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Introducing a wild hive into a flow hive--least trauma


Hello, I’m new… not totally new to beekeeping, but have been introduced to a wild hive (close to my home) established in a compost box. Small, and the bees at dusk are super calm. The property owner wants them gone, and I’m happy to adopt, but have never introduced a wild hive (comb is built out about 8" or so) into a box hive.

I can stage this, actually… I would like to get a flow hive, but how do I do this transition without killing and maiming? Do I actually have to cut the comb to fit the frames, strap them in? Is that how it is done?

I am a true believer in the dignity of harvesting this way, but the transition?



Yep, have photos on my site of the process, eg.

I’m a little confused by the ‘dignity in harvesting this way’ comment though, what’s dignified about cutting out comb exactly?


This was great, and I agree.

What I am confused about is that the founder of Flow Hive says that we shouldn’t have frames–more natural. I agree!

So, why frames? But frames seem to be integral to this system. How does this ‘key’ system work without systematic frames, and how can we inspect our little creatures if they are just wild in a box?

Thank you!


Flow founder doesn’t say that- you’ve misinterpreted something along the line. Keeping bees with a flowhive is exactly the same as with any other langstroth beehive. The only difference is the way honey is stored and extracted in the honey super.

So you need normal frames - and you’ll want to do a standard cut out of that wild hive. Go to YouTube to see lots of videos


Normal frames, normal weekly inspections, normal smoking, normal stings, normal swarming, normal diseases, then, once or twice a year, if you’re lucky and all the stars align, you get to harvest differently.


You have some ideas from other posts, but I am intrigued by your user name. Your haven’t completed your profile, so I can’t tell, but would you be located in San Diego by any chance? If so, the San Diego Beekeeping Society has a list of people who would very likely help you do this (highly recommended for the first time you try it). If you are not in San Diego, I would find your local bee club and see if you can get someone to help you. It is very hard to do single-handed anyway, so some experienced help could make it a lot less traumatic for you and for the bees! :wink:


Hello Dawn–and all,

My name… haha… this needs correcting. I’m not familiar with this forum. My name is Kim. I’ll think of something appropriate.

A lot of great feedback, and I appreciate it. (everyone!) I am definitely going to get some help. The compost bin is extremely awkward (understatement)–not at all what I remembered from last night. Most definitely a two-person job, and yes, I am absolutely going to get help (expert).

I lost my last colony due to a poor spring, a small attack of mites, and then they got hit by robbers. It was a massacre. They took every bit of everything–comb and all. Heart-wrenching disaster, and wow, was it fast! They were the little Italian ‘stingless’ (not exactly, but these were super gentle creatures–I never wore protection. I adopted them as ‘box bees’ which I kept on my desk for 2 days, getting to know them, spraying them with sugar water, and singing them made-up songs in Italian. Sounds corny, but even with a pretty traumatic coming-out (the candy can would not come out, so we had to take the box apart… the air was thick with bees, and knowing my voice, nearly everyone landed on me. It was interesting getting everyone into the hive box. Embarrassing, but it took three of us nearly two hours to accomplish a 5 - 10 minute task. I was stung twice, (the only one stung at all) and from then on, never again. After the first time, I never used smoke again. They were incredible. I always sang to them… They were fascinated by my shiny wedding ring and my watch.

These little ones don’t know me. Different game altogether.

I bought the Flow Hive last night, and am getting a solar-powered water fountain for them as well.

If I can find the link where the Flow Hive guy talks about empty frames being more ‘natural’ I will post it.

Thank you!



Here is the link to watch the ‘more natural’ way, by the founder:

Frame only. Let the bees just get to business.

(PS, apologies–I do NOT yet know how use this forum, so forgive me and give me hints?


OK, well it wasn’t me who brought this up. It may have been @Semaphore. However, now that you have rattled my cage :smile:, I will tell you my thoughts.

The “Pros”

  1. Foundationless frames are a great business idea for Flow. It means that they don’t have to deal with shipping wax foundation internationally, which is impossible for some countries because of disease etc. So they have a vested interest in promoting foundationless frames. :blush:
  2. Foundationless is a great idea for minimizing chemical contamination in your hive, as every frame has totally fresh wax
  3. Foundationless lets the bees choose what size cells to make (drone vs worker) and lets them decide what size to make them. Some people think this makes for a healthier, happier colony.

"The Cons"

  1. Foundationless comb is extremely fragile without wire support. That makes it very hard to handle if you are new to beekeeping. If you ever want to spin the comb, it can be extremely liable to collapse.
  2. Bees are much more prone to build creative comb across the frame or at random angles when you go foundationless. This can be a real mess to clean up when you need to inspect.
  3. Bees may build more drone comb than some beekeepers like, reducing the number of foragers, and increasing the risks from varroa and SHB both of which seem to prefer drone brood.

So it is up to you. Even if you want to go foundationless, I would suggest that when you start out, wire the empty frames and use foundation in alternate frames to encourage the bees to build straight comb. Just my 2 cents. I think it is a great idea, but not easy for new beekeepers. :blush:


Hi, Dawn.

I just spent some time asking a few questions to a rep from Flow… wow, can a very simple question about whether the SEALED Cedar model actually needed to be PAINTED, TWICE??? and then varnished… WTF (sorry). My questions were these: If they need SEALING, why don’t you just ship them this way?

And then, there are directions about painting/oiling/sealing between videos that completely contradict.

I don’t even think we got to talking about ‘foundationless’ because–BECAUSE their slats/frames are the key to their system! Brilliant! Crack it, drain it, close it. Repeat as needed. No invasion/demolition… perfect. This is why I bought into the system.

