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Standing up for the Flow Hive!


#1

We all know that ever since the Flow Hive launched there has been an endless stream of naysayers and skeptics. Some of us even go to club meetings or bee school and have kept mum about owning a Flow Hive in order to avoid a barrage of criticism or having others question our decisions.

I’ve been there but have since learned that being somewhat objectively defiant in the face of criticism has it’s rewards.

The other day I was quite pleased to see a Facebook post on the Georgia Beekeepers Association’s page from the GBA itself asking, “Okay so anyone Use the FLOW hive? And if you have used it what was your Experience. It has been out 2ish years and wondered. Thanks for any response.”

I shared my experience thus far as did a few others - all positive and then this happened:

Of course, I was quite shocked. I really felt set up and could not believe that the GBA had made that remark.
I could not let that stand. My response:

That wasn’t all I did though. Fortunately, just last week, I’d met the president of the Georgia Beekeepers Association and had sat next to her at dinner before our local club meeting (We struck up a very nice rapport). So I immediately emailed her expressing my concern.

"Hello Linda,
My name is Bobby Thanepohn and I am a member of the Forsyth County club (you sat next to me at dinner before the meeting). It was a pleasure meeting you and I enjoyed your presentation quite a bit.

I’m writing to make you aware of a thread on the GBA’s Facebook page that turned a bit disheartening.

Someone posting as the GBA posed a question about the Flow Hive.

Ultimately, the Georgia Beekeepers Association wound up sharing that the Flow was a “hive beetle hotel” as well as “don’t waste your money”.

I’ve attached screen shots of the post.

I am perfectly fine with individuals having varying opinions about any and everything, but in this case, the individual has made statements under the association’s name and although they may well be personal rather than official opinions, they appear otherwise.

Thank you,

Bobby Thanepohn

I then received her quick response. (This is all after 9PM so her quick response was very appreciated)
"Thank you Bobby. I agree that it is a person’s opinion and was obviously posted by one of the administrators. I’ll pass this on to Brutz who manages the GBA site because as an administrator (which I also am) you can choose to post as yourself or as GBA and obviously that person should have posted as themselves.

I enjoyed your club so much and really had fun at dinner - glad I got to sit by you.

Warmly,

Linda T

Linda D. Tillman
President, Georgia Beekeepers Association"

Then at 10PM, the offending posts had been removed and this appeared:

I’ll glady take the apology from the association, even though it was backhanded at-best in that a sitting GBA Director reinforced the negative opinions while responding in his official capacity.

Sigh.


#2

Well done.
I’m absolutely astounded though.
Our FB pages in the UK are outright war and get so heated sometimes they catch fire :smile:


#3

The southern US and Georgia in particular are renowned for their politeness and amazing manners. Mostly… :innocent:


#4

@Dawn_SD Of course we’re polite :slight_smile: It is also important to note that Mrs. Tillman, the President of the GBA, holds a PhD in Psychology, is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and teaches at the Emory Medical School Department of Rehabilitative Medicine. There is absolutely no tack to take with her other than the polite one. Rest assured, her CV leads one to believe she recognizes that politeness for what it is and sees right through it, but likely appreciates the effort more so than others.

She has published articles on “Speaking up for yourself,” (which I indeed did) and to quote her own writing, “Assertiveness is about speaking up for yourself with respect both for yourself and the person with whom you are speaking.”

“Know your enemy and know yourself.” - Sun Tzu


#6

In the early days of the flow hive- I got into a somewhat less polite debate on youtube with a US beekeeper- who absolutely did a hatchet job on flow hives- despite having never used one- let alone touched one. At that stage we had only just installed our flow hive and could see that many of his criticisms were entirely unfounded. Perhaps some people watched this video- I think it was his highest ranking video ever. As I watched it I couldn’t believe the pettiness- and unfounded nature of some of his claims- it was real ‘fake news’ if you ask me.

The stuff about the Flow name and trademarks was so off base- and showed a complete lack of knowledge of how trade marks work and what they actually signify… by showing how multiple unrelated products use the word ‘flow’ as a trade mark he actually disproved his own insinuation… from that point on things just got more and more off base. here is a quote, “this flow hive product feeds into that consumer mindset of take, take, take…”. I couldn’t help thinking there was some element of jealousy in there…? It was amusing to see @Michael_Bush Practical beekeeping book on his shelf- Mr BeeVlog seemed to entirely miss Michael’s enthusiastic field tested feedback on the flow hive in the original campaign…

I can completely understand beekeepers who do not want or need flow frames- at this stage i don’t think they are a very viable option for commercial beekeeping- and they are certainly not the cheapest way to start out. But no-one is forcing any of them to use them- live and let live I say- and I also say you should not judge a thing until you know something about it… . As to the ‘Christmas puppy syndrome’ I am sure that occurred in beekeeping prior to flow frames… caveat emptor applies here :


#7

I’m just amazed that beekeepers would blame the flow hive for their SHB misfortunes.

