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With or without frames?


I’m brand new to this and have a silly question.

I’ve got 3 Langstroth boxes on order and plan setting them up with the flowhive in the top box.
I’m thinking of not putting frames in the brood box (bottom box).
From what I’ve read bees are able to make their own area, and there is less chance of moth.

Good idea or not?
Should I just stick to the tried method and use foundation?



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I agree with Dexter. You NEED to get into the brood box. You still have ongoing hive inspection and maintenance and disease control. Think of the Flow Frames as a different form of extractor.


I am in full agreement here with a couple of things to consider. In some countries it is illegal to operate hive that does not allow comb to be easily removed for inspection. There are too many diseases which affect bees, you are doing a dis-service to your colony by not inspecting and taking care of them, and you may be contributing to the spread of disease to your neighbours hives and other wild colonies. They will not be more happy in a hive without frames but they will be pretty upset when break their brood comb doing an inspection, which could set them back several weeks, not good if it’s close to winter or they are a weak colony. Not everyone will agree on this, but if you are new to beekeeping our best suggestion is to stick with the standards for the time being and then you can experiment as you gain more expertise.


Hi, stick to the tried method & use full sheets of foundation. The best advice from Flow you should take on board is to hook up with your local bee club. When you get there, find out who in the group is the most successful with his/her hives & gravitate towards him/her. In the meantime learn as much as you can about Bee Culture & keeping bees. You may encounter negativity towards Flow at the club. Ignore that, learn all there is to know about Bee Culture, then you can make your own mind up. The world needs more beekeepers, so welcome aboard.


I like the idea of the bees being able to build comb to whatever size and specs that they see fit. So I’ll definitely be going with starter strips and let them do their thing. To each their own. Plenty of people are successful in both schools of thought.


Well fair enough, each to their own, but if he follows my advice & joins a club & gravitates to the most successful member, then he’ll find out which is the best method to use. I’m thinking from what you said that you haven’t got your first hive yet. I just hope you don’t have shb in your area if you decide to go down that rout.


No my experience in all with my dad when I was younger and tons and tons and tons of reading and talking to local beekeepers. I haven’t heard or read anything about SHB having anything to do with using foundation or foundationless techniques.


Might also be worth thinking about how you are planning to install your bees, i.e. swarm, package or nuc. With a swarm or package, your bees will be starting from scratch, no comb and no foundation to start from. To give them the best chance, frames with foundation allow the bees to start drawing out comb immediately and your queen could be laying in as little as a week, you will also be giving them somewhere to rest. With only frames or nothing at all then many bees will not be able to build comb as they will be clustering (clinging to each other), I would consider this to be wasted bee time especially at this stage of the colonies lifecycle. It could be several weeks before there is enough drawn comb for the queen to begin laying. A nuc package will come with established frames and this is considered the best headstart you can give them. Bees don’t live long, so my opinion is don’t muck around too much at this stage. Can I suggest you start with a few frames of foundation and once established then you can use empty frames or starter foundation. Just remember we only offer our humble opinions here, you will ultimately be the master of your bees destiny. As suggested, the best advice is to join a bee club, they are everywhere and their years of experience is free.


I have heard from several sources who use foundationless hives, that bees will draw out usable comb equally as fast from either. IE there will be just as many completed cells after 2 weeks from foundation as there is in a foundationless setup.


Ok, well there’s a veteran Ausie beekeeper with a video on Youtube, the title is “beekeeping: my no trap small hive beetle strategy”. You might wonder where the connection is. Well, left to their own devices, honeybees will draw more drone comb than us beekeepers actually want. That is the connection. To control shb we need to have a maximum of worker comb in the brood & a bare, absolute bare minimum of drone comb. That way you’ll have a good worker population & plenty of honey coming out of the Flow frames. You’ll certainly have shb in the hive but they wont get a chance to do any damage. The worker bees will chase them till they find somewhere to hide, then propolize them in. If you want to be successful with your beekeeping, follow this bloke. If you want to send him a gratuity, I have it from good authority that he loves Turkish Delight. You can hear him on Coast FM Radio on a segment called “If i can do it, you can do it”. cheers


Again, I guess to each their own. I fancy letting the bees decide what they need, and what is good for their hive…

"Drones are bad.

