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Noob questions - Part I


Hello there fellow bee lovers. I have spent some time reading this amazing forum. It is quite interesting and I am learning a lot.

I have some pics that I want to ask some questions about if i can. But the forums only let me post one picture (sigh) so i have to do a few posts to get this across:

Part I

First, collection from flow hive. I went out to inspect my hive (not a full inspection just peeking in the windows) and I saw this beautiful sight:

So i guess the first question is how do i know when I take honey and from which flow frame? It looks to me like ht 3rd from the right (middle one) is just about completely full.

Secondly, once i take it, the bees will just know they are empty and start refilling?

Onto part 2…


Thirdly, I saw this this morning too:

Should I be concerned? Its pretty thick.

I read on one of the posts to look for queen cells when I inspect later on, how do I do that? What does a queen cell look like?

I don’t want them to leave, they are doing so good this year so I am looking for noobie advice please.

On a side note, my daughter and I are doing this together and it has been an amazing experience so far!



Lastly, isnt this just beautiful:

Thanks guys and gals.


The only way to be absolutely certain, is to lift them out and inspect them. You really can’t tell from the end. For example, mine looked even more full than yours, but when I lifted out that 3rd frame, there was a huge arc of empty cells across the lower half of the frame, as if the bees were leaving space for the queen to lay. We made more space for her in the brood box, and they filled those empty cells and capped them in about 2 weeks. If I had drained that frame without checking, there would be a big risk of honey leaking into the hive through the open cells. You need the cappings in place to hold the honey inside the Flow frame and direct the flow into the collection channel.

Absolutely, if there is a nectar flow. My bees removed the cappings and repaired the cells in less than 2 days. However, nectar flow is done in my region for now, so they are not refilling the cells.

Looks like bearding. If the weather is hot and/or very humid, that is pretty typical.

This leaflet has some great pictures, and excellent advice on what to do if you find any:

Your side window does should a gorgeous view. Lovely looking bees you have there. Hopefully they will cap that side soon. My bees never have capped that last frame face. Just not enough of a nectar flow. Such is life in our dry California climate! :wink:


Wow @Dawn_SD thank you so much!
This is so helpful.

I live in PA, so the weather is hot and humid but we have tons of water and trees and flowers for them.

That is very helpful about inspecting the flow frames… I haven’t done that. I inspect the hive but not the flow portion. Dang. might have messed up if you didnt help me.

Thank you!


Dawn is right. As always :wink:
Are there any classes you can go to?
You have to learn how to manage a brood box. Knowing how a colony works will tell you when to expect queen cells and why. It will make your beekeeping much more enjoyable.


I’m in southern NJ on the PA/DE border. The major flow is over and my major harvest is completed. I might get a few hundred pounds more, but nothing substantial.

Decide what you are going to do for Varroa Destructor mites, check the 2 brood boxes for health and honey storage, and decide what you are going to do with the open honey in the Flow super when you remove it for winter.


I have to see if there are any offered in my local. I haven’t seen any so may have to expand my direction.

Are they just called “bee keeping classes”?


What do you do for mites? and you dont think they will cap it before the winter? I mean we still have all of August and Sept which can be warmer no?

Do most remove the flow for the winter?

Thank you


Warmer doesn’t equal wax making just like flowers do not equal honey. It takes mucho honey to make wax and the bees usually are less apt to use valuable honey for capping this late in the season.

For mites
I test mite levels using an alcohol wash: I treat with Apivar right now (honey supers off), leave it on for 6 weeks and remove, and then re-install the honey supers incase there is a fall flow (goldenrod and asters)

Around Thanksgiving, I use Oxalic acid vapor to finish off the mites the bees acquired when they inevitably rob out the dead hives of folks who didn’t treat lol. Oxalic acid doesn’t get the mites under the cappings, which there should be none of at that time. I do it again on Groundhog’s Day.

The bees that are being made now and for the next several weeks are my most important bees: They are responsible for feeding and raising the bees that have to make it through winter. Sick bees can’t adequately feed and care for the bees that need to survive winter.


I want to say thank you for the help but I am lost.

So you remove supers? and then put some acid in the hive and it kills mites but not bees? The bees have enough space even though you removed the supers?


Yes: The bees will have plenty of space because their population is declining. The queen is laying less and less and in early autumn the colony will evict the drones. You can go from 60,000 bees to 10,000 or less.

If you leave the Flow super with queen excluder on the hive for winter, the bees will move up into the super in the winter but the queen will be left to freeze to death because she can’t go through the excluder.

If you leave the super but remove the excluder, you run the risk of the queen laying eggs in the Flow frames which is not desirable.

Apivar: http://www.apivar.co.nz/information.htm

Oxalic Acid Vaporization: http://www.beeculture.com/oxalic-acid-effective-easy-on-bees-but/


@Dawn_SD, sometimes you’re a genius… :wink:

… there was a huge arc of empty cells across the lower half of the frame, as if the bees were leaving space for the queen to lay.

That never crossed my mind last season. It was the exact issue I faced in relation to how they were filling my frames…and that never crossed my mind but it makes sense. I forced them to fill the space by liberally flicking honey water over the empty space. If it happens again this coming season I might try cycling frames through the brood box instead.



Wow @JeffH this is amazing. I never seen anything like it. Thank you for sharing this!


So i went to just take a peek after all these replies and i am excited - it looks like they are capping it off!!

Take a look at the side by side from just one day. Unless I am just seeing what i want it looks like more is capped!


Wow, that’s great! There must be a flow on where you are, possibly sweet pepperbush.


Yah you should see it today! Its even more capped. Its amazing. I am gonna try and do an inspection on Wednesday and see what I can see.

Thank you for all the help and advice.


So does every single cell need to be capped before i take honey from the flow frame?


No. Around 90% will usually do, sometimes less. What you are aiming for is to harvest honey with a water content of less than 18.6%. The bees usually cap it when it is less than that, so the amount of cappings help you to know if it is ready.

If the water is over 18.6% the honey can ferment from yeasts which are naturally present in the hive. It is still safe to eat, but you may want to freeze it so that it doesn’t turn into mead. You can’t sell it as honey if the water content is too high.

An easy way to be sure, is to buy a simple refractometer. They are $30-$40 on eBay and Amazon - just make sure you get one for honey, there are others, and they won’t work. :blush:

I got this one, and my honey is 16.5 to 17.5% water from the Flow frames:



wow you are awesome!!
thank you.

They are about 98% capped. There was a section that had maybe 9-10 cells not capped. But the flow hive box is so heavy as a weight lifter, I can barely lift the thing. Its amazing!!