Unable to Harvest Capped Frames - some won't crack open and flow

I’ve had my flow hive for 4 years and never had a problem harvesting. This year I have some capped honey in two of my frames that will not “crack” open and release the honey. I have read extensively on this and know many people suggest using two flow keys, one on each side, at the same time to make frames flow. I originally had honey in 4 frames that wouldn’t come out. Using two keys solved the problem in two of them, but in two others, the honey remains. I have used two keys at a time to open and close the frames several times over a matter of days, but a portion will just not open. What’s a girl to do?`

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Hello and welcome to the Flow forum:

Have you tried opening with your two keys in 20-25% increments to make it easier to open a section? Sometimes that can help.

Could it be crystallized? When did you last harvest these frames, and is there any rape seed or ivy in your area? Most honey crystallizes over time, and if the frames have been capped since early summer, or with fast-crystallizing honey, that would be the likely problem. You could use a cocktail stick (or unflavored toothpick) to lift a cap and see whether the honey in the underlying cell is crystallized.

One last thought, if you have left the Flow frames on the hive over winter, propolis may have gummed up the frames, making it very hard to open them. You could try to put the frames into the freezer, which makes the propolis very brittle, and doesn’t hurt the plastic. You may then find it easier to open the frames. Don’t do it while the honey is still very cold though - it gets very viscous and you may break the frames trying to open them.

Just a few thoughts :blush:


Hi Amy,
It would be worth contacting customer support for some help with this. We have some great trouble shooters who will work with you to get to the bottom of this - info@honeyflow.com

my guess is candied honey as Dawn suggests- candied honey will not come out.

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Another possibility could be Jellybush honey, which also wont come out.

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Thanks for your quick reply Dawn. I’ve been trying the trick with the two keys over and over again for several days with no luck.

I did try freezing them as you suggested. Then waiting until they returned to room temperature to try to open them. This worked REALLY well. I would say it opened 90% of my problem comb.

I contacted customer service for help with the small remaining cells. Not that I even needed to harvest that small amount of honey, but I wanted the cells empty and working properly for next season. They suggested bagging the frames in plastic (to make them waterproof) and submersing them in hot water (no hotter than 160 degrees) for 5-10 minutes. This did the trick! The only problem was the garbage bag I used to put the frames in must’ve torn, because water definitely got in the bag. But I was rinsing the frames clean anyway so it was no problem. The heat applied to the frames softened up whatever was causing them not to move.

I appreciate all of you reaching out to help me. Thank you!


Thank you for the feedback @LibrarianAmy. It is always helpful to know what advice has worked for people, and it enables us to give more complete suggestions to others with similar problems.