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What happens if full flow frames are not emptied?

Hi All, this is my second year for harvesting honey from my flow-hive. I emptied 3 flow frames in November, a month later they were full again! So I emptied another 3 just recently. It looks like I might be able to empty another one soon. (I will never empty more than 3 when all are full. i want to be sure the bees have enough honey through the winter)

What do the bees do when all frames are full and there is still plenty of nectar available?

Also, what’s the difference between harvesting honey before and after capping?

They may swarm, if there are enough drones around to mate with a new queen. If not, they may abscond and try to find a bigger home.

Yes I agree, they may decide to swarm. What is your location in the world? Do you have the hole in the crown board open? If so, the bees can move into the roof & start building there. It’s a good idea to have access for the bees into the roof for this purpose.

If you find the roof full of comb & honey, every nook & cranny in the honey super full of honey with a beard outside the hive, chances are: the colony is preparing to swarm.

Local knowledge is valuable because you can find out how long the honey flow is likely to last. Also keeping an eye on the 7-14 day weather outlook helps us decide whether to harvest all or part of the honey stores.

Where I am at Buderim, I currently harvest every honey frame, if they are full because I know the honey is still flowing & the weather outlook is fine.

Local knowledge can be “king”.

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Thank you Dawn and Jeff. I’m down in Melbourne.

The bees had already swarmed about a month before the frames were full. Unfortunately I missed the swarm, which landed only meters away from the hive but on a small branch of a young tree. The weight of the swarm broke the branch and they all dropped to the ground. By the time I came back with a box they had all disappeared. Exactly the same thing happened with the swarm from my other hive!

There are still plenty of flowers around here and the young flowering gums on the nature strip are just coming into blossom, so I’ll be harvesting some more honey soon.

You’re welcome Helmut. You might like to fill in your profile with your location & number of hives. cheers

PS if you are in a local bee club, you might like to ask these questions. Questions such as: how long will the honey flow last? Should I harvest all or part of the honey? for example. Don’t be put off by negative comments about the flow hive. Just focus on the management of the hive as if it was a traditional hive.

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One problem with leaving a full flow super on over winter is the honey can candy in the frames over the winter- making it hard to harvest next spring. In Adelaide our bees don’t really need a super of honey for winter as they forage right through the year.

So: my plan is to remove my flow supers a few weeks into winter and condense the hive down to a single brood for winter.

Many people don’t want to rob all the honey: but in some cases all they’ll end up achieving is swarming in spring from honeybound hives…

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All good feedback, thank you.

I have updated my profile :).


G’day Helmut, I just viewed your profile. It could be possible to trap the bees out from under your laundry roof. Let us know if we can help in that regard, cheers

Thanks Jeff, do you have any suggestions? I don’t mind them being there. I don’t want to open up the roof or the ceiling as it is all asbestos sheeting (corrugated on the roof).

Get ready for a reply from Mr Perseverance himself, Jeff know the game so well.

You can setup a trap-out. Much the same as I did at the last part of this video:

I tried smoking them out, but that didn’t work like I thought it would. Once you set the trap-out up early one morning, put the frame of brood as close as possible to the entrance the bees normally use. After a couple of hours, when the frame is covered in bees, gently place it into a brood box. Then place the brood box as close as possible to that entrance, leaving the lid partly open. The important thing to do is to make sure that all other possible entries are blocked. Fresh silicone will mask any bee odor around where you fix the trap-out, as well as any other place the bees try to get back inside through. The bees wont get stuck in the silicone before it sets, they’ll just keep away from it. The thing to monitor is that bees don’t block the funnel exit. As well as make sure bees don’t start returning into it.

PS, thank you @Peter48, cheers

PPS, at the time of making this video, I didn’t realize how effective silicone was at masking bee pheromones. I could have used it where the wooden square meets the cable drum.

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Fascinating video Jeff, thanks for that. I’ve learned something! I like your innovative spirit!

As my hive is way off the ground I can’t be bothered going to all that trouble :slight_smile: . I’m happy to leave them in the roof and catch them when they swarm. :slight_smile:

You’re welcome Helmut. Bees in the roof, in particular, if they are above a ceiling should be dealt with before they build a large nest, especially if beetles are in the area. When the hive eventually dies out, beetles will take over, with smelly slime going everywhere & soaking through the ceiling turning it moldy, which will need replacing.

If the colony issues a primary swarm, followed by a secondary swarm, then the remaining nest can become very vulnerable to SHB damage, that is if they are in the area. cheers