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Why are traditional beekeeping shops so unhelpful?


So I received my full flow hives as week & built it yesterday - easy to do & I’m happy with the quality. My problem is getting any constructive advice from any knowledgable beekeeper here in Perth (AU). I went to a bee keeping supply shop to swap back a brood box I had bought thinking I would get my bees before the flow hive (which came early - yippee). I asked for one with a removable base to give me more flexibility with combining hives etc. He told me this was wrong and should never have removable base. I mentioned the screened bottom for the flow hive and he said it was wrong and all my bees would die (no explanation, just very angry). I mentioned the foundationless frames & he said this was wrong (acted like he’d never heard such a crazy thing in his life) and it would be a mess. He then went on a rant about flow hive are incompetent and will be sued because of this. He even ranted about how cedar is a soft wood and will be destroyed by the bees (even though his hives are pine which I’m pretty sure is soft). I left with no help, constructive advice or reasoning for his predictions of doom. I can handle the massive egos that exist in all fields, but this is not the first time I have received this response and I now only have one shop left to try that I hope will be able to calmly help me and not just rip me and the product apart. I have read a lot on this subject now, and the design of the flow hive and it’s components sounds very logical to me and is based on sound research as far as I can see. I am quite surprised at the vitriol that this has been met with by people that will be benefitting from this development (by selling suits, smokers, bees etc). I guess anger overwhelms rationality.

So assuming I am not going to get any help locally I have a couple of basic questions from you guys to fill in a couple of gaps in my reading:

  1. The screened bottom has 2 levels I can put the board at. Why is this and what is the advantage of each level? Perth is hot, dry and windy, so not sure what would work best for me.

  2. As a new beekeeper, I was thinking of mixing frames with wax foundation and ones with just the guides (as supplied with the flow hive). Does this sound reasonable, or would you advice using wire in the frames to give some strength? I am likely going to end up with a nuc, which will be on foundation, so could just put the Foundationless frames around them to see how that goes.

  3. There is circular hole in the top of the super lid which I guess would allow bees to get up into the roof space. Why is this there? Is it advisable to buy a hive mat to place under the lid to stop them making crazy comb in the lid & roof?

  4. I am going to set up my brood box outside with the hope of catching a swarm as there is a big lag for nucs right now (thanks to flow hive :smile: ). The angry beekeepers wife suggested I put 4 frames in one half of the box and leave the other half empty for the swarm to enter and get organized. Then add more frames when they are settled. When I spoke to the beekeeper he said this was “stupid” and I needed the box full of frames. What to do??

I do have some beekeeper a who are going to show me their hives and beekeeping practices - I will just try and not mention the flow hive!!!




Sorry to hear about your woes, some beekeepers are always cranky, you learn to stay well clear of these idiots. And they don’t like change or young whipper-snappers trying to change ‘their’ beekeeping methods to something they are not knowledgeable about.

  1. Screened bottom board with adjustable height for variations in ventilation. For Perth use the setting to maximise ventilation, this has been proven to be beneficial for the hive and honey production.
  2. You don’t have to use wire, the reason for wire use to strengthen the comb for extraction, but if you do not plan to extract honey then the wire is not necessary. You could use a single thread of fishing line to hold the foundation in place or go with using wax starter strips. Its up to you. If using a Nuc, then what you are suggesting is ideal. i.e. placing alternate foundationless (wax starters) and full frames of comb with bees. Just make sure your Nuc is well developed and built up with bees (a good covering of bees on every frame)
  3. Inner cover, you can use this in winter as access for the bees into the honey super. The cover helps to keep the colony warm. During summer put something over the hole while you are building up your bees (somebody suggested a tile, which I thought was clever). When your bees in the brood box are almost bursting (again lots of bees on 7 of the 8 frames) take out the inner cover and place the Flow super over the top and then the inner cover with tile on top of the Flow.
  4. Unless you have bee hives closeby, it is unlikely that you will get a swarm, but it does happen occasionally. We are nearly at the end of swarm season. You should ring around the local beekeepers and beekeeping clubs (and even Gumtree or Ebay) and ask for either a swarm or to buy a Nuc. It is likely someone will have one to sell.
    Best of Luck…


@Jingles welcome to the world of bee keeping! LOL.

Mixing frames and foundation will work fine but remember any combs the bees build come off the amount of honey available for the bees and you. Unless you have a brilliant Flow of nectar and wonderful bees, don’t expect Honey this year.

Some say the hole in the crown board is for ventilation, it is actually a feeder hole for a rapid type feeder if you require one. It be fitted with a porter hole bee escape.

Some swear by “Swarm Commander” to catch a stray swarm. Others use lemon grass oil.

Ask 10 bee keepers and you will get 11 answers.

