Two Australian beekeeping enthusiasts have recently unveiled a new hive design which is taking the world by storm.
The Byron Bay-based father and son team has spent several years developing the ‘Flow’ beehive.
Unlike traditional beehives which require time consuming and dangerous procedures to extract the honey, the Flow design allows for honey to be extracted by simply turning a tap.
“…harvesting your honey used to be a real labour of love. […] Now you don’t have to do any of that – turn a tap, sit back and watch the honey pour out. No fuss, no mess, no expensive equipment and much healthier for the bees,” inventor Cedar Anderson explains.
The design has been incredibly successful on crowdfunding platform IndieGoGo where it has managed to raise over $12.18m in pledges. The campaign ended just days ago and is now the website’s most successful campaign ever.
Primarily, the Flow hive revolves around the use of pre-formed honeycomb structures, which split when a tap is turned, allowing for the honey to flow out. Once honey has been extracted form the system, the honeycomb cells resume their original position.
Aside from convenience, the other advantage of this system is that it is causes much less disturbance to the bees. Previously, honey extraction required smoking, and then deconstruction of the hive, but with the Flow hive, the bees are hardly disturbed at all.
No silver bullet
Despite the stated advantagess of the Flow hive system; there remain significant concerns about the product.
From a commercial standpoint, major honey producers are unconvinced that the system will cause a revolution in honey production.
“Capilano is very impressed with the concept but at this stage of its development but, views it as a novelty that will suit recreational beekeepers rather than commercial honey producers. It is not foreseen that the “Flow” hive will effect commercial honey production even with the tremendous worldwide interest it has created in itself and beekeeping as an easily managed hobby,” says Bill Winner, Beekeeper Services Manager of Capilano Honey.
Additionally, many within the beekeeping community have raised concerns regarding the Flow hive being “too easy” to use.
They worry that the flood of new beekeepers that will use the Flow hive will not have the experience to properly undertake the complex task that is beekeeping.
“The risk of disease spread is a concern if the hives are neglected through lack of beekeeping knowledge […] Brood checks for disease are essential. We also recognise that honey is produced at certain times of the year, mainly late spring and summer. Adequate stores of honey must be left on the hive to allow it to survive, a beekeeper cannot tap off all the honey,” explains Bill Winner
“Major beekeeping organisations have expressed their concern regarding neglected hives and the potential for them to be reservoirs of honeybee diseases.”
In response to this criticism, the makers of the Flow hive have been quick to remind potential buyers that hives require significant management and have urged them to join amateur beekeeping organisations.
The first Flow hives are expected to ship in December this year.