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My FLOW hive frames have arrived...

 
Marty Mitchell
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Here come some of my pics and opinions of the FLOW hive frames. With follow up posts of what I am doing with them... once I figure it out. lol

I was one of the "early bird" supporters of the campaign to raise money to get the company started. They started out having a goal of $70k dollars but ended up with over $10mil dollars!

Anyways, the "early bird" supporters are now starting to get their Flows in the mail. This first set coming out is arriving all the way from Crestmead Queensland, AU (according to my invoice attached to the box). I am pretty sure they are setting up to produce in the U.S. in the future as well.

In short the frames seem to be well made. The plastic feels surprisingly solid with just a little flex when forced (about like a five gallon bucket). Held together with what looks like stainless steel cables. Should be since you can buy cables like that in bulk online for cheap at bicycle stores for fabrication purposes. If I end up shortening the length of the frames... I know where I will be getting my new cable from.


Anyways, here comes the pictures with narrations...

This is what came with my kit. The L tool is super solid. The three plastic tubes that attach are hidden within the cardboard. ALMOST threw them away. Make sure you don't! Came with a Free Flow hat. Nice...

Diamentions are about 9.5" tall x 2" wide x 18" long. It is 19" long with the lips that the frame sits on.
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Marty Mitchell
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Cell Depth...

It has been described that the Flow cell diameter and depth have been enlarged to deter the queen from laying eggs in there. Being on the large side for even drone brood. The bees would still store honey in there. They suggest using a queen excluder... but the large cell size would help for those who do not like excluders.

Anyways, If I put one inside a hive I AM one of those who would not use an excluder. If what I have in mind works that is.

After studying what author Michael Bush teaches in his "lazy beekeeper" YouTube video... letting the hive make drone comb will cause them to stop trying to make it at some point... once they have what they feel they need. So fighting them on that is just wasted energy and time. I plan to let a hive build up it's comb in any manner it wishes before introducing the Flow combs. As you can see from the prior post that I only have the Flow Light. So... with only 3 frames I am obviously not going to have an entire super of Flow combs to drop on top of the hive. Here is what I plan on doing...

I am (likely) just going to place 2 Flow combs on the outermost edge of the uppermost box in the hive. Here is why...

1. Drone comb in nature tends to be in the outermost edges of the hive. So the queen does not venture out that way as often unless she wishes to drop a few drone eggs.
2. If I let the hive build comb the way it wishes... there will be drone comb down lower in the box. So the queen will have all of the drone comb she needs down there. Further decreasing the chances she would work her way up past all of the honey just to lay drone eggs.
It is hard to handle a 2 and 4yr old while doing a thread like this! lol I keep loosing where I was...

Here is a link to the FLOW forum. Michael Bush actually popping into the conversation to help someone. Seems like he might be on board with the FLOW... or is at least taking a look at it. This thread for not using an excluder.
http://forum.honeyflow.com/t/my-experience-of-using-flow-frames-without-an-excluder/2956/7

Anyways, You can see in this pic that the comb cells are about 3/4" deep. If someone wishes for a width measurement... teach me how to do it and I will if wished.
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Cell Depth
 
Marty Mitchell
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Here is a pic of the rows of comb... highlighted by the sun to show that there is not only gaps between rows for the bees to fill in. There are in fact uneven edges on the outside of each row. So the bees have to build the comb UP/OUT as well. The final width would be about the 3/4" measured earlier though.

Second pic is just of one of the shiny cables that holds the comb together and the groove it sits in. All edges have a groove that the cables won't pop out of. The little tabs in this pic are on the Back Side of the frame. Gives the bees their "space". The other end of the Flow frame actually gets adjusted to be snug/tight against the wood. So that forward side would hold heat better. The aft side would have better air flow for getting rid of humidity.

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Cell Gaps
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Cable and Tabs
 
Marty Mitchell
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Honey Harvest/Tube Area

The following pics are...

1. The Tube - Just a piece of plastic you insert into the Flow comb before turning the crank to harvest they honey. Looks like it has a tab that faces towards the 6 O'clock position when inserting. Then a tube of whatever desired length gets attached to it. Has three rings to ensure a good seal to whatever tube you use.

