Frequently Asked Questions
How to collect honeycomb from your hive
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One of the greatest benefits of the Flow Hybrid is the ability to harvest both Flow honey and traditional honeycomb from the same super.
To harvest honeycomb you need to open the super– it is important to use safety precautions and equipment when doing so. Please see our Flow sponsored safety pamphlet covering common beekeeping safety risks and first aid responses.
How much honey & honeycomb does the Flow Hive Hybrid 3 produce?
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When the super is full you can harvest up to 9 kgs (20 lb) of Flow honey from the 3 Flow Frames in the Super. This is in addition to the 4 x frames of honeycomb that you can also harvest.
Each Flow Frame holds approximately 3 kg (6.5 lb) of unprocessed honey, this can increase if the bees really build each frame out. Bee prepared with extra jars in case your first one overflows!
What do I need to check before I harvest my Flow Hive / Frames?
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When you are ready to harvest honey from your Flow Hive, have a look at our harvesting checklist, video and infographic in our Resources section.
Leaking honey from my Flow Hive
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It's not uncommon for the frames to leak a small amount of honey inside the hive whilst harvesting. This is usually not a problem as the bees will mop up the excess honey even if it reaches the bottom of the hive.
The amount of honey leakage that occurs will depend on the way the bees have capped the cells and also how you set up your hive for harvest.
How do I stop the bees getting to the honey while it’s draining out of the Flow Hive?
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We have found we can usually harvest the honey without the bees noticing us at the back of the hive. Nevertheless it is best to cover the jars with flywire or plastic wrap, or better still, make a sealed system. This can be achieved by simply making a hole in the lid of a jar for a tube to go into.
If you are harvesting several frames at once using a larger container, you can make holes through the lid for each tube.
How long does it take before I can harvest the honey from the Flow Hive?
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This depends on the amount of nectar available for the bees and how strong the colony is. We have had Flow Supers fill in a week during peak times of the flowering season. A super usually fills well within a month during the spring and summer.
How long does it take for the honey to drain from a Flow Frame?
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It can take anywhere from twenty minutes to over two hours depending on the temperature and the viscosity of the honey, to drain a Flow Frame. It is OK to leave the frame draining overnight provided it is secure from insects and nocturnal animals. When you have finished draining the honey remember to return the frames to the “cell closed” position so that the bees can seal the fractured cells and recommence filling them with honey.
How much honey comes out of a Flow Hive or Super?
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When the Flow Super is full, you can expect to harvest approximately 3 kg (6.5 lb) per Flow Frame (even more if the bees really build each frame out). The Flow Hive Classic 6 comes with 6 Flow Frames, giving up to 18 kg (39 lb) of fresh, unfiltered honey.
If you have one of our 7 frame Flow Supers, then you can expect to harvest approximately 20 kg (44 lbs) when every frame is full.
What extra equipment will I need to operate a Flow Hive and harvest honey?
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You will need a container to collect your honey. A bee suit and gloves, or at least a bee veil, is essential in case your bees get aggressive. You will need to open the hive to inspect it for health as usual, for which you will still need a bee suit, smoker and hive tool. These can be purchased from our shop.
If you are new to beekeeping, you should link up with an experienced beekeeper to learn how to care for your bees.
How do I know when to harvest/drain the hive?
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The ends of the Flow Frames are visible through the rear window of the Flow Super. It is worth having a look at the bees regularly through this window as you’ll get to know your hive and it doesn’t disturb the bees. You will see the bees depositing honey in the cells and, when the cells are full, sealing them with a wax capping.
When the end cells are full and capped this generally indicates that the honey is ready or ripe. There is no hurry though, the sealed honey will keep until it is convenient for you to drain it out of the hive.
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Is there a best time of day to harvest the Flow Hive?
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It is possible to harvest a Flow Hive at any time of the day or night because the hive is not opened. There is not the concern of chilling or disturbing the bees on cold or windy days.
We have found the bees are calmest in the late afternoon, and at this time the honey in the hive is likely to be warmest and so runs more easily, therefore we tend to rob at this time.
How many Flow Supers do I need per hive?
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One Flow Super per hive is the simple answer, as you can keep tapping off the honey which gives the bees room to keep working and making more honey.
However, if you live in areas with a very high nectar flow, or if your existing beehives are particularly large, we would recommend you use two Flow Supers or more. As the Flow Hive is a new innovation, we’re interested in your feedback as to how many Flow Supers are best in your situation. Please feel welcome to share your experiences on our community forum.
Do I need to leave some honey in the hive for the bees?
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Yes, this applies to all beekeeping. Your bees need honey to get them through the times when there is no nectar available. The number of frames of honey that you should leave depends on your climate. You should consult local beekeepers as to how much they leave for their colonies over the winter.
The Flow Frames make it a lot easier to see how much honey is in your frames at any time, so you can learn to manage how much honey to harvest and how much to leave for the bees.
Can you harvest beeswax from a Flow Frame?
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You cannot harvest wax from a Flow Frame. Honey comes out of the Flow Frames free from wax and ready for the table. All the wax stays in the hive and the bees reuse it. Bees use about 7kg honey to make 1kg of wax, so this aspect of the Flow system can improve your hive’s rate of honey production.
To enable harvesting of wax we offer two Flow Hybrid Super models that contain both Flow Frames and traditional frames. This allows for those that wish to harvest wax and traditional comb from their Flow Super.
Crystallised honey & Flow Frames
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If honey has crystallised in the Flow Frames, you have two options:
Wait for the bees to remove it: Attempting to harvest the honey will have disturbed the comb a little. The bees will likely remove the crystallised honey to repair the comb.
Do the bees ever put pollen in a Flow Frame? Is this a problem?
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Occasionally the bees will store pollen in Flow Frame cells. In our experience this isn’t a problem as the frames will still operate when some cells are full of pollen. Pollen cells may block the flow of honey from above, but the honey will drain around the blockage, and usually back into the Flow channel. If it doesn’t drain back into the channel, the bees get to lick it up.
Do Flow Frames work with Manuka / Jellybush honey?
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The only test we have done with thixotropic honey in Flow Frames used Australian Jellybush, which is similar to New Zealand Manuka honey. This ended up being a 50/50 mixture of ordinary honey and Jellybush.
We found that with repeated opening/closings of the Flow mechanism almost all the honey would flow out. We know that thixotropic honeys do respond to agitation but cannot say yet whether this would work with 100% of a thixotropic honey in the Flow frames.
Cap doesn’t fit on the Flow Key operation slot
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The cap can only be replaced when the frame is properly reset.
Insert Flow Key in the UPPER operating slot and rotate 90 degrees.