Don't Go With the Flow, Go With the Wax: A Take on the Flow Hive


#21

Still it would seem the writer should buy and test a flow hive prior to being a expert reporter of one. Harm can be done by starving any hive or neglecting them due to the complicated extraction process. To assume the added desire for families to own their own hive will only lead to poorly managed and worse conditions than exist today is extremely narrow elitist point of view. More folks working to understand and fight the harmful sprays while learning how to promote healthy bee reproduction cell size, etc can work along side a flow hive. Embrace at least some of the positive for the bees sake.


#22

That’s the way to go – not only read up on bees, but attend meetings with your local beekeeping group. Kudos. As well, I’d never even though about people over-extracting and starving their bees, but I guess the thing will come with, like, a manual? Perhaps we’re going to see a bunch of these Flow™ hives stashed away in closets or showing up on eBay in a few years.


#23

Very true, a bad beekeeper is a bad beekeeper, and just because you have a top bar hive or some equivalent doesn’t imply good stewardship practices. And technically, you can have a Langstroth-adapted top bar hive and stick some Flow™ frames in there for easy access to some honey, but most (if not all?) top bar beekeepers aren’t in it for the honey. And granted, perhaps my “Chia Pet for the Toys “R” Us crowd” comment was a bit over the top, but just the same, I think it’s a big mistake to think of honeybees as the equivalent of a pet dog or an addition to the family goldfish, and I think it’s a mistake to dumb down the whole thing in a cutesy family manner. Regardless, I think the crux of the article was that bees need diverse cell sizes which they design themselves as they see fit, and secondly, that bees are benefited by living in their own wax comb. The Flow™ hive allows for neither of these.


#24

Hi, thanks for your point of view. You have really helped us see several different aspects of this current debate. I have invested in one Flow hive. I have never kept bees before. I want to see how this hive works out. I will then have a first hand opinion to give. I have a neighbor down the road who is willing to let me shadow her with the traditional hives she owns. This will give me the experience I need to try the Flow hive out. My family invested in one for several reasons, but we just thought it could turn into something really beneficial eventually. Think of it as a beta testing. This product will evolve over the years and hopefully become the best it can be for the bees. I don’t really think there is that much difference in what bee keepers do now and the Flow hive, so why not see what it can do and give feed back to help it become something beneficial for the bees. It might not work out but it is worth a try to see what it could become. It is clear from the response and support they received, that many people care about the bee population. It is up to the people of this technology to be responsible and help people properly manage bees with their system. I believe they are taking steps to do that. Many people are researching how to keep bees now, are more aware of the declining population and in return will plant flowers etc to help them. Most of us know, bee keeping isn’t really about saving the bees, but we will do all we can to help them along side our attempts to keep some for honey. So for all those out there, plant whatever you can to help the bees, no matter where you live. Let that be the first really good thing to come from all of this. Cheers from Canada. Su.


#25

Anyone found a physical address for the company yet ?


#26

Well, as much as I don’t like the Flow™ Hive, especially the way that it gives the impression that anybody can have bees and that it’s all a piece of cake, it’s good to hear that you’ll at least be shadowing your neighbor for a while.

“I don’t really think there is that much difference in what bee keepers do now and the Flow hive.”

I suppose that’s kind of why I say that it’s not an improvement on the current situation, as it’s pretty much the Langstroth hive on steroids. The Langstroth’s original intention was to maximize production (or at least allow for that). On the other hand, top bar hive’s are about maximizing the bees’ health (or at least allow for that). Although one can be a great beekeeper and have relatively healthy bees in a foundation-based Langstroth hive, and one can be a horrible beekeeper and have very unhealthy bees in a top bar hive, I think the best of both worlds is healthy bees who are allowed to create their own comb from scratch, which I believe allows for the healthiest bees possible.

“It is clear from the response and support they received, that many people care about the bee population. It is up to the people of this technology to be responsible and help people properly manage bees with their system.”

This concerns me a bit as well, and is why I mentioned there being a fair amount of value-free awareness raising going on (which nary mentions holistic beekeeping practices). If people have so much concern about honeybees, why has there not been droves of people running out to get regular Langstroth hives (never mind top bar hives) the past few years, and why have all the financial whiz-bang websites and newspapers not been pouring attention on Langstroths the way they have upon the Flow™ hive? (I’m talking about Forbes, Business Insider Australia, entrepreneur[dot]com, etc.) Answer being, the Flow™ hive is a techno marvel (and techno gadgetry is glorified in our modern society and in financial circles), and, simply put, the Flow hive has the aura of ease to it, virtually guaranteeing large sales and a feel-good entrepreneurial story that profit seekers can extoll about. And if “their system” is defective in the first place, I wonder how much “the people of this technology” can do to remedy that.

Regardless, I wish you all the best in your beekeeping ventures.


#27

If you’re implying that the Flow™ hive creators are going to run off with the money, I don’t see why one would have that impression.


