If you don't keep bees you may not realise that honey harvesting is only a small part of beekeeping. Honest! The majority of the beekeeper's time is spent inspecting their bees, checking whether they have enough stores, and looking for any telltale signs of pests or disease. In spring - especially for urban beekeepers - the checklist expands to identify potential triggers for swarming. This is most important for maintaining good neighbourly relations :)
Okay, so although we aren't contemplating getting a Flow hive, we're still keen to see how they work in practice. Fortunately for us, a set of 6 Flow frames was donated to the Collingwood Children's Farm Apiary to trial. A lot of work was put by a VAA Melbourne section volunteer (go Mike!) into modifying a pre-built langstroth full-size box into one that was suitable for the flow frames. Mike's modified langstroth box is shown below.
Once the box was ready it was placed on a hive, below the pre-existing honey super which was nearly full.
|Flow Frames in middle box, solar panel for hive temperature sensor on top of hive|
The bees were a bit slow to use the Flow frames, preferring to continue to use the top box. Some honey was put in the Flow frames as you can see in the pictures below, which were taken in January. It's worth noting that the frames are not really designed to be pulled out and inspected. They fit tightly in the box and are not easy to remove.
To encourage the bees to concentrate on the Flow frames, a few weeks later the top box was removed. Once this was done, some capping of the honey was observed. The frames still have a way to go before being full, but the bees are certainly using them. There are plans to harvest honey from the Flow frames in April so I'll be sure to post something about that.