Research & Development
Innovation is at the heart of what we do at Flow. Through research and development, we aim to continue to innovate, to improve our customer’s experience and support healthy, thriving bee colonies the world over.
Check out just a few of the programs we have been working on:
Flow Hive Honey - Taste The Difference
Possibly the most common feedback that we receive after successful Flow Hive harvests is how much better honey tastes, freshly harvested from a Flow Hive. Now we have the scientific proof!
A team of researchers at the University of Queensland performed sensory analysis on monofloral honeys extracted using conventional methods versus Flow Frames.
They found that the Flow extracted honeys were fresher and more floral.
Exploring New Contexts and Frontiers in Beekeeping
Although Flow Frames were designed for the Western honey bee, Apis mellifera, some beekeeping pioneers are conducting experiments with other varieties of bees and gaining exciting results.
Adaptation of the Flow Hive for Japanese honey bee
We are working with researchers from the University of Tokyo, to investigate whether harvesting with Flow Frames reduces absconding behaviour in managed native Japanese Honey Bee (Apis cerana japonica) colonies.
Traditionally, Japanese bees are kept in log hives; their honey is valued for its flavour and medicinal qualities. Although they produce less honey than the western honey bee, Japanese bees are better adapted to the cold climate of Japan and may be more efficient pollinators.
But they are also prone to absconding when disturbed and traditional harvesting necessitates the destruction of the log hive and loss of brood.
Flow Comb Under The Microscope
We continue to investigate how Flow Frames are used by the bees across a range of conditions.
We are often asked, “How do the bees store honey in the incomplete honeycomb cells of a Flow Frame?” and indeed “What happens to the plastic in the hive?”
It is fascinating to see how the bees join the gaps, draw out the cells and coat the entire Flow Frame surface with wax in preparation for storing nectar, which will then be processed into honey and capped in the same way as natural comb.
Here you can see the changes made to Flow Frames once they are placed in a hive.
The blades of a Flow Frame form partial honeycomb cells (photo a). Bees “complete” these cells by joining the gaps and drawing the comb out (photos b & c), then coating the entire cell wall with beeswax (photos d, e & f).
Light microscope images of Flow Frame honeycomb cells (x7 magnification) (a) unused; (b-f) bees complete cells with wax.
It’s amazing how many people our invention has inspired to find out more about local pollinators and ways to support them and their environment. We enjoy engaging with customers to collect real-world data on bees, pollinators or Flow Hives around the world.
At this community garden in Melbourne, citizen-scientists are using hive scales to compare the performance of a Flow Hive and a standard Langstroth Hive – with interesting results.
The Flow Hive has opened up the world of backyard beekeeping to thousands of people around the globe. Now the great potential for boutique and commercial beekeepers is also emerging.
We are currently working with boutique and commercial honey producers around the world to optimise Flow Hive honey harvesting for their apiaries – with exciting results.
Flow Hive Research Support Program
The Flow Hive Research Support Program provides our patented Flow Frames and Hives to researchers in order to support working with bees in any field of research. Applicants must have beekeeping experience, be affiliated with a research institution and provide evidence of their capacity to conduct research.
Why choose Flow Hive for your research project?
Flow Frames allow for in-field harvesting reducing labour, equipment requirements and the possibility of cross-contamination of samples during extraction. Using Flow Frames you can choose to harvest from a single frame of honey or even a small section of a frame. The ease of harvest allows for more frequent harvesting and improves sampling efficiency.
Flow Frames and supers provide a window into the hive enabling easier and less intrusive observation of bees in the honey super. Flow Frames are also versatile and existing supers can be readily adapted to hold Flow Frames