Flow Hives (again)
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2014
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    Sedgwick Co. KS
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    1,181

    Default Flow Hives (again)

    I did a search for topics dealing with 'flow hives'. I found a bunch dated 2016 but only two posts made in 2018 dealing with them. Apparently they didn't take off like the designers intended.....sort of a flash in the pan kind of deal....? ANY success stories out there?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Louisville, KY
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    Default

    I have one. They do work. Definitely some issues. They need to be coated in wax which is a pain because the surface of the plastic comb is not flat. They take a while to entirely drain. Also some minor problem with not all of the cells cracking and draining.

    Once the cost goes down...they may be worth while on the large scale. There are knockoffs much cheaper already available but still pricey vs conventional. I don't see much cost benefit right now. I have plenty of boxes of drawn comb and an extractor.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2002
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    San Mateo, CA
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    6,889

    Default Re: Flow Hives (again)

    I can only reiterate the ridiculousness of the 10 frame version being manufactured 16" wide for the American market when every 10 frame hive here is 16 1/4" wide. Want to put one of your supers on top? Go find a wider cover because the one that came with the 10 frame flow hive will not fit on your standard 16 1/4" wide box.
    I put the new 10 frame Flow super on top of a huge swarm once they had their brood chamber all drawn out. Did they enter the Flow super and fill it? No, six weeks later they swarmed again. The bees fault? My fault? or the plastic Flow frames fault?
    So I moved the Flow super onto another strong hive. They started to fill it. I stacked a pile of wet extracted frames on top.....and the bees moved the honey out of the Flow frames. The bees fault? My fault? the Flow frames fault?

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
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    Louisville, KY
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by odfrank View Post
    I put the new 10 frame Flow super on top of a huge swarm once they had their brood chamber all drawn out. Did they enter the Flow super and fill it? No, six weeks later they swarmed again. The bees fault? My fault? or the plastic Flow frames fault?
    Did you coat them in wax? In my experience the bees wouldn't touch until I waxed them. I put about a pound of wax on 6 frames and they took to em almost instantly.

    I plan to buy a set of knockoffs this winter for 3 hives I installed for someone. They are supposedly coated in beeswax. I'm really hesistant to do buy them but the client has their mind set on getting them. Ide rather just use conventional medium supers that they've already began to draw out this year. They're paying for em so I guess it doesn't matter.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    East-Central Flroida
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    76

    Default Re: Flow Hives (again)

    I bought one "for science". It is a cool idea and people seem to have mixed results. I sprayed mine with sugar syrup before I put it on and smashed some burr comb on a few frames. They have been slow to take to it, but they are starting to more and more (dipping in wax seems like a sure way to speed things up). One of the biggest flows of the year for me is about to start, so hopefully I'll get to test the extraction process here soon.

    They are just too dang expensive right now, maybe they will get down to ~$10 a frame eventually. I'm curious if anyone has tried the knock-off versions.

  7. #6
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    Jul 2013
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    Louisville, KY
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kyeman View Post
    They have been slow to take to it, but they are starting to more and more (dipping in wax seems like a sure way to speed things up).
    I would be careful dipping the flow frames in wax. Unless you are really fast and the frames are hot bc youll likely apply far too much wax and gum up the plates when you go to crack them they won't budge.

    I'll be ordering 3 sets of knockoffs for a client this winter, hoping to catch a deal in the off season. The real flow frames arnt that great of quality to start with...can't be much worse right?

