Take a moment to imagine life as a honey bee. You spend the bulk of your days working tirelessly to harvest pollen and then taking it back to your hive to turn into delicious, nutritious food for your colony. It’s a simple life – one that is, for the most part, pretty quiet. Every now and then, however, a huge invader clad in a protective suit will open up your home, sedate you with smoke and extract the food you’ve spent so much time producing and storing away. It’s a frustrating cycle that disrupts your routine and breeds stress in your community.
Thanks to a father and son team in Australia, however, bees may soon be able to rest a little easier in their homes without having to cope with the disturbances associated with honey harvesting. Stuart Anderson and his son come from a long line of beekeepers who have relied on traditional hive harvesting methods for generations. Then one day while discussing the frightening phenomenon of colony collapse syndrome, Anderson’s son suggested that they might be able to build a better hive that would spare bees the stress of harvesting. The duo spent the next decade designing and refining plans for the Flow Frame beehive.
Rather than using the usual system of layered hive boxes, the Flow Frame uses taps to extract honey through tubes without having to open the bee box.
The frame features a set of partially completed honeycomb cells that the bees then fill with honey and seal with wax. A transparent plexiglass panel allows beekeepers to see inside the hive to monitor the bees’ honey production. Once the cells are full, the beekeeper turns a tap on the exterior of the bee box that breaks the wax seal and allows the honey to flow through tubes into containers outside.
The Andersons are hopeful that their design will not only make the practice of beekeeping easier for humans, but also reduce stress on bees that may contribute to colony collapse. The Andersons launched a crowdfunding campaign in February to finance their idea, and they quickly shattered their original goal of $70,000. To date they’ve raised nearly $12.5 million dollars.
Want to learn more about the Flow Frame? Check out this promotional video from their website!