Posted April 20, 2017
by Hilary


The drama surrounding the Flow Hive is unending and riddled with misinformation. Beekeepers are infamous for our diverse and contrasting opinions, but the controversy over the Flow Hive is so extreme that it cannot even be mentioned without sparking a civil war among beekeepers. So, is the Flow Hive what its opponents claim it to be: an evil invention designed to enslave bees for honey? Read on to get my take.

Before I go any further, I want to be up front about my experiences with beekeeping and the Flow Hive because I have noticed many of the articles written on this subject have been written by people who are either new to beekeeping or people who have never used the Flow Hive. I have been keeping between 20 and 80 hives for the past seven years. When the news of the Flow Hive invention first broke, I was a skeptic, like many others. I decided to keep an open mind, mostly for the sake of my current and future students. I teach hundreds of new beekeepers each year, many of which have Flow Hives. In the fall of 2015, the company sent me a complete Flow Hive kit and an additional Flow Super at no cost. I put them to use in the spring, but had not harvested honey until just last week. During the past year, I have organized two local beekeeping meetings with presentations by the inventors, participated in their “Meet the Beekeeper” film series and was hired to write several educational articles for the Flow Hive blog. I am not being paid to write this article.

Addressing Criticisms

The majority of the complaints I have heard about the Flow Hive are not about the invention, but about new beekeepers who might use it. For good or bad, the Flow Hive inspired a wave of new beekeepers and with that comes a lot of ignorance and mistakes. The new Flow Hive beekeepers are similar to all new beekeepers. They make mistakes, they lose hives and then they either learn from it or they quit beekeeping altogether. For experienced beekeepers, this process is sometimes hard to watch. It takes incredible patience to accept and mentor new beekeepers. So, when the Flow Hive was released and brought with it a boom of new and naive beekeeping hopefuls it’s no wonder it overwhelmed so many of the experienced beekeepers. We were flooded with constant questions and many of those questions were based on misconceptions about what beekeeping involves. The frustration among beekeepers was paramount and it coalesced into a stubborn hatred of anything Flow Hive. Just take a look at the articles that have come out against it. In nearly all of them the writer’s irritation is clear and they openly complain about the number of inquiries they have had about the hive. I suspect this colored their opinions and this is one reason I waited over a year to share mine.


Lazy Beekeepers

The most common argument I hear against the Flow Hive is that it creates or promotes “lazy beekeeping” practices. People who get a hive don’t bother to learn much about what they are doing and never perform inspections, but still may rob honey when they feel like it.

As someone who has been teaching a high volume of new beekeepers for the past 5 years, I have found that these types of beekeepers existed before the Flow Hive and they will continue to exist afterwards. The Flow Hive does make it easier for them to rob honey without understanding what they are doing, but I find that these kinds of beekeepers will harvest honey when they should not no matter what style hive they use. I also think it is rare that this type of beekeeper will progress far enough with a colony to the point where they will fill a Flow Hive. Likely the colony will die before it ever fills a honey or Flow super. Another point of contention with Flow Hive opponents is that these unmanaged hives will sicken the hives of responsible beekeepers nearby. Again, I would like to point out that this is a complaint about the beekeeper and not the Flow Hive.

Many blame the original teaser video for attracting so many potential lazy beekeepers. They complain that it was deliberately misleading. In response to this, I would ask that the reader imagine themselves in the shoes of the inventors for a moment. You and your dad are beekeepers and you’ve spent 10 years working on this invention and you are ready to go live with it, but you don’t want to release too many details about how it works for fear of copycats. You have a family member make a catchy promotional video that shows off your invention. You have no idea that this video will go viral and become so popular with the public. You are just trying to get the attention of other beekeepers like you. Can you really blame them for the response they got? I don’t think I would have done differently if I had been in their place. They were trying to appeal to existing beekeepers. I do not judge them for their initial release video, but instead I look at what they have done since and I am impressed with how they responded to the criticism they received. They didn’t have to do anything to address it. They were already wildly popular, having broken crowd funding records nearly immediately. But they went the extra mile because at the end of the day they are not some soulless corporation. They are a beekeeping family that cares about bees and other beekeepers. They have created a wealth of educational resources for new beekeepers for free: a blog, videos, and a forum. What more do people want?


Honey Profiteering Mentality

Another worry from the beekeeping community is that the Flow design promotes a style of beekeeping that is fixated on profits and on honey. This argument actually makes me laugh. I have yet to meet someone with this mentality who purchased a Flow Hive. I always asking my Introduction to Beekeeping students why they came to class. Before the bee crisis was making big headlines, I used to get business-minded people in the class every once in a while, declaring their goals of starting a honey business. None of these people have gone on to actually do it. Probably because they quickly realized how challenging beekeeping is and how little profit honey actually brings.

The people I have met with Flow Hives have been of two types. Either they don’t want to learn anything at all and they want to hire me to manage their hives for them or they are just like every other new beekeeper. Nervous, determined, excited, caring, confused and in need of guidance. Some of them quit, but those who stick with it do it for a love of bees. When they harvest their honey, they don’t sell it! They give it away to friends and family. Do you really think someone with the kind of disposable income that affords a Flow Hive needs to sell their honey?

Weakening the Connection 

Some beekeepers worry that the Flow Hive interrupts the bond between a beekeeper and their bees. That the connection us beekeepers cherish will be lost. This is another one of the reasons why I waited for over a year to write this article. I wanted to consider these points and take my time working my Flow Hives before I made any claims. I can truly say that the Flow Hive has done nothing to take away from this element of beekeeping. I think it is based on the false idea that Flow Hive beekeepers do not have to perform hive inspections. They do. The only thing that requires less interaction between beekeeper and bees is the process of harvesting honey, something that is done only a couple of times a year.


Solving a Non-Existent Problem

Some beekeepers dismiss the praise the Flow Hive has received by stating that it solves a problem none of us really have. Many beekeepers are happy with the traditional methods for harvesting honey. I think that’s great, but what is true for one beekeeper is not true for everyone. I would agree that there are traditional ways of harvesting honey that are not so bad, but I still save tons of time when I harvest with a Flow Hive. All of my apiaries are out-yards so even if I use a trap out board I have to make several trips: one to put the board on and another to come pick up the super. Then I usually have to make another trip out to put the “stickies” (now empty combs) back on the hive. Plus, I still have to haul the heavy super around, extract the honey, and clean everything up. I have some rooftop hives that I would love to have Flow supers on so I could avoid the dangerous and tricky business of carrying honey laden supers down a ladder. My point is that some people do not feel that the investment of a Flow Hive is worth the work it saves for honey harvests and some people do feel it’s worth it, but neither person is wrong.

The Price

I can see how the price of The Flow Hive would stop some people from purchasing it, but I don’t think this is a valid argument against it. If you don’t think it’s worth the price, don’t buy it. Since starting my own business, I have learned that products have many hidden costs. We have no idea what it takes to produce a Flow Hive especially when you look beyond just the manufacturing costs. They have to employ a team of people who deal with questions, orders, and shipping. Not to mention the time the inventors put into creating the Flow Hive. They worked on it for 10 years! Who are we to tell them what to charge? And if they are millionaires now, why are we not celebrating the fact that a beekeeper has had success? Why do beekeepers judge and ridicule each other when they try to charge for their skills? I have been attacked for charging for nearly all of the services I offer: mentorships, classes, hive tours, kid’s presentations, bee removal. I am proud to be a beekeeper and I think it’s high time we start valuing our skill set and trade. We should support each other and celebrate each other’s successes.


If you’re worried that honey pouring out of your hive from a spigot will cause robbing, I don’t blame you. However, it’s really such a simple fix that it isn’t even worth talking about. See photo below.


The Plastic 

Out of all the complaints against the Flow Hive the only one that I feel is valid is its use of plastic combs. I prefer to let my bees build natural combs and don’t use foundations in my hives. I am a huge advocate of this practice because I think natural comb plays a role in honey bee health. Although not all of it has scientific evidence, reasons for shunning plastics/foundations in the hive include natural cell size, chemical leaching, off-gassing and communication disruptions. In addition to all that, I have observed that bees prefer natural comb to foundation and this preference is reason enough for me to keep foundation and plastic out of my hives. I know that many of the beekeepers who agree with me on this point are confused and even angry with me for not condemning the Flow Hive. So, I will do my best to explain myself.


Many people mistakenly believe that the Flow Hive forces bees to live in a hive that contains only plastic combs. This is not the case. There is a single super of plastic combs and the rest of the hive can be natural comb or foundation, whatever the beekeeper chooses. I would argue that using a Flow super isn’t that much different from using foundation. It may even be preferable because Flow Hive encourages beekeepers to allow for natural combs (no foundations) in the brood boxes.

Allowances & Trade-offs

I am of the opinion that we are all hypocrites. Every good thing we try to do has a consequence. In beekeeping, especially there are lots of trade-offs. Personally, I try to maintain a “do what works for you” philosophy. If someone is having success with a certain beekeeping practice, even if I would not personally do it, I don’t feel the need to lecture them.

On the subject of potential negative impacts of using plastic Flow Frames in a hive… I don’t think we have enough data to make any claims and I have not seen any anecdotal evidence to suggest Flow Frames are harming bees. It would be different if the bees were forced to lay their brood in plastic combs, but that is not the case. I just don’t think a single super of plastic comb is that big of a deal and one could argue that there are some benefits for both bees and beekeepers.



For the Beekeeper 

For the beekeeper, the benefits are that you will save time and effort when you harvest honey. That’s it. You still have to inspect your hives, deal with mites, monitor for diseases, add supers, make splits, requeen, lift heavy boxes, lose colonies to pesticides etc.

I think it’s curious that so many new beekeepers latched onto the Flow Hive under the misguided impression that it would make beekeeping more accessible to them. It’s a pretty box with a clever mechanism inside, but it can’t give you power over your bees or nature. It will only ease the burden of labor involved in harvesting honey. New beekeepers have never experienced that before so most of them enjoy that process. It’s still novel! It seems like experienced beekeepers would be the ones to get the most excited about this invention, but the majority of them seem to have shunned it.

When I did my first Flow Hive harvest it really was like magic. It’s so wonderfully easy to turn the key and drain the honey right into a bucket. I was giddy! Because I run my own beekeeping business almost entirely by myself, time is insanely precious to me. Especially in spring. The time and effort the Flow Hive could save me if I were able to harvest this way on all my hives would be invaluable.

For the Bees

After seeing it in action, I think there is no way to dispute that the Flow Hive’s method of honey harvesting is less invasive for the bees. We could tell through the window that the frames were capped and there was no need to open the hive at all for the harvest. Other methods for harvesting honey not only involve opening the hive, but physically removing the bees from each frame. People use brushes, leaf blowers, strong smells and smoke to drive bees off the honey. It’s never a fun process. The trap-out board is the least invasive traditional method, but even with that you have to lift the super and put the board on. A process that usually crushes at least some bees.



The practical drawbacks of the Flow Hive are similar to using plastic foundation. The bees sometimes will not accept the plastic combs until they have been coated with beeswax. It is an easy enough fix. Simply brush or rub some wax on the face of your Flow frames.

Another similarity to using plastic foundation is that some hives seem reluctant to fill Flow frames when there isn’t a strong nectar flow. San Diego’s climate has fickle nectar flows and I have trouble getting bees to make and cap honey at some of my apiaries, especially during drought years. This year we received above average rainfall and the bees have been more willing to fill the Flow super.


