Everyone who uses the internet has probably heard about the ‘Flow’ hive by now – www.honeyflow.com, “It’s Literally Honey on Tap Directly From Your Beehive!”. As I’ve never made a poll before, I thought this post would be a good chance to learn how to do one, so I’ve made one about the Flow Hive.
EDIT: And it’s launched! $300 USD for six frames fitting a Langstroth super, $350 for eight frames, $600 for a full hive: indiegogo.com/projects/flow-hive-honey-on-tap-directly-from-your-beehive
How does it work?
See the FAQs section of the Flow website: “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 in the upper slot which resets the comb into the original position and allows the bees to chew the wax capping away, and fill it with honey again.” – http://www.honeyflow.com/faqs/p/22
My thoughts on it: Having read through the patent, I do believe it will work, at least with uncrystallised honey… but with oil seed rape or ivy honey that has set hard in the combs? – we shall see. I probably won’t be rushing in to buy one, but I shall be interested to see how other English beekeepers find it and then perhaps consider buying one, depending on how much they cost. Here’s an email written by the famous Michael Bush about the design, he seems mostly positive about it: http://www.honeyflow.com/letters/p/24.
I don’t have any objections to the product itself, but I do have some worries about the way it’s being marketed. Their website says “In our area it is normal to inspect the brood nest of each hive twice a year for disease. In some areas beekeepers check more frequently.” Twice a year is not enough to notice diseases and stop swarming, so this could give people the wrong impression of how much work keeping bees involves. Let’s say you check in April – no sign of disease – then you check again in September – perhaps now your colony shows signs of American Foul Brood (AFB). Well, all that time your bees could have been infecting other colonies, all of which under UK law would have to be destroyed.
Not such a problem in rural areas with no other hives around, but not good practice in cities or densely populated countries such as the UK. Their patent also makes some odd claims – for instance, “traditional hives leave spaces for pests and diseases.” Well, most diseases spread in the brood combs, so since it seems this product is used to replace the super combs, I don’t see how it will help. Or what they have in mind by spaces causing diseases either. Perhaps more details on this will follow.
Some of the comments written on Facebook by non-beekeepers about it are a bit disturbing – people seem to think that easy extraction of honey will benefit the bees, e.g. “I sure hope this keeps the world’s honey bee populating flourishing!!” and “You may have singlehandedly saved the world’s bee population: this invention is poised to bring beekeeping to the masses, exponentially increasing the bee population.”
The problem facing most bees in the world – and there are roughly 19,300 species of them, so this device affects a teeny weeny percentage – is a lack of habitat and flowers. Being able to easily take honey from honey bees is going to do absolutely nothing to help that. Arguably, if we have too many honey bees that could actually mean the wild bees, such as bumbles and solitary bees, lose out because there aren’t enough flowers to go round. Plus a high density of hives kept by people only inspecting twice a year would be a recipe to spread disease.
Anyway, that’s enough of me ranting on! I’ll get off my box now. What do you guys think?