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New to Bees, Flow Hive 7


Hi, I am new to beekeeping. We have a FlowHive 7, and setup the hive and added bees about a month ago. We have been adding sugar water on a regular basis. The bees are active, but I’d like to check inside the hive. What should I be looking for?


Hi there @eltobin& welcome to the forum! Can you give a few more details about your setup please - was this a package or nucleus colony? One month ago is a very long time not to inspect either way, and you’ll expect a different timeline & outcomes for each.

How is your nectar flow now, and how long does it usually go on before a dearth in your area?

We can help with info and tips here, especially if you can post some pictures, but I suggest finding someone local to rely on for real-time guidance. Have you taken a bee class, joined a club, anything like that?


Hi and welcome to the forum. So you have a hive set up but you have missed out on some basics, you should be doing regular hive inspection to check on the health of the colony and be able to predict what your next move will be. I check all my hives weekly and in a hive a lot can and will change.
You should be looking for capped and uncapped brood in a dense area in the centre of the brood box, you haven’t described the hive layout. Look for honey being stored, capped and uncapped, and the bees being calm as well as anything that does not seem right in what you see and smell.
You should look for a local bee club for hands on experience that you simply can’t get any other way.


A package was used to start our hive. We have met with a mentor at the beginning, and he provided us with bees. He assisted us with the initial setup. We are going to start attending meetings this month.


A package was used to start our hive. We have met with a mentor at the beginning, and he provided us with bees. He assisted us with the initial setup. We are going to start attending meetings this month.


You will get a lot of good information and local knowledge from a bee club as well as hands on learning and doing that with someone explaining things to you as you become more confident will be a big help to you. Hands on learning is something the forum can’t give to you, but if you are told something that sound strange or you are uncertain how to do something there is people on this forum who can advise you.
Enjoy your bee keeping and you will be rewarded. I find working on my apiary very relaxing and satisfying.
Cheers Erica


Ok gotcha - a package. These usually come with a mated queen in a small cage, that beekeepers remove after checking to make sure she has been released, three or so days after install. When you open your hive now, if you or your mentor didn’t do this last month, you will probably find this cage - hopefully no longer containing a queen :grimacing: - attached to a frame near the top center with lots of comb. You should remove the cage and extra comb using your hive tool as carefully as you can.

Next, you will need to look to see that the queen is indeed no longer inside the cage. If she is, she would be dead. Not good, but possibly still a salvageable situation, maybe…we can cross that bridge when we come to it. I’m betting on the queen being released and laying up a storm :sweat_smile: So now you remove one of the outer frames, which may or may not be fully built with comb, and will probably contain mostly honey and pollen stores. Carefully place this standing up, leaning against the hive, unless you have a nifty hive rack like @Gerald_Nickel.

Carefully and slowly use your hive tool to slide each frame over toward the empty space and then lift out to inspect each one. Always replace the frames in their original position. Now you are looking for evidence that your queen is laying well and workers are building nice even combs. If you used foundation in your frames the combs will most likely be quite uniformly drawn. If you used foundationless, you may see some other results. You may need to spend some time cutting through comb that the bees have attached frames together with. It’s very important to have freely movable, individual frames, so you can always see what’s going on when you inspect.

When you lift out frames, if they are foundationless, be very careful and always hold and turn the frame vertically. Newly built comb is soft and a deep foundationless frame is a large volume with relatively little anchoring support, so it’s very easily dislodged when moved, especially on a warm day! One of my worst first year experiences was when I had barely begun to lift my first frame out for inspection and all the brand new comb my bees had worked so hard to make came crashing to the floor of the hive :fearful: I had to rubber band the chunks back into the frame, and they repaired it eventually, but I felt like a jerk.

As you lift out frames, be sure to hold them directly over the brood box - just in case you inadvertently knock the queen off a frame, so she falls back into the hive. You may or may not see her, but you’ll know if she’s alive, well and laying properly by the brood pattern. Look for evenly distributed brood in various stages, in a semi circular shape across most of the frames in the center. If you don’t spot the queen, be on the lookout for new eggs - tiny, white & not much bigger than a pinhead but elongated, at the very bottom of empty cells.

If you get this far and see this scene, you have a well- functioning colony. Depending on how your nectar flow is going and the strength of your colony, you might decide to stop feeding sugar water. This decision would best be made with the advice of your local mentor and other experienced beeks near you.

Good luck and let us know how your inspection goes! :hugs::cherry_blossom:


Thank you!
Everything checks out!

When should we add the second box?



Wow, congrats @eltobin - so your queen looks healthy and is laying well I take it. Were all 8 frames at least 90% built out with drawn comb, that were in turn 90% full of food stores and brood in various stages of development? Also 90% covered with bees on both sides of each frame? If you can say yes to each of these based on what you saw, then you can add your second brood box. However, that would also depend on how strong & long your nectar flow is expected to be at this point in the season where you are. Local advice is extremely important when gauging your timing, and other critical decision factors.

More details on this step are discussed at length here, just type When to add the second brood box in the search area.


You have nailed it Eva, there is nothing that I would add, your advise is clear, precise and accurate, a feather in your cap for you.



Only thing I’d change is your % of frame usage … 90% is very close tolerances ! For an untrained Newbee 90% instead of the older standard 80% might be putting her colony to the no return “Swarm-mode… I’ve always used the 80% plus as a safe but enough bees n comb to move a Super on.
I’ve read n reread your notes. Very good help young lady ! That should direct n keep most of us out of trouble (even experimenting me ! I’m always trying things a little on the edge ! :+1:



When adding the second box, does Queen Excluder go on top or below?


It depends on what kind of box you are adding. :blush:

If it is a second brood box, the queen excluder goes on top of it. In your climate, you should have two deeps for brood, otherwise you will have trouble keeping them alive over winter.

If it is the Flow super, the queen excluder goes below it.


We have the super



I would not add the Flow super until you have 2 full deep brood boxes. But when you do add it, the queen excluder must go underneath it to stop the queen from laying in your honey harvest area. :wink:


Hey Dawn,

If I add a box :package: of chocolates to the beehive where do I put the Queen Excluder ? :thinking::grinning: :honeybee:


If you send the box of chocolates to me instead, you won’t have to worry about that. :smile:


Young lady ! If I send that box :package: of candy to you I’ll have more than mite problems ! Love your humor ! Have a great weekend. Tomorrow I’m off to my daughters Apiary to see if I’m winning/scoring any progress with my poisoned :nauseated_face: hive … Wish me luck … maybe I will add a Q.E. Again to Hemlock Hive !

Cheers n blessings,


Thanks everyone! I feel like I’m asking silly questions.


You are asking the kind of questions that every new beekeeper asks. It would be silly not to ask them, and then do the wrong thing. So keep asking, keep reading, maybe get a beginner’s book on beekeeping (Beekeeping for Dummies isn’t a bad starting place). :blush:

Don’t worry about Jerry and me - we often tease each other. It doesn’t mean that we are laughing at you. :wink: