Hi , I’m a new flow hive beekeeper In Wicklow, looking to connect with flow owners in Ireland to share knowledge. Thanks
I have my flow hive in West Cork now, near the beginning of learning beekeeping and planning for 2021. I would love to track down all of the local differences from how beekeeping is done here vs. elsewhere, like frame sizes, O.M.F. and other varroa mite mitigation, surviving winter and wet conditions, ideal brood size for dormant months, and all the other things I don’t yet know!
Hello and welcome to the Flow forum. I believe that @JimM is in Ireland, although his profile doesn’t say where. He has a lot of experience and gives good advice, so hopefully he can point you in the right direction.
That’s great, thank you very much Dawn!
The best advice I can give you is to make contact with local beekeepers and learn from them. There are beekeeping associations in all counties of Ireland, some more active than others. They place a huge emphasis on education and learning. Most offer learner courses, and give the opportunity to advance to further education. In the covid era these lectures etc have moved online, but this might even be an advantage if you are in a perticularly remote part of Cork!
Here is a list of the associations in Ireland
On your specific questions
Most hobbyist beekeepers use National size brood boxes and supers. They are relatively small and easy to manipulate. Other frame sizes in use are Commercial and Langsroth which are larger. In my experience most beekeepers here now use open mesh floors and treat for varoa as it is everywhere, but some dont treat and report good results. I use apiguard in August and oxalic acid in december. These are both organic, will not give rise to resistance and are easy on the bees.
Most people in Ireland use the native bee, the back bee. This bee is well adapted to the climate and overwinters well in a single brood box. Some use buckfast type bees. However I would strongly advise you to use the bee type from your local area. bringing in buckfasts into an area where most bees are native blacks will not endear you to your fellow beekeepers as crosses between booth strains have a reputation for agression. The same applies in the opposite sense too.
Finally, it is important to realise the the flow hive is just another way to extract honey. It is not a different way of beekeeping.
As a beginners book I would recommend The Haynes Bee Manual
It was so kind of you to offer such a detailed packet of advice. I really appreciate it very much. I can see how important local knowledge is because conditions, threats and bee varieties can vary so much. I am going to order The Bee Manual tonight, on your advice, and also talk to a neighbour who recently started beekeeping and mentioned the native black bee as “hardy but lazy.” I am more interested in having a healthy hive than trying to prime as much honey out of it as I can. There was a hollow log with a healthy hive on the property ca. 2015 but another local said the varroa mite ultimately caused it to fail. Lastly, I plan to take very good notes of advice, observations and keep a journal so I can learn to do this well, for the enjoyment from succeeding at it. Thanks again. I know I will be back here to forum with more questions!
Hi everybody here, I am new to beekeeping - just started this year with swarms so I didn’t get to put supers on. I bought the flow hives before knowing much about bees and now after I went on courses and had spoken with a few beekeepers I have some doubts regarding these hives.
Do they work here considering the climate is not as hot as in Australia?
Do you have trouble with honey crystallising in them?
Hello and welcome to the Flow forum!
That is a hoary old chestnut, if you will forgive me for saying so. I imagine that traditional beekeepers have sowed many of these doubts in your mind. Flow hives work all over the world, providing that you use them in a manner suited to your climate. We have beekeepers in the forum who keep bees in Canada - much colder climate than yours, @Doug1 for example. There are many in the UK and plenty across northern Europe too. I think that @HappyHibee has successful Flow hives in parts of the UK which will have a very similar climate to yours (perhaps not quite as wet).
The thing which damaged the Flow hive’s reputation was the initial marketing campaign, which to my mind was somewhat naive, but that was not surprising for a new company. They neglected to emphasize that the bees should be managed exactly the way that your local beekeepers look after their bees in traditional hive, it is just the harvesting that is different. What specifically do I mean? Here are some thoughts:
- If your locals use 2 brood boxes below the queen excluder, so should you
- If locals treat for Varroa mites, so should you
- If locals take the supers off over winter, so should you
- If locals insulate the hives for the coldest months, so should you
- If locals feed their bees during long nectar dearths, so should you
If you do all of those things, your Flow hives have as much chance of succeeding as traditional hives.
