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Possible to start a new (Flow) hive without ever using a centrifuge?


Dear Flow Hive beekeepers. I’ve searched most of the FAQs and also here, but not found an answer to this question. If I want to start using a Flow Hive, can I do so without ever buying a centrifuge or decapping table? In other words, if the supers only contain Flow comb, can one completely and permanently avoid the expense of these items?

Thanks in advance (and sorry if this is a duplicate question),

Kevin Pfeiffer



A qualified YES ! As long as you only harvest with the Flow-Hive system. Flow is actually a harvest system. If you later decide to use n harvest medium or shallow frames then you would need the other equipment.

But for now … Using only the Flow-Super you will not need centrifugae equipment. I’m sure others will add to what I might have omitted here.

Hope that answers your question.


Hello Gerald,

Thanks for the quick response. (“Kevin” is the name.) I guess I could have, should have formulated my query so: When all goes as planned, will the bees take to supers that only have Flow comb? Or does one also need wax comb to get them up into the supers? From your answer, I would think that the answer is still yes.

-Kevin Pfeiffer


Of course! Even without a Flow hive. Just pluck out a frame of capped honey, eat it right out of the comb or scoop it into a funnel with filter. The bees will make fresh wax in a flash.


Hi Kevin,

People have had varying experience. Most have found that the bees go into the Flow supers without needing any wax to entice them up there. However, one or two have found the bees reluctant, and have put on a super of wax foundation to try to get the message across to the bees. If you do that, you can then either do as @Red_Hot_Chilipepper says, and use the stores as comb honey, or you could “crush and strain” using about $20 of equipment - no uncapping table or centrifuge needed. I would probably go with the comb honey first, it fetches a premium price in this part of the world.

Michael Bush has a good description of how to make a 2 bucket strainer here:

Or you can buy a ready-made setup here:



“Of course” what? Not sure what you mean by that. I do crush and strain now, and I don’t need a Flow hive from Australia for that. Please see my follow-up to Gerald.

It’s not an insignificant point that I am trying to confirm – if the new beekeeper can use Flow Hives with no need whatsoever for decapping tools, centrifuge, etc., then the price difference between the “Flow” system and traditional removable frame hives becomes much less of an issue – assuming the Flow frames last a while.



Thanks, Dawn. That makes good sense: If the need arises, buy some wax foundation and add a super of traditional frames, which as you’ve all noted, one can simply crush and strain – or “put on the toast”.

Thanks to you all.

Someday maybe I’ll have a chance to give this unique system a try here in Berlin.




The only totally dump question is a not asked question. Keep them coming as there is wealth of knowledge among the users here. I don’t believe I need to add more as others have wisely given you further ideas n options.

Where do you live ? This helps us direct proper ideas as seasons differ depending on the hemisphere n region. I live east of Seattle here in the U.S. Our Spring is revving up now. Good luck n enjoy !


Ahhh ! Kevin … I see you are in Europe. Just didn’t read your note fully.


I meant to say, “of course you can harvest honey without ever using a centrifuge or de-capping table. The type of hive is irrelevant.” If you crush and strain, the bees will make fresh clean wax each year. I change my wax every two years so it doesn’t get nasty.

When I started out with hives, I didn’t own or use a centrifuge or de-capping table; and I didn’t have a Flow hive. Once I got above 20 hives I went for the extractor.

Good luck.


Hi Kevin, in your comment: if the new beekeeper can use Flow Hives with no need whatsoever for decapping tools, centrifuge, etc., then the price difference between the “Flow” system and traditional removable frame hives becomes much less of an issue – assuming the Flow frames last a while.

That kind of works if you only want one hive. If you buy a second or third hive, well naturally the price difference will be an issue.

I see very few beekeepers that are happy with just one hive due to the addictiveness of beekeeping.


I only wanted two hives. 41 hives later and we’re discussing how to reach our 100 hive goal lol.


I think I am the opposite, I want 100 but I only have room for 2 right now, and can only talk the wife into 1 at the moment. If I had a place to put them or a piece of land I would definitely have at least 20 or so I’m sure.


Yes, if you want 2 or 3 hives (or 100), the price does become an issue again, but then who is going to buy more than, say, five or six Flow hives (let alone 100)? I’ve presently got one colony, but have had as many as two, which was just right. Not having any interest in selling honey, two colonies provided more than enough honey for my family, friends, neighbors, birthday gifts, etc.

Regarding the other comments, I already pointed at that of course crush and strain works fine, as I use it myself, but that was not the question being asked.

-Kevin Pfeiffer


They do have a system to harvest the hives run on a pneumatic switch that would allow you to harvest all 100 hives at the same time. So potentially having a 100 hives is even more reason to have the Flow hive.


yes, and one way to reduce the costs is to install 3 flow frames in each super (with 2 normal frames on each side) and harvest just from these. And I think the harvesting frequency would be more often once the 4 normal frames are fully capped. Either you harvest more each time you harvest, or harvest less but more often.


From what you said earlier, if you buy one hive, your buying a hive, decapping tools & a centrifuge all in one price.

If you buy 5 or 6 hives, you get 5or6 hives, 5or6 sets of decapping tools & 5or6 centrifuges.

If you buy 5or6 or even a hundred normal hives you only need to pay for one set of decapping tools & one centrifuge.


I think I understand the question now: The answer is yes, you won’t need a centrifuge with Flow frames because 1) if they work correctly, the honey will run out into your jar when you open them; and 2) even if they malfunction they are too fat to fit in an extractor anyway so you’ll have to figure some other way of getting the honey out.


True; adagna mentions the possibility of connecting 100 Flow hives. And apparently the sugar sap from maple trees is collected in a somewhat similar manner these days (plastic tubing strung down the mountainside), but this is pretty far into the realm of commercial beekeeping (if you ask me).

Philip mentions using 3 flow frames and 4 normal frames; I think I saw something like this in the Flow shop, which is what made me wonder whether the Flow beek also needed to acquire or use a centrifuge. It didn’t occur to me that you could simply leave these frames in the hive. What would happen in the winter though? The supers would get pulled, wouldn’t they? (I use a different system, so have little experience with supers, etc.) Would they simply be harvested as already mentioned (comb honey or crush and strain)?

Sorry, if this discussion is dragging on too long, but y’all are such an enthusiastic bunch that I can’t resist coming back here.

-Kevin (P.S. – profile filled in somewhat)


Flow frames are a like a screwdriver or a hammer. It is a tool to achieve a goal. That doesn’t mean that all you will ever need or want is a screwdriver or a hammer. I imagine that Stew and Cedar still have traditional frame hives in their apiary. What Flow frames do is solve a major problem that hobby beekeepers have had in that we don’t all have a shed and if we do it usually isn’t full of cool gear and tools to help make traditional frame beekeeping not seem completely overwhelming. I have been thinking about beekeeping since I was 8 years which was the last time my dad had hives. I have missed them, but I would get 20 mins into researching beekeeping and say I can’t do that, I don’t have room for all that etc. and I would walk away. Then came the flow frames, and solved the extraction process issues I had in the past. It made beekeeping accessible again and it made me excited about beekeeping. Will I ever had traditional frame hives now in the future, you bet. But the Flow hive crossed the chasm and made beekeeping approachable for me.


Time IS money if money is what your after. Is beekeeping your hobby or occupation? If it’s your hobby, well time isn’t all that important. If it’s your occupation, as it is mine, well time is money. I proved you can (if your well organized) extract 20 kilos of honey in 90 minutes from start to finish. In the bargain I was able to positively identify that the frames were close to, or fully capped.