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Honey Flow Hive

 
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hawkiye
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Joined: 27 Jun 2012
Posts: 49
Location: USA SW Idaho

PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 5:38 am    Post subject: Honey Flow Hive Reply with quote

Anyone seen or know anything about this hive. It looks interesting. Maybe put these supers on top of a Perone type hive perhaps? The brood chamber it left alone and you can harvest without disturbing the bees...

http://www.honeyflow.com/
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BBC
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Location: Bicker, Lincolnshire, UK

PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Although the full story hasn't been revealed yet - I gather that this works by installing custom-made single-sided fenestrated plastic combs 'back-to-back'. When the tap is operated, it somehow splits the double-spine of these combs apart so as to allow the honey to drain off. Just about as far away from 'natural beekeeping' as it's possible to get ...

Sounds like it could be an initially expensive installation, although one which commercial honey-farmers might find profitable in the long-term.

Colin
BBC
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BBC
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Update - the latest word is that these frames cost $58 each - what's that - around £40 ?
So - that's around £400 to kit out one super - you'd need to pull an awful lot of honey to recoup that amount of capital investment ...

But - if anyone is curious about this invention - there's a thread about it over at Beemaster:
http://www.beemaster.com/forum/index.php?topic=46340.0

Colin
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rmcpb
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 9:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Still not sure why this expensive option is better than just harvesting the comb as usual. It risks over harvesting in many backyard hives and would be VERY slow and expensive for commercial beeks.

Cheers
Rob
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biobee
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 4:33 pm    Post subject: Flow hive thoughts Reply with quote

People keep asking me what I think of the new 'Flow Hive', so FWIW here are my thoughts.

First, it is not a new hive, but simply an add-on to a conventional hive - really just a set of special frames, and only for honey, not brood. This removes many objections on the grounds of 'propolis jamming it up' and 'eggs laid in plastic foundation' - they are simply not going to happen if it is used correctly.

Do I approve of it? Only insofar as I approve of any conventional beekeeping, which I don't very much. I don't like plastic in hives - particularly plastic foundation - and I don't like unnecessary disturbances in the lives of bees, BUT- this device actually reduces such disturbance, as well as removing the need for a centrifugal extractor and other extraction/bottling equipment, so from that point of view, it is 'greener', provided it has a long life, which it should have, given that the moving parts only move infrequently and with little load stress.

As a piece of thoughtful engineering I think it is remarkable. I was invited to look at it and contribute my thoughts about 6 months before the launch, and while I expressed some reservations - particularly about crystallization of honey in the combs - I could see that, for some people, this was what they had been waiting for to take up beekeeping.

Given that most people live in urban locations, the storage problems generated by conventional equipment are considerable, especially when much of it is only used occasionally. Add to this the fact that bees can become very defensive when whole supers of honey are removed from their hives, which can put people off keeping them in populated areas or near their own house, then this device could be a boon to the backyard beekeeper who wants to disturb her bees as little as possible.

There have been accusations of 'exploitation' and even 'cruelty' associated with this product, but I suggest it is rather less exploitative or cruel than the violent methods currently used by commercial beekeepers to take honey - such things as bee-blowers result in the deaths of millions of bees during the honey-taking operation. This device enables honey to be taken in modest quantities without opening the hive.

Lastly, there is the question of 'attitude': promoters of the Flow Hive have been accused of 'callousness' and having a 'mindset of casual exploitation'. I must say that this is not borne out by my correspondence with the inventors, who appear to have bee welfare very much at heart.

Used correctly and with due care, this device may well increase people's awareness and appreciation of the lives of bees, and reduce the casual disruption promoted by so many beekeeping organizations. By enabling the removal of some of the honey at the right times, bees are able to top up the cells without having to suffer the violent removal of honey supers and the collateral damage this entails.

