How Does a Flow Hive© Work?

Beekeeping has been the same for very many years.  That is, until the Flow Hive entered the market.  The Flow Hive is best known for being able to drain honey from a tap straight from the hive.

Since then, there have been a lot of questions about the Flow Hive.  Common questions are How does a Flow Hive work?  Is the Flow Hive good for bees?  How much does a Flow Hive cost?  This article will answer a few of the basic questions about the Flow Hive.  

Images remain the copyright property of Flow® and are reproduced here with their permission.

What is a Flow Hive©?

Created in Australia by beekeepers Stuart and Cedar Anderson, the Flow Hive is the newest development in Langstroth beehives.  The state of the art design of this beehive allows honey to be drained straight from the hive – no honey extractors needed. 

With a simple turn of a lever, the Flow Hive is able to provide honey on tap. Turn the lever back and the bees are free to fill the cells up again.  The ingenious design of the Flow Hive has certainly made a big impact in the world of beekeeping.  

So, how does a Flow Hive work?  It’s actually a simple and effective design.  

How Does a Flow Hive© Work?

The Flow Hive is a Langstroth style beehive.  It consists of wooden boxes, frames, and foundation.  The brood box of the Flow Hive is the same as any Langstroth hive.  However, the super holds special Flow frames and artificial foundation made from BPA and BPS free food grade plastic.  

The Flow frames fit into a standard sized Langstroth super.  Flow’s super has observation windows and an opening for honey collection.  

The foundation in the Flow frames are shaped into partially formed honeycomb cells.  The bees finish constructing the cells and then fill them with honey.  You can check when the frame is full of honey by looking at the observation window.  

This causes the honeycomb cells to split in half and turn into channels for the honey to flow down.  No honey extractors or anything is needed. The honey flows out of the frame simply from gravity.  

Harvesting honey from a Flow Hive is easy and fun.  Each Flow frame has a trough at the bottom that will hold a honey tube during harvesting time. The Flow key is then inserted into the slot and rotated 90° downwards. 

Once the honey is collected, the key is turned back upwards and the cells will realign themselves.  No bees are harmed during this process.  All bees that are on the surface of the comb are undisturbed, and any bees in empty cells have enough room to remain unharmed. 

Is The Flow Hive© Good for Bees?

When the Flow hive came out some people worried about the wellbeing of the bees.  Is this new technology positive or detrimental for honey bees?  


The use of plastic in Flow frames have been criticized by some beekeepers.  These beekeepers feel that plastic is unnatural and prefer a more organic method of beekeeping.  

However, the use of plastic foundations have long been used in beekeeping so I personally don’t find a problem with the use of plastic frames.  Plus, Flow has gone through great lengths to use only BPA and BPS free food grade plastic in their hives. 

Over Harvesting Honey

Another concern is that the Flow Hive may lead to over harvesting of honey.  People think that because getting honey from a Flow Hive is so much easier than the traditional way, that beekeepers may take too much honey, or harvest too often.  

We must remember that the only reason bees make honey is so they have something to eat during the winter.  If they do not have enough honey stored up, the colony will die.  

While it is possible to over harvest from Flow Hives, it can happen from traditional hives as well.  The important thing is to educate beekeepers on the proper way to harvest honey, no matter what type of hive they use.  

Flow’s website offers a lot of education for new beekeepers including access to an online beekeeping course, articles, and a forum. These resources are very helpful in preventing the over harvesting of honey. 

Bees are Undisturbed

A big reason why I think the Flow Hive is good for bees is because the bees are undisturbed during the honey harvesting process.  They can stay right on the frame as the honey flows out of the hive.  Even a bee that is in an open cell during harvesting will not be hurt, as there is enough space for them to move around. 

Harvesting honey the traditional way can unfortunately sometimes lead to some bees being smashed.  Of course the beekeeper tries their best not to harm any bees, but it does happen.  

That’s because each frame needs to be removed and the bees must be taken off of the frames before harvesting.  A bee brush is usually used for this, and while it’s gentle as possible, it is still a large brush coming into contact with small bees.  

Therefore, I do think the Flow Hive can be good for bees because it really limits the amount of contact the beekeeper needs to have with the bees. The frames in the super rarely even need to be removed because they can be observed through the side window.  

Brood Box is the Same

Just because the frames are not removed during honey harvesting does not mean that the Flow Hive offers a completely hands off experience.  The brood box of the Flow Hive is the same as any Langstroth Hive and still requires care and inspections.  

Hive inspections are one of the best parts of beekeeping as it gives the beekeeper a chance to observe and care for their bees.  So, even though the honey harvesting method has changed, the brood box and hive inspections have not. 

How Much Does a Flow Hive© Cost?

Now after hearing so much information about the Flow Hive, you may be wondering, how much does a Flow Hive cost?  The cost of a Flow Hive depends on the model.  

The cost of a Flow Hive Hybrid is $499, the Flow Hive Classic is in the $600 range, and the Flow Hive 2 is in the $700 range.  Flow’s newest model is the Flow Hive 2+, and the cost is in the $800 range. The price also depends on if you want a hive stand add on. 

If you are comparing the cost of a Flow Hive to regular Langstroth hives, the Flow Hive does cost more.  But take into account that you do not need to purchase a honey extractor if you have a Flow Hive.  

The Flow Hive is also made with high quality Western Red Cedar.  It’s a very strong and durable wood.  So, if well taken care of, you can expect this hive to last through many seasons.  


The Flow Hive is an innovative beehive that allows honey to be harvested with a turn of a lever.  It works by utilizing it’s special Flow frames and foundation. While the super of the Flow Hive is modified, the brood box remains the same.