Like everything in beekeeping, the Flow Hive has pros and cons. It is a trade-off. If you choose to use it you will sacrifice one super of natural comb in exchange for a less invasive and time-consuming honey harvest. Like everything in beekeeping, you will have unique challenges because of your particular situation and climate. You might decide that these challenges outweigh the benefits of using a Flow Hive and find that it doesn’t work for you. Another beekeeper may find the opposite result. Like everything in beekeeping some people will disagree with you. Some of them will have interesting, challenging thoughts that change your perspective and others will just be a-holes. Just remember, in the end it’s your journey.


  1. Claudia

    Excellent article! Well written, fact based and very balanced. Thank you, Hillary, for continuing to educate us in the beekeeping world.

    • lifeunderstrawberryskies

      Thank you for this article. I have only recently gotten interested in beekeeping, it’s so easy to get confused with all the information available. It was great to read an article with both the pros and cons of this type of hive.

      • Tracey

        I’m really curious on how the flow hives work in different climates. I’m from southern Ontario, Can. and would like to hear if our climate stays hot enough for long enough periods in order to have the flow hive work properly.
        Thinking of doing this as a retirement hobby for my family only.

        • Rick

          I’m across the lake from you. Short answer…these don’t work. 13 master beekeepers in our club were not able to make these work in three years of working with the manufacturer in Australia. We have now banned their use in our club apiaries.

          • Sara

            I’m curious about why the Flow Hives “didn’t work” to the point they would be “banned.” Seems extreme.
            Thank you Hilary for an honest assessment of the Flow Hive.

          • Lyn

            Wow and yet first time bee keepers were able to harvest honey yet you couldn’t?

      • Jonathon Young

        Great article … I would be very interested in one of your training classes.

    • Susan Rudnicki

      For me, a beek for 6 years, foundationless, the plastics issue is the biggest complaint. The bees avoid plastic, building away from the face of plastic foundation so as to pass behind it (I have re-habbed some colonies on plastic foundation/frames) The true environmental cost of plastics production—fossil fuel extraction, processing, chemical additives and their notorious toxicity, the near non-biodegradable nature of plastic—all these “externalities” to the costs of production for human desired gadgets needs to be better kept in mind. SOMEONE, somewhere, “pays” for his habitat to be poisoned by the wastes of industrial production. The loops are never closed but always dumping out stuff needing “disposal”

      • Darcy Bouley

        Great article and thank you very much for informing us newbies! Cheers

        • Julie Delaney

          Thankyou for your opinion for the pros and cons on flow hive and thankyou too all the bee keepers for looking after our bees I appreciate you

    • filype

      perfect… no bull****… and not trying to go only positive or only negative… thanks for the wonderfull article, that was what I needed.

      • Ashley D. Abell

        Wow… I’ve honestly never seen this type of hive or a lot if cool ones I’ve seen today but I’m very big on saving bees not making honey off of them. But i loved the way you broke down everything for anyone who wants to find out the info they needed to start it. I’ve always wanted to start a hive just to expand bees cause I’m scared they will all be lost if we don’t help and your article really pushed me to finally want to actually start the process. That is after i learn a bit more so i don’t kill then my first try. Thank you!

      • Tony O Connor

        I enjoyed your article very much in fact you covered everything. For a few years I have been thinking of keeping bees for the reasons of a better planet with them than without them.
        Being able to collect honey which I am not a lover of it in its raw state but in cooking and in baking its a return for keeping bees to help global pollination.
        I was fascinated by a program about world wide distribution of bee hives by Road to the fruit growers. From this I learned how the world need bees.
        I have watched many videos about bee hives and harvesting and the amount of bee keepers interning the hive to check on the honey and then putting it back again. This I would think you are disturbing the bees each time and no doubt some bees die as a result. On interning the brood to check that its healthy no mites or such like you only disturbing them a couple of times in a season.
        With the flow hive which I am enclined to buy there is no disturbing the bees and none die as a result.
        To haverest the honey old school the equipment you need is vast so the price of a flow hive to me out ways the cost of equipment for old school bee keeping and the cleaning of all that equipment.
        Love your article
        Tony O Connor

    • Elizabeth

      Great article, thank you for your unbiased and comprehensive review. I have been researching the flow hive and I have say that I was turned off by the venomous negativity of some of the bee keepers which except for the plastics issue seem to be completely absurd. Not to mention the insults hurled at those who have tried it. As long as you are caring for the bees, managing pests and all the other responsibilities of bee keeping i see no validity to the argument that people are just selfishly stealing from the bees. Regardless of what method is used dont we harvest the honey regardless? Yes, it does seem there are people jumping into this without doing due diligence to educate themselves and that is a shame, but it seems to me that newer bee keepers could make huge mistakes with old school methods as well.

    • Paul

      How long should it take to fill a one kilogram or two pound jar. Mine takes many hours. What sort of problem might I have?

      • Hilary

        It depends on how warm it is and your particular honey. Some honey is thin and flows fast and others are very thick.

    • Glenn

      What about hem plastic since its completely biodegradable and toxins free ?

    • Mark Taranto

      Thank you for an honest and unbiased review. I’m looking at buying a flow hive and also buying a hybrid that they sell so I can also get honeycomb and learn more about the process. Think its great you give your opinion but with something to back it up in.

    • Bill

      cheap advertising

    • Rick Rapirio

      I agree, this is a well-balanced and well-thought out article. Here in Ohio, I can tell you about my experience and the experience of a few dozen club members who all tried this out. Out of 27 experienced beekeepers, only one….yes, ONE was able to get it to kind of work, and it still isn’t working well. A few of those dozen are master beekeepers who have seen and tried everything out there. We worked very very closely with the manufacturer in Australia about what to do, things to try, etc over the past couple years and several nectar flows at different times of the year.

      We are now in the process of trying to get our money back. This product simply doesn’t work in our area, and we have yet to hear a glowing endorsement by any beekeeper in the Northern Ohio area who has been able to make this thing work reliably. Even the State Bee Inspectors roll their eyes now when they see or hear about Flow Hives. Perhaps it only works in year-round warm weather climates. Save yourselves the headaches and just stick with the traditional methods. They work, and we all know how to use standard frames and super boxes.

      • Lyn

        Yes perhaps. Where we are in Australia our climate is very mild.

      • Wayne

        flowhive works in all climeit thay been trild and tested in canada usa uk europ and here in australia and its been proven to work it just most beekeepers donot like being told how to use the flowhive why do you think a User Manual gets se3nt with the flowhive why do you think Flowhive Have have a forum why do you think flowehive have master beekeepers on thare training site Knowledge is power! Learn beekeeping from the world’s experts with our online education platform

    • Karen

      Thank you for such an informative and unbiased article which I enjoyed reading and found very useful. Great to see someone who is passionate about bees and their welfare providing useful information for people who are thinking of purchasing a flow hive.

    • Rick C.

      Your article is great. I am a new beekeeper, that decided to start with a flow hive. I initially started telling local beekeepers about my hive choice. I was shocked by the negativity, and dissent. Unfortunately, I have now decided to keep quiet about my hives to make things easier

      • wayne

        simple tell tham that its a langsgroth hive just dont mension the super is a flowhive with flow frames arfter all flowhive just that a langsgoth hive with a modafyedie spashilised super

    • Ingrid

      Thank you for this article! I’ve been interested in beekeeping for some time now and this was exactly the unbiased opinion I needed.

  2. sally duffy

    Good, thoughtful and experienced discussion. Thank you for taking the time. My problem has always been with the developers who thrust these things upon the universe of existing beekeepers and clubs and expected us to do all their training for them. Certainly wish they had spent some of their millions on worthy bee education and workshops. Instead they just wanted to Skype in to sell more units and micromanage their messaging.

  3. Susan Rupp

    Thank you, Hillary, for your article. I am a beekeeper who has been skeptical of the Flow Hive because the reason I keep bees is for the propagation of bees, not honey. That is why I have only had top-bar hives. I live in Northern CA and my ‘girls’ have been experiencing dought conditions. In the past 4 to 5 years, I have rarely harvested any honey from my hives. I am hoping this year will be different. I do appreciate your perspective on the Flow Hive. If I ever decide to try a Langstroth set-up, I will consider getting a Flow Hive.

    • Mack Tyner MD

      That was a great article. I have been keeping bees since 1972 and used to dream about building a similar invention but never did it. I have both top bar long hives (homemade) and traditional Langstroths. I find that I can add regular supers on top of the long hives, just as long as I have a top board to cover the extra brood frames on the sides, and the requisite metal covers to keep rain out.(I live in north Fla. and it has been raining like crazy this year). So it seems to me that one could still use a flow hive super on top of a long top-bar hive. I have 28 frames in my long ones. I have not tried the flow supers yet, but am getting tempted…. I never liked the process of driving the bees out and then lifting the heavy supers, and am getting older and not as strong as I once was. I wish someone would invent a better way to keep bumble bees or other native bees…. they are such good pollinators. I have a friend here who buys plastic boxes of bumble bees grown in Canada to pollinate his blueberry fields in January. Seems like I could grow them locally, but I have not figured it out yet.

      • Jeff Barmrd

        It’s not good….you have to look at the frames. Too many people think they buy bees and turn on a tap.

        • Rik Neubauer

          Not at all my brother beek. You inspect the hive as usual, just not the super. Everything else is as normal. Cheers.

        • Mary Olsen

          Reading the article before commenting helps immensely.

  4. Liz

    Thank you for a great write up of the flow hive, without all the baggage that seems to come with it! As one of the “new-bees” out there, it was fantastic to find your site- keep up the great work!

  5. Della Darling

    Awesome article! I feel you have spoken to all of us. Beginners like myself that is trying my hand at bee keeping and as a learning experience for my Grandson. Thank You for your willingness to share your thoughts and wisdom in bee keeping. I learn a lot from reading your information. I hope I can learn enough to be successful in keeping the bees. All three of our hives up and left at the end of October last year and we are waiting for replacements.
    Della Darling in the Mountains of Colorado

  6. Torbjörn Andersen

    Great article! I have been a sceptic, mainly due to the plastic. But after this I know better.
    I would take the time to read more of your articles if you would cut them shorter, half would do it 😉

    • Duane Lardon

      Sorry but I disagree about cutting short your information delivery. I read and cherished every word!

  7. mildren81

    Love it or hate it, the inventors from Australia are responsible for a surge in beekeeping and general bee awareness on a global scale. That in itself is impressive! Simon from HiveKeepers.

  8. Rich V.

    I commend the author for a well-balanced article. I will admit I’m one of those beekeepers who was dead-set against the Flow Hive, for all of the reasons given as examples by Hillary. But I had never spoken to anyone who actually used one. So my judgement was premature and not fairly based in experience. As I read this article, I became enlightened to the real pros and cons of the Flow Hive, and I have to admit it doesn’t sound bad after finishing the article and contemplating on Hillary’s observations and experience. In other words, I was wrong in my judgement. As difficult as it might be for my ego to admit I was too hasty, I will force it to accept the facts and make new conclusions from those. Thank you for the honest article.

    • John L.