'Attitude' is not something that is derived from or dependent upon any particular device. A tool is a tool: an axe can be used for chopping wood or for killing someone. If people are of a mind to exploit nature, then they will find ways to do so. If they learn to appreciate the natural world, then they will treat it with respect, regardless of the tools they happen to be using.
I still prefer to do my beekeeping in top bar hives, because of their simplicity of construction and use and bee-friendly design, but given that many people prefer to use movable-frame hives, I see this device as a possible alternative to the 'box-removal and centrifugal extraction' method that may appeal to some beekeepers.
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semiautonomous
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 9:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Totally agree Phil. As a peace of lateral thinking and practical engineering I think its fabulous.

BBC wrote:
So - that's around £400 to kit out one super - you'd need to pull an awful lot of honey to recoup that amount of capital investment ...


As Phil said, when you consider that, at least for new beekeepers, it removes the need to buy all the expensive and bulky honey extraction paraphernalia its not actually that costly and very convenient.
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rmcpb
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Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 2:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It would get pretty expensive if you have more than one honey super.

Still don't see the need for it.

Cheers
Rob
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AugustC
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Location: Malton, North Yorkshire

PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that it is a very interesting piece of design.
It is however another case of something being hailed as solving all your problems when in fact it just changes what the problems are. It is a tool and will only ever be a considered and useful as the guiding hand.
Some of claims I have read stating that it is less traumatic for the bees is perhaps a little hard to substantiate. Either way you are robbing them of honey just because you don't have to directly witness the effect on them doesn't mean it hasn't happened. What is does do is allow the easy extraction of honey without someone actively assessing the hives condition and therefore whether or not the honey should/could be harvested.

In the experience so far the biggest problem with conventional beekeeping is how much it costs. The more it costs, the more honey you need to sell to recoup the costs. The more honey you sell the more equipment/supplies you continue to buy the produce honey. The more equipment/supplies you buy the more honey you have to sell. It is a vicous circle which leads to the marker of "successful" beekeeping as the amount of honey produced in place of health of the bees.

Does anyone know how it controls for the extraction of uncapped honey/nectar?
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biobee
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is an observation window on the version I saw, that allows you to check the extent of capping before drawing off honey. Not foolproof, but if you are only taking it for short-term consumption, it shouldn't be a problem.
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Tavascarow
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Joined: 24 Jun 2008
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 7:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This page from the natural beekeeping trust sums up my feelings far more eloquently than I can.
As an ex conventional beekeeper (as I know many of us here are) the thing that drew me to 'natural' was, as Phil puts it 'access to all'. The sheer fact that anyone with a saw, hammer, a few screws & old pallets can make a fully functioning & practical beehive. Of course as I've studied more I realise that not only does it benefit those that can't afford but the bees are healthier & happier.
I don't have a problem with the flow hive, I can see it will attract more people to beekeeping. I fear many of those new beeks will not interact with their bees in any way other than throwing a switch to harvest, which is a shame & will probably be to the detriment of the bees.
But I'm sure there are natural beeks who do the same.
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BBC
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2015 9:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was rather taken aback by Phil's earlier post, for I agree with Tavascarow that this device - although perhaps(?) ingenious - is diametrically opposed to 'green' and 'KISS' principles which feature so widely elsewhere in this forum.

But - putting the ethical and moral dimensions to one side for a moment - is this really an 'ingenious' invention ? For there is an old saying that: "if something is too good to be true - it usually is".

Now that more information has become available, it appears that this invention isn't based on the principle that many people (including myself) had assumed - which was that each comb is split down the mid-rib.

Here is a Patent from 1939/40, showing this principle:




If a suitable material were to be chosen for the mid-rib, such as rubber with sufficient Shore hardness to prevent bees from chewing it, yet soft enough to maintain a seal whenever synthetic combs were pressed against it, this mechanism would undoubtedly work - and continue to work reliably for many years. But why did this invention never catch on ? Perhaps 1939 and the onset of WWII were focussing people's minds on more pressing matters ...



