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Author Topic: Secondhand Questions about Flow Hives  (Read 968 times)

Offline The15thMember

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Secondhand Questions about Flow Hives
« on: February 17, 2024, 11:41:10 pm »
My family is a member of the School of Traditional Skills, and I've been helping answer bee questions on their private forum lately.  There are some questions about Flow Hives which I have no experience with, so I was wondering if anyone who has used them has any tips, tricks, or helpful information about using them that I could pass on to newbees who have purchased one (other than the obvious "you still have to inspect").   
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Offline Acebird

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Re: Secondhand Questions about Flow Hives
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2024, 08:38:41 am »
Michael Bush has a flow hive and successfully used it.  I think the jist is knock offs don't work so well.  He probably will chime in and lead you to the previous discussions.
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Offline BeeMaster2

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Re: Secondhand Questions about Flow Hives
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2024, 08:46:56 am »
I have one. It?s very hard to get the bees to use it without them swarming. Every time I got the bees to the point where they started using it they would swarm. That was with 2 medium brood boxes under them. The last time that I used it they half filled it before swarming. It doesn?t help that our bees have a lot of Africanized genetics in them which makes them prone to swarming and also absconding.
If I was to try again, I would build the hive up to full capacity during a flow and then make them queen less and put it on or at least put a new queen in it.
Michael was able to make it work, he might bee able to provide some good advice.
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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Secondhand Questions about Flow Hives
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2024, 07:17:23 am »
>My family is a member of the School of Traditional Skills, and I've been helping answer bee questions on their private forum lately.  There are some questions about Flow Hives which I have no experience with, so I was wondering if anyone who has used them has any tips, tricks, or helpful information about using them that I could pass on to newbees who have purchased one (other than the obvious "you still have to inspect").   

I think the main "problem" is the mistaken idea that you don't need to be a beekeeper.  Not just the obvious "you still have to inspect" but you need to know how a flow works and how bees think.  If you put plastic anything on the bees and they have other choices they will take the other choices over the plastic.  In order to get bees to use new plastic you need a good flow and no other choices.  If you don't have a flow they aren't going to put honey in it.  I'm sure that's obvious to you, but I find a lot of people who buy a flow hive don't realize it.  They put the boxes on and expect the bees to fill them and don't know if there is a flow or not.  Any plastic works better with some beeswax to entice the bees or something to get them to lick the plastic clean.  In other words, if you take a block of softened beeswax and rub the outside of the combs it will help.  If you spray some syrup or watered down honey on the plastic it will help.  Once the bees have used the flow frames it will help.  I would be sure to harvest during the flow because some honey is bound to leak somewhere and honey leaking is not a good thing in a dearth.  A cutdown split would be a good way to crowd them up into the supers while avoiding swarming:
https://bushfarms.com/beessplits.htm#cutdown
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Offline The15thMember

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Re: Secondhand Questions about Flow Hives
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2024, 11:05:23 am »
Thanks so much Michael, that's exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. 
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline Acebird

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Re: Secondhand Questions about Flow Hives
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2024, 08:44:10 am »
They put the boxes on and expect the bees to fill them and don't know if there is a flow or not.
If I have to fault the makers of the flow hive for anything it is their marketing.  Even though they kinda say you have to know what you are doing they emphasize that you don't.
Jim, my experience in fl is that the flows are sporadic.  Not coming at the same time and never being really strong for any length of time.  There is no doubt in my mind that the flow hive would work in Upstate NY.
IMO A beginner should not start with a flow hive.  Too much to learn at the beginning.
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Online Lesgold

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Re: Secondhand Questions about Flow Hives
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2024, 04:23:09 pm »
Michael and Ace are correct in their thoughts on flow hives. There are many hobby beekeepers in my area that purchase them as they think that they are a good idea. When people ask for advice before buying one, I always suggest that they start with a normal hive and learn about bees before venturing into a flow hive. The new beekeepers who purchase one and are successful from the start are just lucky. Many are not and have problems with the bees not wanting to work on the plastic. The hybrid style that uses a few standard frames on the outside of the flow frames can encourage the bees to work in the top box. A strong flow solves all problems. During a mild honey flow the bees often backfill the brood box as their preference to moving upstairs. During a dearth or over winter, they can be problematic. Again, this is not an issue if you know how to deal with the situation. As Ace stated, the advertising seems to imply that bees are placed into the hive and then a short time later a handle is turned to produce honey. They are a fantastic piece of engineering and you have to give a thumbs up to the inventor for thinking outside the box.