      Thank you for coming around on the Flow hive, I have been bastardized for having them, I started last year with 2 flow hives from campaign (6 frame flow/ 8 frame langs), but I now have 3, but have just now put 2 of the flow supers on, Have spent the last year working my 2 flow/ langs hives, and I have added 1 more flow hive (7 frame flow/ 10 frame langs) this year and 2 traditional cedar langs. I didn’t start this to become a Honey Business, but a hobby, to help my farm, pecan orchard, lake and everything else on the property. I have planted 1 acre of wild flowers, another 2 acres of millet, sunflower, milo for the dove, duck and goose hunting over my lake. Love my Flow Hives

      • Shane

        Shane again yes I actually love your flow hive because I’m getting them all for free from my friends who have lost interest in them after a few little stings and there mates and there mates.and there friends so I’m cleaning up they said they bit me + I said u mean they stung u + he said or yeah haha + tell the other nerd not to tell me something I already know emagen all the other abandon hives out there that beginners have just left in there yard or scrub that I don’t know about be alright if they had trackers on then + I also do beekeeping in the nude I’ll show u how u don’t even get one sting a speshial remedy tell your mate I’ll show him a thing or 2 that he wouldn’t know a thing about just another little comment u should leave your honey in the cells a bit longer when there capped over don’t rush.into it + drain it straight away leave it for a while give it time to mature like a fine wine take it to soon + it tastes to nectory + can make some people a bit crook in the gut if not most people don’t forget when u look through your observation window don’t get to exited put another supper on top of that one uell get twise as much honey I’m sure u can wait a little longer for your golden honey and by then it will be better tasting + if u got a good honey flow going it will fill up in no time lern to have patients remember I don’t know enythink about bees acorcing to the other know it all remember flow spelt backward sayes wolf is that what u r see u around happy keeping ,,Shane

    • Missouri

      Thank you for info. I’ll be looking more info on roof top hives and their special needs as that might work better than I was thinking. *I have looked at the flow system because I want my family to be able to enjoy raw honey without thinking of bee parts and brood, or larva having to be strained out. I still have a lot of research to do before I pursue any type of beekeeping. Is there a company that uses the “divider” (I can’t think of the proper term) that keeps the queen out and eggs being laid in the super? Also, if anyone who bee keeps could tell me if there’s another way to harvest without risk of hurting bees? I realize a very small percentage of the hive dies naturally but would rather not have to think about any parts being in it. :)* Any help is greatly appreciated!

      • Hilary

        I can tell you have been doing research, but you also seem confused with how beekeeping works. I highly recommend you check out my Intro to Beekeeping class. You can stream it online You still have to inspect the brood in the Flow Hive. It’s like any other hive in that way. You can harvest honey without hurting bees in any hive style. The purpose of the Flow Hive is to make the honey harvesting process easier for beekeepers.

  9. Patrick Purcell

    Hi Hilary,
    I have not had the benefit of seeing nor using a flow hive yet but I have one concern. You state “We could tell through the window that the frames were capped and there was no need to open the hive at all for the harvest.” How do you know that the nectar in the middle of the frames or out of sight, is in fact capped honey?

    My latest inspection of a hive in one of my apiaries had capped honey on one side of the frame and nectar on the other. I’m hoping that by next week when I get back there that both sides will be capped.

    Other than that question, I agree and celebate the invention for getting a lot more peolpe interested in beekeeping.
    Solomon Islands

    • Hilary

      I originally thought I would still need to pull frames to check to make sure they are capped, but I found that the bees consistently started filling from the center of the frames so by the time nectar was in the cells on the edges of the frame everything was full. You can see the thin layer of wax that caps these outer cells, too. If you really wanted to double check you could pull up frames, but there wasn’t a need.

      • Alex

        I totally disagree with that. I’ve been using them for four years and that’s not the case with my bees.

        I find than ma y times the visible cells are capped but when I inspect I find a very high percentage of uncapped, unripe honey.

        When I bought my hives I didn’t know anything about bees and fell for all the marketing. There is still misleading marketing on their website as of today, and that is putting me off FlowHives.

      • Poppy

        Interesting, I have noticed most of the positive articles written here are from newcomers or perhaps those contemplating using a Flow Hive product. The negative articles, although lesser, are experienced Beeks that have actually used product as well as other products for years. Just food for thought.

  10. April Hay

    I am a bit of a skeptic, only because I question the durability of the outer clear plastic of the Flow frames. It seems like anything made of thin clear plastic has a pretty short lifespan. What do you think, Hilary? After using a Flow Hive and seeing how they are made, how many years would you estimate the Flow frames will last in Southern California? Is there any problem with cleaning them out after the honey flow has ended?

    • Hilary

      The plastic isn’t clear and it doesn’t feel too delicate. I really don’t feel like I can speculate on the lifespan. I have no idea! As far as the cleaning goes, the bees will clean it out so, you do not have to worry about that.

  11. chris

    Hillary – you have done great video’s in the past about other topics. I am sure you video’d your honey harvest using the flow hive. It would add greatly to your argument if you showed this as well. Just curious why no such excellent video. Also, are all the photo’s of the flow hive taken by you or are they pictures supplied by the folks at Flow hive ? Just curious. Even though I can afford the flow hive easily, I have no inclination to do lazy bee-keeping as I’m just a backyard bee keeper. I have spoken to absolute never had bees people who ask me about the flow hive….because they like the idea of just turning on the honey tap…LOL. Why are people looking for the path of least effort and maximum gain at all times ?
    I can see the usefulness for commercial honey suppliers such as yourself.

    • Hilary

      You are correct, I did take video of the harvest I did. I probably should have included it. Maybe I will add it in. In answer to your other question, I took the photos myself.

    • Mike England

      You obviously didn’t scroll down far enough when you were reading lol lovely video of the harvesting using the flow…

    • Tyler

      As a non bee keeper there is many reasons for a desire for a flow hive. I’ll start with saying my wife was raised around bees since her grandfather kept them. She helped harvest honey and learned a lot about the importance of bees in pollination.

      Having a hive style that is easier is very helpful in teaching younger children about the importance of bees through hands on activities. Even if it is just easier harvesting of the honey it also shows a great view of the honey combs and the inner workings of the hive.

      We have considered having a hive for quite a while and a hive like this is great for our ability to teach our kids in a fun and interactive way.

      I don’t see it as promoting lazy bee keepers but as a way to open up something to a younger group of people I’m fun and exciting ways.

  12. Julie P

    Thank you for a clear explanation of what the differences are. I am considering a hive and I am trying to learn as much as possible before I commit. I would like to try the traditional setup because those mentors who are available seem to prefer that method. After I get some experience I would consider a Flow hive, If cost is not prohibitive. I mean besides the side benefit of honey, fostering the bees and having kick ass pollinators by my garden is the most important reason I have. Once again thanx……

  13. Bernadette Russell

    Thankyou so much Hillary for your article. I started my bee journey with a flow hive but before using it did classes. I had wanted bees for about 8 years but didn’t like the idea of the messy clean up from spinning frames with only one hive. Then the flow popped up. I have an ideal of frames on top of my brood box, mainly because of weight issues,half wXed and half with just a strip this year. They have capped all these. And they are working in the flows. We have not had a good year with the weather so I am very happy. I have found the negativity a major hurdle to learning more because there are so many negative bee keepers around in Australia about it. Thankyou for your comments because it may help some of these negative bee keepers help some new bee keepers on their journey.

  14. Emily Scott

    A well-written and balanced article. I would be interested to try one, but the cost is too much for me and I believe is what’s putting experienced beekeepers off. Some of the beekeepers I know save money by looking in skips for anything useful they can find! They are not going to spend money on a fancy box when a wooden one will do the job. I’m not complaining about the cost, I understand why it costs what it does, but it’s not worth it for me when the honey harvest takes such a small part of the year – and some years I don’t even take any honey!

  15. kelandpat2013

    A great, common sense article, thank you!

  16. Charles Rivers

    Never on my watch. I am oversuspicious of any article written from someone commenting on a free whatever. I am into natural bee keeping & try to treat the bees as family.

    • Lewis Palmer

      Hi Charles
      So you keep your bees in a hollow ie the natural way! Wow! Please post more information on how you check the hive you keep in this natural way. Oh and please show us how you manage the pests in your hollow log hive and how you harvest the honey.
      Keeping bees in a langstroth hive or a top bar hive is not “natural”.
      Love that you treat you bees as family, good for you but you are not “into natural beekeeping”.

  17. Jenny Cocks

    Thank you for your very interesting article.
    It was because of the Flow Hive invention that hubby and I are now proud bee keepers. We have been to courses to learn more about all that is involved in beekeeping. We originally were only going to have one hive, now we have five.
    We are fascinated with watching our bees and have a genuine interest in this wonderful new hobby.
    Yes there are many people out there who dislike the Flow Hive and are not willing to change their views.
    But for us, the way of harvesting the honey is the key. Non invasive, not bees harmed or disturbed was the main reason we went this way.
    Since we started bee keeping we have formed a strong bond with other traditional bee keepers who have in turn, have watched how our hives have developed etc.

  18. robert

    The man who really invented the flow hive as it is called is not from australia it was invented by a man i believe out of spain. One of the forums I was on had the actual 1940s patent. People think having bees is so easy as the flow hive commercials seem to act. You have to have knowledge. Not this mentality of life is easy. I have seen grown people go into a store and complain why something is not on the shelf. Its like getting a rabbit for easter or a cute dog you see after the disney movie or chickens and soon do not have the time or patience for them Same goes with kids only thing is you cannot return them to the store lol. I just dumped 1200 into this year buying and building frames then more honeybees over this dec to early march wind to the ice was bad here. I recommend on youtube michael palmer then watch parts 1-5 the monk and the honeybee also a man out of oregon state,usa thebeevlog and don the fat bee man,628DirtRooster,Tom Seeley: Honeybee Democracy. I hope this helps. Next to oogle on facebook local outlets and gain sources. More than honey,the vanishing of the bees. The crazy world of the honeybee. I recommend if you are in the states or canada buckfast honeybees much more gentle 1 queen costs 90 dollars but if you have let’s say aggressive italian honeybees the buckfast will turn the hive over to buckfast bees. Just giving my 2 cents. Plus watch videos on killerbees. Learn what is going on in china and japan. Look at india some of these places are killing the honeybee. Look into also killerbees.

  19. sweetgreyhappenings

    Posting using my wife’s account. Great article. We were sceptical about being able to tell when the cells were capped, you cleared that up nicely. I would seriously consider using the Super now. If I had to bet, I would think that some people will buy this under the mistaken perception that it is “easy” beekeeping. Maybe there will be some that pop up on craigslist. We have not harvested honey, we have let the bees keep it so far. Thank you for the objective and detailed take on this!

