Plastic in hives

Hi everyone, I am a bee keeper who is thinking of investing in the flow hive because my arthritis makes heavy lifting too painful. I love my bees and in the info on the flows it talks about the plastic gases, is there any reassurance that these gases will not hurt us as well as the bees from a carcinogenic point of view. Also on good old eBay they are selling the complete hives but they are coming from China, does anybody know if these are ok.?
Keep buzzing

No they are not.
Firstly dubious mechanical manufacture and the low grade plastics used and secondly they are illegal. Many Chinese sellers have been closed only for others to spring up.

If you want piece of mind and something which works, buy the genuine.
Normal langs can be modified to fit Flow Frames. There are instructions on the web site. So you could modify you your hives and only buy the frames.

Edit I had “buyers”


Thank you I will take your advice Best wishes

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Wilfred is right, Flow has spent a long time getting this right and ensuring that the plastic is of the highest quality, the chinese knockoffs hurried to get them onto the market and take advantage of the marketing campaign that Flow had developed, so do you think they had time to do their due diligence on the quality of their components, I am not willing to take that risk to save a few bucks.


Thank you, I am grateful for your advice.
Best wishes, Annette

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The plastic used in Flow frames is BPA-free and food grade quality. It is the same kind of plastic used in baby milk feeding bottles. You don’t need to worry about off-gassing or cancer. :blush:


Hi Annette,

Here is the information about the plastic used in our Flow Frames :

We have worked hard to ensure that our Flow Frames are manufactured from the very best food grade materials.

The clear viewing ends of the frames, as well as the honey tube and caps, are made from a virgin food grade copolyester. The manufacturers have assured us that it’s not only BPA-free, but it is not manufactured with bisphenol-S or any other bisphenol compounds.

The manufacturers also advise that third-party labs have tested this material and the results have demonstrated that it is free of estrogenic and androgenic activity. The centre frame parts are made from a virgin food grade polypropylene which is also free from any bisphenol compounds and is widely accepted as one of the safest plastics for food contact.

Plastics have been used for many years in beehives for both brood and honey combs and have not been found to have a negative impact on bee colonies.

The blades in our Flow Frames form partial honeycomb cells. The bees “complete” these cells by joining the gaps and drawing the comb out, then coat the entire cell with wax.


Light microscope images of Flow Frame honeycomb cells (x7 magnification) (a) ‘clean’ unused Flow Frame with partially formed honeycomb cells; (b) & © top surface of a used Flow frame showing honeycomb cells fully drawn with wax (b) and gaps filled with wax/propolis ©; (d) Single row of fully-drawn honeycomb cells from a Flow frame, note wax lining sides of cells; (e) and (f) Surface of a single Flow blade from a used Flow Frame showing wax added by the bees coating the entire surface of the blade.

We are constantly striving to further develop and improve our products and continue to investigate alternate materials which may be suitable for manufacturing.

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There is still heavy lifting involved with owning a flow hive because you need to check on the brood (sometimes quite frequently) to keep the colony healthy.


I agree with @JeffH, but I get around that by putting an empty box next to the hive I am inspecting. I can then take the frames out of the hive, one at a time, put them in order into the empty box beside the hive, and then all I have to lift is an empty box from the original hive on top of the first spare box to start the next layer. Works great if all of your boxes are the same size. :blush: I never lift more than about 10lb during an inspection.


I do the same as Dawn but with regular hives. No heavy lifting.


I don’t do any heavy lifting at all with my Flow frames super or my regular Ideal supers to inspect the brood.

I take the honey frames out one at a time (either the plastic Flow ones on the timber Ideal ones) and do as some others have suggested - I put them in a spare box - or sometimes lean them against something.

If I am honey processing with regular frames, I put them in a wheelbarrow one at a time and take them out one at a time. Honey extracting with the Flow frames I do on the hive.

If I needed to move an entire hive to a different location that is another matter. I wrap an Emlock hive strap around it and get a trolley under the hive. If I were moving the hive a long distance and had to put it on a truck, ute or trailer, I would make an arrangement where I would use a lift etc.

I just can’t see why anyone would have to use heavy lifting in owning or operating a Flow hive - or a standard hive for that matter?

Another option for those concerned about heavy boxes- is a hive consisting of 5 frame Nuc boxes. The weight is quite manageable. Downsides are stability and if you build them up big you’ll need to move more boxes- but the boxes are lighter…

Here’s one I made earlier:

So far this hive is going brilliantly.

I don’t agree with that analogy. My reason being that I’ve seen a multitude of places where bees build their hives/nests. The back of tv sets. The core of a rolled up carpet. The under floor of a trailer boat. A tea chest full of loosely packed antique car parts. Wall cavities, lots of them.

Very seldom do they resemble the inside dimensions of 10 frame bee boxes. Or the inside of a hollow tree for that matter.

I think @Semaphore’s multi story nuc box hive is fine. That’s just my opinion.

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luckily no-one told my bees there was any problem and that hive is doing very well :wink: I think stacked Nuc boxes would likely be closer to a natural tree cavity than 10 frame boxes… anyway- we will see with time- I have had that colony in there for around 10 months now and so far so good- it been a very productive hive and I haven’t had any issue yet. The only issue I do foresee as a possibility is increased likelihood of swarming as the entire hive only consists of 10 brood frames and the equivalent of 5 frames in the super (3 flow frames). I could always add another box if I wanted to.

before I made it I did some research and found that there is nothing novel in it- it has been done before and done successfully.

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I think all that needs to be said has been.


Hi Jack, if you foresee that hive is likely to swarm, just jump in a bit earlier & do preemptive swarm control on it. Keep one step ahead of them. I’m doing a lot of that myself right now.

The extra colonies & queens you produce will never go astray.


That’s my plan Jeff- as soon as we have a few sunny days I will look into that hive. If it is bursting- or showing swarm signs- I will take a split from it. Also I have a feeling it is currently packed with honey and I will remove and spin any full frames and give the bees some fresh foundation to slow them down and keep them busy. Just half an hour ago the activity at that hive went ballistic as the bees did their daily cleansing flight- the activity just died down:

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When you say “showing swarm signs”. I try to do it before they show those signs. That’s what I mean by saying “keep one step ahead of them”.

good point- well taken. I just heard from some swarm catchers that swarming has already started in adelaide with a few swarms caught last week. If it’s like last year this will be a big year for swarms. I’ve been intending to inspect my hives for the last fortnight but we keep having chilly days- lots of sun and lots of activity but temps around 10-14 c. I’ve been waiting for a warmer patch- but perhaps I had better shake a leg…

Are you cutting out patches of excess pollen again at this time jeff? I am thinking to try out a pollen trap on a hive to achieve the same outcome. Many trees are flowering heavily all around just now. Only a few days into spring and the bees are capping honey:

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Hi Jack

I will be starting my 2 deck nucs this spring, inspired by you!

They will be used to strengthen my other hives and to start nucs

It’s a brilliant idea!


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