Looking at the following clip from the Flow-Hive Patent Application explains why this invention has taken so long to develop, why it is so complex, and why the combs are so expensive to produce:



The decision to split combs like this is (imo) bizarre - for the mechanism must then be manufactured and hand-assembled with the precision of a watchmaker, and does not lend itself to mass manufacturing methods.

The decision to seek funding via the somewhat dubious route of crowdfunding rather than seek investment via conventional venture capital methods (where scrutiny and investor protection feature) is now completely understandable.
As too is the rather slick marketing technique of advancing sample devices to prominent individuals and then publicise (what appears to be) their endorsement.

But Michael Bush, for example, has gone on record as saying: "I was given some frames and asked to test them and give my opinion, which I did. I am not endorsing them. Incredulity seems to be the biggest issue they were facing. I'm just saying they work."

And indeed, they may well work at first, when brand new. But will they continue to work after several years of use, when the many hundreds of mating surfaces develop wear and begin to leak ? And what happens if the user 'misses the window' and allows honey to crystallise within such combs ?

In my view, this device will only appeal to the gullible novice, or those with large amounts of disposable income to be relieved of.

Colin
BBC
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catchercradle
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2015 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If honey is only drawn off when moisture content sufficiently low, surely the capping will prevent the bees topping up the comb? Or am I missing something? Will they chew off the capping to put more in? Or, will the wax have to be harvested before the device is re-used? Still lots of questions.
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AugustC
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2015 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

They should chew of the capping and refill.
From what Colin posted though I do wonder how well the parts will meet after a few seasons of use.
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catchercradle
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2015 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
As Phil said, when you consider that, at least for new beekeepers, it removes the need to buy all the expensive and bulky honey extraction paraphernalia its not actually that costly and very convenient.


Having got almost all my equipment when I first started free including a 2 frame extractor, it still seems like a lot of money to me.
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biobee
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 4:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This video should help anyone for whom the mechanism is not yet clear - http://youtu.be/ryWC92NT2Eo
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catchercradle
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I were primarily keeping bees in frame hives and had lots of money I might be tempted, though I wonder what the propolis does to the plastic after a season or two?
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exmar
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2015 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent topic. I'm impressed with this design for only one reason. The market research that went into it and the marketing surrounding it now. I think this is a "niche" item for the folks who want to be "green" and help the bees, and get a little honey. Also those folks have $$ to spend, for their new hobby.

Some of the things I read about "more humane honey harvest, etc." had me literally scratching my head? Harvesting frames of honey from supers is far away from the brood chambers, etc. I don't find it particuarlly difficult or inhumane to remove the frames of honey, having smoked the bees lightly and brushing any remaining back into the hive?

Referring to marketing above, it all is about how easy it is to get honey. How about hive inspections, and all the other things required in being a Beek? Evidently, these hives have special bees that do not require any attention, don't swarm, don't need to be split, etc. I know that one of my hives has 4 honey supers on it right now (very strong hive) and will probably remove a couple and replace this week. What happens to this hive when it gets honey bound?

Let's face it, "traditional" is not popular if it involves work, new and "gimmicky," is popular, particuarly if you ring in honey bees, humane, and the product is very fancy looking which will look well in your designer yard.

JMHO,

Ev
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Dexter's shed
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2015 2:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I started following the flow hive team when the fundraising was first launched, and at first, thought it was a con, but I was taken by the first video, and at that time didn't have my own extractor (I do now) but I had some spare cash burning a hole in my pocket, so took the gamble on ordering 7 frames and the box, of course that meant I needed a langstroth hive, so found one of good old e bay, along with a langstroth poly nuc, now I just needed a swarm to get the hive started before my order arrives, I was quoted a september delivery, so next year before it get's used, but thought it would give us something interesting to discuss at my local bee association, I'm the chairman so like to keep everyone guessing, since the launch they started a flow forum, which I was invited to become a moderator on, there's also a UK facebook page where they asked the same.

