Good Thinking

Flow frames put honey on tap directly from the beehive

Flow frames put honey on tap d...
The Honeyflow allows honey to be siphoned straight from a beehive without opening the lid or disturbing the bees inside (Photo: Honeyflow)
The Honeyflow allows honey to be siphoned straight from a beehive without opening the lid or disturbing the bees inside (Photo: Honeyflow)
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The creators also claim that their invention will help ensure healthier bees and bee colonies (Photo: Honeyflow)
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The creators also claim that their invention will help ensure healthier bees and bee colonies (Photo: Honeyflow)
The creators have built, tested, and modified their idea over many years (Photo: Honeyflow)
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The creators have built, tested, and modified their idea over many years (Photo: Honeyflow)
The inventors – father and son team, Stuart and Cedar Anderson (Photo: Honeyflow)
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The inventors – father and son team, Stuart and Cedar Anderson (Photo: Honeyflow)
The Honeyflow allows honey to be siphoned straight from a beehive without opening the lid or disturbing the bees inside (Photo: Honeyflow)
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The Honeyflow allows honey to be siphoned straight from a beehive without opening the lid or disturbing the bees inside (Photo: Honeyflow)
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A new invention by two Australian beekeepers is claimed to be able to siphon honey straight from a beehive without opening the lid or disturbing the bees inside. When a tap attached to a specifically developed honeycomb "Flow" frame within the hive is opened, the bee-formed cells are split slightly open inside the comb, thereby allowing channels to form through which the honey flows down to a sealed trough and out of the hive straight into collecting jars. All the while, the bees are virtually undisturbed on the surface of the comb.

Created by father and son team, Stuart and Cedar Anderson, the Flow frames are special beehive frames to which already partly formed honeycomb cells are attached. Once the frames are fitted inside a conventional apiarist’s bee box, the bees inside finish building the comb with their own wax then proceed to top up the cells with honey that they produce before capping the cells in the usual manner.

Unbeknownst to the bees, however, these frames are actually made in two halves, so that when the combination splitter/tap is turned on, the contents inside of the cells are simply allowed to flow out without having to remove the wax-seals. When the honey has finished draining into the collection jars – which takes anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours, depending on the temperature and viscosity of the honey – the tap is turned back to its original position, the bees chew through the wax seals, and once more fill the cells with honey.

The only modification required to the bee box itself is the cutting and fitting of two access doors in the sides of the structure. These serve two purposes: allowing access to the working slots and honey pipe outlets, and providing a unique view into the workings of the hive itself. This also means that the bees can be watched turning nectar into honey, show when each comb is full, and allow the keeper to check on the health of the bees without opening the lid of the hive.

In addition to a reduction in heavy lifting of lids and frames, the creators also claim that their invention will help ensure healthier bees and bee colonies. This is because the hives are not regularly undone and dragged apart to harvest the honey in the usual fashion. As a result, the bees remain comparatively undisturbed, which means that they experience much less overall stress. Given the worldwide decline in bee populations, this can only be a good thing.

According to many apiarists – including those behind other bee hive concepts intended to reduce beehive stress stress – a less-anxious colony is a much healthier and happier one. Not having to open the hive also reduces the risk of introducing disease or squashing any bees that get in the way when the frames are pulled out.

The creators have built, tested, and modified their idea over many years and, for the past three years, have also been trialling their device with beekeepers in Australia, America and Canada. Now they are looking to bring their invention to market, and have opted to launch a Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund it. With an official launch of the Flow hive aimed for the 23rd of February, the inventors are hoping to get the project off the ground and start manufacturing and delivering within the next four months.

Prices and confirmed deliveries have yet to be announced, but the creators promise these will be listed when their Kickstarter project is launched.

The short video below shows the creators explaining and demonstrating their invention.

Source: Honeyflow

Update (Feb. 23, 2015): At the last minute, due to US$ currency issues with Kickstarter, the Australian team decided to launch their crowdfunding campaign via Indiegogo. The change of venue doesn't appear to have hurt them, as in under six hours the campaign is rapidly approaching double its $70,000 target.

Update (Feb. 25, 2015): It's been confirmed that the Flow Hive has broken the record for the most funds raised in the first 24 hours on Indiegogo, at $2.18 million. The campaign goal of $70,000 was reached in just 477 seconds (or 7 mins 57 secs).

New Invention - Flow: Honey on Tap Directly From your Beehive [2015]

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6 comments
Racqia Dvorak
This is really neat!
Stephen N Russell
import to the US alone, be awesome for our honeybee crop alone
Misti Pickles
Sweet idea....
Richard Guy
Interesting but feels gimmicky. I am a little unclear on how the frames can spilt and restored in the "bee space" without crushing bees in the process. Just because one isn't opening the hive, doesn't mean the bees wont be aware of the disruption. The there's the issue of leakage and the bees (and other insects including the wasps) mobbing the collection pot as they discover honey just by the hive. And also the fact that bee hives tend to include propolis build up, queen chambers etc that mean hives are not the clean and tidy spaces people sometimes expect them to be.
Set against that, when a keeper removes sealed comb frames from a hive, they are usually quite self contained and it's fairly easy to remove bees from with a brush. With the simple solution of spacers, frames are set at the proper bee spacing that discourages the bees form building up propolis bridges etc in the hive. In other words: the modern hive is a very well designed front-back solution that makes keeping a simple and least disruptive as one is likely to attain. Provided keepers restrict harvests to early summer and leave the bees to it for the rest of the year, they don't experience much disruption and make enough honey for the rest of the year (and don't need to be fed on sugar syrup).
If people really want to build more bee friendly hives, they should look at using either segmented skeps or segmented log hives in which a queen excluder has been introduced. This allows the harvest of honey without disturbing the brood. Round hives like this with no inserted frames/comb foundation are more natural and thought to be less stressful environments for the bees.
MBadgero
I will be watching for the Kickstarter campaign. They are going to get flooded with support. This eliminates the need for an extractor, especially for the small producer.
Richard Guy, check out their site. They have been working on this for years.
Richard Guy
Sorry, I didn't mean to sound cynical. If it works well, I am all for it. It looks like it could be a great thing. The creators come across as lovely and sincere people and the hive is undoubtedly beautiful. I hope it works and I hope it is successful. I would love to see some video of what is gong on inside the hive when the combs are split as that would go some way (further) to convincing me.