Bee-Girl By Sarah Red-Laird February 18, 2015
The Flowwwwww Hive! Its the latest bee hive design taking the internet by storm! So here's my two cents: First, I think it's very pretty and I think the father son team that developed it are adorable. Will it revolutionize beekeeping as we know it and release bees from our medaling to feed the world a healthy sugar alternative? I mean, is it "scalable"? I don't think so. However, is this a possible fun gadget to add to your backyard apiary, see how it works? Totally!
But.......... here's my Debbie Downer red flag: ROBBING (when hungry bees attack an open honey source in a violent, angry, horde). If your honey flow is epic and nectar is more then prolific, robbing may not be an issue. However, as I sit here writing this, in a pickup truck waiting on an almond grower, in Bakersfield, CA - I'm surrounded by drought, lack of diverse forage, and soon to be hungry bees. I just keep thinking about lack and hunger and robbing. And the whole West, and how hot and dry and flowerless it's becoming. So. Would I use this hive and risk ensuing the horde that would result? Nope.
But if you live in a land of plenty, experiment away - but please don't forget to think about the bees first in your beekeeping adventures.
I also want you to consider a couple more thoughts in this new potential hobby. Do we really need beekeepers in all of the backyards? And do you want to be a beekeeper, or a bee reaper?
Honey bees are awesome. They are a joy, they do amazing work, and they also have stingers. One percent of the population will have a systemic anaphylactic reaction when they are stung. That is one out of every one hundred people. How do people get stung? Yes, by being an idiot and swatting at them. But also by sitting on one, grabbing a gardening tool where one is resting, or taking a swig of soda that a bee may have nosedived into.
Bees can also become aggressive and sting for “no reason” when there is turmoil inside the hive. This could be an infestation of the Varroa destructor mite, aggressive wasps picking off their babies, or the common neighborhood four legged hive terrorizers: skunks and raccoons. This is where the difference between “bee havers” and “beekeepers” comes in.
Keeping bees, and keeping bees alive and healthy is harder than it has been then any time in modern history. I already mentioned Varroa and mammal pests. But oh… let me count the other ways: Nosema ceranae, Nosema apis, Israeli acute paralysis virus, black queen cell virus, hairless black bee syndrome, acute bee paralysis virus, deformed wing virus, sacbood, chalkbrood, stonebrood, American foulbrood, European foulbrood, IIV6. Oh wait. And then there are pesticide poisonings, chilled brood, dysentery, starvation, and as I mentioned above, extreme weather.
So what’s your plan to manage your bees and make sure these animals you have decided to adopt are cared for? What is your strategy? Denial and neglect are not a strategy.
One last thought. It takes about 2 million flowers to make one pound of honey. What does your neighborhood look like? Is there enough for the honey bees, and also for their native polinator cousins?
If you feel called to beekeeping – awesome!! If its because you want to be a beekeeper. If it’s because you saw a cool thing on Youtube where you can get free pancake syrup, don’t even.
For further thoughts, here's a write up from my friends at ANU in Australia.
[Note: Sarah, Thank you for this insightful, informative, bee-care-full take on the Flow Hive. Kudos to you Sarah, keep up the great work! Webkeeper!!]