I can’t believe we are in the month of October already! Tomorrow we are going to complete our final honey harvest, however today I thought I’d share our 2017 Flow Hive harvest experience. If you haven’t heard of this relatively new innovation in beekeeping you should first watch the instructional video found here. In short, Flow Hive is comprised of plastic frames that slightly separate upon turning a key, allowing honey to flow out in a controlled manner and to be collected with minimal disturbance to the hive as a whole. Back on February 22, 2015, while I was at a 2CELLOS concert, Luke was at home eagerly awaiting the Indiegogo Flow Hive fundraiser to go live so we could purchase this intriguing new beekeeping system. After waiting, only slightly impatiently, for the next summer, we finally were able to implement our new toys. In late August we had our first Flow Hive harvest ultimately collecting just under 30 pounds of honey. Unfortunately, we experienced significant leaking, with extent of the interior leaking going unnoticed until honey was flowing out of the front of the hive, much to the dismay of our poor bees. Chalking up year one leaking to rookie mistakes, we decided to be more analytical regarding our Flow Hive experience in year two.
Year Two (2017)
We had two very healthy, active hives next to each other that were ready in early June for honey supers. We placed our Flow Hive super on the first and a traditional super on the second hive. Our bees, similar to last year, seem to dislike the using the plastic frames of the Flow Hive, as when we would check the frames throughout the summer we would find them still unfinished. We finally decided to harvest the frames last week, although completely pulled the super from the main hive instead of harvesting the honey as is traditionally demonstrated with Flow Hive systems to better determine the source of the leaking. Honeybees typically fill frames from the center and work their way to the outer frames. As such we were surprised when extracting one of the middle frames to find one side partially filled, with the other side being barely touched as seen in the two photos below. That trend continued throughout the remainder of the frames.
We continued with the harvest by opening up the first frame as you can see in the image below, with the honey is dripping down, before flowing out into the waiting container. Almost immediately leaking occurred, however the renegade viscous fluid was unexpectedly issuing forth from the surface of the frames as you can see in the video below. The video is showing the underside of the Flow Hive frames, in which you can observe the aforementioned leaking occuring when harvesting three of the seven frames. We caught as much of the errant honey as possible through an assortment of Tupperware containers, with approximately one pound of honey being collected.
In the same time frame that our Flow Hive bees were producing their 35 pounds of honey, our second hive that we put the traditional super on produced approximately 120 pounds. We have in no way passed final judgement on our Flow Hive frames, but like any new innovation there will be growing pains. From Googling our issues/concerns we were relieved to read that we are not the only beekeepers with problems with leaking or honeybees using the frames. We will try again next year with a few new ideas and suggestions from fellow beekeepers to attempt to entice our bees to adopt the plastic frames. Check back in a few days for Update #5 regarding our last traditional harvest of the year!