Honeyflow.com | FAQ's |

Heavy flow hive

I suspect I know the answer to this but I want to check before I make any decisions for next season. This was my first year beekeeping. The bees took to the flow hive immediately. It was probably 25-50% full when I removed it, which was expected because our area had a poor season. Yesterday I removed the honey super, extracted the honey, and plan to feed it back to the bees.

The problem is how heavy it is. Every week when I inspected the hive, I would have difficulty lifting it to put it back on. Halfway through the season I had to recruit my husband when it was time to put it back. Near the end when it was capped, even he had trouble and it wasn’t even full. I can’t imagine lifing it when it’s full (and I don’t want to extract with it on the hive - it was leaking all over the place yesterday in my house).

I’m thinking of going to 8 frame medium hive bodies next year to make it easier for me. The only option on the Flow website I found was for a 6 frame super, which I read on here is still pretty heavy. While I like the Flow hive, my back doesn’t. Is there an option I’m not thinking of before I get rid of it?

Honey is heavy. Any super is going to be an effort to lift and is part of beekeeping. I have a mix of box sizes, some flow hive 2 cedar which are the smaller boxes and the weight difference between it and the full size flow is really not that great to compel you to swap the setup out in my opinion. That being said, there is a solution that may work for you if you can afford it. I invested in a solar powered lift that I can raise/lower boxes and save my back. While I live in Canada so where I got mine (dancingbee.com) likely isn’t the best source for you in the USA, a quick google search located a similar one that comes in manual or electric form: https://beehivelifters.com/ . The only thing you might have to add to your super is a block of wood on the outer sides to make the lifter catch under the block to lift the hive. I am going to add blocks to all my flow hives (6) this winter while they are off their hives for this purpose. But the other 14 hives I have, many with 3 Deep supers were made really easy to work this season with this lifter. That way you keep the gear you have and save your back and have a tool that is very helpful in carrying things around as needed.

Thank you for your reply. I only have one hive and am not planning on getting more, so spending that much money on a lift doesn’t make much sense to me. I know that honey is heavy, but the difference between lifting an 8 frame medium versus a 10 frame deep is significant for someone of my size. I wish they had more size options, but I do understand why they only have want to make one size flow frame.

When I have needed to extract off the hive (uncapped Flow frames leak), I take the frames out of the super, two at a time, shake the bees off and take the frames into the house. Once inside, I rest them temporarily in an empty deep box. Once I have brought in the last frame, I bring the empty super inside too. Then I can transfer the frames into the Flow super and proceed with my extraction.

If you have to carry the frames some distance, a couple of large lidded (bee proof) plastic containers could hold 2 or three frames for you, so that you can then carry a more manageable weight.

A full Flow frame can weigh about 8lb or more. I can manage 2 at a time, and sometimes 3, so that is how I do it. :wink:

3 Likes

You might consider a top bar hive as that is reported to be much easier to deal with regarding weight; I have seen some modified to accommodate the flow frames so you could do a bit of googling to investigate that option if you are looking to change hive sizes. I have heard folks with mobility problems/getting older prefer top bar as you can work them from a seated position too. Dawn proposed a good compromise way of working an existing hive as well by transferring some frames to another box to lighten the super and then returning them afterwards.

2 Likes

I agree with Dawn and Tim that to reduce the weight of the super remove some frames and then lift. I use another 8f super with a base board attached.

Having said that I have now got Long Langstroth hives with flow frames. You only need to lift a frame, flow or normal, at a time. Before you google use the search function on this forum and you’ll see a few from the members here.

This is a link showing mine Long Lang with Flow Frames

3 Likes

A hybrid box may make your life a little easier. It only has 3 flow frames and the others are regular frames. Less honey on tap at any given time, but if you have a spare full depth super, you can place the regular frames in there easily to reduce the super weight for lifting. That would be for regular inspections etc.

I would not uncap and extract the regular full depth frames, just tap off the flow frames when they’re full. The honey on the outside frames when filled, will stimulate the bees to keep filling the center flow frames after they’ve been drained.

Towards the end of the season, when all frames are full, you can lift the flow frames super off the hive, after extracting and replace with the spare super and the outside frames and fill the box with regular frames. If you’re early enough they can get the extra frames filled, the spare super will be a good back for over wintering.

I have the Cedar 2 running double brood boxes and my wife just got me the hybrid as a birthday present so I have another hive to work with the kids. Still yet to build it out and will have a second brood box on it as well. With the hybrid, that’s how I’ll be managing it and it will make it easier for her to lift the honey Super if required.

Weight isn’t such and issue for me with the full box as I work as a commercial beekeeper with overdrawn 8 frame full depth boxes and as such are used to it. But I will concede that they are quite heavy for the average person and I would suggest a hybrid for that reason. Depending on where you’re located, as to temperature and availability managing it for over winter stores, it might be a worthwhile consideration for you.

Good luck

3 Likes

@Dawn_SD has given you a good option to reduce the weight you need to lift. Not only is a 10 frame box heavier when it is full of honey but it is wider as well so that makes it harder to move. I run 8 frame hives with 6 frame Flow Supers and have a dedicated base board with a box secured to it to remove a few frames into it and the lift of the super is much lighter. Lifting a full super of honey is a struggle and fitting it square on the brood box is rather hit and miss, so much easier if the super is only half full and 1/2 the weight then reassemble the super when it is back on the hive.
Cheers

1 Like

Thank you all for your great ideas!

@Dawn_SD, the problem with removing a few super frames at a time is that I would need to do it weekly, every time I inspect the hive, not just when extracting. I already do that with the top brood box - I take out each frame as I inspect and place it in a spare deep box because it was also too heavy to lift for me to inspect the bottom brood box. Then I replace them when I’m done inspecting the bottom brood box. I’ll have to think about whether or not it would be worth it to have to also remove/replace the honey frames every week. I’m not saying it’s not worth it - I just have to think about it.

@AdamMaskew, @Tim_Purdie I think someday I would like a long Langstroth hive/top bar hive. But being a new beekeeper it’s been easier just having a standard hive for when I have questions.

@Tassie_Mike The hybrid is an intriguing idea. If I had realized the difficulties I was going to have this probably would have been a good idea. However, my beekeeping shop can build me a complete 8 frame medium beehive, including a extra brood boxes and honey supers for not much more than that. So, again, I have to think about whether it is worth it.

You al have given me some great ideas to think about over the winter while I’m planning for next season. Thank you so much!

1 Like

You might have mentioned a good option in making your hive up with 1/2 depth boxes so that then the only heavy lift will be the Flow Super. I find that only doing my inspections every two weeks is enough to keep on top of how the hives are going and to find any issues before they become a problem.
!/2 depth boxes are used here in the brood as well as the supers, Something I will have to consider soon as I get another year or two behind me.
Cheers

I remove one frame at a time to inspect so I put another box down and move the frames. Then go to the box below. But I do not check it weekly.

1 Like