Bees and humans have had a long relationship since ancient times. Bees were domesticated so that our ancestors could harvest things like honey, beeswax and more; in addition, bees are vital in the pollination of food crops. Nevertheless, bees are being threatened by urgent issues like colony collapse disorder, and with apiculture undergoing a global renaissance of sorts thanks to the rise of urban beekeeping, modern hives must necessary be refined to adapt. Enter the Flow Hive, a successfully crowdfunded beehive invention that allows beekeepers to literally turn on a tap to harvest honey easily, with minimal disruption to the colony.
Developed during the last decade by Australian father-and-son beekeepers Stuart and Cedar Anderson, the Flow Hive does away with the conventional practice of harvesting honey with removable frames that are cut with hot knives and having honey extracted centrifugally with a machine. Using gravity instead to collect honey out of pre-formed, high quality BPA-free plastic combs that open and close, the Flow Hive is much less stressful for the bees, say the inventors:
The Flow frame consists of already partly formed honeycomb cells. The bees complete the comb with their wax, fill the cells with honey and cap the cells as usual. When you turn the tool, a bit like a tap, the cells split vertically inside the comb forming channels allowing the honey to flow down to a sealed trough at the base of the frame and out of the hive while the bees are practically undisturbed on the comb surface.
When the honey has finished draining you turn the tap again in the upper slot resets the comb into the original position and allows the bees to chew the wax capping away, and fill it with honey again.
The honey that comes out of the Flow Hive does not need to be filtered or processed (and tastes better), therefore significantly reducing the amount of work that usually goes into beekeeping -- and also significantly reducing the amount of disturbance that bee colonies usually go through in the process of extracting honey, which would no doubt mean healthier bees.
Could an invention like this -- if widely used -- help bee colonies thrive? Only time will tell, but the buzz seems to have many beekeepers excited, and the Flow Hive's campaign has rocketed past its crowdfunding goal in a less than two days. For those interested in getting their hands on a Flow Hive, bigger rewards start with a USD $230 Flow Hive Light with three frames, without a box. Check out more information over at the Flow Hive website and Indiegogo campaign.