2. The Cap - I can tell that they have put forth some serious thought for this tiny but very important part of the Flow frame. I don't know about everyone else out there reading this... but I was worried about the leftover honey spilling alllllll over the place inside of the hive. I wish they had shown this feature in a video. I may have missed it but sure am glad they figured it out. The cap simply has tiny slots in it that are the same depth as a bee's tongue!!! So when you put the cap back in the honey will not be dripping everywhere insighting a robbing/riot and/or attracting SHB from far and wide. The bees can take their time slurping up what is left.

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Tube
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Marty Mitchell
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One last pic of the harvest hole's cap. Can only attach 3 pics at a time for some reason...

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Cap whle in the hole. View from inside the hive.
 
Marty Mitchell
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Hole Alignment Port

Here are two pics of the port to align the Flow frame holes. One end of the cap that is offset. The reason for this is so that you literally cannot put the cap back in unless you close the holes back to the "Fill" position. You can also take a look down inside the port to see if they are set properly without having to remove the frame from the hive.

Note: The hand in this pic is of my 2yr old son. The hand in the pic a few posts up... is of my 4yr old daughter. So the frames are not as big as they look. lol

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Marty Mitchell
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This last pic is of the Manual that came with the Flow Light. I opened it up to show what the different chapters cover. I will read it later and give more info. about what I learn. Got to go rip apart the guest bathroom now for the wife....

Just click on the picture for a larger image.



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Ernie Schmidt
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I better start off with some disclaimers because I don't want to sound like a total buzz kill here. Everything herein are only my opinions and they are only worth what you paid for them. So, in my opinion- First, incredible marketing for the product. I encourage enthusiasm for beekeeping in nearly any manner. I do know how exciting new beekeeping fads and gadgets are, I have fallen for one or two over the years. Also I personally don't think any particular method of beekeeping is "right" or "wrong" only that there are methods and management styles that I don't believe are right for me. That being said- To me this product is similar to a new cutting edge battery cage for commercial chicken egg production. Using that example, I feel that the Flow Hive was marketed like- "You like eggs! Just put some chickens in this cage and eggs just roll out like manna from Heaven!" Far too little consideration was given to the level of skill, knowledge and experience needed to just keep bees alive, let alone produce honey. I made a prediction when this hive first came out. I said that 1,000's of colonies will die related to this hive being first time beekeeper's first hive. I also said, I hope with all my heart I am wrong in that prediction. If I am wrong my apology will be both publicly and in writing to the Flow Hive producers.
 
Marty Mitchell
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That is a great point and good deep rabbit hole of a conversation there. Here is a link to a thread on that conversation. I want this thread to be filled with pics and literal facts and experiences about the hive.
http://www.permies.com/t/44308/bees/Flow-TM-Hive-innovation-finally

Here is a link to the indegogo campaign for the Flow. Looks like they actually ended with over $12,000,000 from 36,965 funders.
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/flow-hive-honey-on-tap-directly-from-your-beehive#/story

Assuming that all of those 36,965 funders are newbies... I bet they will all loose at least one hive in their lives. So you are likely severely underestimating the amount of dead bee colonies. If 1/4 of them/us end up keeping a couple of colonies for the rest of their/our lives... we will be giving our bees a better life than any large commercial bee keeping practice(most likely). All while making their share of the market smaller and smaller.

I saw a newbee last year start a hive and still almost lose it. Without the Flow.

More pics coming some day... if I get to use the flow.

Marty
 
Michael Cox
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Loss rates near here vary from 20% to 50% each year. I'm trying treatment free and am expecting losses up near 50%. If a new beekeeper only loses one hive then that means they probably have given up after their first year.
 
Marty Mitchell
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Michael Cox wrote:Loss rates near here vary from 20% to 50% each year. I'm trying treatment free and am expecting losses up near 50%. If a new beekeeper only loses one hive then that means they probably have given up after their first year.



Good point Michael. Every living thing on Earth lives with a terminal illness called life. Everything and everyone is going to die... sooner or later. What matters is what quality of life was lived.

Treatment free gives the bees a chance to co-evolve with pests/disease. Creating stronger bees and weaker diseases/pests(opposite of what happens when we treat). Increasing the quality of life for future generations to live without being covered in toxic gick. To live their lives in greater peace and harmony. Taking only a minimal amount of honey(if any at all for the first few years) will be an important thing to me.