PS, in defense of those 2 posters who gave a negative report on the flow hive. They actually did buy one, & they are just saying what their experience was. It’s a bit different from someone criticizing something without actually trying it.

Those 2 posters advising people not to waste their money, based on their personal experience sounds fairly legitimate to me. However it was wrong of them to do it in the name of the GBA.

PPS Now that Georgia has been mentioned, I always wondered if John Pluta from Georgia Bees dot com ever got into the flow hives.


#10

I could not believe the opposition in Germany even before anyone even saw a flow frame. There is this man, Erhard Maria Klein, who guides any discussion in mellifera clubs, often from behind the curtain, letting others quote his opinion under the guidance of other clubs’ recommendations. So now his emotional uninformed opinion is quoted all over the country. Really, I have no idea how flow hivers in Germany even dare to own one. I can see a few Germans dare to have a go and make up their own minds, but if the president of the mellifera.de club has such strong romantic arguments against it…
It’s ridiculous. Even my own beek friends in Germany believe flow hives are wrong, full stop, and are not particularly interested in how things are really going, as they consider it unethical.
Strong minds have been made up by a man high up in beek hierarchy. Little does he know he will fall off his perch soon.
It takes a while for some traditional beeks to just let the flow hivers be, but generally it seems opposition is easing up and interest takes over all over the world.


#12

I don’t think they extract in their kitchens, rather in a dedicated all stainless steel clad honey extraction room. Who wants a flow hive after having set up this scenario?
(Witches do it in a circle.)


#13

For a lot of people taking honey off traditionally is a very enjoyable ritual.


#14

Thanks Bobby, for this insightful look at the GBA, I had a similar reaction to Bee Culture magazine in its latest (Apr 2017) edition. Ed Colby’s article, which I normally very much enjoy reading, commented on Flow Hive that “Whenever I think about the Flow Hive my mind recoils like it does when I think about nuclear war, or global warming, or my delinquent tax filings.” Like you, Bobby, I took to email immediately on reading this but unlike you I have not yet heard anything by way of response.
Hey, ask the GBA author what kind of discount he would provide for his small hive beetle hotel. I would GLADLY buy them if they are discounted sufficiently. LOL


#15

Lots of interesting discussion going on here.
Glad you’re sticking with it Bobby, I haven’t had anyone question me “yet” regarding SHB infestations.
With the honey beekeepers associations, I am always open and ready to hear and address criticisms.
Where in your case, some hide or are closet flow users, many of our keepers don’t ask questions in open discussion regarding the flow-frames as they would rather “think” it’s a fail than have their concerns dissipated.

I did receive a curious comment on one of my most popular FlowHive YouTubes, from a man stating that he is a Utah State Bee Inspector and that “every apiary I have inspected with flowhives is a shambles and the plastic disintegrates after the first winter.” I thanked him for that comment and asked for more information, none has come forth.

Many are just waiting to launch a feeding frenzy when and if failures are reported. My first year has been just fine and I’m more than happy to share about the experience for those with remaining questions. Flow-enthusiasts in my association are on the rise.

Wishing you all the best,
Fred


#16

My bee association have been less vociferous (and eminently more polite), but none the less exercising scepticism ranging from ‘over my dead body’, to polite indifference.
I feel empathy for Mr Benz when he introduced a ‘wheeled carriage’ powered only by a petrol internal combustion engine, the shouts he heard being “the cows will stop milking” and “horses will bolt” which, to my knowledge at least, are not the more usual occurrence surroundings the tarmacadam strips that crisscross our lands.

So the two Flow Hive owners in the association were asked to do a talk, which we did a week ago last Saturday. The ‘over my dead bodies’ were conspicuous in their absence, but the ‘polite indifferencers’ did listen intently to what we had to say.

We started by asking the question – is Flow Hive “a gimmick”, “a fad”, “… it won’t last” Or is it “the greatest innovation in beekeeping in generations” ?

Our presentation had 6 topics – Why we became Flow hivers, How Flow Hive works, Our year with Flow Hive, The Pros, Cons and Myths, and what we called ‘The Bigger Picture’.

The questions from the audience were both sensible and numerous, and were particularly surprised that under the Pros, we included cost, and thixotropic honey.

At the end of the presentation and Q&A we asked the audience, by way of a show of hands, whether they thought Flow Hive is a “a gimmick”, “a fad”, “… it won’t last”. Not a single person put their hand up.

Unsurprisingly in an audience when the average audience member had kept bees for 15+ years, no hands were shown when asked whether Flow Hive was “the greatest innovation in beekeeping in generations” . . . and the comment from the floor was that it was too early to tell, a sentiment I would agree with.

