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No bees in the flow frames at all after three weeks

Hi all,

So I just opened the hive for the first time since I settled it in three weeks ago. There is no activity in the Flow Frames themselves although they are making propolis on the underside of the inner cover and on the walls of the brood box (see photos below). There are heaps of bees in the brood box and almost none in the plastic.

From other posts I see that maybe this is not unusual. Maybe I left it too late for this year. I’m in Croydon, Victoria, Australia.

I did see a weird little beetle (sse pic below) and a couple of cockroaches in there but no ants thank goodness. Does this all seem normalish?

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You say there are lots of bees in the brood box.
How many frames of brood have you got?

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Your brood looks pretty quiet to me… though it’s hard to know without seeing the bees on the frames. What are your plans for winter? You may need to feed and either put another super on to be left on for honey stores or use the Flow frames for stores. Where’s the beetle?

Hey, here are the other photos. The forum has an upload limit that I was unaware of.

The whole brood box is packed with bees. When I first opening it I thought, “Oh no! They’re all dead!” but no. They’re just hanging out in the bottom building propolis edging.

Could it be that I looked at it in the afternoon? I thought it was still quite warm but Italian bees are early to bed aren’t they?

Ok, Small Hive beetle, squash them as soon as you find them. Can decimate a hive if left unchecked. Looks quiet in the brood box, how many frames have brood across them and on both sides? Make sure your queen is laying ok, check for eggs everytime you do an inspection, this saves you trouble looking for the queen. There is a little cross comb on the side wall, you can easily scrape this off with the hive tool.
Italians are very active and use a lot of energy, you see them still arriving just as night falls, the afternoon is grumpy hive time and when the foragers become defenders.


Thank you Rodderick. All eight brood box frames have bees on both sides busily doing stuff. I didn’t want to disturb them… Tomorrow I will go and pull the frames out and have a proper look in the morning.So Italians are energetic? I am such a beginner at this.

With the beetle, where would that have come from? From the beekeeper? Should I let him know? Also, I only saw two. It was interesting because the bees were trying to attack them. I killed one but the other escaped. How often should I go looking for them to kill them? And where do they hang out?

Thank you for your help.

Have you waxed the frames at all before putting them on?

This will at least get the bees up into the super, but I think you’re a little late in the season to expect much to happen in the Flow super.

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@Nezza I agree with @RBK. Take the flow frames off and hunker down for winter. Check the brood every couple of weeks for the next two or three months so you learn a bit more and then leave them until late August or early September, whenever it starts to warm up, and then put the flow super on.

During that time read up on SHB, management of SHB, wax moth, chalk brood, and foulbrood. Also read about swarm control so you don’t cause issues with neighbours. Oh, and make sure a suitable water source is in close proximity.

Other than that, look forward to your first honey season in the summer of 2017/2018.


It’s never a question of how much time as passed, but rather how crowded the bees are that moves them into the supers.


with flow frames I’ve seen it with my own eyes- I had three flow frame hives this year- the first two got their supers early: they didn’t touch the frames for months (clearly they got them too early)- the third- a swarm- was well built up in numbers before the flow was added: they had filled all the cracks in the flow frames within one day! they filled the frames with nectar over the next 6 weeks.

Of the other two: one suddenly started to work the frames- and they have now produced 24 kg’s of honey with another 12 waiting for me to collect it- the other has some mild chalk brood which it can’t seem to shake- and after 4 months they have only filled about 25% of the flow frames.


Thanks Semaphore. That’s reassuring. Thank you Michael. Fair enough.

Thanks RBK and SnowflakeHoney. I think you’re right. It’s probably just too late in the season… I wasn’t expecting it to be very full just not completely untouched.

They have water nearby and they’re using it so that’s sorted. I guess I’ll take the flow super off and try again next year. I’m disappointed but that’s the way it is. My own fault!

So should I tell my NUC provider that I have SHB or is it pretty common?

This is such a clever forum setup. It gives you advice as you go. It told me to concatenate my answers. Good advice all round here.

Unfortunately, SHB is common and here to stay. Two beetles is not an issue and if your hive is strong the bees will keep them at bay. They will try to attack the beetles but cannot penetrate their shell so the best they can do is corall them into a corner, however the beetles have a nifty trick up their sleeve whereby they can fool the bees into feeding them, so they never starve and can’t be killed unless it is at the end of a hive tool.

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Thanks Rodderick. I’ll just squish em then. I appreciate all the advice.


Definitely don’t let the beekeeper know about the beetles:) It’s kind of “build it & they will come”. Introduce a beehive into the area, & the beetles will find it.

As @Rodderick says, keep the hive strong (with worker bees) & the beetles wont get a chance to lay any eggs. They want to lay eggs in brood, dead bees & pollen. As long as all of that is out of reach of the beetles, you’ll have no problems.


@Nezza no need to be disappointed. When I orginally got my Nuc it was Feb. I had patience (no choice) and my first honey season I was rewarded with over 35kg honey!

And you’re right, this forum and the folk from all over the world that frequent it are fantastic.

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Hi all. So I went out again this morning and actually took the frames out of the brood box.

Two frames on the right side haven’t been drawn out which is odd because the hive was full of honey when I got it. Maybe the beekeeper put a couple of empty ones in there to give them room to move and to reduce the weight. The bees have created an almost full frame of their own on the left side. The brood looks patchy and there are brown patches. I found only a few SHBs and no grubs inside. I’m worried.

To add to that my super fell over, it got covered in honey from one of the brood box frames, the smoker didn’t have enough smoke and I dropped my hive tool and have no idea where it went. I was dripping sweat and I got honey all over my camera. I think I’ll chalk that one up to experience. ETA re the SHB - thanks I won’t bother him with it. I thought it might be like, you know, an STD lol. No worries.

Please have a look at these photos if you have a moment. I don’t like the look of the brown patches.

There brown patches are cocoons left by hatched brood, this is normal, the brood area will get darker as the cells are reused.

Pretty impressive honey coverage on the outside frame, all looks good.

Nice to see you using foundation.


Agree with @RBK, all looks good , nothing to worry about, except maybe where your hive tool disappeared to … hehe…


Agree with RBK & Rodderick! Looks great to me! But I’m a newbie too!! LOL

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Thank you SO MUCH! I was freaking out thinking I had SHB, Varroa mite and Foul brood. Just inexperience. I’ll get to know what it’s all supposed to look like.

I’m going to have a Bex and nice lie down now. Thanks again :heart: