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Frequently Asked Questions

Why aren't my bees filling the Flow Frames?
In: Frequently Asked Questions Viewed: 41,354 times

There could be many reasons why the bees aren't filling the Flow Frames.

The two main things we have found that increase the rate at which bees fill the frames for the first time are:

  1. Lots of bees on the Flow Frames.
    This is the main factor. If there are not many bees when you look in the rear window and the side window, it will probably take some time for the bees to build up and start working on the Flow Frames.

  2. A good nectar flow.
    Honey won’t be stored in your hive, regardless of the number of bees, unless there are enough flowers around with plenty of nectar.

Suggestions for encouraging the bees to get working on the Flow Frames sooner:

  • If you have other honey supers on the hive, removing some or all of them so that the Flow Super fills with bees is likely to get much faster results.
  • Pressing some beeswax into the surface of the Flow comb can encourage them to get working on the Flow Frames earlier. You can use chunks of burr comb, wax foundation or wax cappings. The bees will then re-distribute the wax onto the Flow Frames and start working them.
  • Heat up some beeswax and paint it onto the Flow Frame surface.  If you try this, be careful not to get too much wax in the base of the cells or in the upper movement mechanism, as this may jam the mechanism when it comes time to harvest.
  • The feedback we’ve received so far is that many beekeepers are saying the bees filled all the Flow frames quickly - sometimes in a week or two, and some are saying it took quite a while for the bees to start work on the Flow Frames for the first time.

Bees don’t always do what we would like them to. We received feedback from one customer who had two Flow Hives beside each other of similar strength. While one hive filled the Flow Frames quickly, the other is taking its time to start on the Flow Frames.

If your bees are taking their time to start storing honey in the Flow Frames you may like to try try one of the solutions suggested above. Please let us know how your hive goes.

What to expect as the bees start to work on the Flow Frames:

  • First the bees tend to seal the joins in the bottom of each cell, they will use either new wax they produce or recycle wax from elsewhere in the hive;
  • Then they start to complete the cell walls;
  • Then they start to fill the cells with nectar;
  • Then they draw the combs out beyond the Flow Frame with their wax;
  • Typically, they start toward the centre of each frame and work their way out towards the edge;
  • Once the honey is ready and the cell is full, they cap it with wax;
  • When you can see mostly capped cells in the end frame view, it’s likely that the rest of the frame is mostly capped and ready for harvest.

See also FAQ: Do the bees willingly fill the Flow comb compared to the traditional wax comb?

We have done a lot of testing with Flow Frames in the same hive box as other types of traditional frames.

The preference from hive to hive varies, but we have generally found that naturally drawn comb on a wooden starter strip is built on first, followed by Flow Frames and wax foundation at a similar time. Plastic foundation typically seemed to be the last to be built on.

If you have feedback on this please write to us.

Bees waxing the gaps:

Capped side window:

Bees capping a flow frame: