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Should you go with the Flow?

Should you go with the Flow™ hive? Should anyone? Before I begin, let me say I tried to avoid writing about this as long as possible. In fact, I wanted to ignore it altogether. But I’ve gotten dozens—maybe a hundred—e-mails asking what I think of it. In order to get on with my life, I need to answer the question.

So what do I think of it? Not much.

If there is anyone out there who hasn’t heard of the Flow™, it is a special kind of hive where, instead of extracting honey in the normal way, you just turn a key and collect the honey as it flows out of a spigot. The inventors have surreal videos showing their mason jars magically filing up with crystal clear, ready-to-eat honey straight from the hive.

I have no idea if it actually works. According to what I’ve read, the plastic frames are designed to shift vertically along the center (or midrib) of the honeycomb. You put the frames in your honey supers and wait for the bees to fill the cells and cure the honey. Once it’s capped, you turn a key that shifts the midrib (where foundation would normally be) and tears open the cells. The honey drains out and is captured in a trough that leads to a tube that drains into your jar.

Once the comb is drained, you turn the key again which shifts the comb back into its original position. Supposedly, the bees then rip off the cappings, repair the cells, and refill them.

Whether it works or not is anybody’s guess. If you uncap a frame of honey and hold it upside down, not much happens, so I imagine it is the heat of the hive that makes the honey runny enough to flow. So if you have a cold hive, or especially viscous or partially crystallized honey, I imagine you could have trouble with this.

Now I have nothing against innovation, so if that’s what these folks want to promote and sell, they’ve got the right. But honestly, I see nothing good about it for the bees.

In fact, of all the honey bee-related problems in the world, how to get the honey out is not high on the list. The promoters say the system is good for bees because you can harvest the honey without stressing them. But does that mean you take honey without evaluating how much remains for the bees? Are you keeping bees without checking for diseases or mites? Can all good beekeeping practices be ignored?

I spent some time reading random comments on Facebook and on a few blogs. I read that the system “is good for people who want their own honey but are afraid of bees” and “It’s a great way to get started in beekeeping without all the bother.” I also read “You can get all the benefits of a bee hive without having to deal with bees!” I saw nothing about managing mites, Nosema, moths, beetles, viruses, mice, or foulbrood. I guess all that nasty stuff just goes away.

Apparently, the inventors are beginning a crowdfunding campaign next Monday to raise money to bring this invention to market. That’s fine by me; I wish them well. But if you want to learn beekeeping, you start by learning about bees—how to collect their honey should be the last thing on your mind. Unless you can raise large healthy colonies that make honey in the first place, no amount of invention will help you remove it.

My crystal ball tells me the project will get funded, the hives will get produced, a few people will extol their virtues, but after a while the mania will Flow™ away in favor of the next great beekeeping invention.

And that, dear readers, is my humble opinion.

Rusty
HoneyBeeSuite

Related Posts:

Final thoughts on flow

Patent for Flow-style beehive: 1940

Comments

Mike Riter

Thanks! Very informative!

Bill

Rusty,

I didn’t think you were going to make a comment on the gizmo. Like you said, there is more to bees than the honey. Like keeping any live stock, there is a powerful amount of tending to do, to keep them healthy.

Bill

Lindy

Thank you Rusty for being against this abomination.

Blaine Nay

Here’s my opinionated opinion:

I’m sure that hive design will be somewhat popular among those who don’t fully understand what beekeeping is all about.

Fads like this keep popping up all the time. The problem with most beekeeping fads is that they don’t encourage the beekeeper to truly learn the craft. The best beekeeping teacher is the honey bee. If all a person does with his/her bees is open a spigot, the beekeeper will learn nothing from his/her bees and his/her hobby is guaranteed to fail — typically withing 2-3 years.

One alleged advantage of this hive design is that one need not disturb the bees to harvest honey. But it does. it damages the comb. It probably kills bees.

Disturbance of the hive is a part of proper honey bee management. A conscientious beekeeper opens and inspects his/her hive(s) at least every two weeks. These inspections are essential to identify problems in the hive (disease, parasites, queenlessness or failing queen, overcrowding, etc. These inspections are when an attentive beekeeper learns the most about keeping bees. Harvest time is simply a modified inspection event that needs to be done anyway.

The photo indicates that the bottle is open to the environment which would be a violation of the law in many jurisdictions (honey must be processed in a bee-proof enclosure). That exposure invites bees and other insects (wasps, hornets, etc.) to get into the bottle of honey. If the hive is diseased, the visiting bees will carry the disease back to their own hive — or, visiting bees from diseased hives will bring their diseases to your hive.

I’ve been keeping bees since the early ’60s. I’ve used both Langstroth hives and top-bar hives. Based on that experience, I strongly recommend everyone start with, and stay with Langstroth hives. Stay away from the fads such as top-bar hives and hives with spigots. There is nothing that can be done with such fad hives that can’t be done better with a Langstroth hive. Conversely, the Langstroth hive allows us to do things that cannot be done with top-bar and other fad hives.

If a person wants easy local honey, I suggest buying from a farmers’ market instead of looking for a lazy way to keep bees.

My biggest concern about the exuberance over the “Flow” hive is that the people who like the idea also vote. Such gullible, lazy voters are the reason government is so messed up. And they are messing up the beekeeping craft nearly as much as they mess up the country.

shawn

I don’t really like top-bar hives, and I’m not overly eager to use a flow, but what I take as fierce loyalty to the Langstroth hive leaves me a little irked. Sure they work pretty good, but I’ve certainly experienced some of the shortcomings of the standard design. I’m yet to come across the perfect hive, they all have their pros and cons.

Clyde

Easy Blaine. Top bar hives have been around since the 1500-1600’s. The Warre’ for over 75 years, the KTBH for over 50. I would hardly call them fads.

Blaine Nay

The skep, top-bar hive, hollow logs, etc were all rendered obsolete by Lorenzo Langstroth’s hive design in 1852 and by similar designs surfacing in other countries at about the same time. Those obsolete hive designs have resurfaced only in recent years — not as a resurrection of ancient beekeeping practices, but as fads.

David Newman

Actually Langstroth didn’t come up with the first successful movable-frame beehive and made the others obsolete. It was a Polish priest named Jan Dzierzon who did. He’s also the one who came up with bee space and all that stuff. You can look this up here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Dzierzon

What happened is Langstroth read a translated copy of Dzierzon book in English and based his designs off of Dzierzon’s.

Blaine Nay

Yes, Langstroth is kinda like Christopher Columbus who didn’t really discover America — he brought world attention to it.

Kathleen

“If a person wants easy local honey, I suggest buying from a farmers’ market instead of looking for a lazy way to keep bees.”

Yes! I agree, wholeheartedly.

Castor

We had, in the UK, a flurry of a similar sort around the “Beehaus” – a plastic horizontal hive.
A small number of people tried it, found it indifferent but expensive, and then we all reverted to the cheapest, simplest system that is best understood in our particular neck of the woods.

Neil

I’ll be interested to see how much it costs. If it is not too steep I’ll probably end up getting one. The time I got stung the most last year was when I was harvesting the honey, so it would be worth something to have a system where the honey extraction is easy and the bees don’t get too riled up.

It really depends on what you are in beekeeping for, if you are there just for honey this is probably a great idea. If you are in it for the insects it probably won’t mean much. I think most people fall somewhere in the middle, they still like going into the hive and making sure they are healthy and productive but would also like the honey harvest to be as easy as possible.

Emily

Neil, out of interest, what caused you to get stung when harvesting the honey? I find the process pretty easy with clearer boards, I come along 24 hours later and most bees are out of the super, I brush the rest off gently with a brush. No stings. Do your bees get disgruntled easily?

Neil

Hey Emily,

Last year was my first year as a beekeeper. I didn’t have an escape board, to be honest I wasn’t sure I would be able to get the hives to live that long. So when I went to harvest I just brushed the bees off the frames. I’m not sure if my bees are “special” but they seem to get more agitated by brushing than anything else that I do.

This year the plan is to use the escape board as you describe so I’m hoping that turns out better.

Emily

Hope it’s easier for you next time Neil, as you say hopefully a clearer board will help. Try going on a sunny afternoon too, so that most of the foragers are away from home.

Garrett Brinton

In my experience, bees really don’t like being brushed off of combs. Next time shake the majority of them off the comb, then brush the last few. I like to put a board at the front of the hive entrance, positioned such that the shook bees can walk right back into the hive (some will fly of course, but most will just walk back in) and shake them onto that. That way you’re not shaking/brushing the same bees over and over. I rarely get stung while harvesting. Which is one more reason I see this Flow Hive thing as basically a gimmick, and a solution desperately in search of a problem.

Rusty

Garrett,

Good advice. Also bees should be brushed up, not down: How to brush bees.

Jack

I would inspect my colonies all day long if I could avoid extracting. It would add a few days to my life.
I’m sure there were those who had the same reservations about automatic milking machines. One would end up neglecting the cow.

I betting $200 plus per super.

Rusty

Jack,

Interesting, when I was writing my post, the picture in my mind was milking machines.

Dave

The difference is you can inspect the cow still. People didn’t get milking machines to avoid dealing with cattle. Your analogy is invalid.

Michael Bush

>People didn’t get milking machines to avoid dealing with cattle. Your analogy is invalid.

Stu and Cedar didn’t invent the Flow hive to avoid dealing with bees. They are avid beekeepers. You are making assumptions as to people’s motivation.

Tim

Quaintly cute but has all the halmarks of a hoax…

It gives me pause, however, when even the esteemed Michael Bush has positive comments about it in an apparent Skype interview on their website.
Let’s see how this develops

Dave

Just as a note, the FAQ on their site does say that traditional inspections and disease/pest control is part of the maintenance. Still, I agree with the general feelings. It seems something that will attract attention from beehavers, but beekeepers will keep their distance. I personally am uninterested in the concept.

Rob

I was thinking what you are, but I thought I would ask! It looks like a solution to something that isn’t a problem. That was the easiest part of my first year with my bees, well besides watching my first swarm leave! Lesson learned!
Thanks for sharing your wisdom though out my learning curve!

Billie

I use top bar hives in part to avoid using plastic combs in the hives. So, this is out for me.

Steve

Hi Rusty,

It’s all about money, regardless of the consequences. And top bars have been around a long time. The bees started it.

Chino

I was taught that to be a good beekeeper you take care of the bees. Honey is just something that comes as an after effect. When there’s too much honey we take the honey… In Hawaii it’s easy for the bees to become honey bound, so we joke and say how all the honey is getting in the way of our beekeeping. We take out frames and allow the bees to build more and or to have space for brood. In fact mostly we go in for inspections and planning etc. and end up harvesting frames here and there, not like you just take honey wihout knowing exactly whats going on inside. I wholeheartedly agree with you Rusty—all great observations.

Robert l

Looks like an open invitation to robbing. I have seen this device many times in the last few weeks and as I told everyone who has asked my, admittedly limited, opinion, it appears to make one of the lesser aspects of beekeeping slightly easier. I already have more honey than I will ever need. I would rather see some kind of anti-mite device or beetle removal device.

Gavin

I don’t understand why there are no bees or wasps at the honey on the back of the hive.
I think there are no bees in the hives they filmed…

Rusty

Gavin,

That’s what I was thinking.

Nel

Thanks Rusty. I’m keeping bees for the bees and to see what they teach me. My favorite “f” word for the bees is Follow. Observing nature is my way to mindfulness. Follow not flow.

Chrissy Higbee

Thanks for this post! I had just finished the letter from Micheal Bush about the Flow Hive and thought to myself “hmmm…wonder what Rusty has to say bout this.” I like to leave my bees alone as much as possible but still understand the necessity of hive checks and treating any problems I find.

I tapped enough kegs in college and don’t find the need to be so impersonal with the bees that I have been nurturing. Like you said… getting the honey out is the last of my worries.

Rusty

Chrissy,

I’ve listened to Michael Bush speak, and he just doesn’t seem like the Flow kind of guy. I wonder what’s going on there.

Chrissy

http://www.honeyflow.com/letters/p/24 I found this link on their facebook page. It starts as a letter from an amateur beekeeper to Micheal Bush and also includes the reply from Bush.

Rusty

Right, someone else mentioned this in a previous comment.

Pam Jedlicka

He may have invested some money (they are now over $6 million dollars and orders for 20K of these things) – so that might be a motivation to sell it.

Bil Harley

This is nothing to do with beekeeping, it’s for people who are in it just for the honey. In that case, they could buy several years worth of real honey for the price of this contraption. They could always turn a jar upside down and put a spigot in the lid if they want to amuse their friends.

John Leeper, Beekeeper

Having kept bees for 50+ years I have to admit that the last 20 and the last seven have been increasingly challenged especially in the northern climate of MN. This ‘flow’ thing is interesting but part of the magic and allure of beekeeping is being intimate with the bees in a peaceful manner. I will admit that I like extracting least of all the tasks associated with the hobby/business but watching the first flow from the extractor is a nice reward for a season (or more) of work. Maybe it would work in a warm climate but in MN there aren’t that many months when anything moves easily within a hive. Avoiding contact with bees because you don’t want to be stung simply means you have not learned how to not get stung. I’m not one of those bare-handed & no net keepers but the more you learn the less you get stung.

Victor Berthelsdorf

Noting to do with beekeeping. Nothing to do with honey. Everything to do with making a buck from gullible people at their expense. Lots of handy hive gimmicks such as ‘better mouse trap’ feeders hitting the market every day.

Melinda

Great reply to this . . . A year from now we will all know more. I like to see beekeepers thinking, and something to be said for innovation.

Maybe something for bee havers rather than bee keepers . . . ? Bee havers might be beekeepers in training.

Meanwhile, back at the bee yard . . . Bees seem to be keeping busy with pollen and enjoying the warm California days. Locally, hives are already swarming and beekeepers competing for swarm sightings!

Our bees are still nibbling on sugar candy we made for the winter and we are going to take a look inside this weekend to see if anyone needs a frame or two of the honey we stored for them.

Question: We had two hives die out in November while we were out of town. Came back and they were just empty. One had 5 queen cells in progress, but not completed. Both had brood (with light caps, no smell or dark caps) in all stages but no eggs, lots of honey and pollen stores. Both had mites. One had about a dozen bees huddled together. We pulled these frames and put them in the deep freezer for 3 months now. Thinking about taking those out, cleaning out the dead brood and giving them to our surviving bees. We had follower boards narrowing the chambers for the first time. Think it is time to go back to full boxes of frames now. What do you think?

