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Bee keepers?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Those of you that keep bees, what's your opinion on this? We want to get into bees but are trying to decide if this is the way to go or not.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/flow-hive-honey-on-tap-directly-from-your-beehive#/
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Chickens
Cream Crested Legbars, BCM, Rhodebars, bearded silkies, good laced/buff laced polish, black/lavender ameraucanas

Turkeys
Bourbon red, red bronze, royal palm, mottled black

Www.onemountainacres.weebly.com

I also make hen saddles, PM me for details!
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post #2 of 7

Why are you getting into bees? If you only want a garden hive for pollination of plants and to have bees but don't really want a lot of honey then sure, this would work for you. It's extremely pricey but garden hives are not production hives. Garden hives are low  maintenance (to no maintenance) small hive perfect for your backyard garden and few fruit trees.

 

I've not completely looked into the tap system but it has inherent flaws. Get the thought of walking out and turning a tap for a cup of honey now and then right out of your head. It does not work that way. That seriously overpriced unit acts as a hive frame. Honey is not ripe until the bees cap it and that makes for a vacuum seal- no pour. The unit may have something to unplug on top end to relieve the vacuum but suspect you need to crack off from hive enough to rake off the caps, then you can open spigot to empty that acrylic frame.

 

That's a ton of money for little honey and still work to get it. It does however eliminate the steps needed to extract honey from typical hive frames. Without home made centrifugal extractors one would scrape the caps and let drain and strain, or crush up the entire comb and strain.

 

For a small, not so much honey and very little work backyard hive look into top bar hives or garden hives. Getting into bee keeping is relatively expensive. The working with them is rewarding but not for everyone. The real reward is getting honey. To get real amounts of honey a langstroth hive is the best way to go. I like the 8 frame sized hives because they are lighter than 10 frame hives. My mother wanted to get into bees and as she's around 65 now (I know right? I don't actually know her age...) so working with a medium 8 frame super she's lifting less than 40 pounds.

 

I suggest think about how much you may get into the hobby of bees and what your goal of them is then you can make a better informed decision of best hive for you.

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

 

-Charles Dudley Warner

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Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

 

-Charles Dudley Warner

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post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input. Obviously, we don't know much about it yet but we do know that we want to start a hive. We want it both for honey production and pollination of our garden and fruit trees. We want to be able to be more self sufficient. We definitely need to do more research. We just saw that and thought that it wad a really neat thing but looks can be deceiving.
Chickens
Cream Crested Legbars, BCM, Rhodebars, bearded silkies, good laced/buff laced polish, black/lavender ameraucanas

Turkeys
Bourbon red, red bronze, royal palm, mottled black

Www.onemountainacres.weebly.com

I also make hen saddles, PM me for details!
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Chickens
Cream Crested Legbars, BCM, Rhodebars, bearded silkies, good laced/buff laced polish, black/lavender ameraucanas

Turkeys
Bourbon red, red bronze, royal palm, mottled black

Www.onemountainacres.weebly.com

I also make hen saddles, PM me for details!
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post #4 of 7

It certainly is deceiving marketing and amazing the monetary amount they've obtained for "research", was over 7 million dollars (US) the last time I looked.

 

The goals you want from bees tells me you want a Langstoth hive. As I stated I like the 8 frame size for less weight of honey supers. A great way to go is only use all medium boxes, that way you only need one size frame. This is the way I went. The drawback is when you want to start a hive with a nucleus of bees instead of a box of bees. Nuc's are sold with 5 deep frames covered in bees with 3 of those frames being brood and the other two containing honey and pollen. This is the best way to start a hive. No need to feed them with sugar water and they've already started the cycle of brood. Less chance of them absconding as they have an established home. Package box bees are just bees so if disturbed too much before they put work into building comb and storing feed will just up and leave. So this winter I'll be building some deep hive boxes and purchasing a few deep frames so I can get Nuc's this next late spring.

 

Now is the time to order your bees. For best result you want native to your state bees. They have gone through generations in your climate. There can be problems if a person in the north orders package bees and they are coming from Georgia. Do a search and find bee keepers in your area that sell nucleus hives and put down a deposit soon before they are sold out. I highly recommend getting two. With two hives you have a reference of hive health. If something happens to one hive you still have the other and in next year can split it to get back to two without needing to purchase more bees.

 

Langstroth hives consist of a bottom board, hive, inner cover and top. Most 8 frame hives will fit 9 frames. It's best to keep the hive body packed. You start with a deep hive and once 7 of 9 frames are filled with bees add another deep box with 9 frames. Once that second hive box is nearly full you can start adding the honey supers. A full hive that you'd keep year round is 2 deeps or 3 mediums. Those you only need to get into now and then to take out queen brood. Bees will produce queen brood when ready to divide so you remove them from hive so half your bees don't leave when she emerges. They also make supercedure queens when the current queen is loosing her productiveness or some other reason. In this scenario they kill the current queen when the new queen is about to emerge. Most people remove all queen cells and purchase new queens ($25) when a hive is loosing production or making a new hive (put in some brood, honey frame or two and shake some bees from strong hive in).