  8. #7
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    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    53,922

    Default Re: Flow Hives (again)

    I have several and use them with good success. It's the cost that has keep them from going "mainstream".

    http://www.bushfarms.com/images/FlowHivesSupers.jpg
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  9. #8
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
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    Default

    I produce several tons of honey a year. Even if I was given enough Flowhives for free I would not go "mainstream". As it stands now I bring my crop indoors and process in a sanitary, weatherproof, robber free facility. It doesn't make sense that I transport hundreds of cases of jars in cardboard boxes out into the weather and robber bees, and then have my crew sit there for hours while our thick honey slowly drains into bottles fighting off robber bees all the meanwhile? Our hives can produce several Flowsupers full over several months. We would be full time draining Flow supers monthly March, April, May, August.
    And then there is the problem of winter stores. I certainly don't want the Flow on all winter getting our fall granulating crop in it. So one carefully has to manage additional boxes to have some winter stores.
    The Flow makes sense for the one or two hive keeper but the technology has a long way to go for larger keepers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    I have several and use them with good success. It's the cost that has keep them from going "mainstream".

    http://www.bushfarms.com/images/FlowHivesSupers.jpg
    All of my opinions and suggestions are based on my five decades of actual beekeeping,
    not so much on book learning, watching YouTube videos nor reading internet sites.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Skaneateles, NY
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    985

    Default Re: Flow Hives (again)

    i have one and to be honest its a bit of a gimic. The bees do fill the super but a lot of honey leaked down through the hive during "extraction" making a huge mess. Also bees came out through the tubing with the honey.
    It takes an age to empty unless its a really hot day.
    I used it the first year then didnt bother after that. I just replaced the flow super with regular supers. SO much faster, cleaner and easier.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    San Francisco, CA
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    3,166

    Default Re: Flow Hives (again)

    Most of our hobbiest club members with one or two hives wind up putting them on Craig’s List after a couple of seasons.
    My opinions are based on whatever OD Frank says because he thinks he knows everything!

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Herrick, SD USA
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    Default Re: Flow Hives (again)

    Quote Originally Posted by odfrank View Post
    I produce several tons of honey a year. Even if I was given enough Flowhives for free I would not go "mainstream". As it stands now I bring my crop indoors and process in a sanitary, weatherproof, robber free facility. It doesn't make sense that I transport hundreds of cases of jars in cardboard boxes out into the weather and robber bees, and then have my crew sit there for hours while our thick honey slowly drains into bottles fighting off robber bees all the meanwhile? Our hives can produce several Flowsupers full over several months. We would be full time draining Flow supers monthly March, April, May, August.
    And then there is the problem of winter stores. I certainly don't want the Flow on all winter getting our fall granulating crop in it. So one carefully has to manage additional boxes to have some winter stores.
    The Flow makes sense for the one or two hive keeper but the technology has a long way to go for larger keepers.
    Well stated. The flow hive was a cool invention that made a few people rich because they were really, really, really good at marketing. It has very little practical value in the real world of beekeeping.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Drayton Valley, Alberta, Canada
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    Default Re: Flow Hives (again)

    Sorry, have to disagree. The most important part of a Flow hive is that it's 'fun', as in delightful, child-like wonder.
    The real problem was always that you had to keep bees alive, animal husbandry, and all it entailed.
    It brought me to beekeeping, but I only stayed with Flow briefly.
    However, I will never forget the delight I got from that first honey harvest, watching honey fill jars.
    So, while I agree it will never be 'commercial', for a hobbyist beek with a couple hives, what the heck!
    And having grandkids around when the hive is 'cracked', priceless!
    Best to all,
    Brian
    Letting them have the last few drops of honey, double priceless.
    Won't accept my photos ??
    Oh well, text is still valid.
    [IMG]/Users/briantamboline/Pictures/Photos Library.photoslibrary/resources/proxies/derivatives/3e/00/3ed9/UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3ed9.jpg[/IMG]
    Last edited by BDT123; 09-12-2018 at 06:37 PM. Reason: Added pic

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Flow Hives (again)

    Hey, if you could afford it and the grandkids loved it then I think thats great. Of course, there are other ways to introduce children to beekeeping. I entertained some of my grandchildren by buying a children's sized bee suit for well under $100 dollars, took them one at a time into a beeyard and gave each of them a first hand look at the inside of a bee hive. They were fascinated. Then late in the summer they all excitedly come into the honey house to "help papa" and taste the final product.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Drayton Valley, Alberta, Canada
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    Default Re: Flow Hives (again)