We are putting out the swarm boxes this weekend. Have a few boxes all ready to go for new arrivals. Read a suggestion on a blog that pest control guys get calls about killing bees and they like to have some go to people to go and collect bees. May be a way to get a lead on a swarm or two? We also can contact the Ag commission to get on a list. There is some rather fierce competition regarding swarm collection.

LOVE your stuff!

Rusty

Melinda,

Your description sounds like a mite collapse: most of the bees missing, some brood remaining, recent queen, lots of honey and pollen. Of course, it is impossible to tell from here, but that is my guess. You don’t have to clean out the dead brood, the bees can do it quickly and efficiently without damaging the combs. I only use follower boards in winter, but some use them all year, that’s just a personal call—you can do it either way.

Sure, you can call the pest guys and put your name on a list. You can also try putting up some swarm traps. Use a fresh lure and you have a good chance of collecting something.

Anthony

Ladies and gentleman . . . the event we’ve all been waiting for . . . responsible, caring Bee Keeping . . .

IN THIS CORNER, Bee keepers,
IN THAT CORNER, Bee Havers…sad!!!!!!

Tonybees..

Dana Hoaglund

Rusty!

When I first saw the Flow Hive video I spent 30 minutes writing an email to you. Then, the therapeutic nature of expressing feelings achieved, I deleted it knowing words were not really needed; a bee-lover would also be filled with !!!! and ???? “Can you believe that whole business?” was my overriding sentiment. And I knew you would have heard of it already, countless comments presented for your consideration. After reading some of your thoughts and readers comments I am calmer and have a few words to share.

I am skeptical about the true ease of extraction for practical considerations of the extreme mechanical force needed to separate the cell ends from the mid wall enough to allow draining (extraction) to begin, individual cell viscosity (from different nectars) significantly effecting flow rate and the temperature variable effecting flow rate. As well as the replacement of frame components.

However, I am most concerned for the, apparent, lack of concern of damaging or killing the brood and making more work for the bees.

Beekeepers would know other beekee”peers” would have concerns of hive health that need to be addressed. I believe the Flow Hive Kickstart is aimed at people wanting to get their own honey easier, help honey bees by keeping some in their backyard while harvesting honey. The website and video purposely contain vague and misleading substance, in my opinion. Time, of course, may tell another tale.

Glad you foster an awareness of nature, bees and honey bees with such passion.

Dana

Rusty

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Dana. From a purely practical point of view, I wonder how warm the honey would have to be before it would flow out of a capped cell. As a kid, I used to put a playing card on a full glass of water and then turn it quickly upside down. If you did it right, the inverted glass wouldn’t even leak. And, of course, we need centrifugal extractors to remove honey from room-temperature uncapped combs. I don’t know . . . it doesn’t seem to make sense to me.

Taryn

There will be no brood in the Flow box, because it is expected that you use a queen excluder. Thus there will be no damage to the brood from the flow frames – just the usual Langstroth frames in the brood box.

The flow frames have been extensively tested all over the world – including with beekeepers in very cold climate (northern USA and Canada). So viscosity-problems are well-studied. So far the frames are not being recommended for Manuka and other high-crystalising or jelly-style honeys. But otherwise, it has been extensively tested.

The videos may well be vague, but they are not intended to be fully educational. When you look at the forums instead – you will see a very strong emphasis on learning all the basics of beekeeping including proper, regular inspections and joining of your local bee club. Nobody is getting the false impression that the Flow people think you don’t need to do anything… the only people that do are not paying attention (and I’m sure that is not confined to just newbies to the Flow hive, but to beekeeping anywhere).

However I have seen this myth (that flow-frame beekeepers will just think that all they have to do is turn a key and get honey) perpetuated all over the place.

This impression is incorrect and based on a naive and very negative reading of the material available.

Rusty

Taryn,

Are you a beekeeper? Have you used the Flow super? Where are your hives? How many Flows did you use? What were your results? We would love to learn from your experiences.

Taryn

I have not used the flow hive yet as mine i still coming – I’m basing my knowledge on extensive reading from the flow forums and matching that against what I’ve learned about beekeeping. I’ll have more to say when I’ve actually received mine (in the next couple of months).

mike

Here is the link to an email from Michael Bush which is posted on the Flow Hive web site. I wonder if large scale honey producers might find this system useful?

http://www.honeyflow.com/letters/p/24

Rusty

Mike,

Thanks. Interesting, but I think it is unreasonable to assume that someone like Michael Bush, who already knows how to raise bees, would have the same results as someone who is buying the system so they can get honey without messing with bees. Bush already has the knowledge to succeed, but the system seems to be aimed at neophytes. At least, that’s the impression I get from reading the promotional material.

As for commercial beekeepers, most of the ones I know make the bulk of their money from pollination services, while honey sales are extra. If that is the case, the expense of the system would be a major issue. Also, many bulk honey producers want to store and ship their honey in 55-gallon drums, not mason jars. So unless there is a way to string dozens of hives together, it would be very expensive to collect it in little jars and move them all around. Maybe it would work for a few hundred hives, but thousands would be tricky. Just thinking at the keyboard . . . the price will be interesting.

Taryn

Jars are not shipped with the flow hive. You make your own honey-receptacles. I know of a lot of people that have modified the lid of a standard honey bucket to receive honey from multiple flow-frames at once.

Rusty

Taryn,

How many are “a lot”? It is my understanding that not “a lot” of Flow hives have yet been delivered, and of those, many were delivered recently in North American which would mean they weren’t in time for this year’s crop. Please be more specific. Are you in Australia, then?

Taryn

The first wave of indigogo supporters received their flow hives from one to two months ago. The second wave are now receiving theirs (ahead of schedule).

So yes, quite a few people have received theirs (on the order of several hundred I’d guess, but I’m not privy to the exact numbers).

As I recall from the updates – they had several dozen early beta-testers all around the world – using the hives for several years.

I’ve seen more than one photo in their galleries of people using tubs instead of jars, but couldn’t pin it down to more than that as I wasn’t aware I needed to keep score 😉

Yes I am in Australia, and lots of flow hives have been arriving in Australia, if I hear correctly from the forums and facebook groups.

Nancy

To Neil,

If last year was your “first year as a beekeeper”, but you were extracting honey, I can guess why your bees were upset.

To everyone: this Flow thing keeps getting posted on my Facebook page and I keep posting Rusty’s link. The video shows honey dripping into two OPEN bottles, on an active hive, and yet there is not one bee buzzing around in sight. HAS to be fake.

Nan
Kentucky

Neil

Hey Nancy,

I’m sure that bees are never terribly excited to have their honey taken. I think it had a lot to do with my technique, so hopefully either this flow hive or an escape board will make things better.

G Stone

Full disclosure: I’m not a beekeeper, although I’ve had a casual interest in becoming one when I retire. I do have a pretty fair sense of good logic, however, and that drew me to the dialog happening around the web about the Flow Hive.

From the comments here and elsewhere it appears that many of the objections are reactions to fluffy and overly-simplified, maybe even inappropriate, marketing. Clearly—based on responses—they did themselves no favors by producing their video the way they did, which appears to target a novice market, or by trademarking the term “flow” in connection with apiculture*, but these are critiques of marketing, not the invention itself.

For the record, if you actually watch the whole video, you can clearly see many bees both inside the hive and flying around it in several shots.

Other objections arise from commenters not really aware of how the thing supposedly operates as described in the video and website. Objections such as those about taking too much honey are pretty much irrelevant to the device itself; that’s just part of good practice, whatever methods you use.

