so we started out with all Flow hives that came with the plastic queen exluders. Two years in and I am ready to ditch them all. I purchased 10 steel ones at a discount and will remove every plastic one. The plastic excluders are a false economy- they cost roughly half what a metal one does (often a little more than that) but you won’t save in the long run.
After just two years our plastic excluders were becoming brittle at the edges where they catch some sunlight- and tended to get small cracks when you use the hive tool. I don’t see them lasting that many years…
Also they were warping a bit and do not sit completely flat. This is actually a bigger issue- as when they don’t sit flat and you put them back on the brood box bees can crawl up under the warped QX edges and be crushed when the a box is put down. with a metal one you can slide it into position pushing the bees out of the way- and then put down the box without any worry that there are bees under a section of the edge.
the next reason is cleaning: the plastic ones have many small holes- and you need to poke the wax out of them individually. It can actually take ages. Not something you want to do do mid-inspection. The metal ones have larger slots and you can run a hive tool through them much faster. Also they seem to collect less wax.
Lastly it seems like the metal ones are nicer to the bees- more rounded edges- and more surface area to move through.
so it’s a no brainer. Stainless steel from now on.
perhaps flow could consider upgrading to all metal excludes in the future? I imagine they would only add 4$ or so of material costs (when purchased at scale)- but certainly make the entire kit more ‘deluxe’. I guess they would add a little weight to the shipping package though…