Monday, 2 May 2016

Flow frame harvest at Collingwood Children's Farm

In April the VAA Melbourne section volunteers who run the Collingwood Children's Farm (CCF) Apiary organised a Flow frame harvest day.  To cater for the interest in this free event and to make numbers manageable, registration was required. Needless to say, spots filled up fast. 

The day was organised as 2 sessions  - morning and afternoon. Each session included:
  • an information session on the history of the Flow frame hive at the CCF and experiences managing it
  • an explanation and demonstration of harvesting from the Flow frames
  • honey tasting and a final information and Q&A session

Here's Mike in the apiary describing to the group (all on the other side of the fence) how he modified an already constructed langstroth hive to hold the Flow frames:

And showing everyone what an empty Flow frame looks like:

Here's the hive containing the Flow frames (in the top box), with the harvesting equipment  in the foreground, ready to set up.

There weren't a lot of bees in the box but some honey was capped:

 After checking each frame, a frame to harvest was selected and the plug at the bottom of the frame was removed:

The hose was then attached to the frame. The other end of the hose went straight into a honey container with an opening sized to match the tube.

Next step was to insert the special Flow frame 'allen keys' into the top of the frame, ready to open it. Opening can be done with one key but from previous experience it had been found that two keys worked better.

 Then it was time turn the keys to open the frame

It took a few minutes before the honey started to flow, but flow it did.

 Straight into the honey container:

While the honey was being collected, the group headed back to the shed for the final information part of the session.  Other experiences using the Flow frames and harvesting were shared and lots of questions were answered.

People were keen to taste the honey that was harvested:

It was a very well run and informative day and a credit to the people who organised it.  The frames had gone in late in the season so they weren't full, but there was enough honey in them to demonstrate how to go about harvesting.  Those in the audience who had Flow Hives, and those still waiting to get their Flow Hive, now have a much better understanding of how to manage this sort of hive as well as how to harvest from it. 


  1. Have you tried these frames yet with your hives?

    1. Hi Brian,
      No for a few reasons....but mostly because we haven’t wanted to spend the big money required to get a setup of our own. I’m no woodworker so I’d need a flow frame super (cost is from US $339) and the 6 flow frames ($389). Plus I’m sure I’d manage to lose or step on the little plastic plugs that plug the top and bottom of each frame. Losing them would stuff things up and I’m not sure at the moment whether it is possible to buy replacements. It’s also quite hard to get the frames in and out of the super. So I think we’ll stick with low-tech honey harvesting for the time being :)