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Using a flow Super as a brood box


Can I use a flow super (the box that has observation window and back opening) instead of the brood box that came with my complete flow hive? I would love to be able to peek inside the brood box through the observation window of the super (although I assume bees would probably seal the back opening with propolis). I would use regular frames of course, not flow frames.
Or should I strictly use a brood box for brood and not the flow super with observation window?


If you use the super as your brood you will not have it when you need to install your super. The flow super has, in addition to the cool window, cutouts that are aligned with the access to the flow frames. Which you will need when it comes time to harvest the honey.

Also, it will be more important to be able to see the flow frames rather than the brood frames. You don’t harvest brood frames.


You could easily put a window in your existing brood box.


I would buy an extra empty flow super with observation window from Flow and use it as my second brood box.
And keep the super with flow frames for later once the two brood boxes are full


Thanks but I would rather save time buy buying one from flow with the window already cut out


If you do that and open the back window, bees will fly out at you through the opening. The Flow frames have a special design to form a barrier across that rear opening, traditional frames do not. I wouldn’t recommend it.

I think @Rmcpb has a better idea with putting a window or two in the brood box. You will need some carpentry skills, but if you can’t do it yourself, I bet somebody at your local bee club would love to help you with it. Beekeeping seems to attract problem-solvers with crafting skills! :smile:


do the frames also form a solid barrier on the front side @Dawn_SD ? I ask because I think a window there for viewing would be a good modification?


The answer is yes. The bees will fill any gaps or bee space violations with propolis or wax. I’ve kept bees in a cardboard box.


I can’t get to my Flow frames for a while, and the diagrams are a bit variable, so I am afraid I can’t tell you for sure. :unamused:


You don’t want the ‘doors’ that are on the flow super on your brood box. You can of course do which ever, but you are making this more complicated than it needs to be. Use the brood box as a brood box. Use the super as the super. Once the bees are in both boxes you will have the window to get the inside view of the hive, in the super, where you will need it. You don’t really need two viewing windows. Patience grasshopper ; -D


With a jigsaw, a woodworking square, a drill and about an hour you could have an observation window with only minimal woodworking skills. You can get small pieces of clear plexiglass from most big box stores and local hardware stores, even some glass shops will sell it. The piece you cut out of the box if done carefully will become your window cover as it will naturally fit back into the hole you cut with only a blade kerf with gap. Then just pre-drill the plexiglass and screw it into place on the inside of the box, make a few wooden latches similar to the flow box has to hold that window cover in place and you’re done. You shouldn’t even have to cut the plexiglass if you plan the window ahead to the size of the plexiglass piece you get (Cut the hole 1/2-3/4" smaller then the plexi to give yourself a 1/4-3/8" lip to screw into).


Thanks all for the tips and advice
I will likely wait to add a Flow super to peek at the bees storing honey through the observation window.
Patience patience…


Absolutely right there… you can add windows to any box, just be sure to have a light proof cover on the side or back/front, wherever it is. Langstroth actually had glass in his early boxes. It’s what observation hives are all about, viewing access. I also agree with others, I wouldn’t use your flow box for that purpose.

Also remember that you can see in the brood box by direct inspection, but I understand that it would indeed be fun to just take a quick look without having to smoke the bees and so on…


A couple of reasons why I am doing this. I want to take advantage of looking into the brood box. When it is time to put the flow frames on I will just switch out the frames and put the flow frames in the observation box. This will hopefully let the bees adjust to the flow frames easier as the boxes smell like bees.


a simple way to keep an eye on the bees is to have a transparent cover board:

Easily exchanged with a standard cover board, and it’s usually the top box that you want to keep an eye on:

  • in summer to check on progress if a new super needs to be added,
  • in winter to check they have enough stores left and how big the cluster is.
    both being able to be done without opening up the hive, a big advantage if the weather is against you.


Maybe with the New flow 2 you can swap one of the super observation side panels for one of the brood side panels and have one in each.

Is there any reason an observation panel in the brood is a bad idea?


It’s not a bad idea as such. But as the outside frame in the broodbox is usually Honey, I wouldn’t expect so much to observe there. Maybe bee activity changes over time.
But I do often wish to be able to see that side of flow frame 6. It’s usually the last to get capped in my flow hives.
I do inspect my brood box often anyway, but like to leave the flow frames alone, so I’m happy with the location of the observation windows.