Flow Hive Review: The Best Automatic Beehive

by Elaine Gaertner
Last Updated: 18/08/2020
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A flow hive is a type of beehive that is custom-built featuring patented technology.

Cedar Anderson and his father Stuart came up with the flow hive as a less invasive way to harvest honey.

The design of the flow hive provides a more natural way of harvesting honey without necessarily opening the hive. The hive uses a flow system along with unique frames for the easy collection of honey from Langstroth hives.

This automatic beehive eliminates all the heavy lifting and use of expensive equipment during honey extraction.

With one, you do not have to worry about stings, stressful extraction sessions, or killing bees in the process. If you are looking for flow hive reviews, here is the best automatic beehive that you can buy.

Flow Hive Review

The hive comes in a simple, yet functional design that allows you to extract honey without harming bees.

It reduces the chances of getting stung and makes the honey harvesting process easier for both the beekeeper and the bees.

Key Features

  • Automatic flow system
  • Patented flow hive technology
  • High-quality materials and construction
  • Ideal for beginners and experienced beekeepers.

The flow hive brings about convenience when harvesting honey. The automatic flow system makes it easy for beekeepers to extract honey without having to open the hive.

This design works for both beginners and experts looking to save time and effort during honey extraction.

This hive features high-quality materials to withstand continuous use. It is made of high-quality BPS-free food-grade plastic that is safe for bees and honey — the exterior features premium Western Red Cedar for strength, stability, and durability.

The flow hive is of outstanding quality and has proven to work well for many beekeepers. Although it is quite an investment to make, it certainly has significant benefits for beekeepers.

Benefits of Automatic Beehive

A flow hive, in comparison with traditional hives, has these benefits to the beekeeper.

  • Saves harvesting time 

A flow hive comes with its honey harvesting technique that you do not need to control. With the automatic flow system, a flow hive saves you valuable time. Unlike traditional hives, you do not need to smoke the bees and spend hours extracting honey with a flow hive.

You will still need to inspect the hive, deal with mites, and monitor for diseases. A flow hive does not take away the essential beekeeping practices. It only helps with the honey extracting process.

  • Less invasive for the bees

With a flow hive, there is no interaction between you and the bees during extraction. You do not need to open the hive for harvest, unlike standard beehives.

Other methods of extracting honey not only require you to open the hive but also physically remove bees from each frame. This process is invasive for the bees, and some end up dying in the process.

Think of the smoke, brushes, leaf blowers, and strong smell to drive the bees away. This process is never easy for the bees as well as the beekeeper. But, with the seamless honey harvesting design of a flow hive, the bees just go about their business.

  • Convenience

A flow hive is arguably the best when it comes to the convenience of harvesting honey.

You never have to set a schedule to harvest or find tools for extracting honey. Once you install the hive and the bees get going, the only thing you need to do is place the jars and replace them as they fill with honey.

Although a little cleaning is necessary, it cannot compare to the conventional way of extracting honey, where there are so many things to clean, including the honey extractor, which can be particularly challenging.

  • Easy to use

Beginners in beekeeping will agree that the entire process of harvesting honey is not an easy task at all.

The Flow hive design makes this process quite comfortable with the automatic honey collection system.

Although you will need to inspect the hive and monitor your hive’s functionality, a flow hive certainly takes away the hassle of setting up honey extraction tools and equipment.

How Does a Flow Hive Work?

A flow hive, like a standard honeybee hive, features a brood box. This is where the queen bee lays eggs. The design also has one or more flow superframes, useful for honey storage and extraction.

The flow frames come with already partly formed honeycomb cells. The bees complete with their wax and fill each cell with honey as they cap them. One other essential part of the flow hive is the spout.

After activating the spout, the cells split vertically inside the cells to create channels. These allow the honey to flow down and collect in a sealed trough at the bottom. The trough has a tap that opens, so the honey flows out.

After draining the trough, and closing the tap, the upper slots reset to return the comb in its original position. The bees can then chew the wax capping away and fill them with honey. This process continues allowing you to collect honey as the bees produce it. 

Is Flow Hive Bad for Bees?

There have been controversies surrounding the use of the Flow Hive. But, like any other hive, some people appreciate its convenience while others bash its design.

While most people have labeled the flow hive as a design for ‘lazy beekeepers,’ it is essential to understand its effect on the bees and the entire honey-making process.

From a beekeeper’s perspective, it is hard to tell whether the flow hive is bad for the bees or not. But, the design slightly affects how bees run the entire process of making honey.

One, the hive comes with partly-formed plastic honeycomb cells. These are structured to a uniform size in the frames. Usually, bees make their cells in different sizes and build up the wax as they go. With the already-waxed cells, the hive alters the bees’ natural process of building the combs.

However, this has not been a concern with most beekeepers as bees adapt quickly with the design.

One other concern is that the hive may rob the bees of too much honey when they need it the most. Since the flow hive is automatic, it may exhaust the frames leaving little or no honey for the bees.

But, with close monitoring, you can ensure the frames hold some honey for the bees after extraction. Additionally, the honey trough at the bottom allows any remaining honey to drip back into the hive for bees to use.


How do you set up a Flow Hive?

Like standard hives, a flow hive needs to sit on a leveled area. You can use a hive stand to raise it off the ground and prevent moisture buildup in the hive. The flow hive comes in two main parts; the brood and the super.

Once you have the stand in place, you need to lay the base, stack the brood and place the super at the top.

Raising the hive higher ensures the easy collection of honey as it flows. If you intend to collect in a large bucket, then you need to factor in the height of the hive from the ground.

How do you maintain a Flow Hive?

The flow frames are easy to remove, thanks to the simple design. However, these require cleaning before storage as they hold residue honey.

The first step is setting the flow comb to ‘cell open’ position and rinse in hot water. After all the honey flows out, it is essential to leave the frames put to dry before storage.

Is a Flow Hive a better alternative to standard hives?

A flow hive facilitates the bees’ natural process of making honey, just like standard hives.

The only difference with a flow hive is that it makes the harvesting process more manageable. It has an automatic flow system that is convenient for the beekeeper to collect honey without opening the hive.

A flow hive can work as an excellent alternative for standard hives if you are looking to save time and effort during honey extraction.

Is a Flow Hive good for the bees?

A flow hive has transparent material that allows you to monitor the amount of honey in the frames.

You can see through the transparent viewing panels on the side to monitor how much remains.

Flow hives are friendly to the bees since you do not need to open the hive often for monitoring. Also, it prevents squashing them in the process of harvesting honey.

Is a Flow Hive expensive?

On average, one flow hive could buy you two standard hives and two colonies.

Considering most of the beekeeping practices remain the same, a flow hive can be quite an investment.

But, it is expected that the price of a flow hive would be higher with all the fixtures and fitting, not forgetting the convenience factor.


A Flow Hive, despite the controversies, has many benefits for beekeepers and bees alike.

It not only saves time and effort but also creates a less-invasive way of extracting honey.

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