Classic Flow Hive harvest

by Flow Hive 13 min read

Cedar was harvesting from our original model - the Flow Hive Classic, for the first time in a while today. We’ve also got details on our Araucaria sale. Cedar explains some of the differences between the Classic model and the Flow Hive 2 and answered a range of beekeeping questions.



Video Transcription

Good morning. We've got a beautiful day here, which is a nice day to do a little bit of honey harvesting. We'll do something we haven't done for a while and that's harvested from the Classics here. We've got a bit homogenised here with our Flow Hive 2's, but this is our original hive. And it's got a beautiful artwork on it here by Sarah, which is so cool. It's one nice thing you can do with the Classic is get carried away with painting because you've gotta paint them anyway, if you really want to protect that wood and stop it getting mildew. The Cedar hives, you can actually even leave raw or oil and you can keep them looking like that wood colour. But when you've got the Auracaria wood, you actually need to use a good quality house paint on the outside to give it a long-lasting protection.

I'll just mention the sale that we've got on. It's the Araucaria sale, otherwise known as Australian hoop pine. And the offer is a free E-voucher with any full-priced Auracaria Flow Hive, super or bundle until the end of June. And these vouchers will be sent out the first week in July. So that's a pretty great deal. So there's a $50 USD and AUD voucher. And in the EU it's €40 euros, in the UK it's £40 is pounds. So look out for that one. And if you're looking to buy, you can score yourself an extra E-voucher to purchase things. There are terms and conditions, but they'll all be on our website as well. So I hope that sounds like a pretty good deal.

So I'm just setting up here. If you have a look in the side window, you can see there's some honey, which is fantastic. We're here in our winter and the bees are bringing a little bit, some days you can smell the nectars, they evaporate it and do that amazing job of dewatering the honey, getting the moisture content down nice and low. But there's still not a lot coming in. So he won't harvest a lot of honey. We'll just harvest a little bit of honey from one of the frames in this hive.

One thing I forgot to do with the Classic, because I haven't harvested from the Classic in a while, is pull out this corflute slider and put it in the top slot. Then if you do get any honey spills, they'll just sit on that slider and the bees can lick them up through the screen. They're very good at cleaning up any honey that's not in a cell inside the hive. So that's an important thing to remember if you're harvesting from the Flow Hive Classic. You can see the honey just starting to come out now, which is beautiful. It's been a cold night here, so the honey is moving a bit slower than you usually see us harvesting. And typically the edge frames get a bit cooler than the ones in the middle, but it's starting to flow nicely.

Beekeeping Questions

The Flow Hive 2's have levels to ensure the harvesting slope is correct. How does the slope work on the Classic?

What we did with the Classic is we made it so you level the surface that you put the hive on and the slope is built in for you into the base. And we found that worked fine until the ground shifts, which often happens in wet weather. And especially when you've got a heavy beehive and maybe a couple of bricks and you'll think you've put it on the perfect slope, but actually it's shifted over time. So it would be a good idea to actually check that the base of this was level before harvesting to make sure we do indeedhave a backwards slope. Another thing you can do is get an app on your phone, a level app, put your phone on top and just check that it's got an approximately three degrees slope backwards. It looks like it does have a slope backwards. So that's good. And that means the honey will flow out towards the rear rather than the other way into the hive.

If I want to add a Flow Hive super to my traditional hive, do I need to put that slope onto the hives to extract the honey?

Yes, you do. So some people will do it just as they harvest just by lifting the front of the hive and putting something about an inch thick under the front. I prefer to have the slope built-in permanently and deal with the water issues. So the way we did that with the Flow Hives is we sloped the entrance board. We sloped the screen bottom board. So we get less water coming in, but because we are using screen bottom boards doesn't matter a whole lot because it goes through the screen bottom board anyway. But if you are using a solid bottom board on a conventional beehive, then you'll have to slope it towards the entrance. So that gives you two choices. You slope it backwards when it's time to harvest, or you put your honey super on the other way around and harvest right where the bees are - not recommended. Because you end up with just bees all in your honey. If you've got a solid bottom board, you really don't want to slope it backwards, because you'll collect a whole lot of rain in there, with a puddle of water in the bottom of your hive, that the bees are getting stuck in. So your only choice then is to lift the front when it's time to harvest.

What sort of paint has been used on that hive?

So it's great to use good quality outdoor house paint, and that'll just mean it's built for the outdoors and it'll last longer. It is a great thing to get carried away with your family, doing some nice artwork on your hive. We've got quite a few painted hives in the apiary actually. There's a nice one down there with a whole picture showing the life cycle of a bee.

