No matter what anyone says, the Flow™ hive does not revolutionize beekeeping. Not even close. If the system works as the creators claim, it could perhaps revolutionize honey harvesting. But the rest of beekeeping—the daily caring for bees—does not change. The idea that anyone can have honey on tap without having to mess with bees is a myth.
Extracting honey has been one of the least controversial aspects of beekeeping. This website, for example, has well over 1200 posts about beekeeping, yet there’s hardly a mention of extracting—and that’s simply because no one ever asks. The Flow™ is very cool—and certainly entertaining—but extracting is something most beekeepers do for a day or two every year. It’s the other 363 days that are problematic.
You can’t extract honey until the bees make it, and to make it, the bee colony has to be healthy and productive. Keeping bees healthy and productive is what beekeeping is all about. It’s also the part that is difficult.
Many of the comments I’ve read about the Flow™ are precious. “The first new hive design since Langstroth!” But it’s not a new hive design. It’s a deep Langstroth super with a built-in extractor that fits on a standard Langstroth hive that, except for extracting, requires conventional beekeeping methods. Yes, the extracting mechanism is new and ingenious, but all else remains the same.
Whether the extractor is in the super or in the barn, the beekeeper must still deal with Varroa mites, tracheal mites, viral diseases, zombees, small hive beetles, wax moths, chalkbrood, foulbrood, and Nosema. Beekeepers must still deal with bee nutrition, especially in agricultural areas or in places devoid of flowering weeds and natural habitat. Beekeepers must deal with pesticides in the environment, scarce water supplies, Africanized colonies, cranky neighbors, nectar dearths, and local laws and regulations.
Beekeepers must deal with poor genetics, weak queens, environmental stress, precocious foraging, and air pollution. Oh yes, there are storms and wind, heat waves and torrential rains, not to mention swarms and stings and allergic reactions. Come winter they deal with blizzards, sugar supplements, pollen substitutes, wraps, quilts, cozies, wind breaks, mice, dysentery, and shrews. But hey, not to worry, the harvesting thing is solved!
This morning, on seeing the Flow™ rack up its first two million dollars in just a few hours, my husband hinted that I was possibly out of a job. He may be correct. All of us who have spent years trying to answer beekeeper questions have suddenly been made redundant by this unprecedented and revolutionary way to keep bees that requires nothing more than a beehive, a tube, and a bucket.
I’m glad everyone is happy and I hope it works for them. But sadly, I think the “coolness” of it steals attention from the bees . . . and that’s were attention is needed the most.