Introducing the Flow Hive
Her husband vetoed the chickens so Cynde Aaron turned to honeybees.
The Wewahitchka resident, who described her business, Dead Lakes Apiary, as a “back-yard” operation, is in her fifth year of partnering with the honeybees on their nectar.
And she employs an unusual method, at least for these parts, which is aimed, at least in part, at expanding beekeeping to the entire human hive, if you will.
The method’s uncommonness, to stretch the analogy a bit further, is in fact one of the things that attracted Aaron to the Flow Hive, which is essentially a bee hive without the hassle of actually interacting with the bees.
Should a keeper choose,
“It was different,” Aaron said when asked about her immersion in the flow hives. “I thought it was an interesting step for beekeeping.
“It was different, at least, in a way to get more people involved in beekeeping.”
A Flow Hive is not much different that of what most envision as bee boxes.
Those are eight- or 10-frame Langstroth boxes, which open on top and from which frames are pulled to extricate the honey.
The queen and her brood hive live and thrive at the bottom of the box, the wax/honey is deposited along the frames.
The Top Bar type of hive flips the Langsworth, the frames horizontal instead of vertical, the honey at one end and the brood hive at the other.
A Flow Hive is similar in look to a Langstroth on the outside, with a few tweaks.
But inside, the honey collects along frames that can be, with the turn of a handle, offset to cause the honey to flow, when pressed together, through a tube and straight into a jar.
Directly out of the hive into a jar and onto whatever fancy strikes the consumer.
No muss, little fuss.
Each Flow Hive includes a window which allows the keeper to track the manufacturer and accumulation of the honey inside the hive.
Nothing requires interaction with the bees, the idea, according to Australian co-creator Cedar Anderson, for extraction to be less stressful for bees and keeper.
Anderson patented the technology in 2015; Aaron was one of the first to contribute to a crowd-funding effort to raise capital for the initial production line.
As of February, three years after being patented, there are more than 51,000 Flow Hives in use in more than 130 companies, according to the company’s website.
“It’s all based on the design of the frames,” Aaron said, “It is really the exact same set-up (as a Langstroth) … but you don’t have to disturb the bees.”
Aaron’s operation is something of a hybrid as she has four Flow Hives and two traditional set-ups.
One of the attractions of the Flow Hive, at least for those who are a bit more hobbyist than commercial keeper, is the Flow Hive does not require the purchase of expensive equipment needed with a traditional hives, Aaron noted.
Those keepers also avoid the stings from extraction, which was one of Alexander’s primary motivators.
Now, as with any invention, new or not, there are those in the online community who bemoan the Flow Hives for that very reason; arguing one of the beauties of beekeeping is “communing” with the bees.
Aaron answered that by noting the windows in her Flow Hive allowing her to constantly monitor her bees, checking on their health and watchful for any outsider to the hive.
Aaron would also point to the mess inherent with the process of taking honey from a full hive, bees aswarming.
She also avoids killing any bees during extraction, scraping them from frames and the like, and believed the benefits of a less invasive extraction for the Flow Hive far outweigh any drawbacks from her “commune” with her bees.
“I don’t see the difference,” between Flow Hive and traditional, Aaron said. “I am still getting in there with the bees.”
And Aaron carries a pretty open-doored attitude about her bees.
She has retrieved nuisance bees from areas in Port St. Joe and WindMark, sucking them up in a mobile vacuum device, and transported them to one of the north county locations for her hives.
“I don’t care about the money, the business,” Aaron said. “Almost all of what I have harvested I have given to family or friends.
“It’s more of a hobby than business. My mom helps me. It is fun.”