The internet and beekeeping world is literally a BUZZ with the news the holy grail of bee hives, turn a tap and the honey runs out, has finally been invented! No more smoking the hive, no more cutting the wax, no more spinning the honey comb frames, no more filtering the honey to remove dead bees or wax, and in some cases you don’t even need a bee suit or netting! That’s right, just walk up to the hive, turn on the tap, position your honey jar under the spout and watch the honey run out!
The amazing new Flow Hive! (image above)
Over the past 5 days, a father and son team have floated their Flow Hive invention on crowd funding site Indiegogo and launched a social media campaign, which took off like wildfire fulfilling their 70k target within minutes and surpassing it to nearly 3 million dollars (US). Update: as at 14 Apr 2015 funding is now over 10 million!
Inventers Stuart (Dad) and son Cedar Anderson have been totally stunned by their overnight success and have gone into overdrive to keep up with running the whole media whirlpool and funding campaign. Because the initial funding packages sold out virtually in minutes, they’ve had to increase the availability of early bird investor perks considerably.
The flow hive took 10 years of trial and error to develop and in their promotional news grabs/videos they speak of how epic the moment was when they saw the honey oozing out of their custom built hive – they knew it was a big moment and why shouldn’t it be? Honey on tap… that’s just ridiculous! But, now it’s a fact!
What exactly is the Flow Hive?
Flow™ is the actual trademarked word and name of the invention (not “flow hive” or “flow frame”) and it refers to the plastic insert of partially formed honey storage cells, which is seated in a frame and can be used in conjunction with standard hive boxes.
Flow™ can be purchased separately and retrofitted into existing hives or the whole hive (minus the bees) can be purchased which includes the plastic inserts (Flow™) frames, and the exterior hive housing itself flat packed posted to your door and ready for easy assembly. All you need is the bees…
At least that’s what they claim, however, large scale manufacturing is obviously still being organised and one would expect with such a large initial pre-order and insane hype over this incredible invention there will be some hiccups or possible delays before investors start seeing their hives arrive.
How does the Flow™ invention work?
The Flow™ frame is basically a plastic honeycomb sheet with partially made cells, which entices the bees to finish the job with their own wax and then fill the cells with honey before capping each cell as usual. When it comes to harvesting the honey, the wax caps are not removed or disturbed (like conventional honey extraction) rather, a tool/tap is turned on the hive and the cells split vertically inside the comb. This action ruptures the cells and allows the honey to start trickling out following channels downwards into an internal trough at the base of the frame and finally out of the hive via a tube piped into a container.
After the honey has finished draining (this can take anywhere between 20 minutes to 2 hours), the tool/tap is closed and this rotates the plastic cells back into position – now there is a frame with wax capped empty cells. The bees somehow realise the cells are empty so they begin to chew through the wax caps refilling the cells with new honey, recapping, and the whole process starts again… pure honey genius!
Pests and diseases
One of the first questions that occurred to me when I initially heard about the Flow Hive was would this new amazing honeycomb frame design also help to prevent certain pests and disease affecting honey bees? Apparently not. From what I have read on the inventor’s website, the bees using the Flow hive are just as susceptible to pests like hive beetle and mites as any regular hive.
However, on the custom hives (if the full hive is purchased) there is an inbuilt viewing window allowing beekeepers to see how active the hive is and spot any problems. Plus, the viewing window can also be used to check how much honey is in the frames etc.
Nevertheless, just because the honey can now be drained out without requiring to open the hive it doesn’t mean the hive will never need to be opened because there still will be a need to do certain maintenance and inspections to keep the hive healthy.
How can you get a Flow Hive?
At the time of writing this article, you are able to order several different crowd funding packages (called perks) on their listing here at Indiegogo including just the Flow frames to insert into an existing hive box or the complete kit (minus the bees). However, if you miss the opportunity to support the crowd funding project or you would prefer to wait until after the hype (like me) then no doubt they’ll have purchasing details of various products on their website Honey Flow™ soon.
Manufacturing of the Flow™ range of products will apparently begin ASAP in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia and their intent is to eventually open up manufacturing worldwide in order to keep up with demand. On their crowd funding page they do note that due to the sheer scale of demand manufacturing may be delayed but I guess that’s to be expected and I doubt the thousands of people funding this amazing project are too worried about it.
I posted on our forum over at Self Sufficient Culture – “Guys like this father and son team make me proud to be Australian,” and I really mean it! Yes, I’m sure most of us at some stage thought about how good it would be if there was an easier way to extract honey, I know I did… But, it takes a special person/s to dedicate years of unpaid work and to challenge the norm to make a game changing, industry revolutionizing, breakthrough such as the Flow™ Hive.
My hat’s off to father and son team Stuart and Cedar Anderson – all the best guys.