Oh! BTW - bee keeping is addictive


Thanks guys, that’s exactly what I wanted to know.

I have a feral hive in the tree next to where I am putting my hive, but I do think I’ve missed the swarm this year :worried:. I think we’re about to get another wave of marri flowering up here, so I think there is a small chance we’ll get another swarm :). Worth a shot…



G’day Julia, it’s sad that those blokes wouldn’t give you an explanation for any of their views. The advice I would give is find a couple of experienced mentors. Chances are they will give you differing views, however it will be based on what they find works for them. Your own experience will be your best teacher.


Jeff and Rodderick are spot on. Personal one to one help from a mentor is invaluable and once you’ve got your hand in you can pester them by phone.
Good luck it’s a wonderful hobby and totally absorbing.

That’s right…it’s a feeder hole.
I replace my wooden boards with 6mm polycarbonate and tape off the hole with aluminium tape when not needed. That way I can look in on my colony without disturbing them.
I didn’t know they made Porters to fit a circular hole but if they do, throw them away.
Porter escapes are sort of rudimentary one way valves to enable you to empty a box of bees, usually to harvest a super of honey. They don’t work ,the bees just glue them up. There are much better escape boards around.


Hi Julia, I am from Perth as well, new to beekeeping and waiting for my flow hive. Finding yourself a mentor would be a great idea I think, as I have found negative response to flow hive as well. I don’t have a mentor yet, but hopefully will eventually find one. Good luck to you. Tim.


PS, re foundationless frames…
Bees draw their own comb faster than they work foundation.
Isn’t that interesting?


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Dear Julia, I have been practicing naturopathy and acupuncture for 37 years and i am not surprised at the negative response from a lot of beekeepers, in spite of my very successful career I still see so many people rolling their eyes about natural medicine. People are scared of what they don’t know and every thing new is a threat to them. Not many people know this but the Langstroth beehive was only patented in 1852, that’s right, only 150 years ago, this is what allowed the production of honey on an industrial scale. Now the WARRE beehive, which people think existed from time immemorial is even newer than that, Emile Warre was born in 1867, so the Warre hive is even younger than the Langstroth! However a lot of people speak as if either of those are THE thing dictated by a deity from the top of a mountain and let’s not forget that Copernicus and Galileo were threatened and ridiculed for daring to bring forward the theory that the earth moved around the sun and not the other way around. In other words Cedar’s invention is paramount and momentous but it might take a while for it to be accepted. Not telling people that you have a flow hive is a good idea, if people don’t have an open mind you won’t change them, so be polite and be very smug in the knowledge that you are in the Galileo corner :wink: Elyane


There’s a a fair few shops around Perth now, have you tried them all? Which suburb are you in?

Cedar is softer than pine but it’s pretty insect resistant due to it’s oils, I doubt the bees will chew into it.

I’m currently thinking that I won’t use the screened bottom board. As I understand it, their main purpose is to reduce hive beetle, which we don’t yet have in Perth. If anyone’s got advice on this, I’d welcome it.


@Dunc the weather in Perth can get quite hot the SBB will be useful for ventilation helping to keep the bees cooler and have to work less just keeping the hive cool.


There is much debate here in the UK about screened floors. A lot of beekeepers who had solid floors, then moved to mesh ones are moving back to solid ones. The bees can control their humid/microbe rich environment better with solid floors. I once visited a beekeeper in Crete who had a hundred hives with solid floors on open hillside and it got pretty hot there. They had been there for years.
I’ve never known any different but I’m getting more and more sceptical about the advantages of open floors.
In mid summer the entrance blocks are fully out anyway.


Hi Dee & @Dunc , I’m finding that my bees are doing a great job with solid floors. We have a lot of hot weather. I have no intention of moving to SBB’s. With the hives at the lychee farm, I filled up the slots of the bottom boards that were there for SHB traps with plastibond. One of the trays to collect the beetle in was used to make a quiche last night.


Mmmmm beetle quiche. Or rather egg and beetle pie. :slight_smile:


Hi Greg, it was just a co-incidence, my wife made a quiche last night & grabbed a tray, she said “that’s one of the beetle trap trays”. The hives had beetle traps which I removed when I took over looking after them.


With solid floors you can use one of those traps that sit inside the box?


Hi Julia. Be interested to know which shop you went to. Just initials would be fine. I’m sure all of us new beeks here in Perth would wish to benefit from your experience. Tnx.


DPI has a good study on why all Australian beekeepers should be using SBB


Screen is correct size for hive beetle and varroa.

Plus it allows the addition of an oil tray or other materials to catch the pests.

Good with ventilation, and allows ventilation to be closed up during winter months.


Hi Julia, I usually purchase my supplies from Guilfoyles in Midland, found the girls there to be very helpful even showing interest in the Flow system. Ciao