Apparently in Africa they keep choosing to go treatment free on all bad things that show up. They seem to get over them quickly while the rest of the world still continues to treat.
 
Tim Sullivan
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Thanks for the review Marty. I ordered a flow hive also and can't wait to get it.
I am a newbie but don't think of the flow hive as just honey on tap. I plan on learning everything I can before I take on the responsibility of caring for bees.
 
John Athayde
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Thanks for the in-depth review! I was also a kickstarter supporter and am looking forward to mine arriving. I plan to take a course with the local bee group here and also work with a bee mentor down the road at the same time. Will probably try something traditional first and then add the flow hive the second year.
 
Jake Robinson
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I'm a beekeeper... I don't think folks will do any worse starting with this hive. Most people are not idiots - I'm sure it will cause them to want to learn more and do research.

I figured it would be a good addition and a way to not have to disturb the hive. Think about it..Normally you would have to open the hive and dig around to see if the super is "full" and if you need to add another super... with a few flow hive frames you could simply drain out the honey from these frames and this would allow the super not to have to be opened... maybe extending the times between opening hives and disturbing their business... I think it will be a boon for both new and old beeks...
 
Michael Cox
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Jake Robinson wrote: Think about it..Normally you would have to open the hive and dig around to see if the super is "full" and if you need to add another super... with a few flow hive frames you could simply drain out the honey from these frames and this would allow the super not to have to be opened... maybe extending the times between opening hives and disturbing their business... I think it will be a boon for both new and old beeks...


Jake - one of the big criticisms aimed at the flow hives is that you basically do still need to open the hive up to check if your honey is actually capped and ready before using the flow frame. Otherwise you will likely end up extracting unripe honey that may ferment.
 
Tyler Omand
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I also have ordered flow frame light kits for our two langstroth hives. We do not own any honey processing equipment and over the years on average we have spent the better part of a day extracting honey, so we hope the flow frames will allow us to speed up this process without investing in extraction equipment. Our hives are currently empty, the colonies that were established since 2011 did not survive the winter of 13'/14' but they left us with 4 gallons of honey! We have reserved two nucs from Bob Egan in Skowheagan, ME for 2016.
I want to share my Facebook post from last Thursday.
" Yesterday afternoon I happened to be walking by the two langstroth hives that have been sitting vacant for the past two seasons when I suddenly smelled the glorious smell of sun warmed buckwheat/goldenrod honey. I thought to myself "Did we miss some honey comb when we harvested it last in 2014, the year the bees passed?" then I thought "Maybe our hopes that some feral honey bees would be attracted and take residence in the hives has happened!" Sure enough when I moved the the dense hedge of blackberries that has grown up since 2014 I saw some winged insects whizzing up to the hive, I thought to myself "I hope its not just become a wasp's nest!" But no! Under closer inspection I discovered it is honey bees! I have been seeing honey bess here and there on the clovers over the past few weeks and was very curious as to where they were residing. Although still rare in todays chemical laden hives, in chemical free hives such as ours its actually not that uncommon for honey bees to be attracted to vacant hives. By the looks of the activity in our hive the colony is small. We plan to encourage their efforts to stay and create a home by placing a few drops of lemongrass and lemon oil into the hive. We will do this on Friday, the next biodynamic flower day. Opening the hive on flower days stimulates brood activity and colony development. I will check on the development of the hive while I have it open. In the mean time, Heather placed a sprig of fresh lemon balm on their doorstep as a welcoming gift that will encourage them to call this hive their permanent home."
 
Mike Haych
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Marty Mitchell wrote:Here is a link to the FLOW forum. Michael Bush actually popping into the conversation to help someone. Seems like he might be on board with the FLOW... or is at least taking a look at it. This thread for not using an excluder.
http://forum.honeyflow.com/t/my-experience-of-using-flow-frames-without-an-excluder/2956/7


I would highly doubt that Michael Bush would be on board with FLOW hives. He is a natural beekeeper: No foundation & nothing in the hive that the bees didn't put there. The fact that Michael Bush is helping people in the forum means nothing more than the fact that he helps bee keepers of all sorts everywhere. That's not to say that he wouldn't try one just to understand how they work and how the bees react to it.