I see no claims that this is a total hive maintenance system, just an easier way to harvest. They should have made it more clear that the product is aimed at established beekeepers.

What I’d want to know is: does it work as claimed? What are the short and long term benefits or consequences for the colony’s health, assuming all normal best practices are also followed?

It may be a total piece of junk or worse, but I’d want to make that call based on the apparatus, not on poor marketing choices.

I find it noteworthy that Michael Bush is cautiously optimistic about the Flow Hive and didn’t hesitate to say so.

Dave

Maybe get some bees for a year or two then get back to us on your thoughts. You’ll soon have a different view.

shawn

“If you uncap a frame of honey and hold it upside down, not much happens”

Actually I’ve actually seen people, for reasons that didn’t make much sense to me, extract a few frames this way. It takes some time but a fair bit of honey dripped out over a couple hours.

Rusty

“It takes some time but a fair bit of honey dripped out over a couple hours,” which is my point.

David Newman

I can’t believe the all the negative on this issue. I bet you when Langstroth came out with his hive in the 1800s he was plagued with similar skepticism. Although I can’t believe it myself, I’m reserving any further comments till I learn all about this new innovative frame system. This is not a replacement for beekeeping, it’s a new way of looking at it. I will not doubt buy one and try it out. If I like it, I’ll keep using it just like I tried all the different types of frames on the market today (Plastic, Wood, Wood & Plastic, Etc.).

Neil

Hey David,

I agree completely, though I think Rusty said it best in one of her other posts:

“The beekeepers who know the most, those who actually know everything there is to know, are the second- and third-years. If there is a question, they have the answer. If you have an opinion, they will let you know what they think of it—and you. They don’t read, because they could write it better. They don’t listen, because they could say it better. Trust me, there is not one thing about bees that they don’t know. If you need a fast answer and confident opinion, they are the people to see. I am happy for them as they revel in their vast knowledge.”

I was especially disappointed in the attitude that this couldn’t be “real” beekeeping or that it somehow betrayed the beekeeping “craft”. Apparently beekeepers are not immune from becoming entrenched in their ways. Depending on the price I’ll be anxious to see if it even works.

G Stone

I agree, David. There’s so much negative because people aren’t really paying attention to the actual message and are having knee-jerk responses to what they imagine. It’s is simply a harvesting system, not an instant-honey-for-novices kit.

If you want to know how it works, read the patent: http://www.freshpatents.com/-dt20141218ptan20140370781.php

David Newman

Finally, people who want to have a true discussion on this topic. Neil, thanks for the location of the patent. I’ve downloaded it and will read it later. I believe that this revolutionary invention will in-time, save beekeepers time and money in the extraction process of each hive. There will be a significantly reduced demand for a honey extractor, uncapping knives, uncapping forks, strainers. There will be less demand for wooden/plastic boxes as honey supers and frames especially medium boxes. I don’t see them going away for good, just significantly reduced demand. Bee supply companies will not be happy. Also I see more people getting a hive for themselves.

Phillip

I don’t like the marketing (the video) for the Flow Hive. It’s deceptive. It will likely appeal to people who idealize beekeeping and don’t understand what they’re getting into.

I would tell new beekeepers to stay clear of the Flow Hive or any beekeeping invention that hasn’t been proven. It’s more important to learn the fundamentals of beekeeping first. A device that makes harvesting honey easier won’t help you if you don’t already know how to maintain a healthy colony to produce the honey in the first place.

As a beekeeper who has a pretty good handle of what he’s doing (I hope), if I knew the Flow Hive devices (special frames) worked, I’d try it out in my urban backyard for very small scale harvesting. If it allowed me to harvest honey without disturbing the bees as much — and disturbing my cranky neighbours as much — I’d be wiling to try it out, if the price is right.

Bill

I’m holding out for the automatic hive inspection machine. It’s supposed to let you know how your queen is doing without looking in the hive. It puts everything on graphs so you can do all of your beekeeping and honey harvesting from your cell phone miles away!

Bill

Seriously though, another concern I have is this:

If the honey is extracted into an enclosed ‘canal’ behind the cells into the spigot, then the canal sits there dark, warm, and empty all season waiting for honey to flow through it. No sterilization is possible before the honey is directed into the canal. This is a potential moisture/fungal/bacterial environment.

I’m aware that honey is antibacterial but running it through unclean equipment and into a jar for long term storage or sale may still lead to some serious contamination issues.

Rusty

I read the patent and know how it works. Nevertheless it doesn’t “revolutionize” beekeeping, as so many keep saying. It might revolutionize honey harvesting, but harvesting is only one tiny aspect of beekeeping. The rest of it is business as usual. Most people harvest only one or two days per year, but they keep bees all year long. It’s the all-year-long part that I write about here.

G Stone

My point is that most of the objections that have been raised have been based on other commenters’ speculations, not the claims of the inventors themselves. I think the format and tone of the video may be somewhat misleading, but not intentionally deceptive. Nowhere do they claim that this is an instant honey system. They make it clear that their target market is established beekeepers and talk about adding the Flow™ frames to existing hives; although the attractive message is bound to generate new interest.

Could it be that beekeepers are unaccustomed to well-produced and professional marketing being aimed at them, and therefore presumed this was targeted at the general non-beekeeping public? I’m asking in earnest, because I have no idea what sort of marketing beekeeping suppliers use.

I also want to point out that the inventors are actually beekeepers, and they’ve been working with other beekeepers on this thing for years. It’s not like they’re some start-up entrepreneurs.

As I said above, I’m not yet a beekeeper, but I have known a few over the years. As an amateur mead-maker and dedicated DIY enthusiast, I decided over 30 years ago that I would one day harvest my own honey. I’m not afraid of hard work, and not afraid of bees, but honestly, for me the biggest deterrent was watching the harvesting process; what a mess! I’m a lot closer to getting a hive because of this invention.

Kris

G Stone, not to sound sanctimonious, but when you begin beekeeping, you will probably be able to understand the objections more clearly. I can see the appeal of this device – if a person is just in it for the honey. That said, even on a large scale, it would be far easier to remove frames and extract using current methods than to try to use this thing as the sole means of extracting. I had five supers on one of my hives last year, I can’t imagine this thing being more effective than traditional methods. As far as mess goes, this new device is mechanical and is bound to have imperfections and prone to breakage. When that happens, what next? Now you have specialized frames full of honey that need to be extracted. To be honest though, most beekeepers I associate with don’t mind the extraction process. Its really a moot point when considering the pros and cons of beekeeping.

Given that beekeeping isn’t about the honey, I simply find this device invasive and an impediment to the natural process of the hive. It doesn’t help them any, so why bother? I don’t buy into the argument that it limits opening the hive and disturbing the bees. If a beekeeper isn’t inspecting the hives and making assessments for parasites, disease, brood patterns, and honey production, they are missing a large part of beekeeping and are depriving themselves of opportunities to ensure a healthy and robust colony.

Good luck with the bees. 30 years is a long time to wait and consider getting in, just do it, the honey harvesting isn’t as bad as you think.

Kris

I don’t use a queen excluder in my hives, so this product would give me problems. I have had hives where the queen has laid as high up in the hive as the 3rd super (which is why some use queen excluders) and this gizmo would only interfere with the hive’s attempts to increase in numbers.