  20. Sue

    I am a new beekeeper and I think the people already keeping bees need to take some responsibility for the high failure rate of those starting out. I got my first hive on the 27th of March and a week later I find out the colony was in trouble because it was infected with chalk brood. The only reason I found out was because I visited a local major beekeeping shop in order to get some foundation and frames and casually mentioned the funny white stuff the bees were rolling out the hive entrance. The hive had been sold to me diseased. The registered beekeeper who sold it to me also told me not to open the hive for a month and not to feed them. What chance does a new beekeeper have in that situation?
    I opened up the hive and found that half the frames were empty and the colony was struggling.(I also managed to get stung and found out I am allergic to bees ,ha,ha…. that might be another reason why people give up in the first year? I haven’t yet. I went to the hospital and now have an Epipen just in case).
    I fed the bees, and bought a new ventilated base board for the hive which incorporates a large beetle trap. I opened them up yesterday and they have not made any new comb but there are more bees and they are more energetc.
    I bought a traditional langstroth hive to start with and I have two flow hives that will bee delivered tonight. I am very excited, however, I will not take honey this year at all. I have bought flows for the traditional langstroth hive as I am hoping it will encourage happy bees. I am also treating the sick hive with Hive Alive.
    Wish me luck please :). Thank you for your great website and insights.

  21. NaturoCath Naturopathy

    Thank you for such a balanced assessment from a skilled beekeeper. I have a flow hive and it has been a wonderful experience. I take the responsibility of caring for my bees seriously and enjoy them immensely. I do take your point about having some concerns re plastic etc but for me the upside is the avoidance of harming the bees during harvest. I am so happy with my set up that I am looking at getting a second flow hive.

  22. Susan Low

    Thanks for the informative article. I’m a very experienced Canadian beekeeper who has been bombarded with questions about the Flow Hive. One of my concerns in our northern climate is whether the honey will actually flow out of the hive if the weather really cools down during that period. We often get a late honey flow here in August but temperatures can be quite cool. I have heard of a couple of a couple of ‘newbees’ in our area who purchased Flow Hives last year but I haven’t heard how they made out.

    • Karen Rau

      I am a beekeeper on the Colorado plains and I bought one Flow Hive just to test it out. The bees did not treat it any differently and built it up their comb. That hive lost their queen and they did not successfully requeen it, so in late winter/early spring, the girls had all died. I decided to take any honey they left behind. Still being cold weather (not Canada cold!) the honey was very slow, so I took the frames indoors to extract the honey. It went a little faster inside where it was warm, but it was very thick honey. We are a dry climate, so that may have something to do with the thickness. As far as getting the honey out of the Flow Hive, it was as easy as the video shows. What an ingenious invention! The only concern I had was that the honey dripped out of the cracked wax cappings, right down the sides of the frames and not just the “Flow” method through the tap. The total amount that dripped down the sides was about a half of a pint per frame. I saw on one of the Flow videos that theirs dripped a little, not as much as mine. I dont know if the colder weather or drier wax is what led to the excessive drippiness. All in all, I will use the Flow Hive again, but I will still keep all my langstroths.

  23. Amy Keller

    Such an interesting unbiased article. The most interesting article I’ve read about the flow hive thus far. I just started with two standard hives. And yes, I’m so looking forward to my first honey harvest the traditional way. But who knows? Maybe some day down the road, I will want to give the flow hive a try.

  24. Li

    Thanks for your thoughts and observations. You make a good point about how advantageous the flow frames would be in certain conditions, like roof top hives. All beekeeping is local and to each his own.
    I do think some people were inspired to try beekeeping who thought it finally looked easy. I had someone come up to me at the market where I was selling honey and say “I’m having a cedar Flow hive delivered. If I put in my yard will the bees move in?”. I encouraged her to get a book but she did not seem interested in bees, just excited about the gadget. I’m glad to hear
    she was an anomaly.
    I heard from someone who sells equipment at one of the bigger suppliers that they were a little upset at having been cut out of the sales. The hives were all being ordered directly from the maker, instead of through US suppliers. Maybe the suppliers would have promoted good thoughts about the hive if they had been allowed to sell it?

    • Hilary

      I believe Bee Thinking is the US supplier. The creators wanted a supplier who used sustainable wood.

  25. Ashley K

    Having only played with a flow frame outside of the hive, can I ask if you had any problems withe bees propolyzing the turning mechanism shut? Or bees getting trapped and dying in the flow frames once they’ve been drained and closed again?

    • Hilary


  26. Mani R Subramani

    I live in Minnesota and am a fourth-year bee keeper. I got a flow hive last year but my experience has been disappointing. There was a good flow last year but he bees seemed to just ignore the hive and fil the supers above this one….there was a lot of through traffic but no honey stored! Last year, I sprayed the flow hive frames with sugar syrup with some Pro-health…and did the same this year when I put in the flow hive on my brood box last week.. You indicate that I could rub some wax…can you please provide some details? Do I just brush on wax onto frames with a painting brush from a contained with liquid wax? I am concerned about gumming up the mechanism.
    thanks in advance.

    • Hilary

      I think I am going to do a post on this since you are not the only one to ask, but yes, just brush on melted wax. It also sounds like you put empty supers on top of your flow super… is that right?

    • Lyn G

      I’m a newbie. In one of the videos they said you rub on the wax from the brood box to avoid cross contamination using other wax.

  27. Tim Blodgett

    Very subjective article. But I did learn a few things. If you folks are only getting 30-60 pounds of honey per year I can see your point of view. $400-600 per honey super for a hobbyist might not be that big a deal. In Central Florida a double brood box with 3-6 honey supers is common during nectar flows despite being a hobbyist, sideliner or commercial beekeeper. The per flow-hive honey super cost would quickly becomes prohibitive. Especially when you consider that after 2 years the internal comb coating becomes constrictive to the point that bees can’t get their heads in necessitating replacement of the comb by the third year. But I guess it would take 2 to 3 times longer in California considering your honey production rate. I notice you didn’t mention anything about accumulations of toxins in wax? In Central Florida we provide 80-85% of the honey bee pollination services for the entire USA. First stop in the spring is the almond crop in your southern region followed by various produce as they head north throughout the state. The bee colony death rates coming out of CA is outrageous to the point that many farms have been black listed, pollination fees increased the past few years from $225 to $475/hive per stop. In response to this problem we recently raising funds for a Bee Lab that includes the ability to measure the amount of toxins from beeswax in hives returning from California. The state is a toxic cesspool for bees. So I pose this question: Why would you teach and promote a system (the flow hive) that suppresses toxic wax removal from the hive as a part of routine maintenance at such an astronomic cost? Put simple, $15 to replace a set of frames and reduce toxins every few years vs $400-600 to replace an entire flow hive honey super that leaves the toxins in?
    As for my qualifications: my degrees don’t matter, I have been mentored by numerous master beekeepers & attended Bee College at UF at Gainsville, I teach beekeeping,give presentations to all ages & interest groups for free, provide multiple free public bee capture, relocation and educational services including a live public observation hive.
    Tim Blodgett -President Beekeepers of Volusia County FL

    • Hilary

      Hi Tim, in what way does the Flow Hive suppresses toxic wax removal? The Flow super is plastic combs so, there is very little wax up there and what is up there breaks apart when you turn the harvesting mechanism. The brood boxes are no different from any other Langstroth hive and the beekeeper can rotate out old combs or not.

      • Tim Blodgett

        Any wax builds up a considerable amount of toxins. Especially if your bees are feeding on any commercial operation, landscaped area or thoughtless home owners. If you are knowledgeable Beekeeper you try to scrape out 2yr old wax or dispose of the frames to reduce the concentrations in your colony. This might cost about $35 per box in a Langstrom. Comparable cost in a flow hive is ?? How many hundreds$$? I agree with you that people can decide for themselves if they wish to incur the cost. But failing to include this sales information or that they are paying for brood space that is 1/2 the size needed for a well managed healthy hive is a kin to the honestly level of a used car salesperson.

        • Hilary

          Have you read Tom Seely’s new book? The Lives of Bees. He talks about how small brood nests are actually advantageous for the colonies survival. I think the way you are looking at the price is a little simplistic. They are paying for the specialized flow frames which will save time and effort in the honey harvesting process over and over again. Time is money.

    • Timothy Kennedy

      Hi Hilary, because of my age I can get away with saying things like “I like your picture, you’re as cute as a bug… I mean bee”. I’m 74 years old and have been a beekeeper for a long time… about 60 days so far. I’ve watched so many videos and read so many blogs since the first of the year that I can’t remember what my wife looks like. I particularly appreciate your calm reasoned analysis of “the flow hive question”. I have yet to harvest a drop of honey but am amazed at the diversity of “expertise” found on the internet. Because of shoulders which have been thoroughly beaten up over the years I decided to use 8 frame mediums and a flow hive super. I calculated the area of foundation on two ten frame deeps and came to the conclusion that I needed four 8 frame mediums to match that for adequate winter capacity for northern Illinois and I was hoping that my Nuc colony would be able to grow and strengthen this summer, enough to get through winter, and perhaps I’d be lucky enough to harvest a bit of honey as well. I knew the first year was critical and had no illusions that I could sit back and do nothing. I was not warned about what actually happened. As of this week (July 10th) all four mediums are jammed with brood and honey and I have added the flow super. Yesterday I did a non-invasive inspection and the flow super is full of bees prepping the flow hive for nectar. I was not expecting that we might harvest honey this early and am wondering if you have any advice concerning things going way too well. There are no blogs about how to deal with such prosperity.

      • Hilary

        Hi Tim, how lucky for you! If they fill the flow super and you have 4 full mediums under it, I think you can probably do a harvest. Was that your question?

  28. Rich Staley

    Great article. I have both hives. Love both for different reasons, and hate both for different reasons. But I love the Flow Hive for education with children.

  29. Greg Maulder

    Can you tell me what happens when the Flow Hive harvest has been made and the bees have capped cells without honey behind the caps. Do they tear the caps off and refill because they sense the lack of honey in those cells, or are they left capped until they are looking for the honey they thought was stored there?

    • Hilary

      When the key is turned to harvest the honey, the caps are broken. The bees clear them away and will refill if there is still a nectar flow.

  30. Michael Bush

    It is very refreshing to read an article on the Flow Hive by someone who actually has at least SEEN one. You actually have USED one. Thank you for a well thought out, well presented article on the topic. I can’t say how they will age yet, but I got my first one a year before they hit the market and it’s still doing great.