this product has bought alot of new keepers into getting bees, some had the silly notion that it was as easy as adding bees and turning a tap, and I think you will see a lot of these units on e bay early next year when people realise there's more to it, but it's also got a lot of people via the forum, doing it the correct way, some getting hives set up now ready for the frames.

since ordering I've been told I'll be getting mine delivered sooner, so I may just get a chance to try them this year, it's only a different means of extraction, and is getting the same sort of reviews that probably happened when the first spinner was invented, as up until then it was crush and strain, destroy the wax combs, this method will hopefully just give us a different way of extracting, I'll still do cut comb, and extracting using my spinner, but also use the flow frames,.

I'll keep you posted
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Bohatyaor
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2016 6:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think this is a "niche" item for the folks who want to be "green" and help the bees, and get a little honey. Also those folks have $$ to spend, for their new hobby. ????


lol
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ethanfedorov
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Informative thread, I learned a lot of things from it. The Flow Hive allows the beekeeper to harvest honey without opening up the hive and with minimal disturbance to the bees.

beemanlivebeeremoval[dot]com
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eltalia
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Location: Australia (Nth. Queensland)

PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2017 10:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ethanfedorov wrote:
Informative thread, I learned a lot of things from it. The Flow Hive allows the beekeeper to harvest honey without opening up the hive and with minimal disturbance to the bees.

beemanlivebeeremoval[dot]com


Not so much happening here @biobee.com but elsewhere there are any number of positive and negative comments on this tool, mostly coming from those whom have bought into the concept and won't be seen as having been 'duped' or those actual beekeepers who would want to investigate the workings but will not spend the money... not even on two frames!
As a beekeeper I joined the Flow forum a few months ago, my interest being in assisting some newbies in believing (as I still do) we are stuck
with this tool in the mix of hive infrastructure, and will be for some years
to come yet... so best we (royal) get familiar with any problems if one is to be fully informed.
One has to keep in mind there are very few Flow [tm] owners "online" as a
mode of communication. So the few that are should be taken note of, their comments heard albeit often with a grain of salt as pretty much these folk
own less than three years experience with bees, and that in the manner they bought the concept.."oh it is down the backyard and it looks great" type of attitude.

So.
There is (now) just one Australian BK in residence (posting) who has followed up on the "leaks honey during harvest" problem. Through circumstance he has been able to identify the source of these leaks and
draw interest on possible solutions.
For folk visiting this thread in future times the information may assist with
their search for information;
https://forum.honeyflow.com/t/honey-flooding-extraction/12386/111

And as full disclosure I cite my views on the Flow [tm] quite clearly in the posting to the bLog linked to below - although long, I encourage a read of the whole page not just my two bobs worth... cheers
http://beekeepinglikeagirl.com/is-the-flowhive-bad-for-bees/

Bill
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biobee
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 7:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent blog, Bill, and thanks for posting. I agree with pretty much everything you say.

I have not posted anything further about Flow hives, because I was waiting until I had a season with them to see how they performed. As it turned out, despite having had three Flow supers in different locations, I have yet to take a drop of honey from any of them.

One of the colonies was simply not string enough, and being busy with other things, I neglected to give it enough attention and it was attacked and robbed out by wasps. Of the other two, one filled a standard super but completely ignored the Flow frames above, and the other stayed stubbornly in its brood box and refused to store anything above. It was not a good year for honey yields here generally and I have fed more hives than I can ever remember. A cool, wet August didn't help.

We do not have strong, regular flows here, except right at the end of the season on the ivy, which is notorious for rapid and solid crystallization and is therefore the last thing you want in Flow frames, so all were removed before September. As it turned out, the ivy didn't really get going until October this year.

Next year, I will take more care to ensure that the Flow supers are placed on my strongest colonies, as early as the weather allows, and hope for better things.
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eltalia
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Joined: 20 Jun 2017
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Location: Australia (Nth. Queensland)

PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 10:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

biobee wrote:
Excellent blog, Bill, and thanks for posting. I agree with pretty much everything you say.


For others reading along I do say this is no surprise as we do share
a bent to question and explore possible new paths. The motivation could well be boredom with what is known/practised and so, like F00, we share a need to look over the wall, like :)

Quote:


I have not posted anything further about Flow hives, because I was waiting until I had a season with them to see how they performed. As it turned out, despite having had three Flow supers in different locations, I have yet to take a drop of honey from any of them.


It is early days, really, so at least for "offshore" it can be said "nobody knows". This as it is shaping up to read - like any plastic in a colony's environment - the bees take to it as a like "geeez MATE.. do we HAFTA!! (have to)" and so either have to be 'encouraged' to work the Flow super - -they reside there no worries, just often no work happening - or a strong flow has to be in place. And in many parts of Aussie we have strong flows near on every other week so no worries there. My place is on one now after just a three week break from the last, and ample inbetween - and can I say here I loathe extracting.. heh.
One thing is for sure. Once used the bees have no problem refilling, it is getting them there that first time that is proving a bit of a hurdle, even here locally.
You will have read of the "rub wax on the face" mantra, and maybe that is
psuedo encouragement..?...but I am thinking it is going to prove that frame manipulation from frames #7 and #9/10 to above the QX are going to work for the bees that choose to swarm over a choice in working the Flow frames.
It seems that moving "about to hatch brood" and those "honey stores" up does create some interest for the cell prep guys. The thing there is the Flow setup does not easily lend itself to implementing those changes and the human factor is "why remove them they are supposed to work as they are".
For me only there is the rub as I have neither the time nor patience to explain bee behavorial nuances to a novice who owns "but I just want a bit of honey from them" as beekeeping knowledge, regardless of their good intentions.

Dunno... I play with client's Flow supers but have to be careful I don't lead them astray as to man (term) they are all "tree hugger" types to the extreme. Dying to have a few to play with myself, but having Flow staff know who I am might not turn out so well for myself, tis a small world here in bees, really....
:wink:
Quote:

Next year, I will take more care to ensure that the Flow supers are placed on my strongest colonies, as early as the weather allows, and hope for better things.

That's a plan... and if you can cobble together some drawn comb in the Flow super as the flow kicks in there may be a quick(er) adoption.
Whatever you do do do not remove that QX under the Flow super for any reason once the super is on. Many make light of "just clean the brood out", but let me say it is not a task you want to deal with. Reminds me of a time many moons ago I enthusiasticly removed the keeper nut from a wiping style oil filter, I spent more than 20hours over three days putting those hundreds of shims back in the right order!! ....cheerio

Bill
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catchercradle
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Last two posts certainly tell me I have made the right decision in not being an early adopter.

Interesting comparing seasons also. I think I have had my best season ever with a very strong flow from the OSR at the start of the season and two of the hives also had a very strong flow from the lime blossom afterwards.

However, the fact that things crop up and stop me paying as much attention as I should to my hives make me wary. A strong flow of OSR followed by a period when ageing in-laws need a lot of attention could lead to the honey setting in the frames. Not as high a risk as ivy which sets in the bee on the way back from the flower but still not something I would want to risk.
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biobee
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 11:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Indeed. When I was contacted by the inventors before they launched the Flow, my feedback to them was mainly about the likelihood of the mechanism being compromised by fast-crystallising honey, such as OSR and ivy.

I hadn't anticipated that bees would refuse to have anything to do with the plastic combs, but given my bad experience with a one-time use of plastic foundation, I should probably have guessed they would not welcome it with open antennae.
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eltalia
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Joined: 20 Jun 2017
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Only recently I have had to change my ranking of comb type
acceptance from
1.drawn comb 2. wax foundation 3. plastic foundation
to that of
1. wax foundation starter strips(25mm) 2. drawn comb 3. wax foundation
4. plastic foundation.
So in times to come maybe similar will happen for Flow [tm] frames as the composites age?

Bill
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