My hive has a lot of condensation in the super. Is this normal with the amount of rain we've had coming into winter? Will this affect the hive at all? (Brisbane, Australia)

Okay. So condensation is caused when you've got humid air, and beehives are humid inside, coming into contact with a cool surface. So it's quite normal to have condensation on the inside of a beehive and the bees will actually use that condensation as a water source. Now, one thing that happens with the Flow Hive is you can see it because we've got windows. And if you take the window off, sometimes you'll see the condensation come on the clear acrylic gets cooler by the air and you get the condensation collecting on that surface. So it's nothing really to worry about unless you're just getting ridiculous amounts and it's raining from the roof and your bees are getting all wet. But you're unlikely to get that here in Australia.

How do you get propolis and wax out of the hive? (Chile)

There's a couple of different ways you can do that. So one is you can take the plug out of the inner cover under this roof and allow them to build some freeform honeycomb up here. And then you can harvest that you can enjoy eating the honeycomb or crush and strain that honeycomb. And then you've got some wax you can use. You can also add a whole other box just for honeycomb collection. Some people add a medium size box with little frames. In fact Trace, who's reading out the questions here, she's been doing that at home and bringing her honeycomb into work, which was lovely. Or you can take a frame from the side of the brood nest here, which is usually honey as well. Don't take it if it's got brood on it. If you're using naturally drawn comb, it's quite easy. If you go back about four or five Facebook lives, you'll watch just cutting a heart out of honeycomb in my son's beehive and the bees will fill that back in really quickly. The way people usually harvest propolis is with a propolis mat. So you can do that on any beehive, including the Flow Hive, where you're basically putting in a mesh and the bees. They don't really like to have a mesh there that they can't get through to. So what they'll do is they'll block it off and they'll block all of that mesh off with their propolis typically, and you take that mat out and you melt the propolis off. So that's a way you can harvest propolis from a beehive too. It's used in medicines. It's said to be really good for antibacterial, for colds and flus and things like that.

I did an inspection today and couldn't find a queen. I sid see eggs and larvae in various stages of growth and saw a possible queen cup with a larva in it. What do you think is happening?

Okay. That's that's interesting. So if you don't find the queen, it may be that you just didn't find her. Now, if you have a look and you notice that there's no young larvae, there's no eggs and you can't find the queen, then you probably don't have a queen. So if that's the case, then your bees have done the right thing. And they're starting to raise another queen that you've seen in the queen cup, which is a great thing. Queens can perish for a bunch of reasons, but one is the hive can actually decide they're not doing good enough job and they'll actually bump them off and raise a new one. So that could be what's happening in your hive.

I have a 7-frame Flow Hive 2, what size brood box do I need to buy? If I buy a new brood box, does it have to be from the same model as my Flow Hive 2?

The two sizes in beekeeping that this is based on a Langstroth hive. So what you've got here is a 8-frame Langstroth brood box with eight brood frames in it. Some of the other hives down in the other garden are the next size up that have the 10-frame brood box with 10 brood frames in it. Now we've gone and confused the matter by making Flow Frames that are wider because when bees are storing honey, they actually prefer deeper cells. Now I did a lot of measuring cells in wild honeycomb and came up with this size as being a good size for bees. But it was a bit of adjustment, a bit of maths to work out that 6 Flow Frames like you see here, go with an 8-frame brood box and seven Flow Frames, go with a 10-frame brood box. You need to use the right size brood box to match. So if you are using all 8-frame gear, then you'll use the Flow Hive 6 brood box. And if you are using the 10-frame, you need to use a Flow Hive 7 brood box. So it's a little bit confusing, but do reach out to us if you need help to get the right equipment.

Then there was another part to your question. Can you mix it up between the models? And the answer is yes, to a certain extent. We do have a bit of a legacy issue here where we started with a big bang in crowdfunding. It was absolutely ridiculous. 25,000 orders. We hadn't even made a hive yet and we had to get them done before Christmas. And so we started manufacturing in multiple countries at once and because we wanted to support local industry and so on. And what that meant was we had variations going on. This is the Flow Hive Classic, the original we started with, and we're still making it today because people still love it. But when it came to doing our Flow Hive 2, we matched the size here that we were making the Classics in Australia at the time. So we, we now have a discrepancy between sizes. It's only a few millimetres, but enough to be annoying. So if you have this box here on top of this box, you need to centre it and there'll be an overlap of a couple of millimetres on the edges and the other way around. But what it does mean is this roof will be a bit too tight to fit on this hive, but the other way around it's okay. Anyway, we'll get there with that by adjusting at some point. so they're a bit easier to swap around. That's on the wishlist for adjustments is to make this roof a little bit bigger, so you can just mix all the equipment and it doesn't matter.

Is it legal to harvest honey in the open in New South Wales?