 

The supers that you take honey from are medium boxes that stack on top of your hive.

 

That in a nutshell is beekeeping. There is a ton of information to learn but once your hands on and reading stuff it's super easy. Many folks find bee keeping clubs locally to learn info and find a mentor. Beekeepers are as social as bees and usually will readily talk your ear off about bees and willing to come by now and then to show you hands on how to manage your hive. Also a great resource if needing a few frames of brood or queen cell when things go wrong.

 

I'm a little to no smoke bee keeper. I don't use smoke unless actually doing work in the hive. I'll lift a hive frame partially here and there for quick inspection of brood pattern and not need smoke. It's when going through the hive to take out queen cells or locating queen because she's getting unproductive or other bad trait to kill and then introduce new queen. You need some smoke and bee suit then. Otherwise I'm in a T-shirt and maybe leather gloves.

 

Enjoy your bees!

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

 

-Charles Dudley Warner

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Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

 

-Charles Dudley Warner

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post #5 of 7

One last thing...I told you bee keepers will talk your ear off...

 

Build your own boxes, entrance spacers and bottom boards if your have a table saw. It will save you a lot of money and great winter project.

 

http://www.michiganbees.org/beekeeping/in-the-beekeepers-workshop/

 

The telescoping top can be a bit tricky with bending of sheet metal. I bought those and use plastic frames. Excellent company for plastic frames (I have the cheaper black plastic frames and they work excellent) is Mann Lake LTD. Their size boxes will fit an extra frame too. Not all boxes will so many people chisel some off frames to fit 9 in a 8 or 11 in a 10 frame box. Just use Mann Lake's dimensions and they fit. You only use 8 or ten frames in the supers. Orders over $100 ship free.

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

 

-Charles Dudley Warner

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Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

 

-Charles Dudley Warner

Reply
post #6 of 7

I think the Flow Hive is an incredibly ingenious bit of engineering but sadly, prohibitively expensive in my case. I think knowledge of beekeeping is probably important before using one as there is too much temptation to harvest when it is not appropriate and perhaps not to learn about bees and inspect them but just treat it as a commodity to be tapped when required..  

 

I have been keeping bees for 17 years and extracting honey from framed hives is one of the jobs I absolutely hate. Horrible sticky, messy task with more time spent cleaning up than makes the honey worth while if you only have a couple of hives. And of course there is the heavy lifting which I am starting to find less attractive. 

 

In the last few years I have become increasingly interested in Top Bar Hives and "natural" or perhaps more accurately described "balanced beekeeping" where the focus is on working with the bees in a partnership rather than farming them for honey There are many advantages for a back garden/hobby beekeeper looking to keep a couple of colonies for personal honey and pollination and most importantly fascination.... be warned, these little insects are amazing creatures.

Low set up costs... you can even make your own Top bar hive, as precision made boxes and frames are not required or any great woodworking skills and if you use recycled materials you can reduce the cost even further... I have a friend who has even built one like a Jenga tower with just short lengths of 2" thick wood stacked to make a hollow tower, with no nails or screws at all. He assures me it is very stable and once the bees fill it with comb and propolise it, it becomes very solid. That said, it is more of a conservation hive experiment than something that honey is intended to be harvested from, although that may still be possible with some planning and modification.

No heavy lifting, as there are no supers on top of the brood box, so you are only lifting one bar at a time and harvesting one or two bars of honey at a time which are cut off into a bowl, mashed up and then strained.

No extraction equipment, supers or frames or queen excluders that need storing.

The Kenyan Top Bar hive can even be managed by a wheelchair bound person or someone with only one arm as a dear friend of mine has.

 

Personally I like horizontal (Kenyan style) top bar hives as they allow a good degree of inspection and if you incorporate an observation window into the hive, you can check on their progress without even taking the lid off. I have one that I made from scrap timber and a bit of Perspex sheet off cut, that cost me less than £15 to build. I catch swarms from my own hives to populate them and I give away spare swarms to new beekeepers to help get them started.

 

There are several Top bar beekeeping sites where information is available and free plans or ideas for hives are shared. I can certainly recommend the Biobees website and Natural Beekeeping Forum if you are interested in taking that path.

 

Regards

 

Barbara.  

post #7 of 7
I'm Happy with the two nucs I got earlier this year, they're coming along great but the Flow Hive takes all the fun out of beekeeping and honey harvesting in my mind. You'll find lots of opinions, but from my experience, other hives I've helped care for that where my father-in-law's seemed to do less well on plastic frames. Which is what the Flow Hive uses.
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