From a philosophical point of view, I don’t keep bees just for the honey. Their survival and growth is actually more important to me. The honey is nice, but I also understand that there may be years where I get little, if any, honey from a hive. I don’t want inventions to separate me from the connection I have with the bees that comes from careful observation and a nurturing attitude; what’s in it for the bees, as opposed to what’s in it for me? If it doesn’t help the bees, then it isn’t needed.

From a practical point of view, this contraption strikes me as being more like a milking machine. It makes the hive too much a piece of machinery instead of the simple natural aspects which is what drew me to beekeeping to begin with. Besides, I like the whole process of the honey harvest. It allows me to more accurately evaluate the honey stores the bees have and do a thorough hive inspection. I also like removing the honey from the frames the “old fashioned” way, and it gives me time to inspect the frames and equipment to make sure they will be suitable and ready for next year’s use.

Beekeeping is about the journey, not the honey. This device says otherwise. No thanks.

Brent

Do you buy an exercise bike, and not learn about exercising and caloric intake? Do you buy a pizza oven, and think the pizza’s just going to magically get made to perfection? No, as with any INVESTMENT, you learn about it, emerge yourself in it. You should be happy that there’s now a bridge to introduce beekeeping to an amateur population that was just sitting on the sidelines. You have enough bee keepers already or something? This device looks to take some of the mess out of the equation, the part that was probably keeping these people away. I’m sure no one thinks it’s as easy as just turning on a faucet. Bravo to them for tying to innovate, and boo to all the negative old-school beekeepers out there bah-humbugging all over the place.

Rusty

Brent,

Since you all-capped it, an INVESTMENT is property or another possession acquired for future financial return or benefit, or an asset or item that is purchased with the hope that it will generate income or appreciate in the future. I hope anyone buying these in the hopes of financial return is very patient. These things yield radically expensive honey. Humbug!

By the way, skip the pizza oven and you won’t need the exercise bike.

G Stone

Respectfully, that’s a strawman argument. An investment is anything that you put into a venture, hoping to get something out of it at some point. One invests in any hobby; what you get out of it is enjoyment.

Rusty

Actually, it’s not an argument. It is simply two dictionary definitions.

Castor

I’m looking forward to the novelty wearing off on this. Normal service will be resumed etc etc.

William

I really like the concept. I actually really want this to work. I see this as an extension to traditional extracting processes. As Michael’s letter highlights, you won’t need to build your supers as high up because you can continuously drain.

My concerns are similar to Blaine’s ie. since a responsible beekeeper opens their hives every 2 weeks anyway to ensure the hive health is good, is the process of honey extraction that tedious that the flowhive is going to make things better? I crush and strain personally and I don’t find it too tedious at all.

Also as Blaine and Robert has already mentioned the honey is out in the open so it’s open to robbing and if the hive was diseased, it’s open for spreading. I suppose some engineering controls can over come this (the tube going straight into a lidded bottle for example?)

Lastly, if we are talking about honey, I have a concern about how do we verify if the frame is entirely capped? I noticed there’s a viewing window on the side of the frame so you can see if the cells are capped but honey caps in irregular patterns. sometimes inside then out and sometimes outside then so if the frame is still very “wet” you run into the possibility of extracting nectar which will ferment very quickly

That being said I think this invention can work for hobby beekeepers which is a plus in itself. It is awfully pricey though on their indigogo. I like to be optimistic about innovation and have things properly road tested before forming an opinion (I’m a biomedical researcher and it’s in my nature to do so)

-William

David C.

I find it rather surprising and somewhat amusing the comments that “The Flow” have brought out in the beekeeping community. You would think that this one gadget threatens the very fabric of life that we beekeepers depend on. I think what it really does is threaten our perception of ourselves and our own methods as being the only proper way to do things. Let’s try to keep things in perspective. This is one gadget designed to simplify beekeeping and make a task easier. It may not be the most important task associated with beekeeping but it may make one’s life easier. Take a stroll through any beekeeping supply catalog and you will see any number of iffy inventions aimed at making a beekeepers life easier. Why is this one such a threat?

As an engineer, I applaud the ingenuity. From reading the patent it appears to be a slick contraption that has been given a great deal of thought. Is it for me? Probably not, I enjoy getting my hands dirty too much. Does it work? Who knows? But if it does encourage someone to enter beekeeping and develop a love for the bees, is it really such a bad thing.

Modern life is built upon ingenuity. The vast majority of inventions have never been successful because either they didn’t work, or the general population didn’t find them useful. Those that have been successful have generally changed our life for the better. I expect in a few years, either most of us will have these or they will be a failed attempt at improving life. Either way, if you like it try it, if you don’t let’s turn our energies to mites and hive beetles and let the market decide if this thing is worth pursuing.

Garrett Brinton

You know, I actually agree with a lot of that. But what does bother me about this is that they aren’t advertising it as gadget that may make one task a little easier. They are advertising it as a “revolutionary” system that is “much easier on the bees,” implying, of course, that the usual ways of harvesting honey are very hard on the bees. Which, IMHO, is pure baloney. In my opinion they are cashing in on the public’s concern over Colony Collapse Disorder and the overall decline in bee health, and implying that their invention will help turn that around…which, even if it works as well as they claim, it just doesn’t really address any of the real reasons for the problems facing bees today. So, yeah, it kinda sticks in my craw a little when people are looking to profit off of the very real problems of bees and beekeepers, while not really contributing anything of value to address those real problems, and meanwhile distracting and misleading the public. If they were just presenting it as a nifty gadget that beekeepers might want to try, that would be one thing. Presenting it as a way to “save the bees” is just plain dishonest.

David Newman

Well said David C. Let’s let the market decide as it should anyway. This is my last comment about this topic on this blog. My energies are better spent preparing for this season.

Anna

I have the impression that the money which was raised during the crowd-funding came from many misguided folk believing they are somehow contributing to the fight to “save the bees”.

Rusty

Anna,

I absolutely agree.

David Newman

Anna, I don’t agree. This campaign is Started on 2-22-2015 and will end on 04-05-2015. As of this writing they broke the 3 million barrier with $3,025,628 USD. This is not a fad and is here to stay. Just as will all bee equipment you can decide if you are going to use it or not. Don’t discourage ones that do. You beekeep your way and everyone else will decide if this is for them.

Rusty

David,

Why do I get the feeling you are a second year beekeeper?

I was so much smarter then

Kris

I get the feeling he is heavily invested in it. It isn’t even in production yet and he is sure that it “is here to stay”.

I guess the turnoff for me is the whole sales pitch and certainty of product success that is reminiscent of multi-level marketers. A good product doesn’t need that level of cajoling and embellishment to sell. Good products typically sell themselves.

Anna

David, I must be missing something. I don’t see anywhere in my one-sentence comment that states I believe the Flow Hive is a fad. I suggest you take greater care in your reading and replying to avoid jumping down my throat or anyone else’s.

Rusty, I admire you for allowing the comments. Ah, the pitfalls and benefits of running a blog.

Rusty

Anna,

I often wonder why I do it. Hard to explain.

David Newman

Kris,

If you would like to know, I ordered 2 sets of 7 Flow Frames that fit into a Langstroth deep super. I don’t think that’s heavily invested. As anyone in a business I want to try out the product. I will get them in September. Hopefully earlier. If they work as I believe they will, I’ll get one for each hive next year. This year I’m most likely splitting two hives. I’ve ordered 4 nucs and 1 package. The package is for the experience. So if all goes well, this will put me at 10 hives by the end of this year. When I get the Flow Hives in September I’ll use them. I’ll add videos to my YouTube Channel. If you or anyone is interested my YouTube channel is at: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/111696368632873765613/111696368632873765613/videos

Subscribe and you’ll know when I get the Flow Hives.

