Replacing old frames for new ones

Hi guys,
A bit of a newbie question here.

In a Flow Hive, how do you take out old brood frames when they get black? Do you just take out the old frames before winter and put in new frames (I am using foundationless frames) or swap over the frame order so that the old frames are on the outside then remove?
When I got my nuc, they came with 4 old plastic frames drawn out and I would prefer that the bees draw out the comb they want, thus using foundationless frames.

I am not keen on taking out frames with eggs or larvae on them, but how do I take out old frames without having the kill off the eggs/larvae in them?

In a wooden brood box, particularly, the outer frames are have no brood, so you can take a frame away and replace it with your starter strip frame.
You need to work out old brood frames by gradually moving them towards the side of the box. Every time you look in, move a frame or two.
Do this in the summer when the bees are busy and they can replace the comb. In the autumn it’s time to leave the bees to prepare for winter in peace.


I totally agree with @Dee’s suggestion.

If you study the laying pattern of a queen bee, you should notice that she prefers to lay worker brood in the center of the middle frames of a brood box. Drone brood tends to be laid in the cooler edge areas. The frames up against the hive wall usually have mostly honey and some pollen - often not much brood. So what Dee is suggesting is that you gradually move the old frame towards the wall, giving the brood in it time to hatch, and allowing the bees to replace with honey if they can. You don’t want to move the frame too fast, depending on your climate, because brood against the wall may not be kept warm enough, or fed properly by the nurse bees. If you move it over 3 or 4 weeks, the brood should do fine.

My hives have a double brood box, and often the queen seems to prefer the lower box for laying. In this case, I can move the frame up one box and put a queen excluder above the lower box. When the brood has hatched, I can remove the frame without killing any larvae.

I would like to re-emphasize what Dee said - do this in summer, when there is a good honey flow. Making new comb costs the bees a lot of food, and moving things around upsets them too. They will recover much more quickly if you are considerate with your timing of rearranging their home. :wink:



Thanks for the responses, I appreciate it!

It is summer here in Australia so I better get cracking!

I am thinking along the lines of:
(O = old frame, N = new frame)
Current: NN OOOO NN
Next step: NO NOON ON
Then at end of summer: ON ONNO NO
And just before the following summer: OO NNNN OO (where I can replace the O frames for starter strip frames.

But only if things have gone well in the previous step, go to the next.

Last question: If I take the honey frames out, wont this be taking away their pollen and honey? I guess this means I would need to ensure there is plenty honey in the supers. My bees dont like the sugar mix I make for them.

Hi Philip, I live in Au. S.E.Qld. My brood frames don’t get a chance to get really black, I’m constantly doing swarm control. Depending where you live, you’ll probably need to factor in swarm control during spring.

Yes but that’s why you do it in the summer when the bees replace stores easily.
Keep the frames, popped in a freezer. They are so useful for making nucs, feeding the bees in a dearth, adding to a newly caught swarm and to an artificial swarm. Keep them empty as well as they are useful for giving the queen instant laying space when you do a split. Old empty brood comb is a good swarm attractant in a bait box; a myriad of uses.

Can someone explain why jape’s posts are hidden in this thread? I think they have some good advice/ideas on frame management.


I think he’s banned ???

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Yes I agree. I looked at some of his hidden content. It makes a lot of good sense. Maybe some people are a bit sensitive & get offended a bit too easy. Or maybe just don’t want to read the truth.

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He was banned after an ‘interesting’ interaction with @adagna apparently. Agree @RBK & @JeffH :slight_smile:


I really like the rotation suggestion to go from outside to inside and then up through super based on frame/comb colour, I’ll give it a try this season as it is a simple/easy to remember system for an (at times) tedious problem to manage.

Must have been a doozy of a bust up to earn a ban considering most beekeepers don’t agree at the best of times!


It wasn’t about a beekeeping issue. Apparently he was exceptionally rude to a moderator, and refused to apologize when given a chance to do so. Just hearsay, but that was my memory of events.

He is alive and well on which is the best forum ever for support and proper advice from experienced beekeepers. BUT its definitely the rudest and most hostile

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I say if the bees are still using the comb, don’t worry about it. I only rotate out comb they don’t seem to be using or comb that is wavy or too fat.

I have two boxes running with 8 frames in each, what number of extra frames do others have to manage there hives.

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I keep a spare complete hive with an extra 10 frames. I helped out with a harvest today and needed replacement frames for the ones removed for harvest.
From what I understand you cannot have enough equipment…
Having said that with Flow frames you shouldn’t really need any extras.

But you’ll still need more brood boxes when you split the colonies

It’s useful to remove old frames which can have a build up of pesticides and disease and hive treatments
I was always told three years but I change frames I can’t see through. Sometimes this is two years sometimes four…It depends how many brood cycles have been through them.
When you do a split you will get new frames and the whole colony will be on new frames if you re-unite them when you have chosen the best queen.
I change frames by taking an old frame out from the back of the brood box, replacing it with a new frame of foundation at the front at each inspection once the weather warms up and the colony is motoring. That way a whole box is done in 10 weeks.
You can do a shook swarm…but I hate losing brood so never do it.
Swarms and package bees are great comb drawing machines

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