Scientists, farmers and ordinary people worldwide agree that honeybees are essential to the planet’s ecosystem. The father and son team of Cedar and Stuart Anderson from New South Wales, Australia, have come up with a novel system of beekeeping after more than 10 years of research and three years of trials.
Their crowdfunding campaign has set the record for most successful Indiegogo campaign originated outside the U.S., and it doesn’t end until April 5. Funders are buzzing because the Flow Hive system promises to make it easier to keep and propagate European honeybees and also harvest their honey, resulting in honey on tap.
Flow Hive (the Anderson’s company is called Flow while the actual invention is called Flow Hive) consists of vertical, synthetic BPA-free plastic honeycombs. Once a bee colony fills them with honey, with a turn of lever, the honeycomb cells will open, and the honey drains from the back of the hive into a jar or drum. Extraction is noninvasive: There’s no need to smoke the bees (stunning them), take apart the hive and honeycombs and harvest the honey via a traditional centrifugal extractor.
The Anderson family has been keeping bees for generations. Cedar has been a beekeeper since he was six. The honey extraction process is difficult and time-consuming. It’s also messy, requiring a shed and specialized equipment, and there’s always a good chance of getting stung.
“I figured there had to be a better way and began tinkering with it about 10 years ago to develop a system that was both easier for the beekeepers and less stressful for the bees,” Cedar told Not Impossible Now via email. “About three years ago my dad Stuart came up with the idea of splitting the cells vertically, and it was then that the Flow Hive design really started to take shape.”
Recent scientific studies have shown declines in natural bee populations, and honeybee colonies are subject to colony collapse disorder in part due to exposure to certain pesticides.
“Bees are an intrinsic part of how we grow food, as well as the broader ecosystem,” Stuart told Not Impossible Now in an email. “We need more bees, and hope that making beekeeping easier will encourage more people to keep a hive, which can only be a good thing.”
For many, beekeeping is a passionate hobby (note the more than 1,200 mostly positive comments on the campaign’s Indiegogo page).
“I think part of the success of Flow so far comes down to a yearning for people to be closer to the natural world and the food they eat,” Stuart said. “Our symbiotic relationship with bees is ancient, and the Flow Hive offers a kind of drawbridge between humanity and the natural world.”
The campaign has massively tapped into a worldwide concern. Its incredible success (the target goal of $70,000 was reached in the first five minutes of the campaign) has elicited both praise and inevitable questions: Will it work for all bees? Is it indeed as stress-free for the bees as promised? Will the device eventually clog? Is it truly the bee’s knees?
Manufacturing is already in progress to meet demand, and the inventors have added several explanatory diagrams and videos to answer questions on the FAQ page on the Honeyflow.com site. Look for the Flow Hive to blossom internationally with an expected delivery date of December 2015.
Learn more about the Flow Hive system by watching the video below:
Top photo courtesy of Flow