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Propolis build up in flow frames

I put a super of 7 flow frames on top of my two brood boxes. Brood boxes are full of brood and honey. I have 2 frames left in the brood boxes that aren’t drawn out and filled. (Started with a nuc and new hive 8 weeks ago). The bees are filling all the cracks in the flow frame cells with propolis. They are not building out the frames with wax. They are not filling the propolis filled cells with honey. I’m thinking about removing the flow frames and replacing with standard frames as I am worried about the hive swarming as there is very little room in the brood boxes and the bees are not drawing comb in the flow frames. Any suggestions?

Sorry Dave,

I think I’ll dodge this one ! I’m way behind you as for a Flow-Hive. Just got one. I’d keep the extra honey super handy or I’ve seen suggestions of placing a honey super above the flow-super a few times on here. That’s my two bits worth.

Maybe someone else will see you note here shortly. Always someone coming online n reading new notes. I’m up in Washington state so not sure we have enough summer left to put the flow-frames this year

Good luck bro.

Hi Dave, Welcome… you may have installed the flow super a bit soon which would explain what you think is propolis in the gaps. There are a few threads on when to add the Flow super. My recommendation is to add the Flow frames when your hive is full and they are building comb outside the frames (above or below), Do you have bees covering 80-90% of all your frames in the brood boxes? Is there a nectar flow in your area where the bees are bringing in surplus nectar to their needs? Of the brood frames in the brood boxes, are the honey frames fully capped? Are they showing signs of being honey bound (nectar where brood should be)? If so, then add the Flow.

If you have frames in your brood box that have not been fully drawn out then there should not be an issue with space. If you are worried about the hive swarming then check for swarm cells (queen cells). If this is a young colony with a new queen, it is unlikely they will swarm (but don’t quote me, stuff happens)

You have two options:

  1. Leave the Flow where it is? They will eventually begin to put honey up there, but only if the brood boxes are full.
  2. Take it off, wait until they are ready or a nectar flow has started, as detailed above. If you are concerned and convinced that they are filling with propolis instead of wax, then take it off.
    Hope that helps…

This is strictly what I would do, likely overkill

I am contributing this to some extent to the flow frames being put on a bit too soon. There’s nothing wrong with what the bees have done and mine have done it as well. Pull the frames off, put them in the freezer if you can so wax moths don’t get to them. But the men a bag after pulling them out of the freezer. Leave them in the freezer for a good 24 to 48 hours, then put them in a plastic bag and seal them up well. Repeat the process of freezing just before you put them back on the hive. Freezing will help kill anything that may be growing that you don’t want in your hive due to the bees not having a full colony to help maintain any unwanted past.

I would pull it off until there is a flow. Apparently right now there is not.

What is the downside of leaving the flow hive in place? Is some propolis in the flow hive bad in some way?

It may make the frames hard to open when you want to drain. In that case, 24 hours in the freezer will make it brittle so that it will shatter easily when you want to open the cells. Also, I find propolis bitter, so if you get it in the honey, you may find that you want to strain out the propolis, which adds an extra (sticky) step, and you can no longer say that your honey is unstrained… :wink:

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I don’t see it as any significant problem if they propolize a bit, but if they aren’t using it, it’s just extra space for them to manage.

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I was going to start a similar thread until I saw this one. With our flow frames, the bees are using both propolis and wax to fill gaps. I might have put the flow frames super on a tad bit too early (although going by the 80% “rule”, I’d say we were doing alright).

However, it is getting more busy in the flow frames, so I was planning on just leaving the flow frames as they are. I just read in this thread that putting the flow frames in the freezer makes the propolis more brittle so that it’ll be easier to “crack open” the frames with the key.

I was wondering, though, if you wait with harvesting until a very warm day, wouldn’t the propolis be “fluid” enough to not cause a problem when trying to open the flow frames for harvesting? (I did not know about propolis possibly giving a somewhat bitter taste to the honey, so that might be a problem…).

The bees have started storing honey in the flow super, and are just starting to cap some of the cells. I estimate I should be harvesting a couple flow frames in the next week to 10days depending on the weather- we’ve had quite a few rainy cold days lately. I’ll post an update after I harvest the first frames.

Thanks for your responses.