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Please help with flow frames

Two questions.

I bought my flow hive second hand (sorry could not afford a new one). It looked like it was unused. It’s a bit late, but should I have washed the frames, or did anything to them before I put them in service?

I have been inspecting the hive every two weeks. I added the super with flow frames about 5 weeks ago. I did miss an inspection because of unfavourable weather and now it is next to impossible to remove the flow frames for inspection.

There is comb all over the place, including between the flow frames and the queen excluder. I tried to lift one frame up with my tool after removing the key cover (top narrow wood cover with knobs), but everything is just stuck and I gave up.

I am ok with dealing with this issue in the broodbox because I can free one frame then pry the rest. The extra room in the sides of the 8-frame broodbox helps, but there is no room to spare with the 6 flow frames in the super.

Can I skip inspecting the flow frames altogether? I am now regretting buying it.

Hi Humpty, you’ll have to get used to removing flow frames because you can’t skip doing brood inspections, unless you want to remove the flow super, with frames intact in order to do a brood inspection.

They ARE harder to remove than normal frames, however it can be done. Just remove the wax from around one frame before placing the flat end of a hive tool under the lug. Then gently lever it up. Then go to the other end, lever it up with the J hook. Then alternate from one end to the other, lifting as you go.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the flow team had a video on how to remove flow frames. It might be worth your while looking into that.

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Thanks.

I went to the Honeyflow website first but couldn’t find anything regarding removing difficult flow frames from the super. I checked the FAQs and all the menus, but maybe I missed it. It would be good if I can see a video how it is done.

I only found a reference to this forum so I guess this is Flow’s customer service?

I’ve been to a couple of beekeeping courses now but no one had (or recommended) a flow hive, so maybe this is why?

Do as @JeffH has described and you will get the frame out. There is no sideways movement, you just have to work each end of the frame a little at a time.
You could have smeared of painted bees wax on the Flow frames before fitting the super, it gets the bees quickly interested in sealing the cracks in the frame and storing the honey there, but if you didn’t there is no point in closing the gate after the horse has left the paddock, the bees will still work the cells.
Important that you learn how to check the frames by removing them so that you can see that at least 80% of the cells are capped and the honey is ripe and ready to be drained. I have seen one side of a frame 80% capped and the other side less than 20% so if that frame was drained it would have fermented because the water content would have been too high.
Cheers

Hi Humpty,

This is not Flow Customer Service - the forum is where beekeepers can chat to each other and seek advice etc.

For customer support you can contact info@honeyflow.com

For inspections you can remove the entire super to access the brood box. It’s easiest to do with with someone else to help. If it is full of honey and you find it heavy, you can remove the frames first. Keep track of which order they came out so you can replace them in the same order - same for the brood frames.

It would be a good idea to join your local bee club if you haven’t already, and try to find a beekeeping mentor.

Have you ever kept bees before?

Do you have a hive tool? (This is useful for easing out the Flow Frames).

I guess you have a big decision ahead as to whether to sell your bees as an established hive, ask someone else to take on care of the bees, or bite the bullet and tidy up your hive a bit and learn what you can.

Inspections are essential with any hive so that will need to be factored in.

If you need any assistance with product related queries or anything specifically related to using a Flow Hive or Flow Frames, please contact info@honeyflow.com

For beekeeping advice and general queries you will find this forum gives you access to some very knowledgeable and helpful folk.

Good luck - it sounds like you’ve got off to a tricky start but it should get easier :slight_smile:

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Removing a Flow Frame that the bees have propolized in isn’t a major issue but it can take a bit of time till you have the idea. It does get easier with practice, so persevere with it and you will learn how to go about it.
Flow have excellent customer service and you will also get good advice and tips from the many Flow Hive owners on the forum.
Some bee keeping courses have Flow Hives as part of the course but sadly there are still some courses being run by people that have little or no knowledge about them.
I have last Sunday returned from the Gold Coast, a 540 klm trip and two days helping beginners out with Flow Hives because their local bee group don’t make them welcome because as a group they don’t like them. That isn’t Flows fault, it is about the local group not even being interested in knowing about the Flow Hive system.
Cheers

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Ok thanks, I bought one of these from ebay, which I’m using to get out my wooden frames and works great.
download

I see there are different hive tools, are they any better maybe?

I do not want to skip inspections, I do understand that, and I think I’m ok with determining what’s brood and capped honey, larvae etc. The only problem I have is getting the flow frames out without making a big mess.

I thought that the flow hive system was somewhat easier on the bees and it is advertised as being bee friendly.

First thing on the About page on the honeyflow website it says: “So much easier for the beekeeper and so much easier on the bees”. Looks like I still have to hack into the comb anyway. Maybe I’m doing something wrong. I’ll try again in the weekend.