Cheers.

Valérie

Thank you for loving the bees and beeing against this abomination.

A beeloverkeeper in switzerland

Tim

Wait…you mean to tell me that making a hutch which does nothing special but ease the extraction of honey will not magically make bees easy to keep? You mean all it will do is make extracting honey easier???? Real insightful blog post there sonny. Well done.

Rusty

Sonny?

Garrett Brinton

@ Tim,

Well that’s just it — the promoters don’t just claim that it makes harvesting the honey easier for the beekeeper, they also claim it’s “much easier on the bees” and — my personal favorite — that it will result in “healthier, happier bees.”

Emily

Sorry to see you are getting such abrupt/rude comments Rusty. It’s a shame when people feel the need to make their point in that way. You are nobody’s sonny!

Kris

Tim – You are aware Rusty is a woman, aren’t you? I think an apology is in order.

You can marginalize me by calling me “sonny” if you want to though, I am male and find her blog posts very insightful.

I am surprised at how personal critical feedback on the flow hive has been received. One would think we were debating religion and politics.

Blaine Nay

People who get hooked into a bad deal often don’t like having their foolishness pointed out. Some don’t seem to be bright enough to respond other than with abuse and emotion.

Rusty, keep on doing what you’re doing. You have a terrific blog and your piece on the “Flow” may well have been your most important because it will help attentive people to make a better decision on that product.

Rusty

Commenters:

If you cannot express your thoughts without the use of obscene, nasty, vulgar, crude, belittling, coarse, or offensive language then I don’t believe you have a valid thought in your tiny brain. Take it elsewhere because I won’t publish it here.

Jo

I am one of those annoying-only-a-few-years-into-it-beekeepers. Five hives, first two purchased as nucs and three caught swarms, with more caught swarms hived then adopted by other beekeeping friends. Extracting like mad at the moment as there’s a redgum flow on, even my newest little swarm, 3 months from catching, is filling an 8 frame deep in a matter of weeks. Lucky enough to be in Western Australia with the least pest/disease issues of anywhere in the world, and the problem of it getting hot more than too cold for honey extraction.

Extraction is my least favourite part of beekeeping. Inspections, love it. At first I shot down the flow frame concept in every way I could imagine, main concerns being honey left in the bottom of the trough, knowing how well filled/capped the whole frame was before extracting, and use of plastic – I use none, I won’t even sell my honey in plastic jars. The ‘open jar that honey is flowing into’ issue is one that could be very easily remedied with a hole in a jar lid.

Then I thought, hey, who am I to judge, these guys have put 10 years research and 3 years testing into their baby. And if it takes off and becomes a lasting thing, I would at least like to be able to speak on it from first hand experience, rather than my usual default position of refuse to accept any new technology.

So I’ve ordered a six frame flow to try out on one of my hives for myself. Probably on the ‘cranky’ one that hates me. (The others are all meek as lambs) I am very interested to see how it goes. I can’t imagine that I will expand to put a flow on all the others as well – cost wise it’s a long payback period. Unless of course in a year’s time there’s a lot of second hand flow frames on the market from all these people who started getting bees and then decided it wasn’t worth the bother after all.

I don’t doubt that I will still be lifting out each frame to check the fully capped honey content before extracting, and using the ‘lid with a hole in it’ on the jar for bee exclusion. I am still cautious about the plastic however. I’d love to install so the extracting end of a hive was inserted into the house wall so I could look at them any time I like from my kitchen, but that would probably see me divorced.

A LOT of friends who’ve considered beekeeping in passing are suddenly a LOT more interested in it, and asking for advice about how to set up, where to start, where to get eq from, how much time does it take, how to inspect the hive, could I recommend some books, etc etc, and could they come and inspect hives with me to get more of a feel for it before they commit. This is the right approach I believe. Interest in small scale, backyard beekeeping was already on the up in these parts, even more so now. If people are going to want to launch into keeping or having bees because of the buzz around the flow hive, then I would rather be able to help, advise and support them to be beekeepers not havers, and support more people to support the bee, than to tell them to not bother at all.
Maybe, just maybe, after the initial fallout of the fad followers, the flow hive might help the honeybee by increasing the number of passionate and dedicated beekeepers?

Now. To see if it works.

PS Rusty, I saw your list of honey that you’ve tried, and I’d love to send you a sample of our jarrah, and redgum honey!

Rusty

Jo,

I have no problem with experienced beekeepers experimenting with the Flow hive, in fact, I think they should. Everything you wrote leads me to believe that you are the perfect candidate because you already understand complex beekeeping issues such as the importance of inspection, timing of honey flow, etc. And if you are mentoring others, that is great too. What I—and many other beekeepers—worry about are those who buy bees because now beekeeping will simply be a matter of opening a honey gate. They are out there; we’ve all read their comments on the Flow hive website and on the bee forums.

The Flow hive will definitely bring in new folks and some will become excellent beekeepers and some will abandon their dead hives the following year. That has always happened, but I think the number will be greater with the Flow hive . . . just my opinion, of course.

Btw, I too try to stay away from plastic although in the past few years I’ve experimented with Ross Rounds. But I can taste the flavor of honey that has been in a plastic bottle, and it creeps me out, so I’m going back to wooden sections.

As for jarrah or redgum honey? Wow, I don’t even know what it is. Sounds amazing!

Bonnie G.

Well, I have read all the very interesting and diverse comments on this “flow” thingy. We even discussed it at our bee association meeting this past evening. Overall, it seems to me that experienced beekeepers are not too fond of using it in a professional apiary or in a hobbyist apiary.

Personally, I see a lawsuit coming, perhaps several. Honey harvesting out in the open like that is just not cool and it shouldn’t be made to look cool. Bottom line – it is unethical. I can feel it calling in the air, folks. This flow frame may be the “Decepticon” of the beekeeping world which is going to afford us all months and months of entertainment.

The idea of easy harvesting is a pleasant one, but when it comes down to the means justifying the end, well, that’s when reality forces one’s brains back into one’s head after a swift kick in the rear. Results – I want a refund! All of my bees died! I got a legal notice from the state. I was taken advantage of, etc., etc. Lawsuit!

I would be willing to wager that the $6 million so readily received by these “flow” guys was not scrutinized as to whether the ones forking over their dough were experienced beekeepers or wide-eyed, gullible enthusiasts! This is one of the most ingenious money making schemes I have seen and it is being targeted at some of the most caring people. Buyer beware. JMO

The Big Texas

I think I’m in a similar boat as Jo above. I have 3 hives, had for a few years now, and I have purchased one of the FlowHives – complete kit and everything. I’m certainly willing to give it a shot. And it’s not like it was invented by people that hate bees. It sounds like a bunch of bitter beekeeping hipsters that can’t grasp that a simple design enhancement has changed some aspect of beekeeping for the better. Yeesh.

