Modifying a Flow Super to suit UK National hives
December 7, 2016
We’ve just launched UK National Flow Supers and they are available on our EU website, but if you wish, you can simply adapt a conventional Flow Super to fit. Flow Hive co-inventor Stu Anderson shows us two easy ways to Flowify UK hives.
Flow Frames have been made to fit Langstroth size boxes, however they can be shortened or lengthened to suit other supers. But, pulling apart and changing the Flow Frames (and cutting up a UK Commercial super) may be more work than simply making an adaptor to fit your existing brood box to a Langstroth size Flow Super.
There are two approaches to adapting a Flow Super (Langstroth 10) to fit a UK National or UK Commercial brood box (UK). These UK boxes are the same length and width and will stack on each other, but are different depths. If your brood boxes are different from the UKs, the dimensions in these instructions can be adjusted to suit. Putting different size boxes together does not look pretty, however, the bees don’t care about external looks and making these adaptors is quick and gets your Flow Super operating.
The first approach involves screwing three strips of wood to your beehive boxes. The second approach is to make a plywood adaptor sheet.
The three-strip method
The Langstroth 10-frame hive is narrower than both the UK Commercials and Nationals, but longer. Two strips are fixed along the lower sides of the Lang 10 to make it wider. One strip is fixed to the upper front (the front being the entrance end of the hive) of the UK brood box to effectively make the UK longer.
Side strips: 510mm X 27mm X 20mm (20 X 1 X ¾ in)
End strip 460mm X 50mm X 20mm (18⅛ X 2 X ¾ in)
The 20mm (¾ in) thickness of these strips is a minimum, it doesn’t really matter; it just has to be meaty enough to handle screws going through from edge to edge. I used scrap timber from a pallet to make these, I think an ideal thickness would be 25mm or 1”.
I used three screws to locate the strips. I pre-drilled the screw holes in the strips to prevent the wood splitting and placed the end holes well in from the ends of the strip so that there was plenty of firm wood on the box for the screws to bite into.
The bees will fill/glue small gaps with propolis so, once the Flow Super has been on the UK for a week or two it will be ‘glued’ in position.
You might as well paint the strips to match your hive boxes.
The advantages of the strips are:
Easily made from scrap timber
The wood will be reasonably weather-proof. A slope could be put on the upper surface of the side strips to shed water
Once attached they don’t have to be thought about again.
Plywood adaptor sheet method
Another simple method, this involves cutting a piece of marine grade plywood that is about 6mm (⅜”) thick. The cutting is most easily done using a circular saw or a jigsaw, however a hand saw will work if you can scratch in your saw (or drill a tiresome number of small holes) for the inner cut.
The dimensions are outlined in the picture. Once again, you can vary these to suit the size brood box you have.
The ply will have to be painted well to withstand the weather. You will be relying on the bees to seal the gaps between the boxes as rain will pool on the exposed ply and potentially leak into the hive.
The advantages of plywood are:
Easily shifted from hive to hive
No screwing to boxes that may be full of bees.
Why is the Flow Super centred side to side but not end to end?
The reason the back of the Super is aligned with the back of the brood box is so that the bees can reach the Honey Leak-Back Gap at the lower rear of the Flow Frame. If the Super was placed more evenly from front to back then the top of the brood box underneath would get in the way of bees licking up the honey at the Leak-Back Gap.
Stuart Anderson is a lifelong nature-lover and a devoted beehive tinkerer. So much so, he invented the Flow Hive with his son, Cedar. It doesn’t get much more beehive tinkery than that!