When you watch the Flow Hive video, everything looks perfect. The honey flows right into the jar. No bees fly into the honey. The honey doesn't go too fast or too slow. It looks magical. But then you do it and things don't go as smoothly.
I harvested from the flow hive this Summer and had some issues. Now if your hive is small, like in the flow videos, and is just one brood box with one honey super on top, you might not need this tutorial. But if you live somewhere cold and you need more than one super on your beehive or your hive is FULL like ours and bursting with bees, I hope you watch our video. I'm going to show you how to use a long tube when harvesting from the flow hive so that you don't have to stand there and wait for the honey to pour into jars.
Flow Hive Harvest Tip #1 - Use a long tube and connect it to a 2.5 or 5 gallon bucket. Don't use individual jars unless you're opening just 1 frame.
Attach a 1-3/8" tube to the tube that comes with the flow hive. Then you drill a hole into the bucket lid.
Flow Hive Harvest Tip #2 - If you want to harvest even faster, buy 2 tubes and harvest from 2 frames at once.
Of course you'll have to also make more holes in your bucket lid.
Flow Hive Harvest Tip #3 - Get spare parts
The parts in the frames that come out when you harvest are small and clear! Buy an extra set of these parts. It is about $10. You think you'll be careful and not lose them, but sometimes it happens and it is SO HARD to find a clear piece of plastic in grass.
Flow Hive Harvest Tip #4 - Don't open the hive the day you plan to harvest
I don't know how big your hives are, but mine are BIG. My non flow hives are 5 boxes tall and I split these hives in the Spring. When I take that little round piece out of the frame to start the harvest, bees rush into the tube almost immediately. And then they come out, riding a flow of honey like they're on a water park ride. Opening the hive before you harvest makes the amount of bees flying around even greater. Keep your hive closed before you harvest.
Flow Hive Harvest Tip #5 - Break open the cells bit by bit.
Don't put the key in and turn the entire frame open at once. Honey will rush out faster that you want.
Flow Hive Harvest Tip #6 - Elevate the front of hive at least a few degrees, but ideally a lot more or else you'll be waiting awhile.
This is not easy if your hive is full, but is pretty necessary in order to get the honey from the front of the fame to flow out. It also makes the honey flow out faster. If you don't have a screened bottom, don't keep your hive at this angle. It can lead to a lot of flooding and bees drowning.
Flow Hive Harvest Tip #7 - Use a screened bottom.
In case the tube leaks because it was not put in properly or it popped out of place, it's best to have a screened bottom so bees don't drown in a pool of honey on the bottom board. If you don't have a screened bottom, check the bottom board after you're done harvesting to make sure there are no honey puddles.
Flow Hive Harvest Tip #8 - Connect the tube to the frame ASAP
The first time I harvested I took the cap off of the frame and did something else and then attached the tube. Big mistake. Those few minutes between taking the cap off and attaching the tube to the frame allowed a TON of bees to crawl into the tube. They all came out - but they were riding a wave of honey and some drowned :/ I spent the next 5 minutes trying to get bees to grab onto a stick so I could get them out.
If you're considering purchasing a flow hive, first listen to our podcast episode about my 2 years with a flow hive.
For our full guide to setting up your flow hive and harvesting from it, check out our online class, Beekeeping for Beginners. Right now, when you sign up for Beekeeping for Beginners, you'll get the Flow Hive mini class for free! In it I share my tips to using a flow hive if you live in a cold weather state and other pieces of equipment that will make using the flow hive easier - like adding a second brood box!
Want to learn more about beekeeping?
Join our newsletter for blog updates, beekeeping videos, sales and contests.