that is normal.
unlike Car brakes, motorcycle brakes have a piston in the master cylinder and unless the lever is pulled in the reservoir is cut off from the line to the brakes.
i always bleed brakes by hand as its more reliable.
you can use the vacuum method but the lever has to be held in, with a zip tie or something similar, then you can pull the fluid through the lines but still run the chance of air bubbles left in the line.
i hope this helps