Flow Hive the bee's knees in harvesting honey
CREATIVITY from a father-and-son team who "spark each other off" has been the genesis of an invention that is changing beekeeping.
Stuart Anderson and son Cedar invented, developed, crowd-funded and now export to 130 countries, The Flow™ Hive, which takes the hard work out of harvesting honey and makes it less stressful for the bees.
Stuart said that prior to 150 years ago, the only way to get honey was to destroy bee hive and sieve it to get the honey.
"Then Langstroth developed a way of making bees build in frames - you remove each frame separately, cut off the capping and spin out the honey. But you still have to pull hive apart."
The Flow Hive is the next step.
"You don't have to open the hive, just insert a lever and mechanism that changes the cells and channels the honey into a main trough and out of the hive."
And they're not going to stop innovating.
"There are a few improvements in the pipeline which will help make the experience even better for beekeepers."
Most Flow Hive sales are to the US, Europe and throughout Australia and the hives are currently mainly bought by home beekeepers.
While the hives can be manufactured in a size appropriate for business use, Stuart said most commercial enterprises had already invested in their extraction equipment.
Stuart said it cost $800 to buy a full hive. "If you're selling by the front gate you might make $200-$400 a year, and pay the hive off in two years."
A beekeeper from way back, Stuart said he had become a "honey connoisseur".
"We discovered by accident that the floral essences and taste stay more present, there are not as many processes to get the honey into the jar. It was a welcome surprise."
They also found that the bees tended to produce the honey from one type of flower into one frame.
And for prospective beekeepers, Stuart said it was not hard to do.
"It's easy to order the gear, but it doesn't include the bees. We advise strongly that you join a local beekeeping club.
"Northern Rivers Amateur Beekeepers Association have a field day once a month where you can learn about beekeeping.
"And you'll make connections so you can get help when you get stuck.
"On our website there are beekeeping videos and information, and there's no shortage of information on the web."
CUTTING EDGE PROCESS
THE Flow Hive eliminates the need to smoke the bees, dismantle the hive, remove the honeycombs and harvest the honey with a centrifugal extractor.
Instead, with the turn of a lever, the honeycomb cells open and the honey drains down through a tube at the back of the hive, directly into a drum or jar.
The bees are undisturbed as the honey drains out from beneath their feet. When the lever is turned back, the honeycomb cells are reset and ready to be refilled with honey.
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.
The Flow Frames are designed to fit conventional beehives and have clear ends creating a viewing window so beekeepers can see when the comb is full and check that the bees are healthy and happy.
"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," Stuart said."This system changes that. We hope it will attract young people and those in urban and suburban areas to take up beekeeping and, in turn, increase the bee population around the world."
DISCOUNT: 10% off for readers who use the coupon code BEEK10 at honeyflow.com.au.
MORE INFO: www.beekeepers.asn.au/northern-rivers