  31. Bill

    G’day Hilary.
    Your article title invites reading in exposing an experienced BKs opinion
    as to the adverse impact on a colony yet nowhere in the piece or indeed any of the published comment are bees mentioned, social impact however
    runs as the backbone of the work.
    There are three commons shared among your article, and by far the majority of responses to this bLog article;
    1. Without the Internet this project of 10yrs plus would be dead in the water.
    Both inventors knew this from day one regardless of whether they had sighted the earlier patent. A patent still uncontested as I am best informed.
    2. A claim – either directly or by inference- the owners of these frames are
    not expecting a return in cash on the investment . Naive at best. wholly false/misleading “feel good” propaganda is the actual reality, given the many implied motives for questions asked by Flow owners who do seek advice publicly.
    3. It is the management of the colony which is going to prevent this bubble
    from expanding beyond the initial honeymoon phase, A point in histort which may prevail for some five years yet. There are no released plans beyond the initial supply of launch orders developing into something else, as an ongoing contribution to the industry. There does though exist the distinct possibility other equipment and resource suppliers will ride on the back of the bubble as Flow owners struggle in managing colonys, given the plethora of advices at odds in anecdotal opinions.
    I noted Cedar’s discomfort with the pressure to swap to corporate mode, in going forward. I truly felt a pang of pity/empathy for his situation. He is not the first to extract those ties of understanding from myself –

    That line long trumpeted on the Internet “beekeeping is local” is the backdoor excuse for many snafu’s created for bees by us humans.
    Largely promoted by that region highly targeted, the USA, it will be part of history where the Internet was used to source and recruit BKs in a part of the world entirely alienated from that “local” the 10 year long R&D was conducted in. As even in your account there was no proof of excellence over seasons in the USA and Europe, release happening immediately recognisable USA apiarists were onboard.
    There is a devil in that sales strategy in that “local” on the Internet is right there on the keyboard.
    In Australia “local” is “word of mouth”, and whilst many an Aussie BK of extensive experience is wisely keeping their own counsel around the frame’s use, it would be a struggle to gather a quorum of recognized “local” opinion supporting the frame in a wholescale takeup.
    Yet the Internet can easily pull in an audience through blogs, forums and showtime video releases.
    One example where “beekeeping is local” can be trotted out as excuse is
    that old hair-coat of queen excluder use. Locally we run single Lang brood chambers in 9/10 config with up to 3 full depth 10fr supers above, For most of the 300 days available the excluder can be manipulated as flows wax and wane. Brood is not encouraged above that single box, the excluder being used for those days bees may expand the core of the brood pattern, upwards. For the USA the flow season is so short as to always encourage an expansive brood chamber, with wintering a background noise in management. So it is excluders are not in wide use for “local”(USA) management reasons. Yet when brood appears in USA Flow frames out comes the “beekeeping is local”, and the excluders rattle out of their storage, or not. I am not alone in questioning the ethics of those who would promote Flow frames in a market which is so far removed from “local” as to have use of just that one piece of kit in such high contention.

    The whole of the argument the inrush of available honey in all markets is not going to affect established apiarists across the outyards of the USA can be debunked by simply asking yourself, “how much honey in pounds do my immediate contacts consume in a single year”.
    My answer to that? “30 pounds, tops”, back in the day.
    So now, hypothetically, I have a Flow super returning 60 pound/yr in downtown Miami. What do I do with the excess 30 pounds? My bee club numbers have tripled with Flow purchasers eager to “have honey on tap”, making a possible tripling of my problem, assuming we all get past the two year barrier without sufficient loss to take the shine off beekeeping.
    The bottom line is;
    a.) no effect on mainline producers as it is unlikely any Flow owner is going to produce enough product to engage a broker.
    b.) where any impact is seen it will be amongst neighbours “local”, as existing local markets will be enjoying a glut from that excess 30 pounds
    for at least for a year or so.

    It is not a cash cow mentality behind any market inrush from Flow only owners, it is the “oh my, what do I do with all this honey!”. They will sell it, period.

    In closing I note nowhere do you address the elephant in the room, I am hoping that is only because your practice is TF, and so disease controls
    do not exist beyond “let bees do what bees do”.
    Beyond wax moth and toads I own little of the P&D experience peers in the USA and Canada would own. We are yet to see Varroa identified in Australia, so I ready myself for that intervention in what is largely a TF practice of mine own to date, for many a year now. Yet I fully appreciate the sentiments of those in the USA who forecast significant increase in “mite bomb” numbers from the adoption of these frames into colonys.
    The inventors do address management controls yet not with the same gusto given to introducing the product.
    As you well know or should know there is no complete management plan to hand over for every situation. Any method to be applied comes from a wholesome knowledge of the essentials coupled to alert observation and ingenuity.
    Effectively handing over an automatic ‘weapon’ without making the above very plain and very clear is hard to condone when executed by well experienced beekeepers.

    For the record, Hilary, the Flow is a smart introduction to beekeeping
    well worth the admiration held for two blokes who saw a problem, solved
    it, and rode the tiger that is the Internet. One effort not to be sneezed at, I believe the Flow will find it’s place in history for that achievement alone.

    I was led to your article by your recent referral in a Flow forum;
    I do understand my comments might not be added to those supporting your
    article. I do however reserve the right to use the work (links inclusive) in other forums where the debate continues, openly.



    • Hilary

      Hi Bill,

      So many words here, but to be honest, I understood very little of what you wrote and what your actual objections are.

      • John

        Have to agree with you, Hillary.

  32. Bill

    “Objections” Hilary?
    I do not recall writing any of the above as “objections”, the piece
    simply put together as your use of title – in referring folk to your site/article – implies there is something “bad for bees” in using Flow frames. The expectation then is to read a piece which debunks that line of thought, or outlines just what in Flow frames is “bad for bees”.
    Your piece does neither, really.
    My piece simply follows your format yet finishes with addressing
    that single looming “bad”. A “bad” which has nought connection to
    the actual frame itself but is hugely connected to the use of them, wholescale, as the product launch has initiated. A “bad” your piece fails to address.



  33. Zad

    Hillary my complaint with the flow hive isn’t the plastic, nor the ease of use or supposed lack of connection to the bees.

    My complaint is the total lack of customer service skills provided from said company. In short I funded a 6frame and box within minutes of their launch on indiegogo. To the tune if about 600$ With more in shipping to be paid later after they figured it out. In a few mins later I discover that a complete hive could be purchased for just about 60-80$ more. (It was lower on the page) I was told I’d receive my box just before spring in the us. I quickly sent an email with request to change it to a complete hive and pay more. To which they relied my order would now be bumped to sept/October effectively preventing start of a new hive here.

    When I wrote back to ask them to reconsider they became down right nasty about it. They could care less I was one of the very first supporters (before they broke indigogo)

    When I said something on their Facebook page, hoping another member of the company was managing that) they blocked me!!!

    I asked for my money back and was glad to get it. A few weeks later. My opinion is they could care less about the individual service. Manlake, Dadent and others would never behave this way. Personally I hate flow hive.

    However I bought a much cheaper Chinese knock off and plan to use it.

    A while back flow hive emails me to offer 25% off. I’m thinking wow. Maybe they ARE sorry for the way I was treated. Nope. It was just a mass marketing ploy to everyone ever in their database. When I reached out I found out I was still blocked and they weren’t trying to reestablish a relationship In fact, they expected me to apologize and “play nice” and they “might” reinstate me on their face book page.

    Nope. No apology for the misunderstanding or the way a first supporter was treated. No concern to establish customer service or regain a customer. Basically we have enough money, so forget you.

    Personally flow hive will never gain a dime from me. In fact I link everyone I can to ebay and amazon for the knock offs to show them how they can pay 25% of the cost of a flow hive.

    I just worry about all those backyard bee keepers who didn’t buy. When they have a problem they will find flowhive a level of concern for the customer is zilch. So my problem with flow hive? Why pay 4x the cost for zero customer service?

  34. Bill

    Hello Zad,
    G’day from “Down Under” in trust you do “get my drift” as helpful, not defensive, comment.
    I write primarily to ask you to reconsider spreading the word for the Shinese knockoffs, this for the very same points made in my earlier submission. It matters little really what the upfront cost of the kit is, the outcomes for our industry remain the same.

    And this?
    “I just worry about all those backyard bee keepers who didn’t(sic) buy. When they have a problem they will find flowhive a level of concern for the customer is zilch. So my problem with flow hive? Why pay 4x the cost for zero customer service?”

    Please do accept my sincere connection in empathy for the way you were treated – I do not doubt for a nanosecond your account is truth. I have like experience I will not divert into.
    However rest assured the person/s behind those actions were not Australian – at least not by birthright/upbringing. Being able to state such with confidence, I could point you to loads of apiarist suppliers in this Country who would happily onsell – at your favour – were they able to do so.
    Flow is a closed shop operation, last I heard.
    Moreover, we pride ourselves – and NZ(Kiwi Land) cojointly – on customer service as an “Aussie thing”. That said, we ourselves as individuals still find much to whinge about around suppliers of anything! ;-D

    No Zad, those people are American, or at least USA, educated. The silent witnesess stand out like the proverbial “dog’s knackers”.
    There is provenance still today to be found in my Flow[tm] forum posts – handle = “eltalia”. Even a quick skim/read will illustrate my impartial attitude, along with the intent of helping Aussie newbies with the basics, something Flow[tm] themselves wish to contain to eMail only. I’d like to be a fly on the wall in reading those exchanges… heh.
    Yet along comes a USA based “attitude adjuster”, restructuring a newbie’s frustration with the product, and the second I hand the guy his butt on a plate I get an “official warning”. That just goes downhill further faster when my questioning of the ethic cited has me branded “racist” – of all things! – and banned from the forum.

    Your post to this page says one American moderator accepts “free speech” as a Right for all peoples. Yet obviously your experience says not all share that same respect for their ‘customers’, nor their choices.
    Funnily enough the evidence questions the status of Flow[tm] staffers, are they really beeKeepers or is it so they are beeUsers?


    • RL

      The way you write really makes it hard to understand what, exactly, you are saying. The part about blaming the US for the poor customer service came through pretty clearly though and to that I have to say that it is a total cop out. An Australian does something commendable and it is because of superior Australian ethics and when they do something shady it is forced upon them by the USA? Pride in one’s country is a great thing but you have to take the bad with the good. People are the same everywhere. Some good, some bad. It isn’t Australian and bad.

    • Paul Bergild

      Zad, I would be very sorry to see you promote a knock-off copy of the original flow hide, You should be aware of all the damage The Chinese have caused to western manufacturers who did all the research only to find a Chinese manufacturer stole their idea, personally, when shopping I turn over the item I want to buy, and if made in China will ask the shop assistant have you got something similar not made in China, I don’t really care if what I buy from another country is a bit dearer, but I do care very much regarding Chinas bullying of other countries.

  35. Duncan Sproule

    Hey Hillary, Nothing like being a NuBEE and landing in a Hornets nest.
    Your comments i found to be balanced and informative, no add extras(super sized) to be had. I live in Leatherwood,
    and Manuka Honey central that is north-west Tasmania.
    The Apiarists in this area are fairly neutral as they defend plastic hives for commercial and timber for hobbyists alike. I myself have both flow hives and Langstroth and find that my love of bee keeping has no bounds. I encourage all the woofers who come to learn the art of Luthiery(mainly Ukulele’s) at my farm/workshop to have a broader appreciation of being a better steward of what we have, this also includes bee keeping.I commend your spirit, on this issue, lets just call it as it is…Change! may we all reap 100x what we sow.

  36. Contrarian

    What I don’t understand is why nobody talks about beeswax. From my perspective, beeswax is more valuable than the honey. Most intensive beekeepers just feed sugar all the time anyway. But all the organic chemists in the world have yet to duplicate beeswax.

  37. Dave

    Thank you so much for a very insightful article. I’ve read a dozen or so reviews of the Flow Hive from other apiarists and many of them seemed quite biased in the same way my great grandfather was biased against tractors and kept his draft horses instead. Yours is the first article I’ve come across that gives a very open minded and balanced review of this new invention and I am grateful for it.

    Keep up the good work with your bees, blog, and all the other ventures and pursuits you have. If I were in San Diego, I’d sign up for your class today.


  38. Dominique Bourg

    Love your article and your outlook! I am just starting to learn about beekeeping as well doing research on which system would work best for me, my climate and challenges. I felt that you raised so many valid points! In fact, many were the same feelings and ideas that I had as I read the many malicious anti-flowhive beekeeper “expert” opinions! Feels good to have my novice instincts validated! I’d also like to add to your list of commentary and observation, that if these critics can say the flowhive is a “robbing of the bees”, then I would counter within the same line of thinking, that any beekeeping in essence is a “robbing of the bees”? So what is your point a-holes?

