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Yucky flow frames

Ok, hi people.
You may say “ not another person on about flow frames and cleaning” well yes I am and no I am not a dill but all references about cleaning frames seem to be diverted to an unrelated topic and no answer is given. Perhaps we are training to be politicians, because if you are you will surely win the election.
Enough off my bleating - my flow hive is one of the originals 5+ years old, the frames are dirty, propilis, honey, old and wax making them hard to operate and not allowing the honey to flow freely. It is not my imagination and the bees are not doing the cleaning in line with the comments from the flow people ( bees clean the frames etc) I spent 7 hours yesterday trying to clean one frame. I disassembled frame and I put it in water at 75 degrees.- I brushed it. I put it in soapy water at 75 degrees and brushed it. I put it in oven for 2 hours at 80 degrees and then brushed it all to no avail whilst wondering whether the person offering advice to place in the dishwasher was “ pulling my leg “
Subsequently reassembled, cursed and placed back in the hive. My mother would not have called it clean and neither would I.
Is there a magic potion, method to clean the frames
Is it just patience and elbow grease
Do I buy a replacement frame ever year and change out on a “ rolling basis” I am not angry if I have to do this as beekeeping is my hobby not my income but I do not wish to outlay more money than I have too.
HAs anybody successfully cleaned frames that are 4+ years old, if so, can you tell me how?
Please stick to the subject if you elect to respond, I do not need to know what did not work, only what does work
I await your advice
Cheers

It seems that most of the cleaning can be accomplished with light elbow grease or pressurized water and the proper solvent.

For honey, warm water will do.

For propolis, you will need an organic solvent, I’d probably start with ethanol. Not sure what the plastic will tolerate, but other more aggressive solvent may be considered, but not sure if it is worthwhile.

It doesn’t seem that a little wax or discoloration/mold really is something to worry about nor should it affect the function.

If you have bees that use excessive propolis, maybe you need to requeen with a different variety.

Thankyou for your response. Am I too assume you have not used this method as you use the phrase “ it seems”?
Studies dating back to 2006/2007 advise that alcohol damages bees foraging abilities and “ work ethic” bit like humans, too much alcohol = hangover and loads of apologies to friends and foe alike so I will not be trying the ethanol
Cheers for your thoughts

That’s correct. I have not. I was trying to summarize the sentiment in the many threads on the topic that you referenced.

If you’re concerned that adequate drying time isn’t enough, then adding a thorough rinsing with water should remove even the most minute traces of ethanol, so I would not worry about the bees being exposed to ethanol.

There is likely enough fermentation (not a lot, but enough) in a normal healthy hive from naturally present yeast prior to nectar concentration and drying that the bees are already able to deal with very small amounts of ethanol, so I don’t think the cleaning process isn’t presenting them with any significant addition challenges.

Beeswax is soluble in nonpolar solvents. If you cannot obtain, cannot safely use or don’t want to use them at all, there is no easy solution to your problem. And, also, this is the main reason why you cannot find an answer at this forum.

Thank you, have you used non polar solvents when cleaning frames and was it successful. I understand that non polar solvents are not miscible with water, so would this lengthen drying / airing time?

Using Bruce Willis’ voice/
I’ve done worse than that. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Right so you have not done it and can not verify whether it eft no I’ll effects on hive
Thanks for your advice

Thanks for your help.but I might pass until somebody tells me they have used this process

People,
Can the next people who respond start with the sentence “ when my frames were dirty with wax, propilis etc I used the following method to clean them and it was succcessful”
Nothing beats experience, after all the world is full of dreamers, helpers, leaders, followers and unsuccessful ideas
Thanks for your help

PS if it does turn turtle it is me buying the spare frames at $100+ a pop

There are many posts about cleaning flow frames here. Some digress, as many a friendly conversation will. Here is a post by Bianca from the Flow team & I hope it helps:

There’s this post as well.

Pressure steamer.

Fred Dunn has a video on using this method on his YouTube channel on plastic and other Hive parts.

Inevitably flow frames will degrade, clogg and rotating out like normal frames is good husbandry.

Traditional plastic foundation frames are stripped to the bare almost flat plastic, boiled then rewaxed.

Your not going to be able to do that with the current flow frames.

Something Flow may work on for future upgrades.

I clean mine after every harvest so not came across your dilema

I’d be interested in your process of cleaning the flow frames after every harvest, assuming your cleaning process will prevent the flow frames from becoming yucky over several years.

wouldn’t steam be way too hot for flow frames? I have used a high pressure hose- but that didn’t really work. I watched his video and noted that it took a long time and the wax wasn’t really coming off that well. When you melt wax it tends to run all over the surfaces and then just set hard again. This issue with flow frames is you need to go deep into the cells. The plastic is quite thin and I think the steam would damage it.

Eva, Thankyou for your input. My ist post on this describes my previous efforts. One of which was warm soapy water and as I previously advised my mum would have been proud of my efforts but not so proud of the results

1 Like

Chau06,
Cheers. I do not need to sterilise irradiate . I just want to clean them

Dear Happyhibee,
Now we might be getting somewhere
Can you confirm you use this method and it works?
People, if you have no experience with this method there is no need to offer your thoughts, guesses or suppositions
Cheers

Jeff, you are welcome, but I guess you missed this part of Bianca’s (Flow’s) advice.