The north coast inventors of the revolutionary Flow hive, which does away with traditional ‘bee smoking’ believe their new design will also make it easier to monitor the health of farmed bees.
Local father and son design team Stuart and Cedar Anderson this week unveiled the revolutionary beehive system that allows honey to flow directly from the hive into containers, without opening the hive or disturbing the bees.
The new system has attracted a worldwide following and netted more than $2 million on a crowdfunding website in days, even though the pair had only asked for $70,000.
Their success has resulted in interest from international media and beekeepers.
Bee health has become a touchstone issue for apiarists, with hive collapses across the world variously attributed to aggressive diseases and pesticides sprayed on crops.
While it is not the main focus of their invention, the pair believe the Flow hive system will help with bee health in two ways: first because it doesn’t cause stressful disturbance by smoking out the bees and breaking up the combs; and secondly because the system makes it easier to check on the bees.
The Flow frames are designed to fit conventional beehives. The frames have clear ends and they create a viewing window. A beekeeper can see when the comb is full and can also check for healthy bee numbers and pests.
A further advantage is that during winter, when there is less nectar around and bees need honey to survive, it is possible to rob just some of the honey from the hive giving the hive a better chance of survival.
It gets around having to feed bees on sugar syrup during the cooler months, which many claim is unsuitable food for the bees.
‘You can take just a small amount of honey if you choose, by draining one frame or part of a frame,’ says Stuart.
‘Watching the honey level change every day is quite fascinating and I personally feel more in touch with the bees and can’t help but look on a daily basis.’
The Flow hives save almost all the labour involved in honey extraction. The beekeeper doesn’t even need to be there as the honey drains, but can start the process and return an hour or so later to collect the honey. There is also the potential for remotely activated or automatic honey extraction.
Stuart Anderson hopes the invention will lure more people into keeping bees.
‘Traditional extraction of honey is very time consuming and sometimes backyard beekeepers neglect to harvest their honey because they just don’t have the time for all the work involved. This system changes that. It could help attract young people and those in urban and suburban areas to take up beekeeping,’ he says.
Cedar is elated at the response from the crowdfunding campaign.
‘You never know what will happen when you a put a new idea up on a crowdfunding site. We have been completely blown away by the support.
‘We hope our invention will create a community of beekeepers around the globe keeping bees in this new, bee-friendly way,’ Cedar says.