Free-building (bees) vs building their own doesn’t even make sense to me.

Have I totally missed the boat here? I thought that providing the bees with a foundation that could (essentially) be ‘cracked’ and occasionally drained, was the foundation of this technology.

Did you watch the video?



Oh, and the Flow guy TOTALLY dismissed me. (???)?

Does anyone from FLOW moderate/listen-in/respond?


Absolutely, @Faroe is on almost every day.

I watched it again today, for about the 5th time. :smile:

I think there are some miscommunications/misunderstandings going on here, but please don’t shoot me, I didn’t hear your conversation, and I don’t work for Flow.

Do you think the hive parts shipped to you already sealed? They don’t. They are Western Red Cedar, which can be used out of the box, totally untreated if you like. If you do that, it will weather to a silver-grey color. Otherwise you can use 2 or 3 coats of 100% pure Tung Oil (if you enter your location into the profile, that will help us to tell you where to get it). Tung Oil preserves the wood color and helps to seal the surface. You can paint it with any quality exterior paint if you want, but i think that spoils it.

I don’t really understand what you are saying. In the video, Cedar is talking about having a “foundationless” brood box. He may not call it that exactly, but that is the concept. You need a non-Flow brood box underneath the Flow frames, because the bees need a stable set of cells for rearing the next generation. Brood is destroyed if it is in the Flow cells when they are opened. Plus the queen won’t lay worker brood in the plastic cells - they are too deep.

That is correct, but it only applies to the upper box, which sits on top of the lower brood box. You need both. Every Flow hive has at least 2 boxes. Mine has 3 and may go up to 4 if I add a medium super at some point. :wink:


I just want to point one thing out: I don’t believe the bees ever get used to us or recognize our voices. The bees view us as nothing more than another predator. That’s the way it is. This is why we need to use smoke, wear white or light colors, no perfumes or bad odors, sneak up on the bees & keep all of our movements gentle while working the bees, no banging or rough handling of the frames & pick the right weather to do it in.

We are predators invading their hive every time we open the lid.


Without Foundation/ Free Building Bees


With Foundation Still Free Building but the way we want it.

Your profile doesn’t say where you are from. I ask because best beekeeping practices vary greatly from region to region.


Hi Dawn_SD,

Where is @Faroe? I’m only asking you metaphorically.

Yes, I understand that a frame is important, but he was saying that, rather than providing a plastic or beeswax support, we let them do their own.

My TRUE confusion is that the elegance of this system is the frame FLOW provides–the one that ‘cracks’ when you insert the key. That can’t happen (?) if they’re making their own comb, right?

WOW, PLEASE forgive me if I am completely missing the concept. This kind of disconnect is unusual for me.

Your para, “Cedar is talking about a ‘foundationless’ brood box…Brood is destroyed if it is in the Flow cells…”

OK, I’m getting it. The Flow system has to be in super–NOT the brood box. Makes sense. But does each super have to have its own ‘drainage’ system?

And why am I leaning on you for advice like this that is DIRECTLY about the product? I am so grateful but this should not be your responsibility.

I re-homed the wild bee colony today, alone. I reached out to a local beekeeper (quite expert) for transferring the comb/bees into the new Flow Hive (2 weeks?). I did smoke them, and I also suited-up. I probably lost about 200, +/-. Good catch. The ride was a little rough–wheelbarrow, the bin took a little tumble and dislodged one edge of a comb ‘lobe’… I’m going to nearly close the lid tonight, once they settle down.

I am clearly out of my league.


Hi JeffH,

You don’t have to believe. I am 100% on board with no perfumes, and have seen dramatic evidence (as I watched an assistant running like a cartoon character!) Calm, gentle? You’re absolutely right.

As to them being able to recognize me by my voice? I don’t know anything except my experience. I almost always wear black… and talking/singing… The little animals do not seem indifferent. Quite the contrary.

Just my experience.


You are right about the cartoon character, everyone who has had bees has had that experience.

You might get away with wearing black with a quiet colony, however there IS a reason why beekeeping suits are white. Singing to the bees is fine if it helps you. However I don’t think the bees care, one way or the other. Just don’t breathe over the bees while singing to them, that WILL upset them.


wow- that middle photo of the ‘free building’ is very good. I love seeing the organic shapes bees make when they are left to their own devices- was that a super from on top of a brood box? Or was it the work of a freshly installed swarm- with a queen who wasn’t yet laying? I ask because I can’t see any evidence of brood in that comb


Dear JeffH,

I smiled when I read this…

HOWEVER, you have never heard my Italian Bee Songs (original, BTW), and I do not have bad breath.

As for this newly adopted colony, I don’t know. No papers… ;-))


Hi, I used to think it was my bad breath for years, whenever I whistled a tune under my breath while working the bees. If I breathed a tune directly onto the bees, they would get upset. This is while inspecting frames up close. I recently read that when bees attack us, they aim for the source of the co2 we or any other predator breathes out. It was never my bad breath over the years that upset them, it was the co2 that I was exhaling onto them.

I put this theory to the test a couple of months ago on my back verandah. When ever a bee started buzzing me in a threatening manner, all I did was bow my head & breathe slowly so the bee couldn’t find where I was exhaling. The bee kept looking & buzzing, but eventually went away. This was on more than one occasion.

There you go, I took nearly 30 years to find that out, you learned it in your first year:)

Anyway, good luck with your bees, cheers

PS, I’d love to hear your singing, do you have a video you can share?