This thing violates one of the three ethiics of permaculture - Care of the Earth.

As Milkwood Permaculture says:
The other concern we have with this device is that it encourages + celebrates beekeeper-centric beekeeping, and infers that bee stewardship is totally easy. It’s all about the punchline.

Is it good for the bees? Who cares. We’ve got flowing honey.
 
Cj Sloane
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Tyler I don't think that the lemongrass oil is a good idea. It mimics the queen pheromone and since there is already a queen producing the pheromone I wonder if that would do more harm than good. But, I'm just speculating.
 
Cj Sloane
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I don't think the flow hive violates the 2nd ethic at all. It's a tool which could help people if used correctly, just like any other tool.

I think it could be really valuable to people living in areas where there are Africanized bees or beeks who have a "hot" hive.

Or you could run the hive like a Perone, the brood box is sacred and you never go into it you only harvest honey. I've built a Perone and harvested honey from a deadout. I think if that honey super was full I would not be able to handle/harvest it.


If the hive is populated with treatment-free bees, it should work out fine.
 
Marty Mitchell
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This is one of the greatest parts about the Flow hive in my opinion. It is getting everyone talking and drawing in interest from new folks.

@ Tylor

That is great that you have some new/free bees! The honey and comb should give them a great head start.

@ Mike H.

It is hard to say if Michael Bush is on board or not. He very well may be just sheparding the next genoration of bee keepers. I did see a YouTube phone/conferance interview the other day where he was talking about how amazing and revolutionary the Flow Hive is. I will see if I can find it later on this evening.


Marty
 
David Livingston
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So when will folks ...deploy .. the plastic inserts ? Along with Supers next year ?
 
Cj Sloane
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If you're treatment free you could put them on anytime you want. The season down under is probably just getting started so those beeks get to start the season with them.
 
Marty Mitchell
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This is the link to M. Bush and his thoughts on the Flow. I am sure they cut out a lot of the conversation though.



I was not planning on using the Flow originally to be honest. It was going to be a Christmas present for my brother. He has a warre' now and may not be interested. They just made bee keeping legal as of this July in my area. So I need to jump through a few hoops. Also need to see if I have to transfer or get to stay in the area.
 
Jeff Rash
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Hello Marty,

So I understand how these work, watched the videos and get the concept. But I am a little confused on their ability to continue to flow after a few drainages.

Won't they sort of gum up with wax and propolis? The whole point to them is to reduce the number of times one enters a hive and to make honey harvesting painless. That means not having to pull these for cleaning, right? If you need to clean them once a year because of wax and propolis buildup, how is that different than a standard frame or top bar?

Just curious if anyone has thought of that problem.

And one more thing, bees are smart. What if they gum the works up with propolis and wax to prevent you from "robbing?" Any data on that yet? Or maybe they will catch the clue that their is a built in fault with these cells and stop using them? Just thinking outloud.

If you can watch for those things and report back, I will be grateful.

Jeff
 
Marty Mitchell
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@ Jeff

I have seen several folks show concern about them gumming up. The inventors say they spent a decade working out the kinks. The gaps between cells are surprisingly large. Presumably for that very reason. I will report back if anyone has any problems. They say that the bees somehow either smell or feel the cells when they are emptied. They then chew off the caps and clean them up/re seal them for storing more honey. I know a honey bee has a sense of smell 2 or 3 times greater than a fruit fly. It is half of their communication within the darkness of a
hive.

It would be awesome if the bees showed enough intelligence to stop using them. It is surprising how intelligent some creatures are.
 
r john
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Mike Haych wrote:
Marty Mitchell wrote:Here is a link to the FLOW forum. Michael Bush actually popping into the conversation to help someone. Seems like he might be on board with the FLOW... or is at least taking a look at it. This thread for not using an excluder.
http://forum.honeyflow.com/t/my-experience-of-using-flow-frames-without-an-excluder/2956/7




As Milkwood Permaculture says:
The other concern we have with this device is that it encourages + celebrates beekeeper-centric beekeeping, and infers that bee stewardship is totally easy. It’s all about the punchline.



