Are Flow Hives Bad For Bees? (Here is All You Need To Know)

Ever thought about the question; are flow hives bad for bees?

With no concrete data backing the fact. It remains an opinion-based argument with a few noteworthy points.

Flow hives are not bad for bees as it makes it very easy for bee keepers to harvest the honey produced by bees. But there has been constant debate among those for and against it on the benefits. Flow hives are naturally good for both traditional and modern bee keepers

Like so many inventions before it, The Flow Hive has drawn criticism and praise alike amongst seasoned beekeepers, however, is the criticism well founded and backed by scientific research or is it just misguided backlash from a few people? 

If you’re looking to get into beekeeping or you need a new beehive and you’re considering The Flow Hive. This article will give you a bit of clarity.

We have compiled a few of the points made by professional beekeepers stating the negative effects The Flow Hive has on bees.

Are they noteworthy? You tell us. Here are a few expert reviews.

What’s All The Fuss About?

Are Flow Hives Bad For Bees

There is a constant debate amongst different sects of the Beekeeping community about the impact of the Flow Hive on beekeeping, as the influx of beginner beekeepers is on the rise since the release of the new invention— The Flow Hive.

Traditional Beekeepers believe the invention will commercialise bees and will harm the honey bees in the long run, to which Commercial Beekeepers counter, “Bees were commercialised long before the arrival of the Flow Hive”.

The back and forth is unending.

Related: Here is an article I wrote on are neonicotinoids bad for bees

Can’t Bees Produce Honey in Plastic Combs?

This argument has been presented by many beekeepers, stating the Flow Hive’s frames are made of plastic combs.

Although this is true, the fact remains that their combs are only partially synthetic (plastic), the bees are given a room on the frame to construct their comb.

The plastic only acts as a conduit to allow the honey flow easily while harvesting.

Also, the argument that the bees wouldn’t take to the plastic combs on the frame can be easily solved by coating the frame with a thin layer of beeswax.

Does Plastic Off-Gassing Affect The Bees?

Although this point is not backed by data, in our current society everyone is advised to “go green” and cut down the use of plastic.

One might have to wonder if this is true, does the plastic flow frames affect the bees physiologically?

This argument sort of holds water, due to the fact that most synthetic materials no matter how “safe” tend to off-gas (give off chemicals in form of a gas) after a period.

However, this argument is countered by Stuart Anderson in a 2015 interview with Permaculture stating “The bees do cover the plastic matrix in wax, and they ventilate their hive constantly.

He also states the company is working on other materials to replace plastic in the flow frame to relieve concerns.

Many beekeepers believe the bees prefer naturally built combs as opposed to the plastic combs in Flow frames.

Due to the bees behavioral changes when transferred from Hives with natural combs to Flow hives.

Does it Lead to Negligent Beekeeping Practices?

Some professional beekeepers argue that due to the ease of use of the Flow Hive, it makes amateur beekeepers lazy since it’s so easy harvesting the honey.

There has been an onslaught of beginner beekeepers who have seen the ad for the Flow Hive and thought “Honey on tap? Easy, count me in” they were soon given a rude awakening of sorts after they found themselves in sticky situations. No pun intended.

The fact is you still have to observe the honey bees and take care of them, the only part of your Job that has been made easy is the “harvesting” part.

Nothing else, if you neglect the bees, you will have dead bees on your hands before you get the chance to harvest the honey.

Bee health is important, the hive needs to be checked constantly for pathogenic infections and other forms of diseases. 

Honey Bee Exploitation?

Some Environmental Beekeepers say the Flow Hive exploits the honey bees, as they are bred strictly for honey producing purposes.

Which is false because people have bred honey bees for decades for “honey-producing purposes” long before the invention of the Flow Hive, right?

Do The Benefits Outweigh The Negatives?

Most arguments against the use of Flow Hives are based on taking away the “traditional beekeeping practices” which makes it seem like the pushback is not really about the negative impact the Flow frame may have on the bees.

It has been about six (6) years since the Flow Hive was released to the market, and there haven’t been credible journals nay “scientific journals” written to back the negative claims. Everybody trusts science, well at least most people do. 

So if you need your concerns heard, would it not make sense to carry out studies to obtain said data? 

The Benefits?

The Flow Hive limits your interaction with the bees to “routine hive check” only, in traditional beekeeping, when you want to harvest the honey.

Farmers use chemicals, smoke and other forms of repellents to drive the bees off their combs to access the honey. 

This practice may lead to the demise of a few bees, the Flow Hive eliminates this worry.

By providing honey on tap, it limits your interaction with the bees.

Which is good for the bees because they don’t get squished and good for you because you don’t get stung. Win, win if you ask me.

Instead of being invasive to the hive and destroying the honeycomb when harvesting season comes.

It is common knowledge that bees die after it stings their target, when you are invasive of their space, they get protective quickly and begin to fire warning shots.

Which is NOT a fun experience for either parties involved. The Flow Hive eliminates that worry.

Well, now it just sounds like We are trying to sell you a Flow Hive. I digress. But you get my point.

There are many arguments for and against the Flow Hive, and most of it is centred around how it affects the Beekeepers rather than how it affects the Honey Bees.

Conclusion 

The Flow Hive has been a source of controversy in the beekeeping community, with backlash coming from traditional and environmental beekeepers.

Although some of the arguments against the Flow Hive are a bit sentimental rather than data-driven.

Whether the Flow Hive is innocuous or not to the honey bees remains to be seen.

The most credible argument provided to the negative effects of the Flow Hive to bees is the fact that Flow frames are made of plastic.

It is also redundant because plastic frames have been in use by Beekeepers for over 20 years.

The Inventors argue that the plastic frames are FDA approved and are safe for the environment, also once the bees coat the surface with beeswax, it lowers the risk of Off-gassing.

However, the concerns remain, at the end of the day due to the lack of solid data on the negative effects of the Flow Hive.

It all boils down to personal preference and opinions, which all differences between the Environmental Beekeepers, the Natural Beekeepers and the Commercial Beekeepers.

With the disappearance of bees around the world, we think it would be best to put sentimental and traditional values aside and carry out research to learn the effects of plastic frames.

That way there will be no more “Where is your proof?” arguments, don’t you think?

Written by Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books

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