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Received frames - ought to be interesting


#1

Ordered four Flow Frames recently & arrived a few days ago …

I intend to modify an existing deep brood box to use these along with standard frames as a honey super. Even closed, the cells look to have some gaps, but suppose the bees won’t mind. The construction/design looks good overall. I’m curious to see how durable these frames are in my apiary … along with how they function of course.

I have these purely as an experimental project – if they work out, cool … if not, figure a good learning experience regardless.


#2

It’s good that you have that kind of spare cash to put towards R&D


#3

Ditto with my beekeeping in general quite frankly … hobby more than anything, and certainly worse things one could do with a few extra coins :wink:


#4

I have some great news for you: I have been 'r & d’ing Flow frames in 6 hives now for over 24 months… THEY WORK!

Hurrah!

Like anything there are some tricks to get best results- have a read on this forum to find out all that users have learned.


#5

The gaps are by design so that bees don’t get squished in the cells when you drain the honey. The bees fill the gaps quickly during a flow.


#6

Interesting, Michael – that’s what I suspected, figured they would propolize or wax any gaps not wanted. And yeah, the mechanics of the opening/closing of the cells is rather clever.


#7

Badger,

I’m happy to see you checking in … Micheal has explain the frames operation some. Seem you should watch a few Flow-Hive videos online at Flow-Hive as well as notes here on the Forum.

There are great stories of success n some of not so successful. My lack of success here in the Pacific NW (near Seattle) is a local evirmental n seasonal weather issue more than problem with the design. I have two full flow-supers (a 6 n 7) frame edition. I have battled dreath n pests giving me my lack of success in both conventional n Flow-set ups.

This coming Spring 2018 will be my third honey season since I was a young beekeeper back in the 1950’s n 60’s. Your success will be determined more on your skill as a beekeeper, local weather/seasonal conditions, n pests than what type of hive/honey system you invest n use.

Good luck bro,
Gerald


#8

Started my beekeeping in 2013 - quite the learning experience, and the honey bees never cease to amaze me.

Yes, have watched several Flow Frame related videos & read much on them – actually what got me interested in them. Finally decided to take the plunge and try it out for myself – will be a hybrid super (a deep that I will convert into using four FFs).

One potential factor I already anticipate … determining what success(or lack thereof) factors relating to the Flow Frames would necessarily be distinct from as if all standard frames. Anxious to see how it goes once one the colony I will set aside gets ready for the hybrid super.

And I’m sure extracting honey from the FFs will be cool :slight_smile: … but yeah, totally get that my beekeeping in general shouldn’t change just because of the flow frames (extraction aside).


#9

Badger,

I’ve seen quite a few beekeepers dabble into the Flow-System with Hybrids. Some successful n some not … not sure if there lack is success was local climatic resson, lack of beekeeping experience or other. Some seem very successful n happy with their outcome.

I decide to bring on one complete 6 frame Flow-hiveq n add a 7 frame to one of my 10 frame Langstroth colonies. Some hybrids Flow-Super have had mixed success … bees preferring the standard frames (at least at first) so I choose the full deck method to hybrid. Our more burb type region n wet seasons limits our success at major honey production to many regions but what the heck. My 6 hives are doing their part for local backyard garden pollination sucess pet msny of my neighbor n I do harvest enough for my needs now n often extended family.

Just curious ! You’ve been testing beekeeping since 2013 … correct ? How’s your local conventional hive success been since getting onboard. (Poor, fair, good or excellent). Mines been a mixed bag over here in Puget Sound. I’ve experienced the good, bad n ugly … not seen excellent yet. Keeping my fingers crossed :crossed_fingers: for season 2018 ! :+1:… Hoping the floral season is good to keep the foraging pressure on the gals for at least a “GOOD” season.

Keep in touch … like to follow your venture …

Cheers bro,
Gerald


#10

Initially tried with a makeshift top bar hive - results were bad, two colonies absconded. Have otherwise used traditional Langstroth hives, 10 frame boxes … one or two deeps with medium supers … and mix of plastic & waxed foundations.

Have had good & bad experiences, made plenty of rookie mistakes. Early on I underestimated the significance of varroa mite control - but lesson learned and much better in past couple years. One Winter I got overly aggressive with insulation & condensation killed them off. Another hard lesson - started using a top box with wood chips and that’s been successful. I also learned early on the importance of feeding over a dearth , especially with newer colony(w/o sufficient stores of their own).

In all, been pretty good at it - learning/adapting as it goes. Besides the flow frame experiment starting this year, also plan on raising queens.


#11

Hi Jack, it is agreed that “THEY WORK!” :slight_smile: however is it worth the added expense? Is it more convenient once you take into consideration all of the tricks needed to get results?


#12

for me- yes- for you- no. :sunglasses:

I just harvested 6kg’s the other day. Total labor expended- perhaps 8 minutes. The ‘tricks’ are not much work once you know them. The only hard work is lifting out frames to inspect- and I find that’s not too hard. We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one jeff.


#13

Whether worth it … suppose that depends on individual circumstances and expectations. Anticipate being so for me - if only as a novelty & satisfying my curiosity.

On a purely financial basis, probably not in that any honey amount I extract from the gizmos(the flow frames) wouldn’t necessarily be much different than honey I’d get from comparable sized standard frames, at least not of any significant variation.

For anything greater than rather small scale backyard(or whatever) beekeeping, doubt the figures would make a profit in relation to standard extraction costs. I’d love to see case scenarios to the contrary, but if not still no biggie for me personally.

And just generally speaking, making a profit from such small-scale beekeeping … not exactly a realistic expectation imho.


#14

as things stand I don’t think there is much scope for large scale commercial use of flow frames… But for back yard beekeeping- I think they are ‘the bees knees’. For people with one or two hives they they have easy access to- they are just fabulous. My mother is a good case in point- she only has the one hive and she harvests the flow frames by herself despite being nearly 75. I have no doubt she has ZERO interest in using a honey spinner- or crush and strain. She loves her flow hive and is producing maybe 50- 65 KGs of honey every year from it

As to the quality of the honey- I think there isn’t much in it- but in my experience the flow honey is absolutely top notch with absolutely minimal processing. I have spun traditional frames- and harvested flow frames from the same hive and the flow honey was superior- it candied much slower than the standard honey.

the honey I harvested two days ago was so thick and tasty - it came in at 15.2% water content which is extremely low I think. It is ready to jar as is- needs no straining or heating- just a sieve between the flow tube and the bucket to catch a few tiny particles at harvest time.

It could be that flow hives are not well suited to climates with very short honey seasons. We are blessed with 9 months of productive weather here in South Australia- and all our flow hives have performed very well.

EDIT: one possible use for commercial flow frames I thought of was in a Slovenian type honey wagon/trailer where there are multiple hives built into a mobile trailer. I could see one of these with a honey tank at one end- being used for pollination services and then migratory honey production. To me it seems like flow frames could potentially be a winner in a set up like that… but it’s just an idea.


#15

15.2% water content? definitely on the low end … had to have been rather viscous

roughly 17 to 18% is ‘just right’ … I tend to prefer getting it below 20%, think 22ish is borderline

I’m in the upper midwest USA (Iowa) … our summers can get remarkably humid, far more than what it would seem possible for being in the middle of the continent, but way it goes ---- my refractometer gets plenty of good use :slight_smile:


#16

Hi Jack, I agree with everything you said. However I just want to pick up on one thing you said. “The ‘tricks’ are not much work once you know them”. It shouldn’t be like that, they should work like they do in the campaign video without disturbance to the bees.


#17

yup, Jeff … the only difference of any consequence between running flow frames and standard ought to be specific to extraction of honey … at least in theory any way. I suspect any rhetoric to the contrary is propaganda.


#18

The honey is so thick- if you put a spoon in it and lift it up it doesn’t drip off for quite a while- it’s almost like molasses. Also if you rest the spoon on the honey it doesn’t sink in for while… The mouthfeel of thick honey like that is super- the thicker the better if you ask me. Most of the honey I have produced is well under 17% often under 16%.

@JeffH I didn’t see any disturbance to my bees when I harvested on the weekend- no leaks at all that I could see and I did look for them. Today they are busy uncapping those frames. I agree that ideally the frames would be just as easy as the campaign suggested- but I am not that bothered that there was a bit to learn. When we purchased from the initial indigogo campaign we knew we were taking a gamble - I still think it paid off. If advertising was 100% true then eating a Mars bar every day wouldn’t make you fat - and Nutrigrain would turn you into an Iron man. As these things go i think the Flow campaign was fine. That’s just my opinion.


#19

Jack, the flow campaign was successful in many respects. it got people talking about bees & the plight of bees. It got a lot of people, including yourself into bees.

A lot of people got into bees on account of flow & fell by the wayside, exactly the same as they do with traditional beekeeping.

On the subject of disturbance. You probably disturb the bees whenever you inspect the flow frames by taking them out. Anyway, enough of that. cheers


#20

removing the frames does disturb them (though I would argue there is some disturbance installing/removing escape boards and/or removing traditional frames/supers- in fact the way some commercial folks do it there is plenty of disturbance- using those blowers to blow all the bees off the frames, or even some who use irritants/chemicals to force the bees from the super, etc :frowning_face: ).

this last harvest was my Nuc tower hive and as it only has three flow frames- and two larger than normal windows- I don’t remove them prior to harvest. I can see enough to know if they are capped or not without having to. If I did have to I would only have to remove the central frame. But the bees keep capping that one first- so if the outer ones are capped the inner one is too. And yes, flow frames are a little more difficult to inspect than traditional- and heavier when full. Warts and all I like them still. and yes- enough now.