With apologies to Richard & Robert Sherman’s song lyrics of “It’s a Small World”…
In a perfect beekeeping world there would be no brood in Flow Frames, no beetles in cells, no wax moth larvae crawling around supers or in frames, no ants, no hive beetles, no leaking Flow Frames (honey in trough before unlocking it with the key), Flow Frames would perfectly align, the bees would take to them without forced crowding, and bees wouldn’t sting us.
So now we fall from that perfect world to reality where frames are always likely to contain some “foreign objects”. Inspecting EACH frame prior to turning the key, seems to go against the very idea of Flow Frames though I recognize that the bees do not always fill that last row of cells that we see from the door at the end of the Flow Frame super nor the outside frames unless frames are rotated (then they’re not outside frames then!) or crowding is severely forced. Cells are not always fully capped though the majority on the same frame may be. So even a thorough visual check through the observation window on the side combined with viewing from the end of the super, does not, by any means, provide for 100 percent certainty that the honey is ready for removal…much less that undesirable foreign objects may be present elsewhere in unseen areas.
Flow Frames seem to offer many more points to squeeze, kill, or damage bees so a full, frame-by-frame removal & inspection prior to removing honey would not be something I wish to do often.
While only some of these issues/problems are Flow Frame-specific and dealing with some of them may be the same whether Flow Frames are used or not, I’d be interested in how other Flow Frame beekeepers address such things…particularly foreign objects in the combs.
For instance, if one assumes that hive beetles may almost always be present somewhere in the frame, are they likely to end up in my honey jar? Straining honey is effective with solid objects but to a much lesser degree with smooshed wax moth larvae, etc. I’ve read from the Flow Hive people that ADULT worker bees will not be harmed if they are in the Flow Frame cells when the key is turned, does that apply to other softer stages of bees?
Yeah, I know the the queen shouldn’t have laid in the Flow Frames but the queen excluder was really hampering the bees actually working in the Flow Frame initially…waited almost 10 days before they came into the Flow Frame even with a nectar flow on. So I removed it temporarily to encourage the bees to come on up. Once removed, the bees came up instantly…of course the queen did too and laid some eggs which are now hatching.
So from the standpoint of producing “clean” honey that comes directly from the hive to the jar, what have you found to be practical approaches to removing & handling it? In most health codes for food products, honey usually escapes rigorous measures such as pasteurization, etc.; however, a high measure of cleanliness is assumed (and expected by the consumer). So many beekeepers take that to mean “a best effort” to keep it clean by whatever methods they so choose. With the now huge interest in “raw” products, we don’t want to forget cleanliness is still a good thing. So how do you address undesirable things in the Flow Frames making it into your honey (seen or unseen)?
Please don’t read this as a criticism of Flow Frames…I’m still fully on-board with the design but no design is perfect and I want to make sure I recognize what is a “best practice” for using Flow Frames with my bees.
Thank you for your comments and thoughts.