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New bees building comb through top cover hole?


Hi, We are brand new to bees, so trying to learn a lot in a short period and a bit anxious about it all.
We received our 5 frame nuc 2.5 weeks ago and added it to our box and have a total of 8 frames + 1 hanging feeder in it. I checked a few days ago. They have multiplied it appears already but still two pre-waxed frames on the outside not drawn much at all.
However, they have started building comb through the top cover hole and a little bits on top of some of the older nuc frames?
What is going on here? Do they think they are running out of room?
We removed it. Is this a sign we are ready to add 2nd box?

I’d add a photo but do not see that option.

Nick B


Hi Nick, what I would do is replace the inner cover with a piece of vinyl mat that covers the frames, however leaves a bee space all around. That way the bees will build out instead of going up. I believe that when you start to see bees occupying the roof space, then it’s time to add another super.


Hi Nick, welcome to the forum! What size brood boxes are you using? Eight frame or 10 frame? For an 8-frame box, you should only be able to get 7 frames and a frame feeder into the box. If it is a 10-frame box, it would be 9 frames and a feeder. I am just having trouble imagining your set up.

The frames are waxed? Or do you have waxed plastic foundation in them? Or wax foundation? I am trying to work out why the bees are ignoring them.

Most people cover that hole in the inner cover (that is what that board below the roof is called in the US). You can cover it with a thin piece of wood, a tile, or tape/staple insect screen over it. If you don’t, they often build in the roof.

That suggests that they are feeling a bit short of space. They are probably having trouble accepting your outer frames. I would suggest you put those new frames one position further in from the wall. Usually your nucleus will have 2 outer frames of food stores and 2 inner stores of brood. Keep the brood frames all together, but put the food frames at the outer edges. Then put your new frames up against the outside of the frames of brood.

I would also suggest that you stop feeding them and replace the feeder with a real frame. Don’t add another box until they are properly using all of the empty frames you have added, otherwise you may get overrun with robbers and pests.

Across the top of the box where you type your message, there is a row of icons. The seventh one from the left is a bar with an arrow coming out of the top of it. If you click on that, you can select the photo you want to upload. Wait for the “uploading” text to disappear, and your image will then appear in your message. :wink:


Hi Jeff, I understand your reasoning but don’t think losing the inner cover on a flow type hive is a good idea. If you removed the inner cover the roof would sit down lower, covering the removable piece of wood that covers the place where you use the Flow key. Then when you come to harvest you’d have to lift up the roof- which would then see bees crawling out everywhere. I think it’s better just to cover or screen that feeder hole.


Hi Jack, I’m only talking about the brood box. Once the brood box is full & the honey super is on, then you would need to put the inner cover back on or make a shim the same thickness as the inner cover so as not to interfere with the flow key you’re talking about.

I see that some people are recommending to add the flow frames super once the brood box is 80% full, if someone did that, well covering the hole would be fine.

With my suggestion, a beekeeper would add the flow super once bees start building in the roof. In that case the brood box would be full, therefore the bees would start filling the flow frames much quicker, I guess.


Hi Nick,

Looks like your getting some awesome ideas n advise. Bees will surely be bees ! As beekeepers n not bee havers we learn, gain knowledge n wisely try to use what we learn. But at first our experience is shallow n limit. Glad you popped in for a few helps n ideas.

As Dawn has noted I’d favor rotating those two wall outer frames in so the girls will use the empty frames. I do this a lot n most of the time it works well. Keep your brood core together. Adding to the area is usually not wise or good idea ( there are always exceptions but leave that to more experienced beekeepers)… Your not there yet … Not sure I am either ! :smile:

You are on the edge of adding another super but see if the girls draw out those two frames. As they do then add. It’s a learning of patience n timing. If you have a good local nectar flow this frame building will take place quickly so be ready to pop on that super.

As for the inner cover (crown-Board) I staple screened wire mesh over mine. It keeps ventilation, keep pesky wax moths out from laying eggs in the wax comb frames, and it just works at keeping my bees out of the attic. But there’s different thots here. Heck, different strokes for different folk. See what works for you.

Here’s couple of my hives out of eight. Some of mine are also flat roofed but I still screen the holes on all.

Not sure if my post is helpful. Cruise thru all the good ideas n chose your path … See if it works for you !

Good luck bro,


I really don’t understand why people want to cover the hole in the inner cover, to me it’s a window of communication.
I don’t know if the inventors left the hole only to fit a feeder or to get covered up.
For myself, hole open, I found the activity in the roof tells me where the colony is at. Bees usually consider space beyond the hole to be outside of the hive, so if they get busy there, I need to check the brood box and/or extract honey.
When they start building comb in the roof, I have to add a super, I use ideal, of course foundationless.
Makes for purest honeycomb.
I really don’t understand advice to cover that hole. Bees will only go there if they need the space or are unhappy with what they have. Best the beekeeper takes action rather than covering the hole. I feel a lot of beekeeping advice is about restricting bees to fit our understanding, rather than observing bees and working out a mutualy beneficial solution.

And whatever you do, do not replace your inner cover with a vynil mat as @JeffH suggested. That doesn’t fit a flow hive, but is cool in other methods. So in this case stick to flow peoples’ advice. Your roof wouldn’t fit on your boxes without the inner cover.
JeffH is a great mentor and advisor with a lot of experience though.


Would be good to see a photo, but it appears they are not happy with your prewaxed. If you feed them they really should be drawing comb. Have you tried to throw in a foundationless?
If there is any forage out there at all I would stop feeding them anyway. Give them time to adapt to nature


Well, my bees seem to use it communicate that, from their point of view, I am an idiotic human to leave it open. :smile: If I don’t cover it, they see it as an excuse to fill the roof space with comb, even if they have undrawn frames or boxes below the inner cover.

