Summary of the Meeting
Well, we had 120 people in the end - one of the largest attendances ever for the SDBS. Hilary Kearney (www.girlnextdoorhoney.com) gave a Powerpoint presentation about the Flow hive. She hasn’t used it yet, and she pointed out that she isn’t a sales person for Flow. As she teaches beekeeping, and lots of people had asked her about the hive, she talked with Flow and got one.
Hilary had the brood box of a Flow hive assembled, and a 10-Frame Flow super, neither was sealed with Tung Oil, but they still looked nice. I took a sealed Bee Thinking medium super, but it was largely ignored… Ok, Randy and one other guy looked at it, but it wasn’t my show.
The highlight of the meeting was a Skype Q&A session with Cedar Anderson - co-founder of Flow. Cedar was very generous with his time, and here is a sample of some of the questions he dealt with:
- Q. Our bees hate plastic foundation, how can we be sure that they will use the Flow frames?
A. We have compared Flow frames with drawn natural comb, wax foundation and plastic foundation. Bees will fill drawn natural comb first. The next fastest is Flow frames and wax foundation, and they fill those at about the same rate. They are slowest to draw and fill comb on plastic foundation in the comparison.
- Q. Is the plastic in the frames really food safe?
A. The plastic is totally food safe. It is free of BPA, bisphenol etc. We have worked very hard to make sure that it is high quality and non-toxic. In fact the clear plastic in the frames is made of the same material as milk bottles for babies.
- Q. How do I clean the frames?
A. If they are sticky, leave them in the hive and the bees will clean them. If they are dirty from your shed, or being left outside, hot water works really well.
- Q. How do I get the frames to work if they are jammed shut with propolis?
A. We haven’t seen much propolis on our own frames, but one customer called us with this problem. We expect to get more experience with it over the next year. This particular customer put the frames in her freezer for a day. The propolis hardened, then when she turned the Flow key, the propolis all shattered and fell off the frame, solving the problem.
- Q. When are my Flow frames going to arrive?
A. We aim to have frames out to everyone in time for the northern hemisphere honey flow season.
- Q. How long do you expect the Flow frames to remain serviceable?
A. Our oldest test frames are 3 years old and still working fine. We expect them to last a lot longer.
There were a few other questions about possible discounts for bulk orders, and some that I must have forgotten too. Overall, it was a great opportunity to have access to the inventor. Cedar came across as a really nice guy who is trying hard and is on a very steep learning curve in the business environment. One person in our audience misbehaved and shouted out distracting insults, like “Go to H2#$ with your baloney invention”, but most people were much politer, seemed interested and enjoyed the meeting.
In summary, I think there was a lot of interest in the Flow hive, and a good deal of skepticism. People were complaining about delivery delays, much as they do on the Forum. However, some long established members pointed out that if the Flow hive is your first hive, you are going to need a whole year to get your colony set up before you can even harvest. If the drought continues in San Diego, we may not even get a decent harvest and the new colony is going to be a challenge to sustain.
Many thanks to Cedar for making this a special meeting.