I think a lot of ‘experts’ wanted to come out strong against an actually well thought-out design on simplifying extracting honey. There is nowhere in the video or on the website for the Flow Hive that says it eliminates inspection of the bees or any general maintenance. Just tend to the hive like you would with any other beehive – except when it comes to extracting honey. Not tough to figure out. Frankly, it’s a simple, yet ingenious design. It has been tested over 10 years (and in its current form, for the past 3 years), in multiple climates (the coldest I’ve read about is Canada), and has been praised by fantastic beekeepers that have personally USED them. A lot of the push-back I have read just comes across as sour grapes and/or was written within a day or two of the Flow Hive’s IndieGoGo page starting up. More like knee-jerk reactions to something that people themselves didn’t bother to actually inspect or respect.

I suggest people read the FAQs, try one of the hives, tend to it like other hives, and then extract honey from it the way suggested. I’ll bet you’ll find the hive works just like other hives – if maintained well it will be great. And then the extraction of honey will be much easier – which is the only thing suggested by the site and videos.

Cheers,

The Big Texas

Rusty

Tex,

I think you are missing the point. For experienced beekeepers—people like you—it will be easy to understand and use the Flow hive. But the marketing seems to be aimed at people who have never kept bees and who have no idea what it entails. Some of those people will “get it” and become beekeepers. But I think a lot more will be disillusioned when they find out they still have to deal with bees. I’m willing to wait and see, but I believe an excess of hype will lead to an excess of disappointment.

Garrett Brinton

I’m not “for” or “against” the “Flow Hive” itself, and I do agree with you that some of the reaction to the Flow Hive has been a bit over-the-top, but I feel I ought to point out that the promoters don’t just say it makes harvesting easier — they also say that it it will lead to “happier, healthier bees.” Which is pure baloney. So while I don’t have a problem with the product itself, I do have a problem with the way they are marketing it. In my opinion they are exploiting, for profit, public concern over CCD and other challenges facing beekeeping, and misleading the public into thinking their “Flow Hive” is going to be better for bee health — despite the fact that it doesn’t address any of the actual problems bees face.

Emily

One of my issues with it is the price… $230 for three frames seems to be the cheapest option. In comparison a foundation super frame costs about 1.5$.

Okay, the foundation frame doesn’t come with an extractor – but I can borrow an extractor from my local association for free. Or buy a new extractor for about $600.

I have five hives, so to put just three Flow frames in all five hives would cost over $1000. It clearly isn’t cost effective in comparison with the extractor and foundation frames option. And as I keep my hives in public allotments the Flow frames would be a beacon for thieves if word got out I had some.

Hope you enjoy yours – perhaps the price will come down in a few years.

Ian

Wait, I need a cow to have steak? 🙂

anak perelih

For me , this Flow hive is for beekeepers to focus more time on beekeeping and reduce the time spent on harvesting as it simplify the harvesting process…

Rusty

True, beekeepers will now have an extra day per year to hone their skills.

Ranee @ Arabian Knits

My husband has kept bees for over eight years now, and maybe we are slow and inefficient, but it takes us about a week to harvest our honey and get it into jars, and we only have two hives.

Garrett Brinton

It takes you a week to harvest/extract/bottle the honey from two hives!?!? Yeah, that seems very strange. Should be well under an hour to harvest, maybe a couple hours to extract & clean up, maybe a couple hours to bottle. I would suggest consulting some experienced beekeepers and try to see what you could be doing differently.

Emily

I think it does depend upon the method used, and also the type of honey. For instance, last year we had some honey which must have been thixotropic. An electric extractor spinning away for ages couldn’t get it out (we had uncapped all the cells). But yes, a week seems a long time.

Blaine Nay

The “Flow Hive” appeals only to those who presume that harvesting is a very difficult and tedious chore. Ya want easy local honey? Go to your local Farmers’ Market! It’s a lot easier and cheaper than this gimmick.

Art

Still do it the old way: find the hive, cut the tree down and remove the honey.
Skep rope hive too much trouble also just as hard to gather the honey.
L. Langstroth hive were the greatest for honey production.
Top-bar is a good method also.
Maybe the honey flow addition to the hive.
Bees will be bees and there is still a problem with the stinger.
Good hunting for the method of hive, may the best sting win.

Grace

Yet another article written by someone with absolutely no experience with the Flow Hive and commented largely by people with the same nil experience.

All this shows is that you’re all very ignorant and nothing more.

That, my friends, is why I lament the future of bees.

Bonnie

Grace, that’s an opinionated post of yours in its own right. So, there seems to be quite a few opinions flying around, but I will hold any further comments until a year from now, if you promise to stop being rude. Nothing more. Have a diddy of a weekend.

Emily

Grace, I’ve seen your somewhat insulting comments on this topic on a number of blogs now. Perhaps you could tell us what your own experience with the Flow hive and beekeeping is?

You lament the future of bees because some of us are sceptical about a new honey harvesting system. If honey bees could talk to us about their troubles, do you think they’d say “well, we’re up against varroa, nosema, AFB, EFB, small hive beetle, Asian hornets, pesticides, habitat destruction, fields of monocrops, being trucked around hundreds of miles… but rather than sorting all that out, what we really wish you’d do to help us is invent a device to take our honey away more easily”?

Rusty

Grace,

Based on your nuanced comment, it sounds like you have a lot of experience with the Flow Hive that none of us novice beekeepers have. Please tell us about it in detail. We are eager to learn.

Jenny Bee

One thing I think most are overlooking is the local laws regarding keeping bees.
I am sure there are several restrictions? And you cannot just go out and buy 1000 bees and keep them in your back yard in an urban area.

Yet people who don’t buy more than $100 worth of honey a year, are spending $650 on flow hives? It is madness but hey “a fool and his money are soon parted”.

Taryn

I’m one of the people buying it, and I’m doing it because I make mead and I actually do spend about $200 on honey a year. With a strong hive, this will make my money back inside of two years.

As to restrictions, sure they differ by location, but yeah, you can actually just got out and buy a package of bees for your backyard urban area. In Sydney you can keep bees on the balcony of an apartment. Sure it’s a good plan to let your neighbours know (in case your upstairs neighbour is deathly allergic to stings), but it’s certainly doable.

Also – people spend how much on computer game consoles and the games to go with them? Really – the argument from budget is not the best… if people have the money to spend on it, they will do it even if all they get out of it is a fun and new hobby. Because we see that happening all the time.

Michael Bush

>He may have invested some money…so that might be a motivation to sell it.

I have no stake in the Flow hive. I am not trying to sell it. I am neither endorsing it nor am I NOT endorsing it. My synopsis would be:

1) It works (and not the way it has been described above, it breaks the WALLS of the cells and makes a channel that runs from top to bottom)

2) It is the coolest beekeeping invention since Quinby invented the smoker we all now use.

3) It is currently overpriced. It is not in the realm of being financially feasible on any scale right now, but then they were trying to launch it and I’m sure the price will come down eventually. The first big screen TV I saw was priced out of the realm of practicality too as were early computers. To put them on my 200 hives would cost $82,000 and it would take me a long time to recover that investment, especially since I already have an extractor.

4) The presentation is a little misleading, as most advertising is, and as any oversimplification of a topic is. You can’t just go out to the beeyard and run enough honey for your pancakes and then turn it off. You will have broken open every cell… You need to wait until it’s capped and then you need to harvest it all. But otherwise, yes, it’s that easy.

5) I’m not sure yet how it would change my management IF it was cheap enough to buy some more, but I’m sure it will require some adjustments. There are some experiments I would want to run to see how things work out. It might be possible, since it’s too deep for the queen to lay in and not the right diameter for either workers or drones, to put it on the bottom of the hive so you wouldn’t have to move it… but I won’t know until I have time to try it.

