Beekeeping is hard work. From managing your colony to harvesting honey, beekeeping is laborious but rewarding.
Any time a new technology comes along that promises to save beekeeper’s time, we’re all ears. In recent years, the Flow Hive has been making the rounds in the beekeeping community.
This revolutionary invention promises to save beekeepers’ time while minimizing damage to the beehive. But is it worth the cost and the hype? Let’s dive deeper into the Flow Hive.
What is the Flow Hive?
Father-son duo Stu and Cedar are third-generation beekeepers. They wanted an easier way to harvest honey that wouldn’t harm the bees, could take less time, and minimize the risk of bee stings.
After years of tinkering, they successfully funded Flow Hive on Indiegogo in 2015. Since then, they’ve shipped over 65,000 Flow Hives to 130 countries around the world. Stu and Cedar even won awards for their clever hive design.
Flow Hive is a patented hive that puts honey on tap for beekeepers. Simply turn the Flow Key and honey will flow directly from the hive and through a spout, where you can collect it.
Flow Hive is different because it has clear frames and a clear view on its sides. There’s no need to open the hive; you can see when the honey is ready for extraction. Flow Hive’s extraction process is also easier to get honey out of the frames without disturbing or hurting the bees.
Flow Hive versus standard hives
Many beekeepers wonder if a Flow Hive is worth the added price over a standard hive. It’s important to understand how Flow Hive is different from a standard hive so you can make the best decision for your bees.
Flow Hive includes both the hive itself as well as the flow frames. However, some beekeepers have been able to buy the flow frames and modify them for an existing hive.
Flow Hive is different from traditional hives because of its plastic viewing area, clear flow frames, and extraction capabilities.
The flow frame is plastic and made of partial honeycomb cells. Your bees fill up the cells and cap them. You can see through the viewing window when all the frames are capped and ready for extraction.
At this point, you use the Flow Key to split the honeycomb cells and let the honey drip out. This allows beekeepers to collect honey without having to open up the hive.
Flow Hive pros
Thanks to its design, Flow Hive has several benefits to both bees and beekeepers.
There’s no need to dismantle the hive when you want to extract honey. Simply turn the key and let the honey flow.
Because of the honey collection system, there’s also no need to smoke bees, buy extractors, or exert energy pulling honey supers.
This process also doesn’t harm the bees and means they have to do less work to recap the honey.
Flow Hive cons
Although Flow Hive promises to innovate the beekeeping and honey collection experiences, it does have some downsides.
First, we should note that the Flow Hive isn’t a replacement for managing your hive. You still need to check on your bees a minimum of once per week. You’ll still need to learn how to keep your bees healthy, and that includes understanding when it’s appropriate to tap into honey reserves. Flow Hive should never be used as a replacement for colony care.
With that said, Flow Hive might not be right in a few situations.
Bees don’t react well to plastic. You might buy a Flow Hive and your bees could refuse to use it. There have been reports that Flow Hives can cause more incidents of swarming because of this. Some beekeepers have noted that they fear traces of plastic could appear in the honey, although this hasn’t been proven.
The Flow Hive setup can be problematic for your queen, too. You’ll need to use a brood excluder to keep the queen away from your frames where she could be in danger—but excluders don’t always work because bees do have a mind of their own.
Flow Hive also might not work properly in colder climates. This isn’t due to the flow of honey, but because bees rely on their honey stores to make it through the winter. With it being so efficient to remove honey from the hive, some novice beekeepers have unknowingly starved their hive through the winter.
The bottom line
At the end of the day, beekeepers have to remember that a Flow Hive isn’t a set it and forget it deal. You still need to be a knowledgeable beekeeper to make the most of this hive design.
While Flow Hive can make extraction easier, some people say it isn’t worth the added cost. We recommend starting with a standard hive and upgrading to Flow Hive after you’ve gained some experience to determine what’s best for your bees.