The bee world has been all abuzz lately about a new type of hive. One that promises a seemingly impossible idea: honey on tap.
Is it all hype or is it going to change the way we harvest honey?
Honey harvesting the old-fashioned way
Harvesting honey is a time-consuming process. Although I haven’t done it yet myself, here is the basic process:
- Suit up in bee suit
- Get all of the bees out of the boxes containing the honey frames
- Pry apart the individual frames (9 per box) that have been stuck together with a substance made by the bees called propolis (aptly nicknamed “bee glue”)
- Scrape the caps off the cells containing honey
- Spin the frames in a honey extractor to get the honey out
- Bottle the honey
You can check out the process in detail at Extension Master Gardener.
Honey extractors can be expensive, so our association has an extractor you can borrow when it is time to harvest. I don’t know if there is a high demand for the extractor, but everyone will be harvesting at the same time, so…
The brain child of the father and son duo, Cedar and Stuart Anderson, of Australia, Flow™ technology promises a revolution in honey harvesting. The Andersons have developed a honey box with specially designed honey frames. When a knob is turned, the frames crack open the cells containing honey, form channels and allow the honey to flow out of a tube into a jar. When you are done, turn it the other way and the frames will reset themselves.
It’s as simple as turning a handle on a spigot.
Other advantages of the Flow™ hive:
- Bees aren’t accidentally crushed when frames are removed and put back in
- The process of harvesting honey is not disruptive to the bees
- You don’t have to find an extractor to use
- You save loads of time
Want to know how excited people are about this? The Andersons opted for crowdfunding through Indiegogo to bring Flow™ hive to market. Their goal was to raise $70,000. Today, they have raised $8,519,641 and set records for Indiegogo funding. And the campaign doesn’t end until April 19.
Too good to be true?
Beekeeping hasn’t changed much in the past few decades. Sure, there have been some new products to help control pests, like mites. But the Langstroth hives that were developed in 1852 remain the gold standard for beekeeping. They have been really hard to improve upon.
Not being an old-time beekeeper myself, I am probably less skeptical about the newer technology. However, I have learned over the years that if something sounds like it is too good of a deal, it probably is. And I do wonder how the Flow frames are going to hold up.
- Will they survive the pasting of propolis?
- How many times will you be able to crank the knob before it doesn’t work anymore?
- Do the channels get clogged – if so, how easy are they to clean?
The first mass-produced Flow™ hives should be reaching beekeepers some time in late fall. I can’t wait to see what happens.
Of course, if someone would like to donate one to me, I would be happy to check it out and write about it. 🙂
Blogging my way from A to Z as part of the 2015 April A to Z Challenge! My theme for this year: Honeybees