Frequently Asked Questions

How to collect honeycomb from your hive viewed 29,982 times

One of the greatest benefits of the Flow Hybrid is the ability to harvest both Flow harvested honey and honeycomb from the same super.

To harvest honeycomb you need to open the super (remember to take safety precautions – please see our Flow sponsored safety pamphlet covering common beekeeping safety risks and first aid responses).

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What do I need to check before I harvest from my Flow Hive? viewed 40,058 times

It is important to check that the Flow Frames are fully capped and ready, before harvesting.

If it is your first time, we recommend that you open the hive (with a smoker and protective gear) and lift out the Flow Frames for inspection so that you get to know what that end-view window is telling you. It’s not uncommon for bees to fill the frames in different ways – some frames may appear full, while the centre remains empty and some colonies will fill a frame and avoid the last cells in the window.

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Leaking honey from my Flow Hive viewed 27,694 times

It's not uncommon to have a small amount of honey leaking from your frames inside the hive whilst harvesting. The majority of the time this is not a problem as the bees will mop up the excess honey even if it reaches the bottom of the hive.

The amount of honey leakage that occurs will depend on the way the bees have capped the cells and also how you set up your hive for harvest.

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How do I stop the bees getting to the honey while it’s draining out of the Flow Hive? viewed 32,249 times

We have found we can usually harvest the honey without the bees noticing us at the back of the hive. Nevertheless it is best to cover the jars with flywire or plastic wrap, or better still, make a sealed system. This can be achieved by simply making a hole in the lid of a jar for a tube to go into.

If you are harvesting several frames at once using a larger container, you can make holes through the lid for each tube.

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How long does it take before I can harvest the honey from the Flow Hive? viewed 44,380 times

This depends on the amount of nectar available for the bees and how strong the colony is. We have had Flow Supers fill in a week during peak times of the flowering season. A super usually fills well within a month during the spring and summer.

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How long does it take for the honey to drain from a Flow Frame? viewed 23,853 times

It can take anywhere from twenty minutes to over two hours depending on the temperature and the viscosity of the honey, to drain a Flow Frame. It is OK to leave the frame draining overnight provided it is secure from insects and nocturnal animals. When you have finished draining the honey remember to return the frames to the “cell closed” position so that the bees can seal the fractured cells and recommence filling them with honey.

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How much honey comes out of a Flow Hive or Super? viewed 91,315 times

When the Flow Super is full, you can expect to harvest approximately 3 kg (6.5 lb) per Flow Frame (even more if the bees really build each frame out). The Flow Hive Classic 6 comes with 6 Flow Frames, giving up to 18 kg (39 lb) of fresh, unfiltered honey.

If you have one of our 7 frame Flow Supers, then you can expect to harvest approximately 20 kg (44 lbs) when every frame is full.

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What extra equipment will I need to operate a Flow Hive and harvest honey? viewed 41,361 times

You will need a container to collect your honey. A bee suit and gloves, or at least a bee veil, is essential in case your bees get aggressive. You will need to open the hive to inspect it for health as usual, for which you will still need a bee suit, smoker and hive tool. These can be purchased from our shop.

If you are new to beekeeping, you should link up with an experienced beekeeper to learn how to care for your bees.

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How do I know when to harvest/drain the hive? viewed 28,875 times

The ends of the Flow Frames are visible through the rear window of the Flow Super. It is worth having a look at the bees regularly through this window as you’ll get to know your hive and it doesn’t disturb the bees. You will see the bees depositing honey in the cells and, when the cells are full, sealing them with a wax capping.

When the end cells are full and capped this generally indicates that the honey is ready or ripe. There is no hurry though, the sealed honey will keep until it is convenient for you to drain it out of the hive.

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Do I need to smoke the hive? viewed 35,431 times

We do recommend that you use a smoker whilst undertaking beekeeping activities such as routine inspections of the brood nest. You can learn more about handling your smoker safely by reading this Flow® sponsored safety pamphlet.


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Do I need to wear a bee suit, bee veil or gloves when I drain the honey out? viewed 40,869 times

We recommend you wear a protective beekeeper suit whenever you are working with your bees. For more information see this Flow® sponsored safety pamphlet.

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Is there a best time of day to harvest the Flow Hive? viewed 26,960 times

It is possible to harvest a Flow Hive at any time of the day or night because the hive is not opened. There is not the concern of chilling or disturbing the bees on cold or windy days.

We have found the bees are calmest in the late afternoon, and at this time the honey in the hive is likely to be warmest and so runs more easily, therefore we tend to rob at this time.

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How many Flow Supers do I need per hive? viewed 42,012 times

One Flow Super per hive is the simple answer, as you can keep tapping off the honey which gives the bees room to keep working and making more honey.

However, if you live in areas with a very high nectar flow, or if your existing beehives are particularly large, we would recommend you use two Flow Supers or more. As the Flow Hive is a new innovation, we’re interested in your feedback as to how many Flow Supers are best in your situation. Please feel welcome to share your experiences on our community forum.

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Do I need to leave some honey in the hive for the bees? viewed 42,364 times

Yes, this applies to all beekeeping. Your bees need honey to get them through the times when there is no nectar available. The number of frames of honey that you should leave depends on your climate. You should consult local beekeepers as to how much they leave for their colonies over the winter.

The Flow Frames make it a lot easier to see how much honey is in your frames at any time, so you can learn to manage how much honey to harvest and how much to leave for the bees.

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Can you harvest beeswax from a Flow Frame? viewed 46,280 times

You cannot harvest wax from a Flow Frame. Honey comes out of the Flow Frames free from wax and ready for the table.

All the wax stays in the hive and the bees reuse it. Bees use about 7kg honey to make 1kg of wax, so this aspect of the Flow system can improve your hive’s rate of honey production.

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Crystallised honey & Flow Frames viewed 64,468 times

If honey has crystallised in the Flow Frames, you have two options:

  1. Wait for the bees to remove it: Attempting to harvest the honey will have disturbed the comb a little. The bees will likely remove the crystallised honey to repair the comb.

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Do the bees ever put pollen in a Flow Frame? Is this a problem? viewed 26,291 times

Occasionally the bees will  store pollen in Flow Frame cells. In our experience this isn’t a problem as the frames will still operate when some cells are full of pollen. Pollen cells may  block the flow of honey from above, but the honey will drain around the blockage, and usually back into the Flow channel. If it doesn’t drain back into the channel, the bees get to lick it up.

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Do Flow Frames work with Manuka / Jellybush honey? viewed 42,355 times

The only test we have done with thixotropic honey in Flow Frames used Australian Jellybush, which is similar to New Zealand Manuka honey. This ended up being a 50/50 mixture of ordinary honey and Jellybush.

We found that with repeated opening/closings of the Flow mechanism almost all the honey would flow out. We know that thixotropic honeys do respond to agitation but cannot say yet whether this would work with 100% of a thixotropic honey in the Flow frames.

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Cap doesn’t fit on the Flow Key operation slot viewed 11,103 times

The cap can only be replaced when the frame is properly reset.

Insert Flow Key in the UPPER operating slot and rotate 90 degrees.

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