Success story from Japan with Japan's native honey bees, Apis Cerana

I succeeded in harvesting from my DIY JHB-Flow Hive (downsized Flow Hive for Japan’s native honey bees) on May 22, 2018. The JHB-Flow Hive is a hybrid bee box of a traditional pile box (as a brood box) and a Flow box (as a Flow Super). The Flow box has five half-long Flow frames. In three weeks all Flow Frames were capped after the Flow box sit on top of the filled-up brood box. Win-win Harvesting time (per frame) was less than ten minutes. The harvested honey is 0.7~0.9L/frame and is so clean, clear and pure in taste.

My successful example is not a sort of an accident or a beginner’s luck. It’s the result of right management based on three key knowledges.
Japan’s native honey bees(JHB) has enough flexibility to accept foreign honey cells as their own under the circumstance of no other choice or desperately in need of honey storage. -----> put a Flow Super when a brood box gets full (This is nothing but the guideline in the user’s instruction of Flow Hive)
Although JHB is more likely to abscond if they don’t like the given circumstances, less likely to abandon the hive with brooding area. -----> put a Flow Super when a brood box gets full (of brooding hive).
In Japan (in my region) only spring flower season(March- June) is a honey bee paradise. Summer to Autumn is too hostile working environment for the bees to accumulate honey stock due to less flowers, hot and humid climate and pests. ----->use the early swarms of the season or overwintered healthy colonies in hand.

This is the third year of my private Flow Hive field test. The last two years I used Western honey bees(WHB) and learned the basic performance and the knowledge 3). As an benchmarking before switching to JHB, I visited the first Honey Bee Summit(November 2017 in Tsukuba, Japan) and got good news and bad news. The good one was that JHB had accepted two prototype JHB-Flow Hives out of five in the litmus test conducted by Tokyo Univ. The bad ones were many failures caused by absconding. Toward 2018 season a variety of prototype were on a table waiting for larger scale field test. I wondered why no two-step management model that follows Flow Hive’s fundamental instruction. So I launched the model as my private option and reached the goal. This succeeded model and its concept has just started getting across the hobby bee keepers communities in Japan.
Now I’d like to say 2018 is the year when a pilot road to JHB-Flow Hive is paved. In the next season the road will be scaled up to a high way crowded with many hobby bee keepers in Japan.
Lastly, I have one important request for the Flow Team (Bee Inventive Company) to put short Flow Frames on a shelf in your Internet store by the end of this year.


Welcome to the Flow forum @miyazakih. My husband (David) has a very treasured medical research colleague from Kumamoto. His name is Yasuhiro Matsumura. He now works at the Cancer Institute in Tokyo. He is a very talented and gracious man, so I feel affection for people from Kumamoto.

Are your JHB Apis cerana? I would presume that they are. If so, this is very valuable information for Flow to encourage beekeepers in Asia that the Flow hive works with Apis cerana. I am sure that @Faroe from Flow will pass on your comments to the Flow development team in requesting shorter frame lengths.

Sounds like some hard work following some logical process steps. Are you able to post some photos of your hives and bees? I’m not familiar with the bee species nor how their supers differ from mine.


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Appriciating your affection for us KUMAMON.

Yes, my JHBs are Apis cerena japonika to be precise. So, I totally agree with you. In other words my success must be encouraging for Asian backyard beekeepers as well.

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A photo will show up soon because I requested @Faroe to edit my submission by adding the photo I had missed pasting. Juse be pacient for a while.

My bees are Apis cerana japonica. Smaller than yours, half in flight range, half in payload. Upside is well adopted to the crimate or circumstances in Japan. Due to Langstroth invention Apis cerana japonica lost their opportunity fo good to play a main role in commercial apiculture in Japan.

My Flow Frames are half in length specified for our bees. This is the one and only difference from standard Flow Hive.


Maybe you can ask Flow to sell you the two end parts for the flow frames seperately- so you can make more complete short frames from the spare central parts you removed… I look forward to seeing photos of your hives and bees.

Five short Flow Frames used in my Flow Hive box have used the parts purchased from Flow Hive Company. Not to mention some persuation and negotiation were necessary.

Hi there!

