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Medium langstroth hives, reducing weight and follower boards


#1

Loving the idea of the flow hive and I’ve been imagining ways to integrate into my ultra urban backyard apiary. I have two hives and don’t have room or plans for more. I also don’t have the $ to upgrade both hives to Flow Hives.

So here’s what I was thinking: put the flow super on one hive and regular supers on the other. Harvest all the honey from the flow hive, and none from the other hive (unless the season is super generous.) Use honey frames from the non-flow hive to feed both hives during winter.

In the event that the season is super genrous with honey, I could harvest the extra from the standard/non-flow hive as cut comb or crush & strain (foundationaless.) This way I could manage two hives without ever having to extract, and with being sure to leave enough stores for the flow hive bees for winter. This would save time and money at harvest time from not having to deal with the mess, expense, and time of an extractor.

Anyone else trying this?

I sitll haven’t taken the plunge on ordering a set of flow frames because all of my equpiment is medium and I really don’t want the weight of a deep box on the top of my hives, so I’m hoping they eventually add medium frames to their product line…


Using follower board with flow hive
#2

Sounds a good idea!!


#3

Hi,

If you are good with woodworking and on a budget, I would suggest you consider an alternative to your idea to limit the mixing of bees from one box to another.

I would consider suggesting that you purchase a 6 frame kit without the box, and make your own 2 Honey Supers. You can use the template provided to cut out the dimensions or do it in advance. If desired you can also stack the mediums on top/below of the Flow Boxes. You can easily use 3 Flow Frames in either the 8 or 10 deep boxes.

This will get you the best of both worlds for the minimal costs.


#4

Thanks, Martin. Great idea and in concept it’s perfect, except that that means using deep boxes as supers. My equipment is therwise all mediums, and I really dislike the idea of using bigger boxes on top. I’m tiny and can’t easily lift full deep boxes. I like the idea of flow frames in each hive, though, and if they had medium frames that’s exactly what I’d do. But without medium flow frames, I thought at least I could avoid mixing sizes except the single flow box.

Another question regarding a partial flow/partial traditional box: what do you do with the flow frames once you empty them at the end of the season? Take them out and replace them with something else? Seems you wouldn’t want to leave them (you’d probably have to leave a queen excluder in winter, which as I understand it is a bad idea for several reasons,) but if you remove them, you’d be leaving a lot of unfilled/undrawn space to heat up (unless you have spare drawn comb to put in there.) With one full box of flow frames, you could just remove the entire super for winter.


#5

Most people remove empty honey supers for winter and reduce the hive size down so that bees can overwinter.

You would likely do the same.

Right and the lifting of boxes is one of the great benefits of Flow frames. Less lifting heavy boxes. Of course you still need to lift to inspect the brood, but I typically have an empty box on the side, remove many of the frames and put in the empty box, and then move an empty deep. Much easier process without the heavy lifting


#6

Hi Pix,

I am a very small woman too. The advantage to the deep supers for the flow frames is that since you can extract without disturbing the hive and moving the heavy honey laden boxes, you can maximize your honey harvest from the flow frames.

I plan on, at the end of the season, extracting from the flow frame and then leaving it in place for a short time, to allow the bees to clean it up, before removing the EMPTY (and thus light weight) deep super for the winter and leaving the medium supers below for the hive.

That way I have the deep flow frames to collect the larger amount of honey, with out having to maneuver the heavy supers. If you have been on the thread about when people wear their suits I commented that when my husband and father DROPPED a really heavy late season hive I was TOTALLY wearing my suit. Them bees had a hate on that day like you would not beelieve ; -)

Moving heavy bee boxes is to be avoided if at all possible!!
Sara


#7

I’m wondering if there are any plans for the company to later add medium frames to the options. All of my equipment is medium, and as a tiny 100 pound/45kg gal, the idea of lifting a full standard box off of the top for inspections and maintenece doesn’t sound appealing.

I really love the flow hive idea but have put off buying for now in the hopes that medium frames might be available in the future.


#8

That’s part of the reason why I was thinking of putting 6 flow frames in a 10 frame deep with a follower board on the outsides. You could do the same with an 8 frame using a Flow light 4 frame.


#9

I bought the 3 Frame Light and I have all mediums too. My thinking is when the honey flow is on I can add a medium super then put on an 8 frame deep with the 3 frame light in it with follower boards. Since I will tap into the 3 frames when they are capped it should be easy to lift the deep when they are empty.


