Too bad honey bees can’t access the Internet; if they could they’d be able to see the newest purported “best thing for bees” since hollow trees. On one hand, I have to congratulate Stewart and Cedar Anderson (the father-son “inventors” of the Flow Hive™); they spent a decade working on the prototype (and hopefully ironing out the bugs) and subsequently launched the most successfully crowd-funding program ever; they estimated they needed $70,000 for startup capital and ended up raising $12.4 million!
They must be true believers in the statement, “You don’t get what you don’t pay for”, as one of the biggest complaints is the high price tag, however, I doubt the commercial beekeepers who operate thousands of colonies are getting operating capital loans to order them by the container lot. I initially poo-pooed the concept after receiving literally hundreds of emails with links to their website but now, with some time on my hands and adequate air conditioning (it’s hitting upper 90’s here in Cambodia), I’ve spent way too much time cruising the Internet in search of critiques both good and bad. As I have NO vested interest (other than curiosity) in the success or flop of this enterprise I thought I’d save you some time and do some cruisin’ in cyberspace.
One of the first things that I’ve been struck by (I’m basically a newbie to the Internet) is how nasty and snarky people are in their comments, especially on YouTube. There appear to be 3 camps – those who hold the new method up there with an almost religious zeal, those who need the bumper sticker “We don’t care how they do it on the Outside” or “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” and finally those who are taking a “wait and see” stance. I like to think I’m in the middle of the road camp (please no emails on the election!) But, I also am in agreement with a huge number of reviewers who believe that this hive is enticing a large number of wanna-bees into the “like beer on tap” perception of honey harvesting. Their stance is to check e-Bay, Craigslist, and curbside trash piles after the first harvest to get a real discount on the equipment.
The best “critical” review of the Flow Hive™ here in the US in my feeling is by Fredric Dunn on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVN6RYC-bcQ) he got his Western Red Cedar hive via Flow Hive™ out of Lancaster PA (this is horse and buggy Amish country – theoretically renowned for woodworking skills). They are also being manufactured someplace in Oregon (in my view, closer to Western red cedar trees) as well as Australia. They are running several months late on hive deliveries (news flash! One, ordered last year, just showed up in North Pole March 3, 2016) but if you live in Alaska you don’t need the actual Flow frames until late-June or early-July. Watch his YouTube video and read the comments – quality control seems to be an issue. Also, watch the YouTube video (put out by the Flow Hive™ people on hive assembly (am I surprised that all his components fit?) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eY9mD74HmOo) My only observation is why no glue? I use 8d nails plus glue and clamps when I assemble my boxes they will outlast me (I still have my first hive from 1984 in perfect shape). IF I were to screw the boxes together I wouldn’t use round-head screws but #8 flat-head, sheet-rock screws making sure everything was predrilled. Splitting? I’ve never had any issues with Western pine but the cedar did look like it would be easy to split. I’ve put together more than 1,000 boxes (maybe more) in my BK career and had minimal problems- some of my own doing, “handholds belong on the outside!” Perhaps a dozen finger joints (or box joints) didn’t line up perfectly and another 6-8 were severely cupped and stacked into the “flatten these out someday” pile. Overall, I’d say my Mann Lake boxes go together like fine furniture.