#28

As much as I agree with most of what you say, you seem to be missing the revolutionary aspect of the Langstroth. That is the removable frame, which then allows the beekeeper to “manage” their hive(s) which includes thorough inspection(s). Like what you do before turning on the spigot (which I too don’t recommend) or extracting the surplus. Prior was the skep, which as you mentioned was not good for bee keeping. Langstroth’s hive has stood the test of time and still works very well for those who desire that system. What doesn’t work is the current situation of mono cropping, blending all the ****cides, and mismanagement by beehavers, etc. A healthy hive is a well supplied hive with nectar and pollen that the bees themselves bring in. The size and or shape matters little. I had a swarm squeeze into a 2 inch space between two hive body storage sheds (ignoring three separate bait hives I had in the sheds). And the swarm proceeded building their comb in the 2 inch X 40 inch X 7 foot high space. Just a side note about about honey bee health in this area, I don’t know where this swarm came from but the queen is unmarked. I know of two wintered over feral hives I hope throw a swarm into bait hives placed near them. There seems to be a correlation to hive die offs and that is man’s intervention. So, yes, I agree we need to pay attention to how the bees do and yet still talk them into sharing some honey with us. Just saying.


#29

And I have to agree with pretty much everything you’re saying as well. Particularly when you say that the main problem is monocropping, what one might just call industrial beekeeping. As well, I think it’s correct to say that size and shape of the hive aren’t overriding factors as bees seem to be quite able to adapt themselves to whatever they can get access to in the wild.

The Langstroth was definitely revolutionary in the manner you describe, and the reasons you give are the good ones. What I don’t like so much is the foundation, another aspect of the homogenous, monocropping notion we both mentioned (that is, homogenous cell sizes). That’s why I brought up in the article the fact that Langstroth hives have been adapted by some to allow the bees to create their own comb from scratch, what I think to be a fair compromise.

About the honey, I can’t disagree there either, so long as we take only the surplus. That being said, if there’s one thing I particularly covet from the hive, that would be the propolis. Gets completely rid of my strep throat the odd time I’ve gotten it, and has done wonders for various other maladies that friends of mine have had.


#30

Wow. This is a really fascinating article on beekeeping. All makes perfect sense ecologically.


#31

Bingo!


#32

A very informative article. I have top bars, which I like very much for many reasons. I have seen videos of the Flow hive and wondered how it worked, but more importantly how do the bees fair with it? I rarely wish failure on someone, but I really hope the Flow is a flash in the pan which will die a quiet death soon. We need to realize that instant gratification always comes with a price.


#33

I agree with you all around. I do wonder whether the more holistic beekeepers out there are going to have to pick up the pieces and introduce better beekeeping practices to these Flow™ hive people once the “flash in a pan” dies out, or, whether these people will simply realize that “real” beekeeping just wasn’t for them in the first place. Time will tell.


#34

Thank you for the article.

I’ve been wanting to get into bee keeping for a while, and when I saw the Flow Hive, I thought it may be a great way to start.

But since it has come out, there has been quite a bit of backlash in the bee keeping community.

I eventually (With in the next few years- Im 27) want to have my own little homestead going, and bring in a hive to help with pollination, as well as welcome the bees to a great source of food. I don’t plan to use a fertilizers or pesticides, so I figure it will be the best thing for the bees anyhow. Trying that ‘super organic’ route.

(I’m looking at it through the side of, “Save the bee’s, and maybe get some honey on the side”.)

See, I’m terrified of buzzers. (I refer to bee’s, wasps -anything that ‘buzzes’, as a buzzer.) I’m confident that with enough time I’ll become used to it. Especially if I start out wearing all of the protective gear, and slowly, as I become more comfortable, be able to be around them with less and less gear on.

I can’t decide on whether on want a Landstroth or a Top Bar, to start off it. I would like to just have a couple years building the hive. Adding a brood box each time one gets full, and taking my time with the process, before even thinking about adding a box for honey extraction.

There are no bee keepers in my family, so I’m still just doing research. Articles like this make things clearer and clearer for me, so thank you!


#35

Glad to hear you found the post useful. And I think your attitude of “maybe get some honey on the side” is the best to have. Honey’s great, don’t get me wrong, but a lot of beekeeping ends up being the honeybee equivalent of the chicken battery cage trying to pump out as much honey as possible.

I’ve heard many people say that Langstroth hives are best to start with as they’re easier than Top Bar hives, but Christy Hemenway (author of The Thinking Beekeeper) begs to differ on that one. She’s up in Maine and gives excellent workshops on keeping Top Bar hives (I took one a few years ago). She also does out-of-state lessons, so it’s worth contacting her if you’re interested – Gold Star Honebees.

And although honeybees are great for pollination, there’s probably more to be said for native pollinators actually. They’re generally better pollinators, and good to have around those “super organic” homesteads. I recommend the books Attracting Native Pollinators: The Xerces Society Guide, Protecting North America’s Bees and Butterflies and Farming with Native Beneficial Insects: Ecological Pest Control Solutions, both by The Xerces Society. Your local library can probably get them via an Interlibrary-Loan if you’re interested.

(If I have to list my one stand-out beneficial aspect of honeybees, it’s for the medicinal properties of the propolis that they collect.)

All the best with the homestead!


#36

I do use Langstroth hives with wax foundation. However, I could not agree more in regards to the flow hive. You just turn a level and the honey pours out ? Right ! And no bees outside the hive bombard that open jar of honey? I am skeptical. Time will tell.


#37

As you can tell I’m quite skeptical as well. I’m waiting till enough of the wannabe beekeepers realize that beekeeping isn’t just a matter of turning a key and so end up dumping their “hives” on eBay. Then I’ll do a review of the whole thing, possibly with some interviews. We’ll see.