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Impossible to inspect brood


Tried to do Fall management yesterday here in central Iowa. The foundation-less frames were so glued into the deeps and totally covered with comb that they would not budge. I finally got one to move, but it just came apart. The hive seems exceptionally healthy, but these issues started to aggravate the hive.

I wanted to see if I could extract the flow frames and clean up the brood frames like I do with my other regular hive. However, that will not be possible with the flow hive. When I tried to lift the top brood box off of the lower one, frames from the lower deep were stuck to the bottom and it was making a total mess. I just laid it back down on top of the lower box.

OK, I did learn that the brood boxes are fully drawn…and more…but it was discouraging that I could not inspect the hive. I am just going to extract all of the flow frames and leave it on for the winter. This is not what I expected from this rather expensive flow hive. In addition, for the first time, my buddy and I were attacked by sentry bees and they followed us all the way back to the house…about 1/4 mile. We both got stung several times when we went to take off our suits. That is the first time that has happened to me…not a pleasant experience.


The brood box isn’t anything different than any other hive. Did the frame come apart or the comb? If the frame make sure that you glue them and nail from 2 directions when you assemble (not that it helps now). If you don’t like the foundationless you can place foundation in the flow hive just like your other hive. I think most people inspect a little more often and catch any crazy comb before it gets out of control. Are they building comb diagonal to the frames?



You do no mention a Q.E. separation between your deep n the Flow-Super. Did you use one ? I know I helped work 60 to 80 conventional Langstroth hives yesterday. It was in the mid 60’s here. The propolis was very heavy n the frames really glued in this time. We had double n triple shallow honey supers over our QE … The top of the deep was REALLY glued to the QE … Really a pain ! Separating the doubles n inspecting was tedious as each frame was so secure/glued (we had to be so careful prying a frame loss) but not impossible.

Another question; (since I’m not there)… When assembling your foundation less frames … Did you use glue n nails both… I am assuming so ?!

You could wait for a little warmer weather n temp that leaves the propolis very sticky but easier to loosen … Being back East… I’m assuming your using double deeps for the winter ?! I know I am out here in the West Coast in Wsshington state. I asking a lot of seemingly dumb questions to get a clearer pix of your crappy situation.

Sorry for your bummer outcome… I’ve not heard a situation this bad thus far. I have a Flow myself but I used double deeps n a QE under my Flow-Supet … Thus far my swarm of bees hasn’t glued mine down like yours. I wondering if your situation is unique or common … I’m just wetting my feet back in beekeeping after a very long absence away (1950’s n 60’s) … Finding a huge change in rearing n caring for my bees along with similarities. How many other conventional hives to you operate ?! I’m up to give already this first season do my equipment is all new n strong. But the girls do use “super glue”. Let us know if you attempt or try getting into the hive again on a warmer day.

Good luck n keep at it bro !



Added a little pix humor ! The three of us were working n just finished our second apiary inspection n mite treatment at this fruit/orchard location n broke the menopotopy get our mugs photography in front of the stand n orchard location …


I check the hives every two weeks. You cannot even see between the frames, it is solid comb…and it was not that way two weeks ago. Some say that the bees prefer the foundation-less frames and at this point, I would have to agree. However, they are apparently not as strong as the ones with a plastic or wood foundation. I have never had one of those come apart. I did use a little glue when assembling, but evidently not enough. I do not see any other option than to wait until Spring when the honey has been used up and then I should be able to take apart the frames and inspect the hive.


I still don’t get what the obsession is with foundationless frames in the brood nest. It can’t be “more natural”, the whole Flow super is plastic for crying out loud lol! That’s like saying, “we want to live naturally but we eat all of our food out of Tupperware” and drink out of plastic water bottles lol. All it does is make it more difficult for the new beekeepers and saves the manufacturer $2 per frame.

Novices should use wax or plastic foundation or at the very least, wired foundationless frames.


Thanks for the comments Gerald…I did have a QE under the flow frames…like you mentioned, it was a REAL pain to break loose. It was 85 degrees yesterday and it will probably not get much warmer for the rest of the summer. I was breaking the comb when trying to pry up a frame and the girls did not like that at all…their buzz got increasingly louder as we continued to try and break one loose and then when a top came apart, it was not easy to get back into place…all the time with increasing buzz…even using a smoker and trying to remain calm. Yes, used a little glue, but apparently not enough.
I am relatively new to bee keeping and only have two hives of my own, but help tend many others around the area. The hive is essentially “overfull” if that is possible…even with venting the top, the girls beard the front regularly. I think two flow frame supers might have solved this problem, or maybe a third brood deep, but I have not heard of anyone using two flow frame supers.


I agree…I do think the plastic frames are BPA-free, but not sure. It probably would have been impossible to make the frames out of a more environmentally-safe material and still perform the same actions (although I am not a materials engineer). In addition, opening the frames is far from easy when they are full. A modification, IMHO, would be to allow for partial extraction without making a mess.


