Will the honey still flow as smooth in colder climates?

I’m based in Scotland and ordered the full hive package. It’s not due to arrive till feb 16 but this will give me plenty of time to study about beekeeping.

Just wondering though as the videos are in Australia will the honey still flow like it does in colder climates? When you see some videos the honey has to be removed by a steam knive then get added to the spinner!


It’s lucky bees don’t make molasses, isn’t it? I live in San Francisco, a city noted for it’s cold summers.

If I had an issue with the honey not ‘flowing’ because of the cold, I would consider removing the flow frames from the hive, brushing the bees off and then removing to the house, letting the frame come to room temperature and cracking the frames inside. After you could place them back in the super for the bees to clean up and start over on. It would still be a huge improvement, for me, over traditional methods.

But as Dex says, we will all know better once we have a season of actually using the frames under our belt!

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Thanks for your answers. I was thinking of that Sara. Are the frames in the bottom flow frames as well do you know?

By bottom do you mean your brood box? The brood box would have regular frames with or without foundation as you choose.

Flow frames in the brood box would be illogical. You don’t extract the brood frames and the flows are specifically for use in the extraction process.

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I’m a newbie but got a phone number for a local beekeeper so will arrange a viewing and get as much info as possible. Been wanting to do this for years but the minute I seen the flow hive I decided I’m doing it.


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."

Thanks for this Stewart. I understand what he’s saying now I’m worried if the plastic will cause the bees to swarm. Mind the whole hive won’t be plastic just the super where the honey is produced.

I have a hive at the moment which I recently bought and the man gave me some of the honey from it. It’s so running that I can’t see it crystallising as quick as his as there’s not a lot of honey around my area. To me it sounds as if he’s in a rural area or up north. I myself and the hive I bought are from the Glasgow area.

If you find that low air temperatures are a problem in your area, you could try making a bonnet or cosy to keep the heat in - see http://www.beekeepingforum.co.uk/showthread.php?t=35603&highlight=insulation

A bonnet is like a very deep roof made of 50mm PIR insulation material.

What beekeepers should be aiming to replicate is the environment in which bees evolved, i.e. hollow trees. The 19mm thick walls of a modern beehive hardly compare to say 100mm thick wall of a hollow tree. You can improve the thermal performance of a modern beehive by using a bonnet - it will keep the hive warm in winter and cool in summer. With a Flow Hive, you’d only have to remove it for inspections and honey removal.


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Hi Greg,
How did you get on with the Flohive last year? I am thinking of trying it in Ireland.
Thanks C

Hi Colin,

It arrived but I never managed to use it. I have a two brood hive and then this on top but the bees swarmed twice so didn’t harvest any honey from it.

I did move the bees to a polystyrene hive as that is better for our climate. Just hoping the frames and box will fit perfectly on top of it.

Hey Greig,
Have you moved away from the Flow Hive entirely now? Keen to start using Flow Hive in Ireland too but concerned about colder climate and impact at harvesting.

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A few thoughts for you.

  1. Bees heat the brood nest to 33 - 35C to enable bees to develop and emerge. If the hive has brood, some of that heat will rise into the super too - they don’t block off heat loss through the super!
  2. You are harvesting on the hive, so the honey won’t cool much from hive temps. From my in-hive thermometers, I would guess that the super is generally at least 25C - as much as a warm summer day in Ireland and plenty high enough for honey to flow.
  3. Most of the problems with bees not storing honey in the Flow super are because of a bee aversion to plastic, not climate. There is a very successful cold climate Canadian Flow hive beekeeper on this forum who has ramped up to commercial scale with no problems. Most people find that a simple smear of burr comb from an inspection onto the plastic frames works. This puts hive smell pheromones on the frames, and the bees will happily use them.

Hope that helps a bit. :blush:


The temperature is just one side of the equation. The other aspect is the type of honey. In Ireland much of the honey is made from Rape, Ivy and ling heather, depending on the crops/vegetation in your area. All these set hard (granulate) so the worry would be that the flow mechanism would not cope.
It would be useful to hear from people who have tried flow hive with these honey types.

Yes I moved away from the hive. Tried about 3 splits and never worked, bees always died.

Took the flow hive to my parents in Spain, they done 5 splits over the years and again, never worked.
I really don’t know how bees aren’t taking to the hive at all.

I used the correct oil on the outside etc. Just never worked for us at all.

I use poly hives and they all work a treat. Splits always survive perfectly, good honey return from the the bees etc.
Also took a poly to Spain and that hive is thriving more than a wooden hive over there.

With respect Greig, it could be more operator error than anything else. This is the first time I’ve heard of bees dying with flow hives compared to traditional hives. The original flow hive came with quite a large entrance. I wonder if it was something simple like the entrance wasn’t reduced that caused your nucs to die off.

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I like your thinking Jeff, with a nuc in a full sized box the bees don’t need the entrance as big and that could be the issue. The size of the colony is a factor to consider with the entrance. @Greig_McArthur we sometimes think one sized box suits all colony sized but a bit of ‘fine tuning’ can fix a lot of issues.
As with Jeff, my thinking of your problem is not about what the hive is made of…

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With due respect, I’ve done over 20 splits and everyone has worked, wooden hives and also poly hives. In UK and also in Spain.

The Flow Hive the bees just don’t take to the actual hive. Not sure if its something to do with the wood etc, very strange how it’s only the flow hive. The longest I had the bees survive in the UK using the

Flow hive was 3 months, these were a package sets of bees (Buckfast) from a well known bee keeper. I had the flow frames on the hive for 2 months and never got a drop of honey in them. Bee’s just wouldn’t take to this. Yes I did speak to the Flow team, I tried everything they mentioned and still nothing.

Now in South Spain the bees are out all year round, every split we do the bees just don’t take to the hive again. We have tried empty frames, waxed frames and also plastic frames with wax on them. Nothing.

The fact people are saying it’s my error is strange, as with every other hive I have done I have never had a problem.

The entrance has been reduced several occasions, bees been fed, pollen substitute and sugar water different times.

To me it must be the hive.

I have kept bees in the UK, but after installing a package, I would not put the super on right away. I still don’t. It is too much space for a package to heat and defend. If you install a package into a British National, how many boxes would you use? I would always start with one, until that box was full.

I am not saying that you don’t have experience, it is just that sometimes people misunderstand the Flow hive concept. Installing the bees should be the same as any other hive. You only add the super once the brood box is totally full. Maybe you did that, but I can’t tell from what you wrote. :blush:

It may be a case of semantics. To me a “Flow hive” is a bottom board, brood box, super, crown board and a roof. What does it mean to you?

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