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That tool should work well for you. You can use it to gently prise out the Flow Frames and also to remove a bit of the excess comb. Yes using a Flow Hive should make beekeeping easier - and harvesting specifically - once you’ve tidied your hive up a bit I trust you will find this to be the case. It won’t do the beekeeping for you though and at the moment it sounds like things have got a little out of control in the hive is all. Hope all goes well with the tidy up and do let us know if you need any further assistance. Photos are often handy as well. Have a great weekend and let us know how you go :slight_smile:

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That style is my favorite one. You shouldn’t need a different one.

I have a couple of questions for you. Are you sure that you have a genuine Flow hive? If you are not sure, if you take a picture of it, and of the Flow frames, we can tell you for sure.

Secondly, have you tried @JeffH’s suggestions? I have a little additional tweaking of his ideas.

  1. Put the flat blade end of your hive tool between the ends two frames and very gently twist it to move the frames apart by a couple of millimeters. Do the same at the other end. This breaks any wax or propolis gluing frames together.
  2. Put your fingers into the Flow key cap - there are two little indentations which will take fingertips. Then put the J hook of your hive tool under the other end of the frame, near the box wall. Gently lever the frame up with hook, while lifting with your fingertips in the other end. You need to try to lift the frame straight up, as they are a tight fit in the box. Tilting the frame while lifting will make it much harder to lift and may damage the frame.

That is how I do it and it works every time. Hope it might help a bit. If you post a picture here, we will be able to help you more. :blush:

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The hive tool is the same as I use, use the flat chisel end to work under the ‘key entry’ end and push it in and lever the frame up a mm or two then with the hook end get under the lug and lever it up.
it isn’t the tool at fault, you just need to use it and feel confident.
The longer you delay inspections the more bur comb the bees will have made for you to clean up. I try to my inspections every 2 weeks but if it slides to 3 weeks there is noticeably more cleaning up for me to do. Bur comb is a fact of life in any bee hive, Flow or conventional. Scraping it off is just a part of being a good bee keeper.

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What Dawn is explaining there is about removing the brood frames. There should be no sideways movement in the Flow Frames at all. Her advice for freeing up the brood frames is correct.
When I’m doing a brood box inspection and the super is heavy with honey I have to remove 3 of the flow frames so the lift is lighter for me.

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Yes, it is also made in Australia. I got part of the box which I was using in the smoker.

What I tried so far was to insert the flat end of my hive tool under the rear lip of one flow frame (wooden cover removed). I broke the wax that I could reach with the hive tool, but there is a lot of wax comb between the flow frame and the queen excluder, and possibly in the bottom sides too. When I try to lift with the hive tool, everything feels stuck, and doesn’t feel right trying any harder, if you know what I mean.

I can’t do that. There is no room at all. The frames go into the super snuggly…

Yes that sounds doable, but only after the burr comb is removed. That seems to be my problem I think. How am I going to break the excess comb from the bottom of the frames if I can’t reach it, with no wriggle room between frames? I don’t ave this problem at all in the brood box with wooden frames.

Someone mentioned a video, but I can’t find it. If anyone has a link it would be appreciated. All I found videos of happy people extracting honey with no issues.

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Thanks. I can see that. I hope the easy of extraction will make up for that extra work to remove the frames.

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Hi Humpty,

Welcome to the forum. There’s a video here of Cedar removing the frames:

Where abouts in Perth are you? Feel free to PM me if you don’t want to disclose to public. If I’m nearby I may be able to assist.

Cutting any rogue/ burr comb helps in releasing frames. Bees will rebuild, don’t be afraid to use a little more force than required.

Cheers,
Fred

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Thanks for that video. He mentions a “lift point” just at the bottom of the frame, where it sits on the metal strip. He inserts the hive tool there and levers the frame up to help it break free from the queen excluder.

That sounds good, except I don’t think I have that lift point on my frames. They just sit flush on that metal strip and can’t insert my hive tool there. I have to check and confirm. Maybe it is a new feature on more recent frames versions?

Do you guys remove the burr comb every time, or just break it and leave it there? They will re do it so I don’t know whether it saves them some energy if I leave it there.

BTW, he really makes it look easy, I’m definitely struggling more than that. I need to see the rest of the video…

I do a ‘quick’ clean (i’m known for quick inspections… :roll_eyes:) even though they will rebuild it. It will reduce squishing bees when you put the super back on and discourage the queen from laying in the burr comb.

Take your time. The days are still warm. Your bees will let you know if they’re upset. With experience, the confidence will come and it will become easier and quicker.

Is it safe to assume you’re a new beekeeper?

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Bees are quite hygienic creatures, and will cleanup and deal with anything else left unattended… unless it’s a disease. Fortunately Perth is relatively good in terms of disease control. So don’t stress.

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Yes. First year.

They did.

I was scraping it off with the hive tool, and store it in a sealed container. So I’ll keep doing that.

If you watch the video again you will see that once the frame is raised a couple of mm there is a gap between the bottom of the frame and the metal strip that you can slide the hive tool into the help lift the frame. That gap is not there till you have raised the frame enough to slide the hive toll under the frame.
Cheers

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OK, I see what you mean. I’ll have another go on Sunday.
Thanks.

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