In concluding the presentation we asked one further question - Is Flow Hive an interesting idea that has done more to inform the general public of the plight of bees, than any previous campaign AND
by being better informed, more people might decide to take up beekeeping, and many more people will make more-informed judgements when purchasing garden products ie containing nicotinoids.

Having listened to what we called ‘the bigger picture’, by which I refer to the 20,000 Flow Hives that were shipped in the first 3 months of 2016, approximately half of whom have been shipped to people new to beekeeping, AND following widespread coverage in mainstream media the increasing awareness of the plight of bees, 100% of the audience put their hands up.

There have been many rush in and make critical comment on Flow Hive, perhaps akin to the bearers of the red flag required to walk ahead of the first motorised carriages.

My personal view is that Flow Hive will be judged not on the composition of the plastic, or whether a Flow Hive super can or cannot be left on over Winter, but what Flow Hive has done for the bee population - whether it be an increased number of hives, or the wider awareness by the general public of the plight of the bee population and the factors affecting that.

I wish to make it clear that neither I, nor my co-presenter, have a conflict of interest with Flow Hive.


#17

There have been a number of discussions regarding this topic on this, a flow hive specific forum, so I would say that there have been a great many more on general beekeeping forums.

regarding discussion on ways to make the general beekeeping community more acceptable of the flow hive concept I say why bother.

The flow hive concept has been way more successful that Stuart and Cedar Anderson ever thought it would be. ( the initial crowd funding target was to make $70,000.00 for equipment), it has introduced a huge number of people to the concept of backyard beekeeping, (I am one of them) and there is a very large number of flow hive owners who are very happy with their product and how it works.

So who cares what the naysayers think. We, as well as thousands of other beekeepers, know that the flow hive is an outstanding, successful product that has introduced many people to the joys of successful beekeeping.


#18

The thing that surprised me the most was how many people were so adamantly against the flow hive without having ever seen one. I can see them speculating and presenting it as speculation, but I would reserve judgment until I actually saw one…


#19

I am also particularly surprised, that under the Pros, you would include cost & thixotropic honey.

If you compare the flow hive to the motor car vs horse & buggy. You don’t see too many horse & buggies around today. Unless you visit an Amish community.

It’s only the extraction of the honey that differs to traditional beekeeping. I DON"T have any plans to get rid of my extractor.

Gee it pays to read a post carefully after sending it. (see the reason for my edit:))


#20

Hi

Over here in Perth Western Australia, our WA Apiarist Society is even considering a separate course on bee-keeping with FH. It is also discussed in-depth during our 101 Bee-Keeping course

I still have mine sitting in my shed. LOL!! Will assemble it this autumn and have it ready by spring, hopefully!!


#21

I think this conversation highlights an interesting aspect of crowdfunding, where consumers have a vested interest in the product they are using. How many 'Brand" names have their customers,so strongly, advocating for or lobbying on their behalf?


#22

Norfolk Island flow hive lover here - we have 2 flow hives and I am astounded by the efficiency of the system.
Slow to begin but once the bees began to stack the supers the honey volume has been astounding.
We (myself and two 12yold kids and one 10yold kid) harvest 3 alternate supers at a time from each hive - 1,3 5 this week and 2,4,6 next week. We get around 10 to 12 kg of pure pollen rich honey total per harvest from the two hives.
On a general note, if we are to facilitate custodianship of our planet for future generations then the world needs more bees (and more mycelium, and more seed diversity etc etc)
I have found great interest in the flow hive from people who want to host a couple of hives but are shakey about pulling frames and extracting. Children are very interested and find the flow hives accessible.
The Flow Hive system will allow many many more people to host and care for bees and thank god for that.
PS - We are beetle free here on Norfolk Island.


#23

On the issue of cost, by which I mean the total capital cost, Flow Hive is still more expensive, but the difference between a traditional hive, plus extraction tools etc, is not nearly as great as many in our audience had assumed. Indeed many considered £60/US$70 per frame, when amortised over 4-5 years, to be cost-effective when you consider the traditional process of honey extraction.
I quite accept that for a beekeeper that already has all the equipment, Flow Hive is a premium acquisition, and there is a price to be paid for ease of extraction.

On the issue of thixotropic honey, the wonderful thing about Flow Hive is that having split the frames apart, you can simply scoop out the gel-like honey. I’ve not experienced crystalised honey in my Flow Hive yet, but I can’t see any reason why it would be significantly more difficult than thixotropic honey.


#24

I love my Tesla and all of my Apple products (phone, iPad and laptop). Oh, and I love my Arnia hive monitor too - showing a kilo per day of nectar gathering at the moment - magical. :blush: