, be careful not to get too much wax in the base of the cells or in the upper movement mechanism as this may jam the mechanism when it comes time to harvest.

Sprinkle a little sugar water (2 parts water to 1 part sugar) on the Flow frames. To do this you will have to take the frames out of the super so that you don’t get the water in the upper parts of the frame where the tool is inserted. Using this method there is a risk that the sugar will crystallise in the parts of the flow frame and cause jamming issues. While some beekeepers have reported using this method, we have not proved that it makes any difference.

The feedback we have received so far is; lots of beekeepers saying the bees filled all the Flow™ frames quickly, sometimes in a week or two, and some are saying it took quite a while for the bees to start work on the Flow™ frames for the first time.

Bees don’t always do what you would like. We received feedback from one customer that had two Flow hives beside each other of similar strength. While one hive filled the Flow frames quickly the other is taking it’s time to start on the Flow frames.

If your bees are taking their time to start storing honey in the Flow frames you may like to try try one of the things above. Please let us know how your hive goes.


#20

Well I’m ready to ‘deploy’ my Flow frame super again. The bees are quite active and have just filled the existing double height hive they had for winter. Just recapping - I live in kurwongbah on the north side of Brisbane and my first 5 MONTHS of using the flow frames produced absolutely nothing in any cell of any of the 7 frames.
I decided to make a new ‘super’ from pallets and made the side windows and the other openings so that light did not leak into the hive when the covers were in place by putting a 10mm rebate halfway through the opening. Hope the bees appreciate it!!.