So if you have delinquent bees, like me, you may have to cover it from the start. If you have genteel bees like @Webclan, you can let them use it to tell you how they are doing for space. :sunglasses:


There is the option of a feeder:

Or try this : Bees making Honey in the roof of the flow hive Super


Maybe try a foundationless ideal on top?


Tried a foundationless medium (we don’t have ideals). They still do it. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Mine are just determined to start at the top and work down. :smile:


Thanks for all the information. Looks like thetopic drifted a little bit but thats ok, I need to learn everything about everything.
A local told me even though the two outer frames were not full, they were working onnthem so that was still a good sign and that thye were probably getting too criwded and ready to add the 2nd box. So I did just that a few days ago and we will see what happens from there.

I have started looking at several sites and forums and I am a bit overwhelmed with all I need to know to care for these bees properly. There is a lot of conflicting information and opinions.
As one guy put it he said for every bee keeper you will get three different opinions!
That is a new phrase to me but probably considered pretty cliche to the rest of you who have been doing this for a while.thanks

FYI we have the 10 frame box from Flowhive kit and another generic 10 frame box for the 2nd.
I was using 8 frames (5 w bees from the original nuc purchased plus 3 prewaxed) plus one feeder frame for sugar water.
When I added the 2nd box I added 1 more blank frame to the bottom box and 8 plus the feeder to he top box. I took 2 frames with honey from the bottom and moved them up top.
I aslo aded the new prewaxed frames in the bottom box in between the remaining three fully drawn nuc frames.
I was told by a local to do this to encourage the bees to start heading up and out in both boxes.

I found the photo link, per instructions from @Dawn_SD, thanks.

Here is a pic of the rogue comb before I removed it.
My wife wants to use it to make beeswax lip balm with one of thse kits. :slightly_smiling_face:


You are missing the point of my advice. My advice is to remove the inner cover on the brood box only. Then replace it with a vinyl mat that has bee space all around. THE ROOF WILL STILL FIT ON.

The idea of the vinyl mat is to encourage the bees to fill all the brood frames first, before building into the roof.

My experience is that once the bees fill all of the brood frames, they will then move into the lid/roof.

My suggestion is to use the inner cover or a shim the same thickness as the inner cover above the FLOW SUPER. In that case the roof will fit. The reason for the shim would be just in case someone wanted to continue using the vinyl mat above the flow frames.

I like the bees to be able to access the roof or lid via a hole in the inner cover or the bee gap around a vinyl mat.

I got severely reprimanded early in the piece for naming someone and telling people not to take his advice.


I still maintain you are the best mentor and advisor. Coz you are. Wasn’t meant like that, you just came into my mind when I was philosophizing about my idea of leaving that hole open. True, the roofs fits on top of the broodbox, just not on top of the flowbox without the inner cover.
I took your advice and put a vinyl mat on top of the brood frames once when I used a dividing board to keep a nuc warm in a big box. That worked very well.
I value your advice a lot, also because our climate is fairly similar, in amongst advice from all over the world.
As beekeeping goes, any advice needs to get weighed up carefully though.
I notice that flow advises to screen or cover the feeding hole. I screened it initially and the bees always stuck their bits through the screen. I read that as them being unhappy with the restriction. On the other side of the world, Dawn’s bees built in the roof immediately, so she has no other choice than covering that hole.
Your videos were so helpful when I started off, your experience is priceless. Yet, occasionally I do things differently. I remember you also helped me once when I was freaking out splitting a nuc because I wanted to keep the old sick queen. First time I heard to turn around a box so the flying bees return to the other box.
By the way, that queen is now floating in vodka and both nuc splits are doing well with a new queen.


I put a vinyl mat under the Flow inner cover. It fits fine with the Flow inner cover either above the brood frames, or above the Flow super frames.
I put a small square of MDF (only 2 or 3mm thick) over the inner cover feeder hole (when the cover hole is not in use for feeding). Tonight I placed two pieces of carpet on the top of the inner cover as extra insulation.


It seems strange that you seem to be advocating foundation-less frames when as a semi commercial bee keeper in the past and all the commercial guys I knew always fitted frames with foundation fitted. Maybe we were all wasting our time but it certainly made for less drone cells and straight comb with those benefits.


Hi Peter, I like your way of thinking :slight_smile: Less drone comb & straight comb isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Also the way I interpret it, Flow advocate foundationless as a first choice & fitted foundation second. I could be wrong.


I figure the only time I would go with foundation-less frames is I was only interested in the comb being as light as possible.
I do recall setting up a hive in the Hawkesbury without foundation and it was a disaster for the honey recovery with bridging comb and by the time I got around to getting the frames out it was mess.
My thinking is adding foundation is helping the bees and helping myself, The bees have a helping hand in that they don’t need to produce as much wax and they won’t have as many drone cells.
One thing I learnt from my mentors then was to ‘keep it simple’ (KISS) and the more you helped the bees the better the quantity of honey from the hive. HELP is the operative word there, if we try to manipulate the bees to do something against their instinct they will ignore us.
I totally agree with you about using a vinyl ‘mat’ over the frames in the top box, it stops comb being made in the lid. When the Salvation Jane was on at Mudgee in the Spring It was often a matter of adding another super to hives while playing catch up with extraction of honey. Having an inner top cover with a hole in it in my opinion has more negatives than positives but I learnt from the commercial guys who just used a vinyl cover.


My mentors were commercial & retired commercial beekeepers. One being a respected queen breeder, Clive Covey. His son does it now with the same Caucasians.

Peter, it’s good to see you refreshing some old topics. I wish you were here at the start. Some topics have been pulled down. There was one bloke who threatened to blow his flow frames up. He reckoned that they were only homes for SHBs.