#10

Hi @Playapixie, Sorry but we don’t have plans as yet to do medium frames. There have been a few suggestions above which look helpful to reduce the weight you need to lift. The follower boards seem like the easiest option. If you are good at building your own boxes it would be possible to make narrower boxes or even shorten the flow frames by taking some pieces out. This would take a bit of work to make everything fit together properly.


#11

I have seen quite a few videos on YouTube where older beekeepers etc lift the frames out of the box and transfer them one at a time to either an empty box or to the harvesting area and then move then several at a time not the whole box at once.

Since this is only for 2 hives it seems like your best option will be to split your 6 frames in to two boxes with 3 each. Harvest from the flow frames for yourself and then leave the extra regular frames for over wintering. Same concept as the one you put forward except you aren’t swapping frames from one hive to the other in the end.


#12

At the moment I have 40 hives all with mediums in 8 frame boxes. I plan to get to 120 hives next year. I would love to use medium Flow frames, too bad the company does not seem to think it is worth making them. When I read the Indiegogo campaign it seemed to me that the Flow frames can be shortened if needed and I thought I could make them mediums, but now I understand that the frames can only be shorten length wise so you can fit them in a shorter box, like a square Warre for example and not in a medium box.

I got the 3 frame kit to test it out and see what can be done to make it work with my setup. I would love to have Flow frames in all my production hives. I might keep them unmodified and have a deep at the top of the hive with 4 mediums below it and build a hive lifter so I can lift the deep and move it out of the way to inspect the mediums. Being production hives, I would rarely need to inspect them anyway. I inspect more often the hives I use to make increase and the mating nucs. Here is a pic of the hive lifter I built a couple of years ago but the crane was weak and it broke so I need to replace it:


#13

How did you construct the piece that “grabbed” the box? Which part in the crane failed? What would you do differently when you replace it. I am really interested in this contraption.


#14

The “no plans for mediums” is a real bummer. I guess I’ll just hope that the flow hive is such a hit that the product line expands to eventually include mediums.

After working my hives yesterday and imagining deeps on top, I’ve decided there’s just no way I’m going to go that route. Sadly, no Flow Hive for me for now.

All 8-frame mediums is the future. It’s what many experienced beekeepers recommend and run, or say they would run if they started that way, or are moving towards. Adding deeps in the super position just makes no sense to me at all.


#15

There is always a chance we will create mediums, but at the moment we are just focusing on creating the deep frames and making sure we do that well. If it looks like there is a large enough demand for the smaller frames, we will certainly explore making them too.


#16

@Jake, Add one more vote for the medium frame argument. The only issue i see right now in the flow hives is the ability to check on queens and the brood patterns while a flow box is installed. that much honey can add up in weight pretty quickly and to move a box off to inspect the brood boxes might be a challenge for some.


#17

Yes I agree. If the super is full it may be necessary to pull some frames out before taking lifting the super off. A lot of people have suggested that you can just drain the flow frames before lifting the super off. Sometimes that will work but there will always be occasions where you need to check the brood box but leave the honey.


#18

Please do Jake! You will be surprised how many people will want them. If you want to be certain, just make a poll and link on the forum, the Facebook page and the company page and see what people have to say. Instead of 3 Light Frames I would have ordered more, possibly enough to fill a 8 frame box for all my hives (120 hives). To me it’s ok if you will make them for instance next year, I did not have enough funds to buy such a quantity this year.


#19

I too would like medium Flow Lights, but in spite of being unable to lift heavy loads, I have learned how to adapt what I do. I am positive that with my all medium hives I can temporarily use 1 deep to accommodate the current Flow Light frames. Even with the 8 frame medium supers I have to remove half of them to lift the box. On “bad days” I simply remove more frames to make do.
It is amazing what one can do when the doctor forbids it and I am stubborn enough to find other ways.
The thought of putting off the Flow Light purchase never crossed my mind. :grinning: I saw the creative innovation as a must have now although I still have to wait a bit.


#20

I was very tempted to go the “must have now” route, but still, I’m going to site tight and hope that Flow is wildly successful and expands the product line later. I’d rather wait for the right equipment than spend that kind of money for something that is going to discourage me from checking my hives regularly because it’s too big to move.

The incredible season of swarming we have had here in Seattle has been a good lesson on keeping up with hive checks. Blackberry season is upon us a whole month early (our biggest honey flow!) and I’m getting swarm reports here in the city several times a week still.

I hope people keep asking for mediums and that the flow hive is such a resounding success that Flow will be eager to expand the line. :honeybee: