We have had an occupied Flow hive for well over 2.5 years now, and to be honest, the roof is beginning to show its’ age. Forumites probably remember my musings about fixing roof flashing under the existing panels and various other ideas. I still think those are valid, but I just came across something much easier. Here is my old roof:
There is now a replacement for the roof panels.
It is a composite aluminum (double sided) sandwich with an insulating polyethylene filler between the two metal sheets. One metal sheet side is coated shiny white, and the other is a metallic copper satin powder coat type finish. The panels can be installed either way up, so you get to decide the appearance on your hive. They are specially drilled to fit existing Flow hive roofs, as Langstroth roofing (even gabled) can be slightly larger than the Flow roof.
Here are my thoughts.
The panels arrived with eco-friendly shipping materials, and nice quality replacement screws. This was excellent, as the original roof screws partially stripped as I was removing them. It is amazing how much sticky, gritty pollution and junk accumulates in the screw heads in 2 years!
However, the 10 screws provided are 8 for the panels (perfect length) and 2 for the ridge cap (much too short). You must therefore make sure you have the right screws for the ridge cap if you will need a replacement. The screw on the right is the new one provided ( I don’t think it is long enough). The one on the left is the old one with an almost stripped head.
The instructions for replacing the panels are online – another ecologically-sensitive touch. Once the old roof panels were removed, the new panels installed in less than 5 minutes. I strongly recommend leaving the old ridge cap wood partly screwed in place, as this helps align the panels properly. You just need enough space under the ridge cap to advance the top of the panels to the center of the roof, and the fixing screws help position the panels accurately. The pre-drilled holes in the panels aligned perfectly with the A-frame. This is important, as the standard Langstroth gable roof panels (not Flow compatible) have different hole positions. Make sure you buy the correct version!
Here is the roof with the new panels. I removed the ridge cap to show you how to position the panels, then reinstalled it:
Here is the old cap back in place - ick!
I finally decided to sand the cap. This was a one hour project for me, as I am not an expert woodworker. I have an orbital sander, but I wasn’t sure which grade of sandpaper to use. It turned out that I needed 120 grit. Even then, it took quite a bit of time, and I could probably have benefitted from bleaching the wood too (not gonna happen! ). However, I wiped it off with D-Limonene (citrus solvent) and then Tung Oiled it once again, and this is the final result:
The result is a stunningly attractive refurbished Flow roof. I chose the satin copper finish for the outside, as I thought it looked better with the cedar. Thanks to the composite layering of the roof, the bees should be insulated from the heat of the sun, but I have a hive temperature monitor, so I will keep an eye on this in the summer. In summary, if your Flow hive roof is degrading because of the wood panels, get these as an upgrade. They are very nicely made, and look great.
Just my humble opinion, in case you or your bees need ideas for a holiday gift.