ABC members have expressed a lot of interest in the recent announcement of the forthcoming (February 23) Kickstarter campaign for Flow™ Honey frames. The basic idea is that you can collect honey from your supers without removing the honey frames from the hive. Sounds too good to be true, but I guess we get at least one of those in a lifetime.
If you are not familiar with this purported revolution in beekeeping, you can check out the company’s web site here:
As I searched for more information about the technology behind this new method of honey collection, I came across a posting of a letter from the company to an interested beekeeper. If valid, the letter appears to be a part of their ongoing marketing campaign. It provides some believable details about how this technology might work. I’m not so sure about collecting the honey in an open container, though!
Here’s the text from the letter (as copied from the Beesource.com Forums):
Thanks so much for your interest in the Flow hive. We (Cedar, Stu and our whole beekeeping family) are so excited to be letting you and the world know about the invention we have been working on for over a decade. The response has been quite overwhelming, thanks for all the amazing comments. We are working as fast as we can to complete a video that will show you all the details about the technology.
We want to tell you a little more about the Flow frames/hives, how they work, what we think this will mean for beekeeping and where we are at with producing them.
How do the Flow™ frames work?
The Flow frame consists of already partly formed honeycomb cells. The bees complete the comb with their wax, fill the cells with honey and cap the cells as usual. When you turn the tool, a bit like a tap, the cells split vertically inside the comb forming channels allowing the honey to flow down to a sealed trough at the base of the frame and out of the hive while the bees are practically undisturbed on the comb surface.
When the honey has finished draining you turn the tap again which resets the comb into the original position and allows the bees to chew the wax capping away, and fill it with honey again. The Flow frames are inserted into standard bee supers (boxes) in much the same way as standard frames, however the box itself is modified by cutting two access doorways in one end.
When the frames are inserted, the ends of the frames now form the end of the super. This allows access to the operating slots and honey pipe outlets.
You can see into the hive
Each Flow frame is designed with a unique transparent end allowing you to see into the hive. This means you can watch the bees turning nectar into honey and see when each comb is full and ready. Both children and adults get excited seeing the girls at work in their hive. Importantly you will be able to keep an eye on colony numbers thus giving you early detection of any problems within your hive.
Please note: it’s important to check the hive for disease and look after your colony as per usual. This does require keeping an eye on your bees and opening the hive and inspecting the brood if there are signs of pests or disease. Beekeepers usually check their brood once or twice a year. If you are new to beekeeping you will need to seek help from experienced beekeepers.
It’s a fantastic learning curve.
The extraction process is not only easier but much faster with a flow hive
The whole harvesting process ranges from 20 minutes to two hours depending on the viscosity of the honey.
Usually the bees don’t even discover you at the back of the hive. If you notice that the bees have discovered the collecting jar or bucket you can always cover the extracting pipes or make a lid with a hole for the pipe/s.
There is no more heavy lifting
The harvesting happens right at the hive without moving the super boxes at all. No more injured backs!
Undisturbed bees makes a happier, healthier hive
Because the hives are not regularly opened and pulled apart to be harvested, the bees are relatively undisturbed and they experience less overall stress. Although this may seem trivial, bee stress is a significant factor contributing to the strength of a bee colony.
Opening a hive also risks potential introduction of pests and disease. It’s nice not to squash bees in the process of honey harvesting.
The risk of stings is lower
Because the bees are going about their normal business while you are harvesting the honey from the back of the hive. We have found that the bees usually don’t even notice that you are there.
We still recommend you use a bee suit or veil if you are inexperienced, don’t know the particular hive or have a grumpy hive. A hive that is usually calm can be grumpy at times when the nectar flow is very slow.
Where to from here?
After many years of prototypes we now have a robust design that we have been testing for the last 3 years with beekeepers here in Australia as well as in America and Canada.
Now we want to share it with you.
The official launch of the Flow hive is on the 23rd of February
We are launching on the popular crowdfunding site Kickstarter.com.
Through our launch we hope to raise the funds to get this project off the ground and start producing and delivering these hives to you within the next four months.
Apparently, if a lot of people pledge early, then the whole thing snowballs. Conversely, if the pledging goes slowly then the project is less likely to fly. In our case we hope many people who want a Flow super to add to their beehive or who want a whole Flow beehive (the bees have to be obtained locally) will pledge on the 23rd or 24th giving us a chance to reach our target and start production.
The early pledges get an additional ‘early bird’ discount off the already discounted price giving an extra incentive to pledge quickly.
We’ll send you a reminder when the Kickstarter crowd-funding time begins on February 23rd, and we will be putting some more videos on our Facebook page and website soon.
We are also making a FAQ page on our website to answer all the great questions that are flooding in.
All the best!