Generally this is only a problem with OSR (Oil Seed Rape or Canola) honey. It happens to traditional beekeepers too. The key is to harvest the honey as soon as possible - it will set within a month or so. You can either harvest it quickly, or don’t put the Flow super on until it has finished flowering. Some Flow hive users put a traditional super on for the OSR season, then switch it to the Flow super when the yellow fields have disappeared. I would not leave a Flow super on the hive over winter for the same reason - you don’t want it on the hive for more than 4 or 5 months without harvesting, because the mechanism gets jammed up if the honey crystallizes. However, that is also true for traditional frames. I have had many disintegrate in the spinner when I tried hard to get crystallized honey out of the comb!
So really, there is no reason why a Flow hive shouldn’t work perfectly well in Ireland, providing it is managed sensibly. Don’t let the naysayers make you doubt your choice. Please ask if you have any more questions, we all love helping each other on this forum.
I’m based in Wicklow and have a flow hive since last year and I successfully havested from it this year.
No issues other than laying worker bee., But that can happen in any hive. The previous commentator was spot on. Hives are the same but for harvesting. That said you will have discovered by now that flow hives are langstroth and very few keepers in Ireland use langstroth, they are also an unusua depth in that the brood box is only 8 frame but standard langstroth brood box is 10 so hard to get parts unless you buy from flow, and they are overpriced!
Good luck with it and if you need any help let me know,
Facebook has a Flow Hive UK group with Irish beekeepers.
Other than harvesting it’s no different to traditional hives. Shape and sizes are personal choice but Langstroth is the most gammon worldwide and for gold wet climates like Iteland and the UK the larger brood frames help through winter.
Flow Hives work perfectly well in your climate Facebook has plenty of Flow Hive owners posting and showing them harvesting honey.
I’m UK so not much difference in weather. I have 3 Flow Hives.
Here’s a fun video of my family and neighbour harvesting from one of them.
Clubs are full of sceptics most haven’t seen, owned or any experience of a flow hive.
Crystallisation from sources like OSR isn’t a problem you just learn to harvest at the right time.
Google Jamie Oliver harvesting from Flow hive. He demostrates harvesting OSR.
Even traditional harvesting OSR or heather requires the same understanding. If you leave it on too long then spinning it out is difficult so you need to press it.
With a Flow Hive you just do a shake test of the frame and if not much drips out its good to harvest.
All pure honey crystallises over time.
My own club members were the same until I showed them the videos then invited some around to harvest and I’ve converted loads into using Flow Hives.
You can also over or under super the flow super with traditional frames if you want comb or chunk honey or at certain times of the year to have honey frames to feed back or leave on the hive over winter.
Colony strength is key before adding the flow super. It can take the bees a while to prep the frames but a little encouragement from some burr comb or sugar syrup over the plastic and when they need the space they get to work.
My best year with my flow hives was last year, one hive I harvested 150 8oz (half pound jars)
£5 a jar paid for the cost of the hive second season.
I’ve harvested loads from my flow hives this year (over 100KG)
I’ve got a very busy colony right now in my Flow brood box in Southwest Ireland. They are collecting from ivy at the moment, and I’ve fed some syrup in a top feeder to encourage the queen to increase numbers before winter. I check every 3-4 days and there doesn’t appear to be a thing wrong with them. I will follow local beekeeper advice for getting through the winter but I’m confident I will be putting on the Flow super like every other local beekeeper next year. I hope I can be a resource to @Mioara and other south of Ireland Flow hive beekeepers starting next year!
Ivy is like Rape. it crystallises very hard and yes there is a big flow on this year. Is it your plan to remove the flow hive during winter? If so, get the ivy out of it as quickly as you can.
Flow hive is not a different way of beekeeping. Its a different way of extracting honey. It may make sense for somebody with one or two hives, but beyond that in my view the costs compared to an extractor don’t make sense.
Thank you everybody for the answers to my concerns!
Sorry for getting back so late but I didn’t get any notifications in my email about the answers.
What a relief to know it won’t be a problem with them here.
I have another question: do you leave the tray under the brood box on all the time or only when you treat for varroa mites? I left mine on all the time and they keep collecting water.
You can put it in upside down if you want to avoid that.