Frequently Asked Questions
Managing cross comb
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The most important part of foundationless beekeeping is getting the bees to build straight combs. Once you remove the foundations, there’s nothing stopping the bees from building in any direction they please. More often than not, they will build across multiple frames if you give them the chance. The result is that you will have a very hard time pulling up frames without destroying comb and angering your bees. You may be able to avoid this by installing comb guides.
It's advised to complete regular inspections while the frames are being built out. This way you can correct any cross comb before it becomes an issue.
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If the roof of your Flow Hive is leaking consider the following treatments:
- Paint the roof with a standard exterior-grade paint. A couple of thick coats of paint can be enough to seal small leaks. Ensure you work the paint into the small gaps, and apply paint liberally to the joins between each of the roof panels.
- Apply a sealant externally to the joins between panels and any holes or areas that may be admitting water (e.g. silicone roof and gutter sealant). Discuss your needs with your local hardware shop to determine the most appropriate product available.
A strong colony of bees who have access to the roof cavity may also resolve water leaks as the bees themselves will fill any gaps with their propolis and create their own weather proofing.
Flow Hive brood frames
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The wooden brood frames we supply can be used in 4 different ways:
1. Foundationless frames
Why aren't my bees filling the Flow Frames?
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There could be many reasons why the bees aren't filling the Flow Frames.
Leaking honey from my Flow Hive
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It's not uncommon for the frames to leak a small amount of honey inside the hive whilst harvesting. This is usually 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.
My hive has different coloured woods, is it made entirely of western red cedar?
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We decided to use western red cedar as it is a beautiful timber with a remarkably fine and stable grain structure. It has unique fine grain characteristics that minimises shrinkage and swelling, along with being a hard-wearing softwood.
The colour variation of the grain is cedar's most distinguishing feature and makes it highly sought after as a material for feature joinery. Visually, western red cedar is favoured for its rich and inviting colours. The colour ranges from a yellowish white colour, to pale brown through to a richer dark brown. It has a fine texture and straight grain with growth rings often visible.
Fixing bent/misaligned Flow Frames & complete Flow Frame re-assembly
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Please see the following instructional videos on fixing small issues which may occur with Flow Frames while they are in transit:
If the cables on your Flow Frames are loose, and the frame is sagging, it’s best to tighten up the cables, watch the video below:
Crystallised honey & Flow Frames
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If honey has crystallised in the Flow Frames, you have two options:
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.
Where to locate your Flow Hive
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It is important to consider the location of your new beehive prior to installing your bees. You can’t move a beehive around your paddock, yard or rooftop easily. Bees have highly developed navigational skills which are extremely sensitive to location. If the hive is moved only a small distance, they become confused and will return to the original site. For advice on moving a bee hive once the bees are housed please consult a beekeeping book, the Flow Community Forum on honeyflow.com or your local beekeepers’ association.
There are three important things to consider when selecting a site for your new hive – your bees, your neighbours and yourself.
Cannot fit Flow Frames into Flow Super side by side
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Place each frame into the Flow Super ensuring that it is butted tightly against the adjacent frames. Ensure that the rear end windows sit snugly against each other.
Some boxes will have a packing strip that can be removed or perhaps shaved to make it thinner. A gap less than 2 mm (1/8”) is acceptable. The bees cannot get through this and will gum up the gap over time.
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Cannot remove caps from Flow Frame operating slot or honey trough
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From time to time the Honey Trough Caps and Key Acess Caps can become a little tight or hard to remove. Using pliers to grip the cap and then pull can assist with removing these.
Flow Key is really hard to turn when opening the frame
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The cells of the Flow comb are sealed with beeswax by the bees. Sometimes this wax is particularly tough and the key is really hard to turn.
To make it easier, you can open part of a frame at a time.
Honey not flowing after opening the Flow Frame
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Check that the Flow Key is inserted in the LOWER operating slot. Turn the key 90 degrees to the vertical position. Leave it in this position until honey starts to flow.
Sometimes the wax is particularly tough and the Flow comb takes longer to open. You can leave the key in the vertical position for an hour or more.
Cap doesn’t fit on the Flow Key operation slot
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The cap can only be replaced when the frame is properly reset.
Insert Flow Key in the UPPER operating slot and rotate 90 degrees.
Ants attracted to Flow Frames
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Clean up any spilt honey after harvest with warm water.
Remove the honey trough cap and, if necessary, clean the leak-back gap with a thin tool such as a kitchen skewer or wire to allow honey to drain back into hive.