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Folks running enough Flow Hives to market honey


#1

Just would like to hear about beekeepers using Flow Hives in numbers that can produce enough honey to supply larger markets…i.e. 10 to 50 hives. What challenges have you faced with Flow Hive equipment and what innovations are you incorporating to make your sideline viable?

After 3 seasons of use, our experience is that the bees really like to store honey in those FH frames…and we are continually comparing them to traditionally run hives.

And we’ve played a bit with manifolding supers together.

The piping drains externally through the building walls into filters mounted in 5 gallon pails… we keep our bees inside buidings year round.


#2

Impressive set up Doug. Yours is the largest Ff set up I’ve seen on this forum, not in hive numbers but definitely supers, 25?
I can’t give any input to your questions but I have some for you. :innocent:
How do you inspect the brood boxes, it appears you only use 1?
How do you crack open the frames? Singularly?
Looking at your manifold, it appears very rigid, must be a pain to fit, how many harvests per season?
Sounds like you’re enjoying the Flow concept and you are experienced in traditional methods, what are your thoughts on the comparison?


#3

This is kind of unbelievable! Just yesterday I was wondering if many people had tried using two flow supers… It seems you have 5 on a single brood box? Is that what I am seeing here? That’s kind of astounding to me. That the bees can fill up 5 simultaneously. How many harvests do you pull off in a season? I don’t think we could do anything remotely like that here in Australia where I am- you must have very big flows there in canada?

Would love to hear more about your operation and how you manage those hives to be so productive.

Here I am quite careful to only harvest one or two flow frames at a time to avoid excessive honey leaking down into he brood box… Do you harvest all five boxes at once?? Do you have issues with honey leaking? I would be concerned I would totally inundate the brood box in such a situation.


#4

Hey Jack, I used 2 hybrid supers per hive last season, does that count?
:thinking:


#5

No- not really :wink: that’s just one flow and a traditional…


#6

Good eye skeggley…yes we do only use one brood chamber during the honeyflow. And we make sure there is a healthy established young queen (New Zealand 1 kg package that has bulk bees added to it from wintered colonies by using the Taranov method) before we add supers. This gives us the right conditions for optimal brood and honey production for our area. Sometimes we add a second queen. So there are no queen/brood inspections done after the piping is installed and the last honey pull is complete. We are very far north so have a compressed honey flow period…4 months if we are real lucky.

We’ve tried various frame cracking scenarios but like 1/4 of the frame at a time.

Yes the manifold is rigid…we used new, uniform bee equipment resting on the flat floor of the building to help with piping alignment and remove the honey 3 to 4 times on a typical year.

Yes I remain very intrigued with the Flowhive concept and try new ideas each year. To get most of the kinks out of this approach will take a decade…and has many advantages.


#7

I used 2 flow supers on a single broodbox one season. It worked fine, but when a good flow is on, I prefer to put an ideal and a rounds box on top of the 1 flow super nowadays. For variety.
On a strong flow I feel 1 super is insufficient. The nectar comes in so fast that the bees can’t cap it soon enough before it’s all full.
Never thought flow hives would be used in commercial apiaries. Awesome to see.
It appears the honey is all harvested into one container. I wonder if it’s marketed as flow hive honey?


#8

Our first honey pull usually has less than 5 Flowhive supers and are filled by the bees from the queen excluder up because they are still in the population-build up phase. But subsequent pulls have a population that is peaking and the flows are heavier. In this stage the top super is often filled before the super on top of the queen excluder so it’s a top to bottom storage scenario. Remember that the hives are in a heavily insulated building and give off a lot of heat energy…so super occupancy by the bees is not constrained by ambient temperatures. They consistently fill the ends of the frames before the middle and outside frames before inside frames…kind of counter-intuitive. Perhaps feral colonies in warm house attics benefit from the same conditions as they sometimes can become quite massive.

That would take a long, long time…but one of the brood managing techniques is to remove all pollen and honey supplies adjacent to the brood nest and spread brood to the outside of the brood box interspersed by foundation frames. With that large nurse-bee population, the foundation frame cells are laid in before they are are 1/2 inch (1 cm) in depth. The removed feed frames are used as winter feed or for stimulative feeding instead of sugar. Again, we can get away with this because of the internal building temperatures and we are also located in an abundant pollen area. So what I describe please take with a grain of salt…it’s influenced totally by my area and the fact that the bees are kept in warm buildings…but I would sure try to beekeep this way in your area…with perhaps devasting results. Photo of foundation brood:


And yes we have honey leakage…but at least it doesn’t end up on the ground.


#9

Thanks for that idea Webclan…I’ll give it a try…I bet that would get them to go into the rounds box easier…sometimes they can be a bit tardy as you probably have experienced.

My daughter does the marketing…uses FB…and tells the story which includes the Flowhive aspect…just specifies it is honey from Flowhives.


#10

that is one BEAUTIFUL frame of brood- flawless and a lovely arc. thanks for telling more about how you do things.


#11

Only tried the rounds for the first time this season, they weren’t available in Australia before. Haven’t experienced tardiness yet, but we have the best spring flow I have experienced in my 3 years of beekdom.
As soon as this flow is over and bee numbers reduce, the rounds will come off. For now I have 10 rounds boxes on flow supers, taking the pressure off harvesting the flow frames.
Very yummy no mess comb, most of our rounds are foundationless too.
The last box had been filled and capped in 2 weeks. That’s a record.

Oh, and thanks for sharing your flow adventure. Very inspiring.


#12

@Webclan what type of round kit are you using and where did you source from.

Nice setup @Doug1 What temperatures do you have in Alberta. Summer ? Winter? How do the bees enter / exit buildings?


#13

Mine are Ceracell rounds made in NZ. Apparently the Ross rounds TM has expired and anyone can copy them. Here they are not called Ross rounds any more, but Ceracell rounds are exactly the same.
Ceracell is NZ based and has now various suppliers in Australia, just new during the last 2 months.
I got my first box on the Bee Congress, purchased further boxes (Australian made, just the rounds frames from NZ) from Burnett Beekeeping supplies recently.
They build an improved version of the box and supply a complete set up, complete with Hive beetle traps and thin foundation sheets already layered in the frames.
I do them foundationless, but it’s a cool start up kit.

You can google to find which other beek supplies have the rounds in stock.


#14

thanks @Webclan :honeybee::o:


#15

Years ago it was a real downer for me to see spotty brood patterns…I knew that something was amiss. Often it was blamed on poorly mated queens but my experience told me that perhaps I should abandon the ways I had grown used to and go a different way. Those brood patterns…under my conditions…are a result of nothing complex…just even warm temperatures 24/7. If you match correctly the number of hives in the building with the size of the building, the bees produce enough heat/cooling naturally to maintain a temperature that they prefer…and it seems to be right around 27C. A box of bees produce about 10 watts of heat energy…and I do have adjustable ventilation built into the bldgs. Nature’s HVAC specialists:


#16

That’s inspiring Webclan!


#17

Summer max 35C…winter max -45C

You can see the landing boards…and the entrances (2"X4") are backed with solid wood to keep the bruins at bay:


#18

So amazing!!! Really impressive setup, and a cute bear pic too :bear::cherry_blossom: Thanks for posting


#19

Wow thanks @Doug1 truly dedicated to looking after your bees, and I thought butcher birds and dragonfly’s catching some of the bees was issue. In Adelaide, South Australia we have 45C summers and rarely drop to 2C in Winter.


#20

What is a rounds box? Trying to follow along over here in Nashville TN USA.