    • Bill

      Accepting your view Mr Boug in citeing beekeepers who do not share your lack of knowledge are “a-holes” I would counsel your descison to undertake owning bees in a Flowhive should bring disappointment as beekeeping is about maintaining a viable organism, a concept not illustrated in your post. You can publish your ignorance, cast dispersion on hard won knowledge, yet not only does that reaction err in justification it also broadcasts your personal affrontry to education.
      It is that element of ignorance which “expert” beekeepers use as excuse to reject your stereotype from beekeeping communities.
      You build your own pyre and then complain when a beekeeper
      applies the match!


  39. Rod Frost

    I have been considering joining the bee keeping club. Flow Hive offers some advantages that encourage me to move forward. I must say,…the criticism (of Flow Hive) of many elitist bee keepers has been a huge turn off. I am sorry that I might not be “your kind” of bee keeper. Not good enough to join the ranks. But does my participation have no value? I would be a hobbyist, does this preclude me from providing some “bee” benefit overall. Don’t be a snob…encourage as does the “beekeepinglikeagirl” notes here!!

  40. heidi

    hello~ I purchased a FlowHive a couple years ago during their funding stage. I am fascinated by bees, garden organically, no pesticides near my home at all. I live in the Rocky Mtns so I’m lucky that way. I was attacked by wasps (guessing, they came out of the ground) when I was a kid and still have anxiety around bees in general. I thought a flow hive might help ease me into bee keeping. I am anti plastic though- and didn’t realize the plastic component a few years ago when I bought it. I haven’t ever set it up and was going to this spring. However, after reading articles from you and some others, I might just jump in feet first with natural hives.

    Thank you for your article.

    • Bill

      Assuming you drive a car, ride a bike or even a horse these days,
      you cannot *be* “anti plastic” and claim integrity.
      You do not know “natural” beekeeping is an advanced stage of a beekeepers learning, one many walk away from as “too hard”.
      I have TBH, Skep, and log hives as well as traditional Langstroth structures the Flowhive is based on, covering all that did not happen overnight, or “naturally”, by any stretch of Truth.
      I would strongly urge you to explore locally to find assistance in setting yours up. Or sell it and walk away from the risk of further anxiety.


  41. Glen Kitto

    A very well-written article. Everyone is entitled to think what they may, or do as they may. I think you touch both sides of the argument eloquently and give the reader and beekeeper the chance to take what you’ve written and form their own opinion. For that, I applaud you. As for me, I’m about to undertake beekeeping for the benefit to our planet as well as for some great honey! I will likely give to friends and family and not sell commercially. So I’m hoping my new Flow Hive that arrives this August does just that. I am looking forward to the knowledge, trials, testing, overseeing that I will undertake. I applaud Flow for developing a new and successful method that got guys and gals like me into beekeeping!

  42. lulubeekeeping

    Thanks for an honest article. I am switching my bees over today and look forward to comparing how alongside my traditional Langstroth hive.

  43. Mark Ryder

    Thank you very much for this article, I was feeling the reviews and such were more about people issues rather than about the functionality of the hive itself. I will be moving forward on my FlowHive purchase. Thanks again

  44. Brian Steed

    First year beekeeper in Ohio here, and I wanted to let you know that your blog has been a great source of information and encouragement, as well as an enthusiasm-builder.

    I started my first two hives in April – one Flow and one traditional Langstroth. I added the Flow super about a month ago and the bees took to the Flow frames immediately, getting to work on filling in the gaps between the frame sections to prepare the cells for use. About two weeks later they started filling and capping the cells, and this week marked my first ever honey harvest – drained three frames yielding about three quarts. I haven’t experienced harvesting with a standard Langstroth yet (doubt that I’ll be getting honey from my non-Flow hive this year – honestly was surprised that I got surplus honey from the Flow since both are first year colonies), but the process of jarring honey straight from the Flow was so easy, quick, and non-intrusive that I’m already considering buying a flow super for my other hive.

    And less than a week after harvesting the bees are already well on their way to re-filling the harvested frames!

    • Hilary

      That’s great! I always like to see them replace those frames quickly. You must have a strong nectar flow on!

      • Brian Steed

        Yeah, that’s the other neat thing about the Flow frames. Because they’re transparent I can watch how quickly they’re filling and re-filling the frames, which helps me gauge the nectar flow. We are having an unexpectedly strong nectar flow around here, the beeks in my club tell me that there was a dearth this time last year, but we had some nectar-boosting rains this summer. Only took my colony a week and a half to completely re-fill and re-cap the first two frames I harvested!

        Thanks again for your work on the blog, your insights have been really helpful to me as a newb to the bee world.

        • Nik

          Thank you so much for your post! I am from Ohio as well, and am considering a flow hive as well as a top bar. I would love to collect wax for candles, hence top bar. But the convenience of the flow hive just seems to make sense for me and my family in regards to honey harvest, and reading your reply helps reinforce that (along with this article!). Thanks again!

  45. Jim Dunn

    Great article! In keeping with the basic tenets of journalism it presented both sides of pretty much all the arguments, and let the reader make their own – informed by someone who had experience with the product – decision.
    I have a Flow super. I use it over two 10-frame Langstroth boxes. I’m a new beek (1 summer, two winters) and I want it to ease the harvest-time work burden. I still perform inspections and deal with any problems as they arise. If you want to keep your bees, you have to do so. I’m not desirous of making a fortune selling honey – I actually want the bees for pollination – but if you have bees, well then you have honey and you gotta deal with it. The Flow super really helps and it doesn’t disturb the ladies. Heh! I uh … seem to recall hearing that Ford was told his invention would never replace the horse, too. At any rate, excellent article – I plan to follow you.

  46. Donald Dunham

    None of that even matters, Its the plastic used
    and It has nothing to do with the bees or the hive,the problem with plastic Is so immense that It Is a problem In EVERY use.

    • Brad Oliphant

      Not sure what you mean. They did 3 years of testing to make sure it was 100%!safe.
      Again speaking on something without know

  47. Shaye Woolard

    Thank you for truly an honest fact based review. I have never read a review like this and wish more people would take the time with the products and be honest. What you do is amazing to me.

  48. Ryan N.

    Hello I’m a noob Beekeeper looking for an answer to a quick question,
    I put my normal, langstroth hive together with no issue (including the infuriating frames) but my flow frame hive seems particularly gimmicky. I find myself with 2 open entrances (one being on the junction between the collection super and the brood super while the other being the normal entrance against the base). This leads me to my question: is this an ok setup, or should I block off this upper entrance somehow? It is my understanding that this makes the hive run more efficiently but I fear that the bees will get overrun while they are still a weak colony.

    • Hilary

      Hi Ryan, I can’t tell from your description what’s going on, but it does not sound right. Try sending me a pic via email.

    • Mahmoud

      I have that too I used entrance reducer, if your top entrance is on the same side of the brood entrance then the set up is correct. That’s how I see it

  49. Jason

    Hey, thank you for your review. I’ll be doing some research and I’m not looking to start a business. I have a small garden, trees, etc and would like a nice bee hive that I can once in a while harvest honey for my own personal use with minimal intrusion on the hive itself. Before I make that commitment I would like to know the basics, mistakes to avoid, and upkeep that is necessary to make sure a hive is healthy.

    I do have a question in which would it be practical to allow the hive to be in the greenhouse during the winter so they can continue to pollinate and stay warm or is wintering part of keeping a beehive healthy?

    Also books that I should read before beginning would be helpful. I want to come into this with about as much knowledge as I can before taking the step of actually owning one.

    Thank you again.

    • Hilary

      Hi Jason, You should check out my two online classes which you can stream from In answer to your question, no it would not be practical to put the hive in a green house, but if you google “european bee house” you will see how something like this can be done if it is designed correctly.

  50. Steve Humphries

    Thanks for the research and article to explain why some people are so opposed to Flow Hives. I just received my first bees in April 2019 so I am researching all I can to learn about what I need to do. My dad had about 10 hives but I didn’t help much with them so while I am familiar with the process I never had to know how to care for them. When I heard about the flow hive I was really excited about a way to harvest the honey in a timely manner without disrupting the bees business of the day. Other than the unusually huge price I didn’t know why current beekeepers were so opposed to a “better” way to do something. I could never have guessed it was the plastic. In our world overflowing with plastic today I still don’t understand their position but thank you for explaining the pros and cons of why not. If you have ever seen bees in the wild with a hive in a hollow tree you will know that bees are quite capable of taking care of themselves. It is removing them from that environment that requires our diligent care.

  51. Rob Pecchenino - Nevada Beekeeper/ living in Asia.

    I have been a Bee Keeper for a long time, I have seen Beekeepers get FILTHY RICH and a BUNCH who go BROKE! I was the Guy who gave FREE HONEY away, to share the Wealth so to say. The Flow Hive I think is ok. As long as all the Food Grade Plastic foundation is coated with Bees wax. After production ramps up & the Knock Off people start making them the cost will drop to a Normal range that will make it cost effective! Right now people are getting into Bees to save the world & our Food supply ! Bees are a wonderful & Noble Royal Insect, and should be respected and treated as such,. WE NEED THEM, THEY DO NOT NEED US ! No matter what bee keeping style you use the Bee keeper still has to Manage the Hive no matter what ! Bee Keepers are a wild Bunch, I have seen them keep Bees in Tires, Clay Pots, Styrofoam Boxes, Cement Boxes, Bamboo poles, and even a Igloo Cooler. who is to say what is Right or wrong. We Humans were given Dominion over the Earth, and everything on it ! No matter what the Bee keeper Robs the hive anyway no mater how you justify it! I was the Last Beekeeper trained by the Last World Master Beekeeper Joe Muncy from Sparks Nevada. He was an eccentric old guy with a touch of Crazy, He would grab a bee and slap it against your arm to make sure you got stung and was good for the season. He had a open mind to things but he taught with a mild temperament with understanding and patients . I am sorry he is gone. But when he spoke the USDA sure listened. He TRAVELED THE WORLD GIVING SEMINARS, and tended his 100 hives by himself! He got the USDA to shut down their Controlling the Hives Program with the Bee Inspector, He made them realize if a Beekeeper was really interested in beekeeping he would take care of his bees with out BIG BROTHER forcing him to! The USDA shut the Beekeeping Department down. Beekeepers were FREE again ! In closing here is an interesting fact, in the last James Bond 007 book by Ian Fleming when James Bond Retired from MI6, He entered the Noble Art Of Bee Keeping, And as James always said ! ” Long Live The Queen” !

  52. Julio

    Do they function with africanized bees? What I’ve heard is that these bees prefer a smaller cell than European.

    • Hilary

      Yes, they function with ABH. They use a smaller cell in the brood nest. Flow frames are only in the honey super so they do not impact the brood.

  53. Monica

    Thank you!

  54. Samantha McCallum

    Hey! Thanks for writing this article. I am looking to get into bed keeping and it really cleared some things up for me. I don’t think that I’d ever want to have a traditional bee hive, so the flow give really stood out to me. I’ve found some knock off flow hives on the internet for half the cost. My only hold back is that they too use the plastic comb. Is there a way to get a replacement that allows the bees to build their own comb? Any info you have on that would be great! Thank you!

