If you missed the announcement, early this morning (Australia time) the Flow Hive 2 was announced.
There was a ‘teaser’ video released several days ago:
…and the full video of the updated hive can be viewed here:
… a summary of changes video is here:
So what’s changed?
The changes are all minor and address some of the concerns raised by beekeepers, and issues we have seen when assisting new beekeepers with the Flow Hive. There appears to be nothing substantial changed in the frames themselves, although the advertising material does say they are version 2 frames (I suspect that this is the frame revision made early on in the original Flow Hive’s life when owners noticed the plastic colour change between revisions).
Single piece roof panels (glued)
The original sloped roof was constructed from 4 panels of timber, that when assembled, presented as wooden shingles. In the first version of the Flow Hive there were issues with water seeping in through the joint of the two pieces on each side which would then make its way into the hive and drip onto the crown board. This has now been rectified by providing the roof panels pre-glued to seal the gap.
Crown board (inner cover) now has a plug
The crown board is a useful piece of equipment that assists in top feeding bees through a hole cut in the centre. It also has other uses such as clearing of burr comb placed above the opening. Although people claim bees won’t work above the crown board, @BBH and I have seen multiple cases where bees have moved into the lid of the Flow hive (through the crown board) and filled it with comb. Although the videos suggest this is a nice way to harvest comb honey… having cleaned up the result, I would suggest keeping your comb honey in frames. The new crown board has a plug to close off the centre hole and restrict access into the lid of the hive.
Original Flow hive lid filled with honey after bees moved up through crown board. Do not harvest comb honey like this!
Honey extraction shelf has laser cut supports
The original Flow Hive videos show a shelf being used to support the jars as the honey is being extracted. This shelf is the rear cover removed from the back of the hive to access the frames. Previously it had been suggested to use metal ‘L’ brackets to provide a support, but the updated hive now has laser cut sections to follow the design of the hive. The ‘shelf’ element still appears to be the rear cover of the hive inserted into the laser cut support brackets.
Brass fixtures instead of timber handles / tabs
The window cover was previously secured with two spring loaded wooden cams/tabs and the handles of on the hives were small wooden cupboard/drawer handles. All these smaller elements have been replaced with brass items. The window tabs did have a tendency of weathering and sticking shut, especially if they had been painted/oiled to keep moisture out of the timber. This made opening the window for inspection problematic at times as the tabs felt ‘glued’ shut. The large wooden double function (holds top panel, and rear panel in place) Flow cam/handle on the back of the hive remains the same.
Additional brass wing nuts have also been added to the side of the roof/cover to fasten it in high wind conditions. I have only heard of one instance of the roof blowing off in an open paddock on a rural property, and the solution at that time was to hold it down with a ratchet strap… the brass wing nuts are a more elegant solution for the same problem.
Wooden cam style handles on original Flow hive showing signs of sticking
Corflute bottom board replaced with rigid plastic tray
Under the original vented base in the Flow Hive a corflute panel was inserted at two optional heights (or removed completely) to provide three levels of ventilation. I have seen problems with this panel not adequately closing off the airflow to the bottom of the hive in winter and issues with the corflute sagging and falling out of the ‘rails’. The base of the hive has been completely reworked with the corflute panel replaced with a rigid plastic tray and and wooden cover panel to regulate airflow. The new wooden panel provides two configurations to allow varying levels of airflow, and the plastic tray can also be completely removed to expose the vented base. It appears the plastic tray has reservoirs that could be used to hold oil to trap SHB (small hive beetle) that fall through the vented base, but I haven’t seen confirmation of this.
Windows on both sides of the Flow super
In the original Flow hive the super had an inspection window on one side, and inspection was also possible through the back of the Flow frames when removing the rear panels. One of the concerns when extracting honey from the Flow hive is that the honey isn’t ripe at time of extraction. I always suggest opening the hive and looking between the frames from the top before extracting to confirm they are fully capped (and therefore the honey is ripe). Although adding a second window doesn’t completely solve the problem, having an additional angle to view the frames is welcomed. This will provide a better indication that all the frames are fully capped to both outer extremities before extracting.
Looking between Flow frames in Flow super
Deeper handles/cutouts and modified alighting board configuration
The handles/cutouts have changed to a routed design rather than the traditional scalloped design. I never had a functional issue with the older handles and suspect this change is for aesthetic and manufacturing purposes. The routed handles are much easier to manufacture with CNC equipment (routers) which may be a result of Flow in-sourcing their manufacturing. Functionally the routed handle behaves the same, but I do have some concerns with the ‘V’ shape of the routed handle potentially being designed for form over function.
Another minor feature which doesn’t get much airtime in the videos is the apparent re-design of the alighting (landing) board at the front of the hive. With the new stand/base configuration, it looks like the alighting board at the front of the hive received a laser cut redesign very similar to the rear shelf, with a slope away from the hive.
Spirit levels built into the base / optional legs
Not sure about this one. I’ve never had problems or heard of problems levelling the Flow hive. I have also never seen another hives with built in spirit levels… so maybe it will take off? With the pitched roof it is obviously more difficult to do the ‘marble roll’ test , but that can always be done on the crown board
The concern I have about the legs is the surface area of the feet. From experience, I have had more than one hive sink into soft ground as the honey storage grew and the weight of the hive increased. With a single full super (~20-25kg) and brood box, it may not be an issue, but running multiple supers may be too heavy… time will tell! With the threaded bolts for the feet, I don’t think it will be too long until aftermarket contraptions are devised to assist with the surface area of the feet and ant control.
Last but not least, the screws that are used to assemble the hive have been updated! The previous Phillips head screws were notorious for stripping, especially when driving the longer screws into the hive bodies. The screws have now been updated to a square head decking screw design and a tool is provided so the hive can be assembled by hand.
Stripped Phillips head screws in original Flow hive