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Optical Illusion or Misaligned Cells


New Flow Owner but am Experienced Beekeeper…3 Flow Hives from Package Bees (Spring 2017)

See photos here: https://goo.gl/photos/SsC7N2sKgT76x82v9

After completing two, 9-frame (8 plus 1) brood boxes, each hive has now been provided with a Flow Super. My wife & I both read and re-read the reset instructions dealing with first-time use of the flow frames. I’m confident that we did it right. However, when viewing the frames through the side & back windows, I think I see cells that are poorly aligned.

However, the bees are actively entering most of the cells and cleaning (I assume) each. I did detect a slight trace of honey in an end cell near the back of the hive today. We carefully inspected the frames before putting them in and didn’t see anything that looked too out of place though the out-of-the-box flow frames are not the almost pristine comb alignment that I’m used to seeing in a super.

Am I seeing things or does all appear well?

By the way, what I thought initially about flow frames seems to be true…you have to crowd the bees a bit to get them in there. Sort of a kin to doing section honey or honey rounds…all require high bee populations and careful control of space or they don’t complete fill all of the cells.

We’re still happy with the Flow Hives but hoping something isn’t amiss with the alignment…maybe I need new glasses??

Thanks for you reply in advance.

Chattanooga, TN USA


I don’t think you need new glasses. :smile:

Some of your cells definitely look a bit skewed to me. I have seen this in my own frames, usually after shipping to me. I deal with this by inserting the Flow key in the left of the upper slot, turning, then the middle, turn again, then the right and turn again. Make sure the wires are tight before you do all of this (if you try to gently flex the frame, it doesn’t bend). You can do what I just described even when the frames are on the hive. Turning the key in the upper slot won’t hurt any work that the bees have done on properly aligned cells.

The more expensive solution is to buy a second Flow key ($15 + Postage) from the www.honeyflow.com shop. You can then put two keys into the slot at the same time, and both keys turned together do a better job of aligning the cells.


Thank you for your quick reply.

I have multiple Flow Keys so I’ll head out to the beeyard in the morning and see if we can do the fix.

Thanks again.



Just put the keys in the upper slot, then you won’t undo anything your bees have built. :blush:

If you put them in the lower slot, all of the stores will start to leak… :flushed:


Understood. Will do. Thanks again.



Hi Gary…I have to be honest, I am really struggling to see any misalignment on your cells, I can not be sure of course, but would be surprised . I’m seeing optical illusions everywhere in your photos. I remember being concerned with my own flow frames initially. Anyhow, I think the advice given by Dawn is very good regarding setting the cells for filling, and worth doing (regardless of whether it is an optical illusion or not), every time you set them.


Good Morning Dan,

Thank you for your reply.

I understand and agree. I’ll do what Dawn suggests today just to be as
sure as I can. Considering the geometry of cells in nature and the Flow
Frame design/construction, I have asked myself a thousand times is a
misalignment there are not. I examined each frame when we removed it from
its protective cardboard box and attributed it to the design though there
were some separations. Also given any quality control at all on the part
of Flow, I would think it highly unlikely that ALL of the frames would have
some innate design flaw resulting in a misalignment which could not be
corrected by a “reset”.

So we’ll proceed and hope for the best. We have so many “news” around here
this year…new design hives, new bees, new location, new size hives (we’ve
always used 10-frames), double brood boxes, etc., that it’s difficult to
fully integrate the effects of each on the other.

Thank you again for taking time to reply. I’ll clean my glasses again and
head to the beeyard.



Another View…
I returned to the beeyard yesterday afternoon. I removed the Key Access Cap from each flow frame. I inserted two equally-spaced flow keys all the way to the far end of the frame through the TOP slot of each frame then simultaneously rotated both keys counterclockwise 90 degrees down into the “reset” position. I did NOT really feel, see, or detect ANY movement within the flow frame itself. I even applied a little gentle downward pressure on each flow key to make sure the comb was where it should be.

I also went back and inserted a single flow key into each frame with the same results, i.e., nothing. I even repositioned the flow key across the inside of the upper slot from left to right within the slot…basically amounting to left-center-right and rotated the key in each position. So I’ve done/tried every possible procedure to ensure the frames are in the reset position.

When finished doing this with all the frames, I looked carefully at the end of the top slot where the key access cap goes. As you know there are two “slots”…an upper and a lower. Before and after doing the above, the TOP slot had much more space (gap) than did the BOTTOM slot which to me suggests that the frame is and has been in the proper position all along, i.e., reset.

I removed two outside frames in one of the flow supers and did observe uncapped honey in the lower part of the frame. There were no signs of leakage anywhere. So I hope all of this says the frames are truly in the reset position (and have been).

As a side note, each of these two-month old package bee hives is busting at the seams with bees. They each have double brood boxes (8-frame hives with 9 frames) plus the single flow super. The top of the inner cover is jam-packed with bees in the space between the inner cover and the gabled roof. Ordinarily, with such populations, I would be adding more supers but from what I understand, that would not be the thing to do as it would likely cause them to not work in the flow super. I hope that’s the right logic.

Thank you for your comments…still learning this new fangled way of beekeeping. :slight_smile:

3 new photos · Album by Gary Ownsby

After being gone for a few days, I checked my hives today. Two of our three Flow Frame-equipped hives are placing honey into the Flow Frames. The third hive seems to be more interested in swarming than honey in the frames.

All three hives were started from three-pound packages of bees in April 2017. The honey in the frames is after almost 18 frames were completed with bees, brood, and honey in double brood chambers for each hive (8-frame plus 1 = 9 frames per brood box).

I’m still not quite convinced that there isn’t a misalignment issue but some certainly appear to be aligned well enough to hold honey.