Turn a tap on and pure honey starts dipping from a beehive into a jar. Incredible, right? But this has become a reality, thanks to a decade-long effort by an Australian father-son duo.
Harvesting honey is tedious work. You blow smoke to sedate the bees, squash some that try to sting you, squeeze and spoil the honeycomb, filter the wax and clean up the mess.
“There must be some other way”, thought Cedar Anderson, a beekeeper in Australia. Working with his father Stuart, Anderson has invented the Flow Hive system, an apparatus that lets you “turn a 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 the bees are hardly even disturbed”.
How it works:
The Honey Flow is a plastic frame that consists of partly formed honeycomb cells. The bees complete the comb with their wax and fill the cells with honey, before finally capping the cells. Once the honey is ready to harvest, the beekeeper inserts a lever into the frame and splits the comb in the middle, letting the honey flow into a channel, and then through a tube into a container. The process does not disturb or harm the bees.
The Andersons’ invention has been attracting honey harvesters around the world. The beehive design has already raised about $10 million in the first month of a crowdfunding campaign onIndiegogo.
According to popularmechanics.com, this invention is the first significant technological advance since 1852, when the Rev. Lorenzo Langstroth patented America’s first movable frame beehive”.
Flow Hives for sale:
On the team’s website, honeyflow.com, hives are available in Flow Light and Flow Full formats. A Flow Light with a 3 frame, and without a flow box, costs $230; with a flow box it sells at $280. A Full Flow 6 frame without a flow box costs $350 and one with a flow box is $410.
With Flow Hive, beekeepers need not:
Check on the hives, intruding on bees during the honey making process
Worry about bee stings and wear protective covers
Smoke bees to sedate and thus harm them
Lift heavy boxes or transport frames to a processing shed
Put combs in an extractor to spin out the honey
Filter out the wax and dead bees, and clean up the mess
This set up thus reduces a lot of effort for beekeepers, while not harming or killing the bees. Moreover, it can reduce the colony collapse disorder that is affecting European agriculture. (According to Wikipedia, CCD is a phenomenon in which worker bees abruptly disappear from a honeybee colony. This affects crop pollination very badly.)