Go With The Flow?

Beekeeping and hives have changed but little since the invention of the movable frame hive in the 1800s. Moveable frames and stackable hive boxes allow a beekeeper flexibility in hive management and ease of viewing the colony. Honey collection has always been messy, and as commonly practiced requires an extractor, a pricey piece of equipment to fling honey out of the frames. Stuart and Cedar Anderson devised a new type of frame, “FlowHive” to make honey collection easier. The movable frames in the super (where the bees store the honey) generally have a hexagonal imprint (foundation) and the bees build their hexagonal honey cells out from the base. The FlowHive has honey cells made of plastic, ready for bees to pack with honey. The bees find the cells acceptable, fill them with honey and cap the opening with wax. FlowHive has a clear view of the cells from outside the hive. When honey is ready for harvest, a lever causes the sides of the plastic cells to move and open a channel from the top of the frame to a collection tube in the bottom.

Will it catch on? It makes honey collection much easier, but the frames are more expensive. It would be more suitable to a beekeeper with a single hive than a beekeeper with thousands of hives, because of the greater cost of the frames. Purists dislike that the cells are plastic and not natural beeswax. On the other hand, beeswax is expensive for bees to produce and bees must consume some honey stores to produce it. It is an interesting invention whose adoption depends on public tastes.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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