6) You still have to LEARN to manage bees and you still need to MANAGE them. This device will not prevent swarming, it won’t fix brood diseases or mites, it won’t magically do your beekeeping for you. But it will make harvest much easier and less messy. It will probably make management slightly more complicated, or at least different.

7) It remains to be seen how it will age and how long it will last etc. It’s a new product and while Cedar and Stuart have been testing it for years, that is on a small scale. The large scale test is yet to come.

You can keep bees for almost nothing if you build your own top bar hive from scrap lumber and you do crush and strain. This is the opposite. It’s not necessary, but if you have the money to spend it is a very cool thing to play with. Honestly I don’t see how any beekeeper with some spare cash could resist it.

The emotional reaction of people has actually mystified me. They have very strong opinions on something they have never seen.

One of the arguments by the naysayers is that it will bring a lot of people into beekeeping who shouldn’t be there. I think this is a bit harsh and unrealistic. But there is some truth to that. Hardship and work tends to filter and change a group of people in ways that shape the kind of person in that field. For instance when the pioneers had to take a Conestoga wagon from Pennsylvania and walk thousands of miles to get to the frontier, it took a certain kind of person to take that on, and the hardships themselves shaped that person and changed them. It was definitely a different sort of person than the ones a decade later who hopped on a train and rode it to the frontier in a couple of days. It changed the quality of people who showed up on the frontier when that filter and that crucible of hardship and work wasn’t there. But does that mean we aren’t going to build the railroad because of that?

Bonnie

Michael, you made me smile. First thoughts: you’re either a great salesman or a politician. I don’t mean that in an insulting way. The person who can master the power of persuasion has a gift. I, for one, got over all the hype about the “flow” and have tired of it. Only time will tell if this piece of plastic is as useful and beneficial as Cedar and Stuart claim.

My big question remains is why did they have to crowd-fund it, but I am definitely not going to lose any sleep over it. I also don’t believe for one second that a comparison between the flow thing and forging a nation out of a wilderness are relevant but are like comparing apples to bee stings.

I didn’t buy those new flat TVs when they first came on the market, either.

Garrett Brinton

Mostly the flow hive thingy strikes me as an expensive solution to a problem I don’t really have. But time will tell…I never saw the point in a phone that was connected to the internet either…but now use one all the time. 😉

Bonnie

Garrett, I have a phone line plugged into my computer, also, for about 20 bucks a month. Having this phone line holds value for me whereas the expense of this flow hive does not. It would take too long for me to recoup this expense.

These attempts to persuade and justify the flow hive are becoming quite amusing. The consumers will decide if this method of beekeeping was worth it or if it is just an expensive novelty item, so you’re correct… time will tell. Imdeed.

Bonnie G.

Garrett, I have a phone line plugged into my computer, also, and it costs me 20 bucks per month. This is a necessity for me. The flow hive thing is not.

I am becoming quite amused at the persuasive justifications, which are mostly irrelevant comparisons, given to this flow hive versus the traditional hives. What one deems necessary or an extravagance is purely subjective per each individual.

Whether the flow hive survives as a winner in the market place will be determined by the consumers, so you are right…. time will tell.

Bonnie

“Indeed”

Diane

My word! I am intrigued by the Flow hive, not because I think it replaces caring for my bees, but because not all of us belong to huge co ops with tons of equipment for extracting. I’m having a hard time understanding why everyone is worked up about something that goes on and off a hive like any other honey super! If it works, yay! I don’t have to lift a full super! That’s it! That’s the only claim being made! You still need to “keep” your bees, you just harvest differently! Sheesh!

Rusty

Diane,

For those who understand that the Flow hive is an expensive and glorified honey super, the Flow hive will surely work. For those who think the hive will allow them to avoid most aspects of beekeeping, it won’t.

By the way, thousands of beekeepers get by just fine without, “tons of equipment for extracting.” A bowl and a potato masher work just fine. Even the ancient Egyptians didn’t “belong to huge co ops with tons of equipment for extracting.” Imagine that.

Diane

Please excuse my hyperbole. Indeed, ancient peoples did not use tons of equipment. I believe you are also correct in that many people had the impression the super would make a “hands free” hive, but I think the Flow website has been trying to correct that misconception. I am still intrigued. I’m going to bite the expenses, (yes, big expense) and see how it goes.

Thank you for your site and comments, I learn more here everyday than I care to admit!

Rusty

Diane,

Hyperbole disregarded. Make no mistake, I think the Flow Hive is ingenious and it will probably be an asset to an experienced beekeeper. If I wasn’t such a tightwad I’d probably try it myself.

TRexF14

I agree with Diane and Michael. I can’t think of one thing about this invention that encourages, advocates, or endorses any kind of “bad” beekeeping practice. I think anyone who would splurge the money (because it’s definitely a convenience piece, not a necessity – and no one ever claimed it was a necessity) would at least watch the informational videos, to see what it is. In all honesty, no one in my bee association makes money off their bees! HAHAHA! – we dump loads of cash and sweat into it because it intrigues us – honey is a nice bonus. If someone wants to dump more cash into a sheer convenience item – who cares?? You don’t need to have a full super of flow frames – you can modify a single box to hold just a couple frames, if you want. This device might actually help beginning beekeepers – building comb is resource intensive for bees (time and honey). If you preserve comb, you might get a bit more honey, or at least some extra comb to start a new hive on – and I see nothing wrong with that. Sure, some comb gets old, and you might as well crush it. I see this device as a comb-saving harvest convenience – nothing more, nothing less. And regarding it’s popularity, it’s the right time for it, that’s all – Netflix is riddled with several documentaries extolling bees, and their current decline – and it’s been in the news – here and internationally. If anything, people who are interested in this product are well aware of whats killing bees – and want to be part of the solution. Beekeeping has gotten more difficult/complicated – not easier/simpler. Sure – the basics are the same – but we have problems now that didn’t exist even two decades ago. I personally know people who gave up beekeeping, not due to age, but because “it’s too much trouble now”. 30-50% losses every year is disheartening. But I don’t think this product is falsely advertising how “easy” beekeeping is – it’s only focused on one aspect of beekeeping (harvesting), and that’s what it’s selling. Furthermore, even if someone got into beekeeping because they liked honey, so what?? They are a domesticated animal, domesticated for that purpose. Of course they are important pollinators, but even then, we need them for that because of our huge industry of domesticated crops. Wanting to keep bees for honey? Zero shame in that game.

So if the Flow hive gets people keeping bees – that’s awesome – and I don’t think they are doing it under false pretenses. Beekeeping needs more idealists and enthusiasm – why be cantankerous about a ‘super’ harvesting toy? If beekeeping doesn’t get fresh blood (who might muck it up at first and then get experience) all we’ll have left is the corporations. And we know how that will end.

Rusty

Kevin,

1. You think I didn’t watch the “informative videos?”
2. You think Netflix is the go-to authority on bee health?
3. Bees have been in the news? Really?
4. “If anything, people who are interested in this product are well aware of whats killing bees – and want to be part of the solution.” Last I heard, the definitive reason for “whats killing bees” is not clearly defined. I guess I don’t spend enough time on Netflix.
5. So you’re saying, I think, if we can take more honey from the bees more quickly and more easily, this will somehow solve the bees’ health problems?
6. I’m interested in hearing how many years of experience you have.