Drones, of course are normal. A normal healthy hive will have a
population in the spring of somewhere around 15% drones. The argument
for almost a century or more (really just a selling point for
foundation) was that drones eat honey, use energy and don’t provide
anything to the hive, therefore controlling the drone comb and therefore
the number of drones will make a hive more productive. All the
research I’ve heard of says the opposite is true. If you try to limit
the number of drones your production will decrease. Bees have an
instinctive need to make a certain number and fighting that is a waste
of effort. Other research I’ve seen says that you will end up with the
same number of drones no matter what you, the beekeeper do anyway.

Drone comb is bad.

This, of course, goes with the first one. The way a beekeeper
attempts to control drones is by having less drone comb. But
controlling drone comb is exactly the reason you end up with drone comb
in your supers and then end up needing an excluder. The bees want a
consolidated brood nest, but the lack of drone is more worrisome to
them, so if you don’t let them do it in the brood nest, they will raise a
patch of drones anywhere they can get some drone comb. If you want the
bees to stop building drone comb, stop taking it away from them."


Fair enough, your call, like I said, if you want to be successful with your bees, follow that bloke, simple.


From my understanding of things, keeping an eye on the Drone brood is a good indicator on the health of the colony, if your queen is failing then chances are there will be more drones, if you have a laying worker or workers, there will be more drones. And if the worker or workers are laying then it could be a sign of a failing queen. In countries where varroa is an issue, some beekeepers regular destroy drone comb as part of their varroa maintenance. Seems the key is healthy hive numbers.


Seeing this will be my first go will most likely go with frames.
Where I live are very few beekeepers around for advice.



having read through this post, we seem to have a mixture of members, no different to any other bee forum, I would say there’s two types of beekeeper, honey producers and bee producers, the former will give advice that will always yield more honey, and sometimes that will sound wrong to the bee producer, and visa versa

my take on keeping bees, has always been, bees come first, honey is a bonus, and therefore I use starter strips, firstly because I’m so tight I squeak, I can’t justify the money that is spent adding full foundation to every frame in a hive, only to remove it and replace with new 2yrs later, full foundation is used to give the bees a head start, which in turn means honey sooner.
bees can and will build comb the way they want it, worker/drone etc, but the cost is reduced honey, am I bothered…not

I do lots of things that your standard honey beekeeper does not approve of, but they work for me, and that’s all that matters, forums are great for help and advice, but at the end of the day, I take any information I see as useful, and forget the rest

here’s a commercial brood box, it had around 3 full sheets of foundation placed evenly across the box, the rest is wax starter strips, leaving the bees to build what they want, I don’t dummy down the space either, as some beeks will tell you to do, as this apiary gets a visit once a week, theirs no one dummying down a hollow log for wild colonies, so why is it needed in a hive, again it points towards loss of honey, as bees eat more to heat up a hive, eating more means less for the beekeeper

anyway, here’s my commercial with starters

wax starters in brood box

and a super added to the same brood box, again with starter strips

super and strips


I am running one hive with starter strips in half the frames, though as I run 14x12s I have reinforced the space with fishing line. When these are drawn they can have a go at the rest. I would never have started this way. I have gained experience with conventional beekeeping so that I feel more able to cope with the unconventional. It’s for this reason that I am ABSOLUTELY convinced that TBHs are not a beginners box.


As you see there are differences of opinion but as long as you stick to using frames as you have already suggested, you’ll be right. How you intend to apply those frames is entirely up to you. i.e. foundation, wax starters, fishing line, etc to be frank I think they will all work.


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Presumably…you mean follow Jeff Heriot and his beekeeping? I suspect the climate is very different to ours…so the beekeeping will be different.
There are several things about his beekeeping which …if he sells his honey…he should be aware that here in the UK would be frowned on. I am aware he likes a bargain and by his own admission…only spends the minimum on equipment.
Firstly…he uses a galvanised extractor…that is a big no no. They are not food safe. He also adds heated honey to the rest of his honey…thereby contaminating it so it is no longer a raw honey. His equipment is messy with old wax and black with age. Not particularly hygienic. He encourages robbing by putting out equipment to be cleaned by the bees…and we all know that this leads to transmission of disease such as AFB and EFB.
So when you are advising potential beekeepers about gurus of the industry…be sure you pick someone who uses …Best Practice.