I really detest this milkwood statement. As far as I am concerned bee stewardship IS totally easy. Its humans that make it difficult. In UK we have a collapse in bee population with many experienced bee keepers struggling to keep hives alive. I like many traditional bee keepers have followed the mantra of intervention on a regular basis to spot pests and diseases and prevention of swarms. Quite frankly as a policy it has failed miserably. When I lost my last colony I decided to restock with a new buckfast queen and a minimalist approach ie less than 5 interventions per year and the encouragement of swarms. The change has been dramatic instead of failing colonies and the total lack of swarms we now have healthy colonies and swarms which are all captured and used to expand the number of colonies.

As for the freeflow I look forward to actual results rather than hearsay. Certainly as a commercial producer it could be an additional tool in the minimal intervention tool chest if it works in the field.
 
M Johnson
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Can we get an update? Wondering how the flow hive is working.
 
Marty Mitchell
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@ M Johnson

Nothing to update yet.

I currently do not even have honey bees on my property(other than the ones who visit). Just Mason and Leafcutter.

I have been studying up on honey bees a ton and have been going to a few local bee training sessions for TBH/treatment free training and such. I have made friends with several natural/treatment free bee keepers in my area who do sell their bees and have low failure rates. Mostly TBH and Warre` keepers. Even fed some bees without smoking them while wearing nothing but shorts and flip-flops a month or two ago. Now I at least know I can remain calm if the bees do. I have not been tested when they don't. lol

I will find out if I transfer out of the area(next Summer) by January or so. For now I am gearing up to be able to jump through the "department of making you sad" hurdles that are going to be in the way of me being able to keep bees. I have to make a water feature within 15ft of the hive location. Then buid the hives and get them inspected/approved. Then I have to get a license or something. I already have a 6ft privacy fence around the property to get the bee line up above the neighbor's heads. I will be allowed to keep up to 8 hives on my 1/3 acre property. Likely only to have 1 or 2 full hives and several Nucs.

I am currently building an aquponics system. It will be inoculated with home made compost tea among many other things. I have seen many folk on YouTube who take video's of thier aquaponic systems wondering why soooo many bees show up and work their way down into the gravel media to drink the water. I know it is likely because of 3 things.
1. They can't fall into the water and drown/get eaten by aquadic life.
2. The water is always alive with microorganisms and fungi... since that is the heart of aquaponics that keeps those systems going. Enabling the bees to inoculate thier guts and activate their immune systems.
3. The water is usually purposfully filled with a wide array of minerals and such.

So long story short... if I harvest honey... it will be a long time before I do. Maybe someone else will see this thread and chime in. I will most certainly show up on this thread if I remember to.

Since I know it is possible to shorten the length of the FLOW combs to that of Warre` dimentions... I wonder if I were to shorten all 3 if I would have enough left over to make a 4th row of come. I would of course have to order more of the tiny end caps and such. They should be cheap.
 
Jean-Jacques Maury
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Yes, honey bees love to sip water rich in minerals from wet rocks, sand, concrete, dirt etc... I don't know about organic material or microorganisms though. They might be finding some beneficial bugs as well - good topic to explore.
Regarding the Flow Hive - where do you attached the Joy of Beekeeping?
 
Rob Jones
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Any new updates?
 
Marty Mitchell
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Rob Jones wrote:Any new updates?


I got some of the first batch of honey from my brother's bees a few weeks ago. He's has two Warre' hives now.

I originally got the Flow frames for him since I knew he wanted bees. He is all about Warre since I first pointed him in that direction. So he does not want the Flow frames.

I most certainly will use them when I get bees. I used up my one year extension this year. So I will (military) transfer next Summer. Then the bee games begin.

The Warre' hive speaks to me the same way they do to my brother. So I am going that route... but will cheat with either a 3 frame Flow super on one of the hives... or a 1 frame skinny Flow super on 3 hives. Sustainable harvest in mind. I will put the super on when the hive is maturing. Not harvesting at all for a long time... only minimal harvesting. Then as the hive gets taller I will remove the box under the super and put a fresh one on the bottom in Warre fashion... just not as often.

Would even go for a old fashioned log hive with a modern Flow super on top if it were legal and there were no pests, pesticide build up, and diseases like there are now.
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