How the Flow Hive jumpstarts Urban Amateur Beekeeping and Save the Bees

“It’s both exciting and there’s a sense of responsibility that comes with it. I’m adjusting to being part of history, in a little way”

Australian Beekeeper Stuart Anderson commenting on the fame garnered from his invention the FLOW Hive

What if you could become amateur beekeeper and make your own honey on demand?

The innovative Kickstarter for the Flow Hive (Kooser, 2015) promises just that with a low-maintenance design for a hive that makes getting honey as simple as turning a tap.

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Designed by Australian beekeepers Cedar Anderson and his father Stuart Anderson (Logan, 2015) after a decade of research, it’s an innovative design that makes getting honey from the honeycomb as simple as turning a tap. The Flow Hive is sure to spark the interest of many wanting to go into beekeeping in Urban areas but afraid of bees.

Beekeeping is a very labour intensive process, requiring that you wear a protective suit and constantly smoke the bees to keep the more aggressive ones at bay. Extracting honey involves opening the hives, gently brushing away the bees and breaking open the wax seals.

Then you put the honeycombs into a centrifugal extractor and spin it to extract all the honey.

The Anderson’s design does away with that difficult barrier to entering beekeeping, by getting more global citizens involved in the care of bees as amateur beekeepers in a global bid to increase (Prindle, 2015) the bee population. This as bees are the main pollenators of many fruit trees, flowers and other crops that produce the food to feed the entire world according to their

Thus, if they go extinct, the Human race will be unable to feed itself (UNEP, 2010) and may face severe starvation. The UNFAO (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization) states that this is both in terms of fruits and crops like Rice and Wheat to feed people as well as food for Cattle, with Insects looking like a more efficient (Deer, 2013 May 13) option in the next twenty (20) years.

So if we’re all to become amateur beekeepers to help boost the population of bees in the world, how does this going to help save the bees? By literally automating beekeeping!

How the Flow Hive came into being – 10 years of work yielded recognition for Father-son Beekeepers

The design is so innovative, it’s creating quite a stir on Kickstarter (Hannaford, 2015), bringing instant fame to the father and son team of Stuart Anderson and Cedar Anderson.

It’s also a blessing to Mr. Stuart Anderson, who was struggling financially for the past ten (10) and spending most of his saving on the design of the Flow Hive, quote:  “I was doing some contract work, I was eating into my savings and borrowing from family members and I don’t like that, it’s important to me to be able to stand on my own feet financially.  I have been skidding along the bottom for a while and it’s a relief not to have money anxiety. It’s not in our pockets yet by any means, there’s a lot of work to do, but in terms of financial security it looks like I’ll now be OK”.

MICO Wars - How the Flow Hive jumpstarts Urban Amateur Beekeeping and Save the Bees - 02-07-2015 LHDEER (2)

The Flow Hive is currently to be the biggest crowdfunded project in the history of any Crowdfunding site.  Initially launched on Kickstarter on (Thomsen, 2015), within less than two (2) hours, they blew through their initial target of US$70.000 that they’d hoped to achieve by Sunday April 5th 2015, selling some US$830,000 worth of beehives.

By the time they’d hit the three (3) hour mark, they’ received US$1 million worth or orders.

Interest in the product was intense, with views of their Video on their YouTube page attracting some 1 million views within two (2) hours. Media houses in Australia picked up the story very quickly, with features soon appearing in Forbes, Wired and CNET Magazine.

Realizing that the US market was calling and that they needed to charge in US dollars, at the last minute they switched their crowdfunding website to Indiegogo and seriously upgrade their production plans.

They also procured the services for a US manufacturing company to manufacture their US$600 Flow Hive and their cheaper variants. Soon within a fortnight, they’ve surpassed US$4 million (Hannaford, 2015) in orders in less than two (2) weeks, putting the Anderson back on a sure financial footing.

But the best moment for Australian Beekeeper Stuart Anderson was when he was recognized by his peers and was given pride of place in Australia’s top Beekeeping magazine, quote: “One thing I’m proud about of out of all that we’ve been featured on is getting the cover of Australia’s premier beekeeping magazine, and for me that’s very special”.

So does this Flow Hive differ from the regular beehive?

How the Flow Hive Automates Collecting Honey – Honey on Tap From Horizontal to Vertical

The Flow Hive is constructed using little plastic tubes to form the hexagonal honeycomb structures that the bees like to construct. Two (2) sets of these hives are constructed and placed side by side flat against each other. The bees will occupy these tubes and seal off the plastic tubes to form honeycomb cells.

Several of these pairs of honeycomb structures are then stacked side by side and a Perspex glass barrier is then erected to that the beekeeper can examine the bees but without having to lift the hives out of their enclosure. At the bottom of each hive below the point where the thin sheet of fiberglass is placed is a small elevation with breakout holes so that plastic tubes can be inserted to tap the honey.

MICO Wars - How the Flow Hive jumpstarts Urban Amateur Beekeeping and Save the Bees - 02-07-2015 LHDEER (1)

The bees then come and make themselves at home, filling the cells in the hives with honey. When the beekeeper wants honey, he merely has to look through the Perspex window to see if the transparent plastic tubes in the hives are full. He then has to insert a special tap into a slot at one end of the hive and a plastic tube at the corresponding end on the other side via one of the breakout holes.

Turning the knob slits the hives in two, breaking the wax seal and allowing the honey to flow out unhindered. When he turns the knob in the opposite direction, it resets the hives so that the bees can reseal them with wax and refill them with honey.

Because of its design, the Flow Hive makes it easy to extract honey to quote Cedar Anderson: “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”.

It also reduces the need for the amateur beekeeper to wear protective clothing and got through all the labour normally associated with owning a colony of bees. The US$600 Flow Hive that makes beekeeping and honey extraction as simple as turning a tap might just be the way to make us all into amateur beekeepers and save the bees.

References:

  1. UNEP (2010).Global Bee Colony Disorder and Threats to Insect Pollinators. Retrieved from http://www.unep.org/dewa/Portals/67/pdf/Global_Bee_Colony_Disorder_and_Threats_insect_pollinators.pdf
  2. Deer, L. (2013 May 13). United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization says Insects is the Meat for the next 20 years – Soylent Green may be avoided via Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Retrieved from http://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com/2013/05/united-nations-food-and-agricultire.html
  3. Kooser, A. (2015, February 20). Sweet! Flow Hive collects honey at the turn of a tap. Retrieved from http://www.cnet.com/news/sweet­flow­hive­collects­honey­at­the­turn­of­a­tap/
  4. Prindle, D. (2015, February 23). This ingenious beehive puts fresh honey on tap in your backyard. Retrieved from http://www.digitaltrends.com/home/flow­hive­urban­beekeeping/
  5. Thomsen, S. (2015, February 23). Crowdfunding investors went nuts for this gamechanging Australian invention ­ a beehive with a honey tap. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com.au/crowdfunding­investors­went­nuts­for­this­gamechanging­australian­invention­a­beehive­with­a­honey­tap­2015­2
  6. Logan, M. (2015, February 25). An ingenious invention that turn beehives into flowing honey taps. Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/2015/02/flow­hive/
  7. S. (2015, March 4). The Flow beehive is setting crowd­funding records for inventors. Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/business/the­flow­beehive­is­setting­crowdfunding­records­for­inventors­20150304­13uv5j.html

 

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