It's not legal to leave honey out for the bees. So as long as you're not leaving honey out for the bees, then that's okay. And the reason why you don't wanna leave honey out for the bees is the bees can come and start foraging on the honey. So if you see that happening, then cover it up. If you leave honey exposed and the bees are coming to rob it and lots of bees are coming from all sorts of different hives, then you could be spreading diseases such as AFB or EFB to other hives. And that's the reason why you don't leave honey out for bees.

The bees have been filling my Flow Frames with nectar, but are a little slow in capping it. Is this because there has been so much rain here lately? (St Louis, USA)

Yes. So what you'll find is sometimes you'll get a honey flow and it'll go and go and go great. And then all of a sudden it'll stop and the bees are like, oh, come on. I was almost finished filling the cells to put the capping on. And at that stage, sometimes you'll find, they'll give up and they'll actually cap the cells indented and they'll cap it right in like that because they really want to preserve some honey for later in case they need it. But if the flow keeps going, they'll build way out from the Flow Frames an extra bit. So that's why you get fluctuations on the amount of honey in a Flow Frame is depending on how much they've added to the cells, to store more honey or sometimes you even might not have the frame completely full.

Okay, we've got a spider that's come and joined us, right under the honey tube here, have a look at that. It's a baby Huntsman spider. And it's a cool-looking spider. They get huge, they get as big as your hand and they look really spooky, but they're actually quite friendly.

Would the spider affect the bees or would the bees kill the spider?

Well, bees are really good at keeping things outta their hive. So I don't think they would let a spider just run around in there. I think they would sort that spider out real quick. Sometimes you'll notice that when you take the roof of your hive and there's a bunch of big ants on there and they fall in, the bees just instantly activate a big tussle with the ants. So I haven't really seen spiders living in the hive.

There's a bit of a large gap around the harvesting window and the bees don't like to put honey in the frames closest to the window. Is this because of the light that's coming in?

So in the Classic here, if the harvesting window is closed and you're seeing a bit of a gap around the window, the araucaria wood does swell and shrink a lot more than the Cedar. So we do have to allow a bit of tolerance there, but I haven't found that to be an issue in terms of letting too much light in. But if you leave the cover off altogether, you will find they'll remove the honey from this last section of cells. They like to pull it back in if you leave the cover off. Now you could test it out by filling in the gap, you'd probably find it's either the honey flow. If once you get a big honey flow, that'll change and they'll bring it out to the extremities. But you can, however, get some hives due to genetics, will just not like filling the edges. And we've had that where we've had a whole row of 20 hives and one will never fill the edge, which makes it a bit harder to work out when to harvest. It's really useful when they're using that, how we intended, but bees will be bees and do all sorts of things. But if you can see it in the side window, nice and full, then maybe you'll need to pull your frames and just have a bit of a look and try and gauge what's what in your hive. And when it's ready to harvest, you can also look down in between the frames and see if you can see the capping further in.

Are the harvesting shelf brackets the same brackets that you use to rest your brood frames on when doing an inspection?

They are. They're nice dual-purpose, use them for a frame rest when you are inspecting the brood and for harvesting as well. The Classics actually have a different shelf bracket because they have a different finger pattern to the Flow Hive 2.

Will you leave honey in the super for the bees over winter?

Well, we don't need to, because we get good honey flows in the winter. But if you live in a place where you've got a long, cold winter where there's not much flowering, then yes, you will need to leave honey for your bees. That's what they're storing it for, for those times. And ask around, ask your locals how much honey you need to leave in your hive, in your area for your bees to survive. And ask a few people, because the answers will differ wildly. But the idea is they've got enough honey to survive and if they don't have enough honey leading up to the winter, then people typically feed them some sugar syrup so they can at least store something. Even though sugar's not the perfect thing for bees, you're better off feeding them than letting them starve to death.

Can you add a base to the Flow Hive Classic?

You can. So Trace has those answers for you. People ring up all the time wanting to do that. She can put together a kit for you to add to your Classic hive. And that way it's got a stand like this with the pest management tray, the ant guards and the wing dings.

Can you mow the grass around your hive?

That's an interesting one. Some bees will get annoyed with mowers. Now I've got 40 hives at home and I drive past on a ride-on mower and there'll be three hives out of 40 that just really don't like it. And the rest don't care. So it really depends on your hive. So if you are mowing around your hive, get in your bee suit, wear your gloves, just get used to how your hive behaves with how you're mowing around it. And if possible, try and position your hives so you don't have to mow at the entrance. That would be ideal because that's where they're getting territorial. If you don't have to mow right there, they're less likely to get upset about it.

Now, what I'm going to do now is just close off the harvesting. Thank you. Let us know what you'd like to us to cover. We're here to answer questions and be here for you as you get started in beekeeping. Thank you very much for tuning in same time next week.

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