Radical Bee Hive Rakes in $4.8 Million

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(Cedar and Stuart Anderson’s beekeeping idea has gotten lots of buzz. Photo: Flow)

It’s a maker’s dream come true: come up with a great invention, set up a crowd-funding campaign, and surpass your goal in less than 10 minutes. 

For Australian father and son team Stuart and Cedar Anderson, founders of Flow, a simple idea has changed their lives forever: Twelve days into their Indiegogo fundraising campaign, they raised more than $4.8 million and counting for Flow™, a frame system for a beehive that enables honey to be extracted just by turning on a tap.

The idea in question has the potential to change beekeeping, and maybe could even be a key in keeping the world’s bee population from further decline. It’s an invention that seems sweet to the more than 9,000 people who have contributed to the record-breaking Indiegogo campaign.

“The Flow hive is now the largest international campaign ever on Indiegogo,” says Slava Rubin, CEO of Indiegogo. The company also set records for the most funds raised in one day: $2.1 million.

Cedar Anderson says that a few posts to Facebook — his friend convinced him to join the social media network only about a month ago — got the snowball rolling. “We have a lot of friends of family who helped us by spreading the word,” he says. His sister made some videos and a friend built the website. “People think that we had a huge promotional budget behind us, but we just did it all ourselves,” he says. “Local media coverage went viral, and before we knew it, the whole world was taking a much greater interest than we thought possible.”

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It’s easy to see why the invention has captured the world’s attention: Flow frames are comprised of partially formed honeycombs. Once installed in the beehive, the bees complete the honeycombs with their own wax and begin filling the cells with honey. When the cells are full and the bees have capped them off, a turn of a lever splits all the cells open, allowing the honey to run out and be channeled to an external tap where the honey is collected in jars.

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(With the Flow hive, honey is extracted through a tap. Photo: Flow)

What does this mean for the bees and the beekeeper? Harvesting honey is far easier and less involved than traditional methods, and is less stress on the bees as well since the process doesn’t disturb them as much.

“Harvesting was this long procedure, sweating in the bee suit, pulling apart the hives, heavy lifting, and all day processing just to get your honey,” says Cedar Anderson. “I just thought there had to be a better way, so my dad and I got to work inventing the beekeeper’s dream.”

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Cedar is a third-generation beekeeper, and a self-proclaimed born inventor; as a kid he and his siblings built a go-cart from an old generator and bicycles, and he and his dad adapted their farm trucks to run on used vegetable oil. He follows in his father’s footsteps in this respect: Dad Stu designed and built two of the houses in the rural cooperative in which he lives, and also developed a solar and water powered electrical generator that serves a dozen homes in the coop.

His idea for Flow has been a decade in the making – he says he’s been trying various new methods for years, refining his failures into the final product. “People think of us as an overnight success, but it has taken years to get to this point,” he says.

With the Indiegogo campaign, supporters have the option to make straight donations to the company, or to actually preorder their own Flow kits. The options range from a set of 3 Flow frames to install in an existing beehive, for $280 to a complete hive kit for $600, including the flow frames, a brood box, and everything needed –except the bees—to establish a hive.

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(Photo: Flow)

But would-be apiarists shouldn’t assume that the Flow Hive is a no-brainer way to get into beekeeping. “I want to stress that the Flow Hive still requires beekeepers to know what they’re doing, both for getting the results they want and for the wellbeing of the bees,” says Cedar. He says that Flow owners should educate themselves about bee care and try to connect with local experienced beekeepers to share knowledge and ideas.

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(Flow hive explainer. Honeyflow.com)

Could the Flow Hive be a key in saving the bees? “We make no claims at all that Flow is going to save the planet and the broadscale agriculture that sustains humanity,” says Cedar. “However, this invention does make [beekeeping] a little easier, which we hope will lead more people to take up beekeeping as a hobby, which means more bees and ultimately more pollination – and honey.”

Cedar says that much of the nearly $5 million that they’ve raised is in exchange for finished product, so the bulk of the funds will be spent manufacturing and delivering stock, as well as to establishing the infrastructure and staff needed for the company to sustain itself.

That’s right: if you missed out on buying a kit through the Indiegogo campaign, Cedar says that ultimately the company plans to manufacture and distribute kits around the world. Their first priority is to fulfill the orders of their Indiegogo supporters, but Cedar promises, “rest assured, the wheels are in motion to bring Flow to the world.”

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