Offline Acebird

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Re: Secondhand Questions about Flow Hives
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2024, 08:38:56 am »
I am not as impressed with the engineering as I am with the concept.  I think a better system should be employed so that one frame at a time breaks away as opposed to all at one time. Once the adjoining wax has been broken from each frame then the crank could be deployed to move them all for the draining.
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Offline BeeMaster2

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Re: Secondhand Questions about Flow Hives
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2024, 08:58:36 am »
Ace,
Sounds like you have never actually Seen a flow hive. It comes with a tool that you stick in one frame and turn it back a forth to break the wax on that frame. The honey then drips down and flows out of the bottom of that frame into a tube that you inserted in the bottom of the frame and you put your jar under the exposed end of the tube. It is best to only empty one frame at a time. If the honey is thin, you actually want to break the wax a little bit at a time so that it stays inside the frame and doesn?t drip into the frames in the box below it.
Jim Altmiller
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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Secondhand Questions about Flow Hives
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2024, 11:46:48 am »
Yes.  You can break as little or as much as you like (horizontally) but the surface doesn't break, just the walls behind the surface.  If you are going to extract there's no reason to use flow frames at all.  Plus it would not be simple to do since the surface doesn't break and a hot knife would melt the plastic and a cold knife would cut the plastic.  So the only practical way other than the way it's intended to work, is to use a Hackler Honey Punch or equivalent.
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Offline Acebird

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Re: Secondhand Questions about Flow Hives
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2024, 08:27:44 am »
Ace,
Sounds like you have never actually Seen a flow hive.
I have seen it and I have studied it.  The tool goes through all frames to get to the last one.  I think each frame should be independently actuated without moving other frames.  That way you can drain only the frames that are completely full.
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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Secondhand Questions about Flow Hives
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2024, 08:58:46 am »
>I think each frame should be independently actuated without moving other frames.  That way you can drain only the frames that are completely full.

That's exactly how it works.  You open one frame at a time.  I do them one after the other so the whole thing can be draining at the same time to save me time, but one at a time is how it's designed.  I had to get my own tubes, cut a six holes in the bucket lid, hook them all up and then open them one at a time until they are all open.  They only ship with one tube with the expectation that you will do them one at a time.

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Offline Acebird

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Re: Secondhand Questions about Flow Hives
« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2024, 08:44:58 am »
OK let me understand this:  You shift the first frame now don't you have to return the frame to home position so you can insert the tool in the next frame?  And so on... that first frame is going up and down 10 times to get to the last one.  You can't get to interior frames without actuation frames from the side the tool is inserted.
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Offline BeeMaster2

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Re: Secondhand Questions about Flow Hives
« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2024, 08:55:20 am »
Here are two pictures of my Flow Hive frames.
The first one shows all of the tops of the frames on the side that has clear and black caps over the place where you insert the comb breaking tool. Some are black because those caps fall out real easy and a friend printed new ones, before I got my 3d printer.
The second picture shows the bottom of the frame where you insert the tube when you?re drawing out the honey.
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Offline Acebird

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Re: Secondhand Questions about Flow Hives
« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2024, 09:20:49 am »
Alright I did get confused.  The tool goes in each frame one at a time instead of frame to frame.  But it still means you actuate all the cells of a frame instead of actuating only the cells that are capped which could be just the interior cells.  Bees can get into those cells if they are not capped or could actually be in them.  It is imperative that the frames be completely filled and capped.  There in lies the trouble with weak flows.
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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Secondhand Questions about Flow Hives
« Reply #15 on: February 23, 2024, 09:29:24 am »
>OK let me understand this:  You shift the first frame now don't you have to return the frame to home position so you can insert the tool in the next frame?

Frames are never moved unless you feel like moving them.  They are not moved to harvest them.  You can actuate only two columns of cells in one frame if you like.  Or all of the columns of cells in one frame if you like.  I'm in a hurry, so I put a tube in each frame and then actuate all of the frames (one after the other) and let them all drain.  You do have to actuate both sides at the same time.  So when I say two columns of cells that is both sides of two columns.
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Offline Bill Murray

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Re: Secondhand Questions about Flow Hives
« Reply #16 on: February 23, 2024, 11:20:00 am »
I probably asked this Michael bot to refresh my failing memory can I put these on a standard 10 frame?

Offline BeeMaster2

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Re: Secondhand Questions about Flow Hives
« Reply #17 on: February 23, 2024, 06:24:02 pm »
Bill,
Yes they definitely fit on a ten frame hive. If you want to try it , I have one in my barn that you can use.
Jim Altmiller
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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Secondhand Questions about Flow Hives
« Reply #18 on: February 26, 2024, 05:37:20 am »
>I probably asked this Michael bot to refresh my failing memory can I put these on a standard 10 frame?

Yes.  An eight frame box holds six.  A ten frame box holds seven.
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Offline Bill Murray

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Re: Secondhand Questions about Flow Hives
« Reply #19 on: February 26, 2024, 08:38:48 am »
Thanks,Michael/Jim

I know a couple people that have them that dont use them. I think Im going to give it a go. Would definitely a good educational experience for Marley.

 

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