Wow ! 85 dgs ! Your bee really must have got some really great extra strong propolis. Usually in the 80’s dgs it’s really sticky but slow n patient work I can pry apart ! Bummer !

Yesterday we had ( in the upper 60’s) had couple groups of lower frames really waxed n glued to our EQ. It two of us to careful push our frame tool under the QE to separate. A pain but we finally got it.

Can you or did you harvest the Flow-Super yet ( do they have it capped )? Can you add another shallow or medium honey super over the Flow-super to relieve the packed honey condition. Being so full this time of year ain’t all that bad (would you agree)…? How’s your others doing. I know I’m always adjusting n experimenting with my bees, hives n equipment.

Often when I get flustrsted i have to back-off n recoup ! My brain gets to full n I get all TICK n can’t see the forest for the trees as my mom use to Quoto !

Keep us in your loop bro ! Pulling for you to get it fitted somehow. “Slow n Careful”!

Thankz for you note n answer bro. Have a great rest of the weekend. If ya get a chance take couple pix’s. Love to see others hives n set up. Here’s mine:


Thx for sharing…what’s that small box at the bottom of your flow hive? I have extracted some honey out of the flow…I will attach a .zip folder with a short video…nope…it was too large…dang wish there was a way to just take some without making a mess. I am gonna empty them tomorrow and just leave the flow frames in over winter. There is at least 75 pounds in the two brood deeps and there are still lots of flowers around here for at least another month, so the girls will probably fill the flow frames again and then they’ll have more than enough for winter…which can get brutal here…I sent you a FB message cuz that is where I keep most all of my videos and pics…
Are u around North Bend, WA…my good buddy lived there is whole life…passed a few years ago…


Hooray for some sensible advice


It’s probably not the fault of the “rather expensive flow hive”. Whether we use foundationless or foundation, we as beekeepers need to make sure the frames in the brood are all in order & the comb central & straight in the frames as the bees build up. This all should be done before the qx & honey super goes on. You probably figured that out by now. Good luck with the tidy up in the spring, cheers


I know one of the common (and repeated) criticisms of wax foundation is the potential for chemicals to exist in the recycled wax etc. Which makes a good case for plastic foundation because you can use your own melted burr comb to coat the frames so no need to introduce wax from elsewhere. You then get the argument that it’s plastic so it’s ‘unnatural’, so you can’t win. I have used both extensively and have no major issues.

I think it’s in part because new beekeepers seem deterred by the perceived complexity of wiring a frame, with many flat out avoiding it (have found this when teaching others).

My understanding is that the flow hive kit comes without wire/eyelets, which may create the impression to new beekeepers that these items are unnecessary.


I’m familiar with your mess, @docbill4u. My frames didn’t come apart, but I have had bridge comb & diagonal construction in my deep brood box all summer. Fixed it 3xs then left it - slightly improved, but still not perfectly straight.

In my opinion, deep frames should definitely have either foundation, wire, or some form of reinforcement. I think the bees perceive how far down the space extends & know that nectar filled comb might not hold if only anchored in a straight line along the top bar, so they connect to the next frames as they go. My second brood box is a medium & the combs are nice & straight, no foundation or wires.


I had the problem of frames in the bottom deep stuck to frames in the deep above.

My solution was to use some wire (the same as potters use to take a pot off a wheel) to cut through between the boxes… like a cheese wire.

It didnt make too much of a mess and only caused a little upset. I did it pretty slowly though.


I have heard some great discussion on this recently and the issue often points to manufacturers not adhering to bee space between the bottom bar in the frame and the top bar of the frames in the box below, which leads to a large amount of burr comb. It was discussed at a local beekeeper meet up recently and I also saw it mentioned in a newsletter from interstate.

Don’t have anything to say other than that :smiley: thought it was worth mentioning though because I seem to keep coming across the topic!


You’re right. You have to check this space


Ok so just to clarify, what should the bee space be between the upper and lower frames?


I’m going to put my neck out without wanting to start a fiery debate and say between 1/4 and 3/8 inches (and I’m from the land of metric!). It’s common for people to refer to 3/8 as bee space (the upper limit)… I say ‘common’… but I feel like it’s dangerous to say that out loud!

My memory of the discussion has become slightly clearer. It wasn’t just around the space under the bottom of the frame down to the top of the frame below… but what happens to that space when you introduce a queen excluder? the space is then split. The discussion revolved around the fact that the excluder should provide the additional space with a ‘rim’ around the edge so both the top and bottom boxes maintain correct spacing and the manufacturers don’t have to account for it in the height of the box.

Reading that last paragraph… I now realise why I no longer get invited to dinner parties :confused:

Really keen to hear what others have to say on this topic.


Bee space is generally understood to be 7/8 mm. The space between frames is generally a little more. 9mm between bottom and top bars although 10mm is common.
I use framed excluders to maintain that space in each box