Great to know you have found success with the Apis Cerana as I too am looking into this species. It is very encouraging to hear that you overcame this issue! Fantastic!

I know it is your own hard won knowledge but is there any chance you could share with me the detailed process you went through to modify the Flow Frames to suit this bee type.

Hope to hear from you soon… Till then happy bee keeping and best of luck!


Hello, nuncio,
Thank you for your interest in my success story. It’s my great joy to share my knowledge with Asian people keeping the Apis Cerana. If you give me specific questions, I’m ready to answer them.

Hi there!

Fantastic! I am so happy you are interested in sharing your knowledge… I have always had the upmost respect for your culture and traditions. Every Japanese person I have met has always made an amazing impression upon me and one day I hope to visit your country with my family.

To be honest, I am an absolute beginner… Only what I have learnt from the internet… I will however be taking a course in Bee Keeping for the Apis Cerana as well as a separate one for the local stingless bee (Which cannot be used with the flow hive since they don’t make a normal honey comb) … Hopefully the courses will be conducted soon as they are still looking for more ppl to join.

I just have a couple of initial questions…

Did you have to do the modifications to the super flow frame by yourself or did Flow send you the modified version?

How much was the extra cost for this modification on top of the cost of the flow system?

Did the Apis Cerana (AHB) take to the flow super easily or was it hit and miss? As in, did they abscond or other such issues…

How long did they take to fill the super during the different seasons? During each season I am sure it varies… did you keep track of the harvest during each season? Sabah is rainforest so we don’t have 4 seasons although I will be learning about our specific local flowering periods and the wet/dry seasons and how it will affect our yields.

Apologies if my questions are a bit inane… I am still getting to grips with the usual issues ppl have with A.Cerana and bee keeping in general…

If you have any pointers or things for me to take into consideration as a complete newbie, please feel free to drop me any pearls of wisdom you may have gathered. Any help or guidance would be most appreciated as I don’t yet have the knowledge or experience to know what questions I should really be asking… hehe

Thanks again for your super fast response!

Have a great day!

Theodore Labunda

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Here are my responses to your questions.

  1. Flow Frame modification
    I purchased necessary parts (unit price $25 per a set of end plates and a wire) from Bee Inventive company and did the job myself.
    They understood my request as a research purpose and accepted my order.
    Believing that the short Flow Frames for AHB will come up soon in their internet site.
  2. There are does and don’ts to take AHB to the Flow Super.
    In case of a new swarm: Firstly get a brood box full then put a Flow Super on top of it.
    In case of a overwintered colony: Replace a top box (honey section) with a Flow Super
    Although AHB is quicker to abscond than WHB (Western honey bee), that’s not true when they are in brooding or incubating.
    Just like us they don’t abandon their children.
    And under the circumstances in high demand for honey storage area they accept Flow Frames over foreign substance(plastic) and dimensions.
    The worst scenario is to take them in a Flow Hive complete. They will abscond for sure.
  3. As I wrote in the success story the JHB Flow Super (six frames) was filled up in three weeks in May. I suppose this will be the highest or maximum rate in my region(southern part of Japan).
    Unfortunately ,from summer beyond until next spring, our bees can’t accumulate honey stock. Suffering from less nectar sources, high temperature and humidity and frequent assaults of giant hornet.

Many thanks for your good feelings to us.


Good morning Mr. Miyazaki
This is a picture two years ago.


Yah, it’s when I showed you, the club members, a real Flow Frame. Although they understood what the invention is like, they seemed to have difficulty to take it within their reach.
Now, two years later, It’s my great pleasure to tell our members the invention has been within the reach of everybody keeping Apis Cerena (Japan’s native honey bee).

Many thanks for the photo, Noguchi-san.

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Are you annoying to reply in Japanese? Anyway, I am not good at English. However, I think that I want Japanese people to see this site, I will dare post it in Japanese.






宮崎 寛。

Translation from above: Good evening. I do not think there is any inconvenience. The translator will run if the writer chooses the language of his native language. It is impossible to fine detail nuances, but I think I can grasp the greatness Hiroshi Miyazaki.

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Thank you.
It’s a wonderful feature.
I have been using a personal computer for about 40 years, but since I am not good at English, I avoided global sites.
If this site is okay.

Is this flow hive ready in the market now?

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