    Yes, Jim, my only point was that I knew nothing, and Flow sucked me into the beekeeping vortex and I had fun with it. Nothing else.
    Yes, if I knew then what I know now, it probably wouldn't have happened. But I have no regrets about it. And now my my harried, time constrained daughter has two flow hives instead of one.
    And yes, the grandsons are my future extractor wranglers.
    Brian

  16. #15
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    Feb 2006
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    Default Re: Flow Hives (again)

    Good for you Brian. I suppose if the flow hive was what got you (and your grandsons) interested in beekeeping then it was a good investment. For sure we can agree, grandchildren are priceless.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
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    57

    Default Re: Flow Hives (again)

    We use them in a semi-commercial setting and on average use five FH supers per hive on top of a single brood chamber...and drain them at least twice a season using a manifolded collector system. It is a technology that will take a while to perfect and not realistic for established commercial beekeepers to switch over their operations...logistics are just too much of an issue. But for a beekeeper who isn't established with traditional equipment and would like to slowly expand his/her operation, I think it will be an option to consider. There are some very expensive capital investments serious traditional commercial beekeepers have made to get where they are today...accompanied by some very expensive annual operating costs. So in the end, profit margin back to the beekeeper will drive this technology. But in the meantime, it works for the backyarder...and it sure is fun to push the limits of conventional thinking.

    FH vs traditiona1l.jpg

    In the photo, you can see the formidable challenge. How can you convert the present version of the backyarder FlowHive (on right)...8 frame super... to work with a standard commercial double queen unit in our area (on left)...10 frame Langstroth supers?

    Perhaps premature to say it can't be done. I can only imagine what the dairy farmers' reaction was decades ago when they were told that there was a machine that could milk a cow...

    But the bees sure seem to store a lot of honey in those Flowhive frames.

    FH full to the nuts.JPG

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Yakima Co, WA, USA
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    Default Re: Flow Hives (again)

    I helped my friend with a harvest the other day from one...and by "helped" I mean stood there and watched as there was literally nothing for me to do. She has four colonies and just one of them in a flow hive. Pretty fun for us hobbyists. My parents offered to buy me one but I couldn't get over the cost, even as a gift. My friend is another, like the above poster, who initially got in to beekeeping b/c of the marketing of the flow hive, so that's great.
    Meghan

  19. #18
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    San Francisco, CA
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    Default Re: Flow Hives (again)

    I don’t understand why people can’t be content with 8 frame Lang’s?
    My opinions are based on whatever OD Frank says because he thinks he knows everything!

  20. #19
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    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    4,554

    Default Re: Flow Hives (again)

    For trhe same reason wasabi's honeycomb hive will probably sell like hotcakes when it hits the market. It's unique and different than the normal hive. Practicality has no bearing. The "save the bees" crowd is not concerned about production, it is all about "cool".
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
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    Default Re: Flow Hives (again)

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    The "save the bees" crowd is not concerned about production, it is all about "cool".
    Don't know if I was the target of your rant MR.JWPalmer...My yearly target in the 80s and 90s was 500 bbls/year of honey and 50 bbls/year of pollen. I am retired now...but working with my daughter in her honey business. From my commercial days I got first hand experience how much work commercial beekeeping could be and how fine the profit line could be...some years it was only 5 or 10 cents per pound...some years you only broke even...some years were great. My mind became tuned to nothing but production, controlling operating costs, and most importantly, finding markets. I feel that experience led me to take a second look at the Flowhive technology...What were it's limits? How could I adapt it to my situation? Could it help my bottom line? I sure couldn't find the answer to any of those questions unless I tried it myself...no one had experience with it.

    So three seasons experience with Flowhive under my belt now... recording such things as Flowhive production versus traditional hives and labour hours to produce and package a crop from Flowhive versus traditional hives...and some other measureable comparisons.

    For me, the fact that someone might be getting rich by selling some gimmick to gullible beekeepers didn't even enter the picture...I couldn't care less about something so insignificant...it was the technology that interested me then... and it still does today.

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