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Tilting a hive to drain rainwater out, then reversing tilt to drain honey?


I have flow hive frames in hand. Thank you !

I am now working on the rear cut outs and modifications to utilize them. The guide book says it is best to raise the front of the hive 1/2 inch so that the honey is flowing "downhill"when extracting from the rear. Since the hive is normally positioned in the opposite direction, tilting slightly forward so that rainwater drains out the front, I am wondering as to any suggestions or ideas others might have as to how to do this ? Is a 2x4 lever the easy solution ? These hives can get heavy.


I have been thinking about this as well.

If the hive is positioned to be (generally) level with a small tilt towards the back to facilitate the honey extraction, I wonder if it would work to finagle a bottom board with a forward internal tilt to provide drainage.

Or let the bottom board drain towards the back but put the entrance on top where the tilt won’t matter.


I think you need some sort of lower entrance to obtain a good airflow and cool the hive in hot weather as well as prevent condensation in cold weather. But you do not want water pooling inside the hive bottom board from rain . Ventilation from the opening at the hive bottom and a top opening is important and water pooling is an additional concern.


If you make the hive level all around and deploy 2 wedges - put them at the back of the hive normally to create a forwards tilt, and to the front of the hive when robbing with the Flow. It should work quite well.

Also while doing so you can “heft” the hive to judge the stores and weight. Apparently Lakeland Plastics in the UK have a luggage scale that is perfect for this!!!

Thanks to @Horsehillhoney I found out about hefting - I did know peeps weighed the hives but hefting or for the more delicate peeps a Luggage Scale can be deployed.

3 birds one stone!! :bee: :bee: :bee: :bee: :bee: :bee: :bee:


I would be rather concerned…if you are getting rainwater in the hive! Your hive shouldn’t leak. There may be some condensation on the inside walls of the hive…this occurs due to the range of temperature across the wall. The bees create humidity and warmth…the air around the bees is colder and so are the walls= condensation. If you have solid floors…the tilt from back to front allows drainage. However, in areas where there are varroa…most beekeepers use open mesh floors(OMF). So drainage happens through the mesh…so a tilt is not required.
The condensation in the hive is important…the bees use it to dilute the honey so they can eat it…a water supply. Condensation on the honey after they have uncapped it means they can eat it …especially if the honey has crystallised. Otherwise they must leave the hive to collect water. If you use top ventilation…this causes a draft through the hive and means the bees have to work a lot harder to keep the brood warm. Generally, when you see bees fanning at the entrance during the summer…it is not because they are too hot…it is because they are evaporating the water off the nectar so it can be stored as honey.


The bottom board includes an exposed lip which extends from the front of the hive. It is exposed to rain and functions as a landing area for the hive. If it tilts upward (the rear of the hive, then is lower) then rain tends to flow into the hive, pooling on the bottom board. Therefore, you want the front landing area of the hive to be lower so any water drains out. Condensation, rain, whatever.
However, the Flow Frame guide suggests that the hive be tilted down, toward the rear, so that honey flow is downhill flowing out the hive rear, the backside.This requires a change in angle when draining the flow frames -tilting forward normally, reversing and tilting backwards when draining honey.

After thinking about this ----- two thoughts---- First, it does not appear in the videos that anyone using the new flow frame changes the hive tilt. They look level. Second, if tilting is required it would be easy enough to place a small dowel or triangular wood strip under the middle of the hive with a removable wedge under the rear of the hive. The wedge is removed and the hive tilts back when removing honey. Just add a brick or some weight to the hive roof, on the rear and the hive tilts.


So do you use solid floors? My landing board slopes away at the front…so any rain wouldn’t go into the hive but we use open mesh floors so drainage isn’t a problem. I haven’t actually seen the flow frame but I would have thought that they would have a slope on them, inside the frame, so the honey flows out.


Yes, I have solid floors. Langstroth hives, 10 frames. The new flow frames are very clever in their design. They are much simpler than I anticipated they would be…I expected something like looking at an automobile engine, cam shaft, etc. They do not look to have any slope built into the lower drainage. It looks quite level. Of course, that would drain out 98% of the honey but a slight slope would help. Each frame can hold 2 liters of honey !


Hi Volbee, I’m thinking of 2 options. #1. You could put drain holes in the bottom board so water drains, or #2. You could have the front tilted down permanent & have a piece of 2x2 handy to place under the front for when your harvesting the honey, BUT don’t lift the front up to place that bit of 2x2 until most of the honey is drained, it wont be all that heavy by then.


For the bottom boards on the Complete Full flow the entrance slopes down and the whole bottom board has a slope back. So any rain landing at the entrance should run away from the hive. It also has a screened bottom board so it wouldn’t catch water anyway. If your bottom board could accommodate it, you may be able to plane some wood off at the entrance so it slopes away from the hive, then drill some small drain holes in the rear of the bottom board just in case. The hive could then be set up permanently with a slope to the back.


Place a dowel in the middle so you can change the tilt whenever you need to? One day it drains toward the front to keep the water out. The next day it drains toward the back so you can harvest the honey. Volbee is some kind of engineering genius.


Now that’s s good idea! I’m going to do this


Seemingly so, tussuck, until the day your hives begin “nodding in the wind” as the fulcrum
(word?) is influenced by improper frame weights and some 15knots of breeze!
Bees, thinking a tsunami is in the offing, would be buzzing around beefuddled, in their thousands :slight_smile:
Chocks would be needed also, I reckon.

The “harvest” point is mounted rearwards for more reasons than one.
I’ll be having it frontside and not upsetting any bee architecture.

Watch this space.



One could use a wedge system to keep the hive stable though. The main drawback is that for me it will not work as I run two 6x6" beams in a row and sit the hives on top so the actual ‘middle’ pivot point is in free space.


I have my hive tilted in the traditional forward manner. I used a car jack to lift the front of the hive the small amount that is needed. It was easy and worked well and didn’t bother the bees.


A block & tackle mounted off a sky hook would also work well.


Taken in good humor. I just have 2 hives so nothing needs to be very efficient!


Here ya go! Use this formula for proper hive tilt :rofl:


There is an error in the fourth line of that calculation… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: :heart_eyes:


@JeffH @Red_Hot_Chilipepper

I think you blokes might have missed the point perhaps. It is the incredible weight/volume of honey you get in a Flow hive.