    • Hilary

      Samantha, the plastic comb is only in the honey super and thats what allows you to harvest the honey through a tap. If you want all natural comb, you can get a Langstroth hive and harvest honey the traditional way. You may find my online intro to beekeeping class helpful

  55. Scott

    Just one more “thanks for the article” along with your non biased viewpoint. I had been contemplating getting a hive while I was living in Thailand, simply because you could NOT find unadulterated honey. Now that I am living in Hawaii… I find very few bees here and very few if any other pollinators for the 150 lime trees on the property (and virtually a complete lack of limes as a result of that). Personally, I’d get a hive for the pollination aspect of the bees, and whatever honey it produced would be a bonus. For me, colony health comes first, honey comes second so with that said… easy extraction when it comes time is really appealing. I’ll end up giving most of it away, as a family, we probably use 2 pints per year.

    Thanks again for your viewpoint and debunking some of the common arguments. On a side note, the plastic component of the Flow Hive is a non issue especially if it is food grade. Most water we drink, cars we drive, things we touch, containers we store our food in, or bags we put a sandwich in…. all come from petroleum products. If one was to boycott a flow hive just because of their use of plastics would be akin to not traveling due to the use of fossil fuels. As far as it being disruptive to bees and colony function… I’m not sure that is as much of an issue as some are lead to believe.

  56. Stephen

    Great write up. My wife and I always were fascinated with bee keeping but were unsure of how to proceed. The Flow Hive looked simple enough so we gave it a shot. We are in year two, have learned a ton, and really enjoyed the whole process.
    The other positive that wasn’t listed is seeing our gardens and fruit trees thrive.

    We are stumbling our way thru the learning process but if anything the flow hive has made me want to try the more traditional methods of bee keeping now. Really think it would be a kick to be able to have both methods going side by side.

    Thanks again for the article.

    • Robin Smith

      I finally had enough bees this year to use my flow hive and now have 7 hives. I only had the one flow hive so I got to taste both this year. I love the flow hive and have purchased a 10 frame this year to use next year. It took a week to use the bee escapes and then go in and only take the frames that were capped and put in empties – freeze – uncap – spin ( in a hot shed) filter – and finally put in jars the honey.

      I had 2 bees come back to see what I was doing and they were more interested in why they could see the other bees and not get to them than noticing me. It filled the jars fast and easy and I was just floored! I used the bee escape to take off the flow hive and they put it outside so everyone could clean it out and it’s ready for next year. Easy Peasy!

      The only thing is I have to have my husband help me lift the flow hive off when I check the hives because it is heavy. It is like 2 supers and when it isn’t fully capped I have to lift it off when I check the bees. I use plastic in the supers because the natural stuff gets brittle and doesn’t hold up. So that isn’t an issue with me either. If you have a large hive they will use it and I put an upper entrance above it so they could go right in and work.


      • Zeemum

        Good day
        I can’t thank you enough for all the posts and something new to learn always am thanking you all the way from West Africa, Freetown, Sierra Leone. We happened to have a natural beehive in the tree cavity right infront of the house and decided to harvest it 2 years ago. We called the local beekeeper . It was horrible the way they do it, light half the hive on fire to take the combs out ruining most of the hive it was a nightmare to see, after that day I decided to read and learn and do it the right way the next year around. It was way different and bees and all was happy. And my journey started, this year will be my third harvest from the same colony. I got the flow hive shipped here and was wondering when would be a good time to set it up for swarm or attract the bees in?!? It’s rainy season coming to an end , when would you recommend to set up and try my luck? There are some sunny days but most are cloudy. Please advice. Thank you very much

        • Hilary

          Hello, that’s great that you have found more sustainable methods for your beekeeping! The best time to set it up is usually in spring when the swarms are flying. For your region it may be a little different. Whenever you see your bees growing in size and making lots of honey and thinking about swarming.

  57. eddy

    This was wonderful insight. As with all things, innovations are game changers, in whatever people do. This is one of those. I am very curious about bee keeping, but not for $ or anything like that. I know that the contributions of bees is on the line. I love nature, but know that bees are important. I am so curious to watch, learn and to help in this. But, I don’t have as much time as i’d like to have. The Flow, if done with the right “heart” and “love” is a great option.
    I live in the Midwest/Indiana, and would love to know what winter challenges have with the Flow.
    Thanks for any input. EC

  58. Kim Bardoorian

    Just put together our first flow hive. Live in the country and have been quite dejected about the plight of the honeybee, seeing it less and less around the farm. We’ve tried and continue to try plantings of beneficial when adding to our gardens and finally decided to bite the bullet and purchase a flow hive. Hopefully we can help the bees and environment in a small way and eventually get a tasty jar or two of honey for the kitchen!
    My question on the beekeeping side of the topic is, seeing the flow super is plastic, would it make more sense to use plastic frames in the brood box starting out? Planning on foundationless frames for now, but still about six weeks away from getting my bee package. Thought about checkerboarding plastic and foundationless too.
    Great article and thanks in advance for any comments or advice. Live in southern Ohio.

    • Hilary

      I like to do foundation less frames in the brood nest and that is also the bees’ preference!

  59. nathan h fryer

    EXCELLENT !!! ARTICLE !!…I’m not a beekeeper…but I’ve always been fascinated with it. This will create more attraction to this humble trade…hopefully the responsible,patient,self-disciplining. type of stewards that is much needed in this important crucial type farming industry.

  60. Lauri Sandquist

    What a great post for a beginner! I have my first Flow hybrid coming in a few days, but have already started one hive from a package into a regular brood box last weekend. I’ve been watching all of the Flow classes, and have seen you in the videos, not realizing I had just bought some t-shirts, stickers and magnets from you last week!

    What a small world, eh?

    I have loved bees since I was a kiddo. Visiting my grandmother’s tiny farm in Wichita every summer, I was taught how to behave around them and am beyond stoked I will soon have a couple of hives and a flower garden of my own. We are building on a 2.2 acre property near Seattle, and I’m hoping our California girls take to our cooler, damp weather. Are there any posts you have here on that? We will be closer to the snow line, and I want to make sure I do everything possible to get them thru their first winter here.

    We are doing this as you said, for our own enjoyment and for our garden… not to sell. So, I really appreciate your well rounded post here.

    • Hilary

      Hi Lauri, I would recommend you check out Rusty’s blog: Honey Bee Suite. She is in the Pacific NW. My climate is very dry compared to yours.

  61. Kiki G

    I really appreciate the information given here. I have been looking at this hive for a while. We are still working on our little acre of paradise to make sure bees have a great food supply. I know we seem to be doing well with the mason bees, bumple bees, and wild honey bees. I never thought this would be easy and being a bit OCD and protective of my garden, my aquarium and even our wild bird population it makes me a bit nervous to add a hive. Just because I do not want to do them harm. The one perk was harvesting and not harming the bees. We don’t need a lot of honey anways. As a child I was always fascinated with bee keeping and now at 55 years old, retired, and in a good place I can look into finally realizing my dream. But it does make me nervous to screw this up. I want to do it right for the bees. More than anything we enjoy watching them in the garden and landscaping. Well… a little honey is nice, too. It is sad people are so harsh with newbies and new ideas. Such is life I suppose. Me and my husband of 37 years are old soul hippies though and way chill. (I am a bit OCD about our indoor cannabis grow (legal)….but a hippy none the less)

  62. Rik Neubauer

    Was a founding member of Flowhive in 2015. Been bee crazy as long as I can remember, not even a honey nut but that has changed. Best purchase of my life perhaps. Have 4 hives at the moment in North Central WA. extreme cold and extreme heat. Very thankful to folks like you that take the time to teach and share and BEE HAPPY! Bless you.

  63. Vincent

    On the current subjet :

    As some already mentioned it, plastic used in this hive poses a real problem if it comes from non renewable sources. It also has less insulation capability, and creates thermal bridges. Bee’s energy spend in heat regulation translates in less honey production and other essential hive activity, such as defending against predators, taking care or larvae, etc.

    The Flow system prevents the bees from creating their own cells. These cells are made with various sizes for a variety of uses and it is very important for the bees to control this essential parameter. The orientation of the opening of a cell is also important for moisture regulation. Preventing the bees to build wax cells also prevents human to use part of this wax, a natural and renewable material. If the bees live too many generations in these kind of artificial hives, they can loose their capacity to create wax, or quality wax.

    Beekeeping is like other forms of domestication, it’s a coexistence but it is also an interference. In this situation it’s important to promote the animals into a positive evolution through the generations by letting them use their natural abilities and skills. Thus preserving their instincts and resistance as much as possible. Nothing is going to replace the complexity of a beehive.

    On how this article is written :

    You say in the article that like everything, the Flow hive has “pros” and “cons”. Well, the world is composed of different things, and these things are not equal. Some has no “pros”, some has no “cons”, and everything else exists in between. To see everything as having its amount of “pros” and “cons” is a very narrow way of thinking, and it’s very common in these modern times as a mean to talk about a subject without going through it. Internet blogs are full of articles depicting a subject in equal amount of “pros and “cons” just to satisfy every possible readers, or to satisfy the writer’s illusion of equality in everything. Don’t be afraid to tell what you think, don’t be afraid to offend others, don’t be afraid to tell what you think is true.

  64. Rob Pecchenino

    I am a Traditional Beekeeper, Trained by the Last World Master Beekeeper Joe Muncy. I have to say after careful consideration I happen to agree with Hilary on this flow hive issue, what a VERY Smart Lady! Beekeeping is a Noble Profession, one that 007 James Bond took up after retiring at MI6, If you read the last book. He went from serving 1 Queen to Serving another Queen. As a small Commercial Bee keeper I can see the benefits of the Flow Hive during honey flow. It seems to be a BIG Savings in Labor Costs, and all the handling to the Honey house, then all the Mess to extract, clean up and return the Frames to the hives, unless you have extra Frames to exchange. You would eliminate the cost for an extractor as well. It seems all you need is your turn key and sanitized buckets, all that is left is screening to clean the honey and bottling, unless you ship it to a buyer in drums. Still the hives have to be checked no matter what and maintained! People need to relax…….I do NOT believe the flow hive is going to destroy beekeeping! I feel it needs to be looked at as a labor saving device in Honey extraction or Collection. And here is 1 more thing, F.Y.O.I. the Honey flow hive is already being copied right now in CHINA, and its way cheaper. Now a commercial can afford to buy them and put them into commercial use if they are so inclined! I now of a Beekeeper who bought 1 China flow bee hive to test, Not the whole hive, just the flow super, he tried it out and said it works like a Dream, so he could get 2 flow hives per existing bee hives he has, and it will save him in so many ways, but as you say, that is his choice! And like Hilary said Just remember, in the end it’s your journey.

  65. Matthew

    Thank you.
    I always enjoyed working with the Apiarists I came in contact with and I believe I would enjoy keeping bees.
    So when I was promoted the flow hive on Facebook the video got me excited.
    Thank you for reminding me their will be a burden of stewardship and painful learning I need to be ready to take on.

  66. Leslie

    Hi, I have been keeping bees in Langstroth hives for five years. I am a 68 year old female whose shoulders are shot. I feared that beekeeping would be leaving my life. However, anguishing over this possibility while not sleeping one night it dawned on me! Why not research the Flow Hive? Thank you for a very insightful article. I already use plastic foundations so plastic frames are a non-issue for me. I too give away most
    of my honey. I am a beekeeper because I am fascinated by these amazing creatures and they keep my mind engaged by constantly having to problem solve.

