For Australian father and son team Stuart and Cedar Anderson, founders of Honeyflow, a simple idea has changed their lives forever: Twelve days into their Indiegogo fundraising campaign, they raised more than $4.8 million and counting for Flow, a frame system for a beehive that enables honey to be extracted just by turning on a tap.
It’s the beekeeepers dream...
Turn the tap and watch as pure, fresh, clean honey flows right out of the hive and into your jar. No mess, no fuss, no expensive processing equipment and without disturbing the bees.
It's far less stress for the bees and much, much easier for the beekeeper. "This really is a revolution. You can see into the hive, see when the honey is ready and take it away in such a gentle way."
The idea in question has the potential to change beekeeping, and maybe could even be a key in keeping the world’s bee population from further decline. It’s an invention that seems sweet to the more than 9,000 people who have contributed to the record-breaking Indiegogo campaign.
“The Flow hive is now the largest international campaign ever on Indiegogo,” says Slava Rubin, CEO of Indiegogo. The company also set records for the most funds raised in one day: $2.1 million.
Cedar Anderson says that a few posts to Facebook -- his friend convinced him to join the social media network only about a month ago -- got the snowball rolling. “We have a lot of friends of family who helped us by spreading the word,” he says. His sister made some videos and a friend built the website. “People think that we had a huge promotional budget behind us, but we just did it all ourselves,” he says. “Local media coverage went viral, and before we knew it, the whole world was taking a much greater interest than we thought possible.”
It’s easy to see why the invention has captured the world’s attention: Flow frames are comprised of partially formed honeycombs. Once installed in the beehive, the bees complete the honeycombs with their own wax and begin filling the cells with honey. When the cells are full and the bees have capped them off, a turn of a lever splits all the cells open, allowing the honey to run out and be channeled to an external tap where the honey is collected in jars.
HARVESTING YOUR HONEY USED TO BE A REAL LABOUR OF LOVE
- First you had to protect yourself from stings
- Fire up a smoker to sedate the bees
- Crack the hive open
- Lift heavy boxes
- Pull out the frames, trying not to squash bees
- Brush the bees off the combs, or use a leaf blower!
- Transport the frames to a processing shed
- Cut the wax capping off each frame with a heated knife or automatic uncapping machine
- Put them in an extractor to spin out the honey
- Filter out all the wax and dead bees
- Clean up all the mess
And if that’s not enough hard work, the frames have to go back to the hives again....
NOW YOU DON'T NEED TO DO ANY OF THAT
Turn a tap, sit back, and watch the honey pour out. It’s pure, unprocessed, untouched delicious honey directly from the hive.
What does this mean for the bees and the beekeeper? Harvesting honey is far easier and less involved than traditional methods, and is less stress on the bees as well since the process doesn’t disturb them as much.
But would-be apiarists shouldn’t assume that the Flow Hive is a no-brainer way to get into beekeeping. “I want to stress that the Flow Hive still requires beekeepers to know what they’re doing, both for getting the results they want and for the wellbeing of the bees,” says Cedar. He says that Flow owners should educate themselves about bee care and try to connect with local experienced beekeepers to share knowledge and ideas.
Could the Flow Hive be a key in saving the bees? “We make no claims at all that Flow is going to save the planet and the broadscale agriculture that sustains humanity,” says Cedar. “However, this invention does make [beekeeping] a little easier, which we hope will lead more people to take up beekeeping as a hobby, which means more bees and ultimately more pollination - and honey.”
Cedar says that much of the nearly $5 million that they’ve raised is in exchange for finished product, so the bulk of the funds will be spent manufacturing and delivering stock, as well as to establishing the infrastructure and staff needed for the company to sustain itself.