Hi Greig, I’m also from Scotland, and I was looking at Flow Hives for our soft fruit farm. I contacted our local beekeeper who has been providing bees for our soft fruit for years for his take on them, and his response is below. He seems to think the flow will be an issue in Scotland, but I don’t think we will know this for sure until we try! I’d be interested to hear how you and other fellow Scots get on with the hives. Cheers, Stewart
"Just a further follow up on the economics of the flow hive.
Over the last 10 years the average yield of early season honey in Scotland, including from Star Inn, Lundie Castle and Muirloch is a paltry 8 lb per hive. Not economic for us to come, other than for colony build up, which is, for us, the main reason for our pre July part of the year. The price of a flow hive would, in a scenario like that, be taking over 40 years to pay back, and with rape honey being the ain product the system would clog up with crystallised honey very quickly. Thats a complicated thing to explain and is to do with fructose glucose ratios. To high a glucose then honey crystallises very fast…very high fructose on the other hand and the crystallisation in slow or even absent, and of course there are all shades of ratio in between. OSR and raspberry are high glucose honey types.
Our main honey crop for the year is ling heather, to which the bees are moved after they are finished on your farms. No reason why a flow hive could not go to the heather but the honey could not be harvested by this system s it is a gel and does not flow…correct term is thixotropic.
This hive was developed in an area with excellent flora and good weather leading to very high production of generally slow crystallising honey, 200lb plus per hive, and will work on a small scale in those areas. Even there the price, at about ten times that of normal hives, means that there is no commercial mileage in the system. The comb units are plastic too, which can be well enough accepted by bees when the nectar is coming in fast, but in marginal conditions, which we have here, the bees will often swarm rather than use plastic combs. We have tried this extensively in the past with poor results. The area we are in is also at risk of European Foulbrood, and we have it sporadically in our unit. One colony was found with it at Muirloch this summer. In such a scenario all the combs have to be burnt (not the box which can be sterilised) and I would have a genuine fear of the cost involved.
So still would not advise investing in this hive."