Flow Hive Review: Honey on Tap

A Convenient Bee Hive Plan for Beekeepers

Flow Hive Review: Honey on Tap

I never thought that I would be keeping bees. In fact, my healthy fear of them as a child had me spending warm summer days indoors and sprinting away from picnic tables in a screaming fit more than I’d like to admit. Yet, today I’ve found myself managing my very own backyard apiary. Having had absolutely no interest in beekeeping, it was during an online search regarding homesteading that I stumbled upon a Flow Hive review. It was then that the concept of beekeeping became more approachable to me; hive maintenance aside, even I could harvest my own honey with little disturbance to the bees. I could enjoy local liquid gold from a simple tap installed on the backside of the hive. I could contribute to the preservation of the honeybee population. I could actually accommodate my bee phobia and eliminate the need to open the hive entirely for honey harvesting. I was intrigued.

Over the course of the next year, I became obsessed with raising bees. I enrolled in a beekeeping course and invested some hands-on time in bee handling to conquer my fear. And of course, I researched different bee hive plans and apiary configurations. The Langstroth beehive seemed like a good choice for our farm and for the increased probability that the bees would survive our cold New Jersey winters. But I still longed for the chance to watch honey pour from the tap-like spout of the Flow Hive’s honey super frames. I decided to make the investment and purchase a Flow Hive Classic.

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How It Works

So what is a Flow Hive exactly? The Flow Hive is essentially a Langstroth beehive constructed with “drainable” honey supers. These honey supers are comprised of plastic honeycomb cells where the bees deposit and store their honey. When the entire frame of honeycomb is filled and sealed by the bees with swaths of wax, it’s time to harvest.

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A Flow Hive honey super frame. This image shows what the cells look like both aligned and misaligned. When a key is turned, the honeycomb cells shift causing the honey to drain down and through to the harvesting tube.

Each individual honey super frame has its own tap. When a long metal key is inserted into the top of the frame and turned 90 degrees, the plastic frame cells shift themselves asymmetrically, causing the honey to flow between and downward into a removable harvesting tube. The wax seal that the bees have created on the top of the honey cells remains intact; this causes minimal hive disturbance while allowing the beekeeper to harvest filtered honey. Once the frame has fully drained, the key can be turned to realign the honey super frame cells back to their original position. All frames can be drained simultaneously.

What Comes in a Flow Hive Kit?

The hive will arrive boxed in separate pieces so a screwdriver and a hammer are required to assemble the brood and honey super boxes along with the individual brood frames.Overall I found assembly to be quite simple and efficient. While some pieces needed a little more elbow grease to join together than others, the predrilled holes take the second-guessing out of construction. A square ruler or level is recommended for ensuring the boxes and frames align properly when building.

What’s Included in a Flow Hive Kit
Brood Box
Standard Brood Frames (8 qty.)
Honey Super Box
Honey Super Frames (6 qty.)
Honey Tubes (6 qty.)
Key
Inner Cover
Meshed Bottom Screen Board
Gabled Roof
Queen Excluder
Manual

It’s worth mentioning that many beekeepers prefer more than one brood box for their bees in order to prevent swarming. I personally ordered a second individual brood box to complete my hive. Both cedar and araucaria wood boxes are available for purchase on the website, though, any eight-frame standard Langstroth brood box will do.

Conversely, if one is content with their current Langstroth hive and is simply looking to incorporate the Flow honey technology, honey supers and their frames can be ordered separately from an entire hive kit.

Price

Let’s take a moment in this Flow Hive review to discuss dollars and cents. It’s no secret that the Flow Hive price is higher than those of its other bee habitat counterparts. A full Langstroth beehive, for example, can be purchased for as little as $125 while the least expensive choice for an unused Flow Hive is around $600.00 (at the time this article was written). Naturally, when folks find I’m using a Flow Hive in my personal honey bee farm, they tend to ask if the cost is worth it. I personally think so. For my Flow Hive review, I give it the thumbs up!

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Fresh honey draining through the harvesting tube, or tap, from the Flow Hive honey super.

Honey extractors are expensive and difficult to lug from place to place when sharing with friends, neighbors or a bee association. Alternatively, I’ve even taken to squeezing and pressing honeycomb by hand, which is obviously time-consuming and results in chunks of honeycomb left in the honey jar. The Flow method allows me to drain all six frames of honey at the same time without any additional effort (except for that of swapping out full honey jars for clean empty ones). I found the Flow Hive tap-style approach to harvesting honey to be incredibly simple and the quality of the filtered honey supreme. In fact, I’ve already ordered a second Flow Hive myself.

Beekeeping isn’t for everyone. But for those of us who feel they’re ready to take the plunge and add this element of self-sufficiency to their backyard, homestead or farm, the Flow Hive is a good first step; it allows the beekeeper to perform their routine hive checks and provide bee care while eliminating some of the headaches that comes with honey extraction. And for those of us more seasoned beekeepers who are looking for a new apiary experience or a more efficient answer to honey harvesting, the Flow Hive offers just that. To the souls who love interacting with their honeybees and are skeptical about taking a more hands-off approach to draining their honey supers, don’t fret. There’s still plenty of opportunities to bond with your bees and to be stung throughout regular hive maintenance.

Have you tried the Flow Hive yet and if so, do you have a Flow Hive review to share?

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