I have had a Flow Hive for a few years now. After removing the cap at the bottom of the frame to add the tube to allow honey to flow from the frame today horrible foamy honey flowed out. I had not inserted the key to allow the honey to flow. I never actually inserted the key, I have just been waiting for the foamy honey flow to stop. I normally clean the little slit where the tube attaches. Does anyone have any ideas as to why this happened?
This would seem indicate something else and not the Flow frame is amiss.
I personally have not had this happen.
Hello Maree, I’m certainly not an alarmist and that is something I haven’t had happen in my hives or heard of.
What I would do is to scrape some out into a screw top jar and put it in your freezer and then I would contact the DPI. It really is sounding like a bacteria and the DPI would know who can work out as to what has happened.
Till you know what the issue is I would wash all your hive tools you use and your suit as a precaution.
Of course it could be as simple as the honey in the trough has fermented causing the foaming, but I would want to know for sure what has happened.
Please keep us updated.
Hi Maree possibly fermented honey. We have seen similar from time to time as you never really get all the honey out of the drain channel and some can leak from unsealed cells. For this reason we clean the channel with hot water prior to taking honey.
Look in this forum for my posts on cleaning. I have a cut down drain tube that prevents water going into the hive and a very long bottle brush.
Sometimes, though rare, bees will cap honey that is too wet and it ferments. Usually this is in locations with very high humidity.
On the subject of fermented honey: With my one & only experience with harvesting from our flow frames, we found 3 of the 6 flow frames had fermented honey in the troughs. After rinsing them out with warm water, the smell was gone. It would be my suggestion to do a sniff test on each frame before harvesting any honey. This is on top of removing the frames to extract away from the hive.
It certainly is a trap with Flow Hives to fit the cap when there is still honey in the trough. It is important to have the tilt back to fully drain the chamber and to be sure that all of the honey has drained before closing the frame. My first extraction was full of mistakes that I made. Mainly in thinking extracting the honey wouldn’t take too long.
I have a plastic tube from the the tube fitted to the chamber down into an air tight pail and leave it connected up over night so there is no residual honey in the chamber to ferment.
Thank you to all those who quickly responded. I have today removed all caps and cleaned the chambers behind. Really only one cap had the foamy honey behind it.
I am tending to agree that the honey fermented, as I may have been a bit quick ending the flow and replacing the cap the last time I took the honey.
I appreciate your input and I will in future ensure that there is sufficient time for the honey to finish flowing before replacing the cap.
Hello Maree, It seems the biggest mistake with extracting the honey from a flow frame is not taking the time to get all the honey. When I began doing it as I described above I was stunned as to how much extra honey was in the pail in the mornings. All for the cost of some plastic tubing and making a honey pail lid dedicated to that job. I have 3 tubes set up sealed into the lid of a pail so can drain 1/2 my flow frames overnight with total success.
It is well worth checking the frames a day before you plan to remove the honey by removing them to be positive at least 80% or the cells are capped so that is won’t ferment on you. If the frame is not ready then best to leave it for another day.
Isn’t the whole point of the flow hives to harvest honey while the frames are in the hive?
Yes, but some are getting leaks which floods into the brood box below.
Personally, it has not been a issue with me.
On the very first harvest I did get honey leaking into the brood box and caused me a bit of angst with bees moving out and bearding on the hive. But it did not last and within a day all was back to normal. I have not had a leak detected in the last 2 years.
Good to know. I don’t have experience with harvesting yet, but both my flow hives’ frames (all twelve frames) came with very loose wires holding them together - straight from the factory.
Don’t know whether that may contribute to leaking. The flow frames can bow in my hand and I’m guessing that with the weight of honey it will be even worse.
I’m dreading trying to tighten the wires as per Flow’s video, as I fear I may break the plastic.
A couple of grand worth of hives, I cannot understand why they don’t come with the correct tension on their most critical component. A bit disappointed with that.
Don’t be. I was a bit reticent at first but once started it was pretty straight forward. I found that only two out of 6 needed tightening.
Lots of things can affect the tightness. On very hot days the wire will be expanded and cold days contracted. My guess is that the factory has a set length wire which when installed on a cold day will go out tight but may not be as tight on a hot day than one tensioned on a hot day.
After fencing I go back on a very hot day in summer and re tension the wires which become like guitar strings in Winter. Love hi tensile fencing wire.
If that happens, Flow’s customer service is superb. Just rattle @Freebee2’s chain, she will tell you to e-mail with your original order number and a photo of the damage and they will help you out. No need to worry about it.
I was thinking of Cyrano de Bergerac style fencing when I read that!
I can understand feeling a bit apprehensive, it’s a little fiddly - I’m sure if you follow the instructions you’ll be just fine. You will likely feel it if there is enough pressure to break the frames. Please let us know if you have any issues so we can assist.
Thanks for the vote of confidence @Dawn_SD
I see you are East of Perth. You don’t have hive beetles yet. I wouldn’t recommend harvesting honey from a flow frame on the hive if hive beetles are in the area. Honey flooding onto the brood can cause major problems, not to mention bees getting squashed during the harvest process.
Everybody agrees (I think) with physically inspecting the flow frames before harvest. If the frames are already out in order to inspect them, why not keep them out to harvest the honey?.. With the welfare of the bees in mind. It might even be easier to do the sniff test while the frames are out.
Nah I’m a farmer not a fighter or maybe at my age a labourer not a lover.
Jeff, you are putting fear into first time flow users without having reasonable experience with flow frames yourself.
Your experience is dealing with a neglected flow hive where the previous owners probably made all mistakes possible.
I think I have 16 flow hives amongst my hives and we are in SHB area. I don’t check the flow frames before harvest any more, and apart from overwintered honey that may have candied, I would never harvest off the hive.
I certainly have less SHB than all other locals, they are not a problem at all.
I think your advice where SHB is concerned is highly valuable, but a properly managed flow hive isn’t more prone to SHB than any other.
From what I hear around here, top bar hives (TBH) are very prone to infestation. No idea why. I only have one TBH, and they are doing ok.
Most of my traditional Lang hives have screened bottom boards, and I find them easier to manage and monitor than the ones with solid bottom boards.
The ‘honey leakage after opening the cap’ is only because the flow back gap wasn’t kept open and/or the hive wasn’t angled back appropriately. It’s easy to clean the channel out.
I am sure there are cells leaking in any Lang hive, but nobody would notice, as the bees would lap it up and redeposit.
Perhaps flow could tell people to regularly check and open the flow back gap and keep the hive tilted. Then this fermented honey in the channel wouldn’t occur.
Jeff, I have learned so much from you and your experience. Yet, different ways work as well or even better. A traditional beekeeper will always stick with what he knows.
Yet, a backyard beekeeper with 1 or 2 flow hives will not benefit from being told this won’t work. Because it does work.
Is he really? Or is it that he is making not only beginners but also reminding those that have experience over several years to be aware that we can make mistakes in how we manage a Flow Hive and have issues.
Jeff has a hatred of SHB and being aware of them as a problem is good for hive management. I doubt Jeff has said that a Flow Hive is more prone to a SHB infestation than with any other hive.
You are of course assuming that the folks who gave Jeff a Flow Hive neglected it in some way that it was defective or malfunctioned in some way, otherwise why, make the point.
While I don’t do my bee keeping exactly as Jeff does I respect his knowledge and his opinion. We all do our bee keeping in the best way that suits us.
That is what this forum should be about in my opinion, to pass on information, advice and tips based on our experience and respect others opinion.