  67. Ashley

    One of my family members who has been raising bees for the longest time had told me that these hives can harm the brood when the cells are moved to allow the honey through. I would really like to know your thoughts on this because I am an amateur beekeeper and have never gotten to see one of these face to face. I really appreciate your time answering my question and thank you for the article!

    • Hilary

      There is no brood in the honey frames. Queen excluders prevent that.

  68. Stefan Morello

    Very subjective ‘review’

    I’d really like to see a write up by some one that actually bought a couple FlowHives out of their own money not given for them as marketing, and does not make a profit off new beekeepers.

    What about honey leaking and flooding on the brood box? Very common problem and their forum is riddled with posts on leaking. And what about quality control issues in timber etc? My experience has been very disappointing.

  69. Paul

    Hi Hilary,
    I am a traditional bee keeper from Ireland and believe in letting the bees look after themselves as much as possible. Sometimes we forget that bees have existed for a long time before humanity and will do so after humanity !
    Thank you for your objective review of the flow hive as I have just ordered my first one. I really do love helping my bees prosper and stay healthy with as little interference as possible. As you mentioned collecting and extracting honey can be a very time consuming, labour-some process and it upsets the bees too no matter how delicately it is done.
    As a relatively experienced bee keeper, I really am looking forward to trying out my new flow hive and the time it will save me harvesting some honey.

  70. Sugar Grove Analytical Laboratory

    Miss Hilary,
    I am absolutely new to bee keeping. I have no hives yet, but will install hives early in 2021. I am presently in the research stage of what I need to learn and purchase. I am in the stage of reading literature, watching training videos and soliciting advice from those with authoritative experience. Because of all the different pros and cons of the different systems, I am presently thinking of installing 3 hives, one of each of the popular constructions: Langstroth, Top Bar and FlowHive. I am not actually interested in the natural end product of honey harvest, I need pollinators for my orchards and berry patches.
    I do have the unique capability of testing the honey and internal components of the hive for toxic substances. I am a forensic toxicologist by degrees. I own my own scientific testing laboratory and routinely detect toxins like pesticides, herbicides and the new buzzword chemicals called PFAS (perfluoronated alkane substances) of which there are more than 6000 known PFAS toxins. I look forwrd to testing my own honey for these compounds to see to what degree the nature made product becomes contaminated by man made chemicals. I routinely work in the low part per trillion range of toxic organic components.
    I will not expect that you are able to answer all questions and email submitted, nor do I expect any of your time or knowledge for free. But knowledgable input is always welcome.
    Again, honey is not the ultimate goal, but rather the pollinators to assist mother nature in fruit production.
    Feel free to respond by email if you see fit. My name is not important so I will just communicate through my corporate contact information.

  71. Kristi Wilson

    I firmly believe without bees we all die. I am not interested in profit, but would like to educate my children about nature. Are these Flow Hives quite large?

    • Hilary

      Honey bee hives require space and a lot of time learning how to care for them. If you want something small that is less of a commitment you might like a mason bee house. They are great for kids. The mason bees don’t sting.

  72. tracy

    Thank you for this article. I am very interested in saving our pollinators and was looking into beekeeping to do my part. I have much to study, learn and research to decide if this is for me as I am scared of being stung lol. I already raise monarch butterflies and that is very rewarding.
    #waystation26544 #certifiedbutterflygarden3881


  73. Corey Bee

    Amazingly impartial article.
    I am researching flowhives and this has helped me immeasurably.
    I have 15 acres in rural Victoria, Australia and am setting up a lifestyle farm for my family, sheep, cattle, chickens & bees.
    This article and the responses are exactly what I was looking for.
    Any invention that brings awareness to bees & beekeeping can only be a great thing.
    I agree with you that the inventors have gone above and beyond with their education and information since the product hit the shelves.
    Keep up the great work.

  74. Harry

    Everything has its value. Thanks for sharing this informative information with us. GOOD works! Search Engine Marketing Tips

  75. James Johnson

    Fascinating and informative. My wife and I are considering doing “something” to attract or keep bees. This might be an option. Thank you!

  76. Chris Barker

    This is such a great no-nonsense article about the Flow Hives. Thanks for writing it. I’ll be sure to refer people to it who want to understand the realities of owning a Flow Hive.

  77. Billy

    I live in IL.I have two Flow hives. I put them on in the spring Do I take them off in the fall or leave them on all winter.

    • Hilary

      I would ask someone local this question. Where I am located we leave them on.

  78. Michelle Morein

    thank you for this article. I am a pre-K teacher and am very interested in having a flow hive for my students. It is the easiest for school setting and the children could observe through the window. I teach in a wonderful rural public school. However I don’t think that I can come up with the funds to purchase. Any suggestions?

    • Hilary

      You are going to need an experienced beekeeper to help you manage a beehive at a school. I would try to find someone to partner with. Maybe there is someone who already owns a Flowhive. I also think a regular hive can have windows put in like the Flowhive so you don’t necessarily need a Flowhive for this purpose.

  79. Michael Lloyd

    At the end of the day it’s better to have more bees in the world

  80. Tim

    I think this misses part of the bigger picture. Yes, the flowhive has it’s place. However, most new beekeepers don’t realize that ideally you initially need two hives to pay for. (Think of a price and double it.) It’s part of beekeeping that you lose colonies or have to combine weak colonies with strong ones. The honest pro’s all admit to it. In my opinion if you want to go the flow hive route, by all means do. However, I think that it is wise to also buy a cheaper standard hive for your second one. It’s absolute rubbish that you would need to pay out a lot on extra equipment. If you are with a beekeeping club, which you should be, most have equipment such as extractors for hire really cheaply. I have reservations as to the lifetime of the frames as the plastic gets brittle with age. I chose to have both and will see how well they last against the elements. The cost of potential theft is another thing to take into consideration. Flows are considerably more expensive.

  81. katierevis

    reading and learning about beekeeping before investing the time or money, good read ~ actually watched a youtube video about the flow hive and realized i saw you haha .. but why does it seem so many older beekeepers dont like newbees . really disheartening :/

    also curious if bee farming is as invasive for the wild species as fish farming and pretty much everything else humans try to “help” #foodforthought

  82. Megan Sutherland

    Your article is well balanced and you clearly show the pros and cons of Flow as opposed to more standard hives. I am a beginner. When I decided to keep bees, I first joined the local club, did a course, bought two Flow hives and got two Nucs in January this year (our summer in Oz). I am about to put the Flow supers on the hives (it is Spring here) and am excited with the prospect of honey. The only mistake I made was to buy the larger, 10 frame Langstroth with the 7 Flow frame super. Even without honey, the super is very heavy (I am a 5’3″ female) and I suspect the only way I will be able to lift it off to inspect my brood, is to get someone to help with the lifting off and back on. My next Flow hive will be the 8 frame Langstroth. I agree with you that if you have enough money to buy a Flow hive, you are not in the business of making money out of selling honey. I plan to give my honey away to family and friends and to sell some in our local store. Thanks again for your valuable information.

    • Hilary

      Hi Megan, if you need to lift off the super solo, try taking out some frames first. Its nice to have an extra box to set them in for this purpose

  83. Patrice Loibner

    I was thinking about bee keeping, but I wanted to try a very small kit at first! Like a first time child’s kit! Do have any books on beekeeping you could recommend? I want to learn about it beforehand! I don’t want my bees to die just after I get them!

    • Hilary

      Hi Patrice, there’s no child’s kit version of keeping honey bees. You might like my online Intro to Beekeeping class. A lot of people said they learned more from that class than they did in the books they read. However, a good book is Storey’s Guide to Keeping Bees.

  84. Tom Reynolds

    Had an issue this past season with the flow hive frames, the bees used propolis and glued the top & bottom comb 1st rows on both sides! They basically locked the mechanism in place. Its taking me 1 1/2 hours per frame to dig the proplis out with a machinist scribe and getting them to open & close freely. I’m putting the flow hive super on a hive with different bees, I’m thinking maybe it won’t happen again. If it does, they will be trashed. Bees love going hog wild with the glue for some reason. 😉

  85. Ann

    I was completely ready to purchase till I read the part about the PLASTIC frames.

  86. PJ

    Before anybody purchase a flow hive they should be aware of the plastic comb in a flow hive . The honey is stored by the bees in the plastic comb. Plastic whatever grade is made from nasty chemicals and will be leached and break down over time and will be contaminating your honey with micro plastic. Not to forget how the leaching chemicals will harm the bees.
    Some beekeepers are now using plastic foundations rather than natural wax foundations as well as plastic boxes rather than wood.
    Beekeeping has existed for centuries without plastic.
    Make sure you purchase your honey from a beekeeper who doesn’t use any plastic.
    War on Plastic

  87. Joanna

    This is a GREAT article. I have been considering getting a Flow Hive, in addition to the several langstroth hives I already have – what bothers me the most about this style is that there are so many cheap knock-offs available, made with inferior wood, chemical smells etc., that bees would be miserable in, and the worst thing of all, I see people posting “I bought my hive two months ago, I’ve already taken all the honey from there, how do I get the bees to make more?” It sickens me to think that there really are people who will take every drop of honey from the bees, not realizing that we must only take SURPLUS honey, leaving the bees with plenty for themselves. Or “I’m getting bees tomorrow, when can I get the honey?” – again, that shouldn’t be the main concern – I just wish that there would be more warning labels about LEAVE HONEY FOR THE BEES FOR AT LEAST THE FIRST 6 MONTHS…. or something like that, I just feel so many people will rob them blind and wonder why the bees die. But I’m very tempted to get one of these, obviously will treat it like a regular hive with inspections etc., and only rarely will take some honey.

  88. Carissa

    Great article! Very balanced and well written. Thank you for sharing!

  89. Brad Oliphant

    All very well said!!!!!
    I’ve been beekeeping now for over 21 years and switch all my hives over to flow hives and think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. Love them!

  90. Jennifer Roth

    I can’t thank you enough for this thoughtful and informative article. I not only appreciate the knowledge you shared but really loved your delivery. You spoke with kindness and this is rare. Thank you.

  91. reklam ajansı

    I admire your ability to tackle complex topics and present them in a clear and concise manner.

  92. JDH

    Thank you for a well thought out, common sense take on the Flow Hive. I appreciate your level headed explanations of the pros and cons. In the end it is the beekeeper that is responsible for the welfare of their bees.

  93. Naomi thomas

    I’m based in the south coast in the UK and can confirm for the last 3 years my flow hive has worked a treat!

    Unfortunately the local bee community (who are all of a certain age or set in their binary ways) have been dismissive/angered by the fact I use a flow over a traditional hive.

    I am a first time beekeeper, the flow was my first hive. I still complete my checks, treat for mites and split to prevent swarms. Just as any other beekeeper would. Difference is my harvests are a dream and my bees are unaffected by the super being emptied. Im going to add a few more flow boxes and increase my yield.


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My name is Hilary Kearney. I’m the author of the book, “Queenspotting” and founder of the urban beekeeping business Girl Next Door Honey in San Diego, California. I’m an artist turned beekeeper on a mission to help new beekeepers succeed and educate the public about the magic of bees!

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