Is Flow Hive (tm) a revolutionary silver bullet for beekeepers or a minefield?
Flow Hive for beekeepers
In the video below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ScDMIakxd4, Jeff Heriot is giving his honest opinion of the Flow Hive (tm) based on his 27 years experience as a serious beekeeper. Worth listening to! We share many of his concerns, and many more.
Flow Hive (tm) appears to be a great idea at first, one that all beekeepers no doubt think and dream about during each strenuous honey extraction process. BUT all beekeepers will no doubt have some of the bellow and numerous other concerns:
Flow Hive frames
FLOW HIVE (tm) concerns we believe deserve answers:
Longevity of the Flow Hive (tm) plastic frames. How will they fair once propilized and the beeswax builds up? How can they be cleaned? Unless all parts are plastic and stainless steel, rust could also be a problem.
Robbing bees will most certainly be an issue, even though we can see new plastic caps placed around the hose and the top of the honey jars, there is no chance of anyone coming around with a plate of pancakes to "trickle" a bit of honey on top. Although, you may be tempted to try it once.
The length of time it takes to fill and the speed of the extraction process from prep to finish. Must be very time consuming, and unless you are there at the right time to swap the jar, you will get spillage. How long do you need to wait and hang around as it "drips" into the jar. The speed will always be different depending on the weather, location of the hive and overall ambient temperature. The beekeeper would need to be present for hours.
Can the bees get into the bottom track to clean up the dripping honey, the buildup of wax particles, pollen, and any other matter that sometimes makes it into the honeycomb? If not, it may possibly ferment (if uncured) and it will most definitely attract wax moths, ants and other pests creating a perfect breading ground.
Propolization and wax build up. At what stage will the leaver fail, or possibly warp, bend or snap the FlowHive plastic foundation? The plastic cells are very thin, and only a very thin line of propolis can glue things together very firmly. Ask any beekeeper when they break the seal between each hive box.
If the honey is capped, and the separation does not pop the wax capping, the honey may not pour out. It needs air to release and run out. But the designers mention that the cappings remain in tack in one of the videos. This will be interesting to see. If that is the case, it would be interesting to see how the bees deal with that. They would need to remove the cappings to somewhere, to refill, that is IF they even find out that the honey is gone.
How will these frames be cleaned up? How will they be rotated? How much mess with they make when moved/removed after "extracting"the honey? There appear to be too many moving parts. As the frames are plastic, you certainly could not heat treat them, and repairs would be difficult. So many unanswered questions... Why are the reporters not asking these Flow Hive inventors? Why are they not sitting them down with a panel of beekeepers to discuss all the concerns? Why can we not see the prototypes in detail, in the field, over a period of time? Let's go on...
If you use these in the entire hive, the bees would need to adjust to the much reduced wax production requirement. If Flow Hive (tm) works as well as advertized, and becomes mainstream, beeswax could become the new liquid gold commodity! The foundation is manufactured plastic, size of the comb is predetermined, cappings are reused/recycled according to the videos. Where will we get new wax? How will this disrupt the honey bee colonies? What will the bees do with the beeswax scales building up on their bodies as they develop?
Pollen deposits will no doubt be a concern. Honey bees don't only produce and store honey. Often pollen is stored among the honey frames. Would larger deposits damage the fragile plastic foundation/comb of the Flow Hive (tm) when turning the splitting lever?
Beekeepers would still need to filter the honey to some extent, or in deed clean up any debris built up inside the plastic Flow Hive (tm) plastic frames and tubing. Even if there is no debris, the remaining honey will crystallize over time, clogging up the pathways. The lack of information on the detail is baffling.
If the queen gets away from your brood chamber, or beekeepers choose not to use a queen excluder at all, that could get very messy. The question of cleanup from the above point becomes even more relevant here. Failure to take the time to suit up, light up the smoker, opening the beehive and inspecting the frames to identify if everything is good to go or if problems exist where brood mixes in with your honey frame prior to pulling the lever, will produce a concoction of larvae, honey, royal jelly, eggs, and pollen that would leave many wondering where is my receipt and warranty?
Same goes for small hive beetle (SHB) or wax moth infestations. Can the bees protect the beehive given there are many more nooks and crevasses for the invaders to hide in?
Unless you have all hives setup the same Flow Hive (tm) way, you still need to extract the traditional way as well! Can this system still be extracted the good old way? If you are extracting 50 frames the old proven way, you might as well extract these at the same time. Can you though? Or will it turn out to be just another contraption and hindrance you need to remember to do at another time, ultimately not saving time...
Cost is super prohibitive at the moment. But this will change no doubt as more units are shipped out and alternative cheaper variations are brought to the market by competitors. But as Jeff mentions in his video, these are nowhere near ready to be released to market, not a single beekeeper will have an opportunity to extract the first collection of honey for another 6-12 months, so at this stage, we are simply being sold something that does not exist, we cannot touch it or test it, we have no reviews and no objective trials taking place. Alarm bells are ringing!
Flow Hive (tm) - I don't know Flipper. Looks too good to be true?
Beekeepers need to visually inspect the hive regularly to check on the health of the colony, and then decide which frames to extract frame at a time before deciding whether to extract it or not and that will not be taking place with the Flow Hive (tm). They are selling a dream that has nothing to do with beekeeping. This we think will not be good for the beekeepers, the beekeeping industry, and least of all to the honey bees. They will be left mostly unattended by people that bought into the free and fast flowing honey, and as soon as the contraption will stop working, they will simply give up and abandon the beehives. We hope for the sake of all buyers and investors that they read the instructions very carefully so they can get a refund if this goes pear-shaped. And for the inventors sake, we hope they have a bullet proof insurance cover, because if the product does not hold up after spending close to a $1,000 for a small setup, there will be a very long line of very dissapointed non-beekeepers wanting their money back.
Overall, we think the Flow Hive is a fabulous concept, an ambitious prototype, and extremely well marketed. If the frames sold for $10-$20 each, we would test them as well. Even if only for observation hive as a point of interest. We wish the inventors all the best, because one way or the other, like it or not, it is an invention worth raving about. And we need inventors coming up with new solutions, and the Flow Hive (tm) may if nothing else, please a few uptakers and most importantly, spark thousands of others to think in new ways, reach for better solutions and perhaps use the existing design as a stepping stone to the ultimate solution that will benefit everyone, especially the honey bees. So well done, and let's get the above concerns addressed.
What are your thoughts? We are keen to hear your comments. Would you be interested in a video discussing the FLOW Hive (tm)? Pros? Cons? Let us know in your comments below. Thank you MahakoBees