Impatient with what he viewed as a labor-intensive method of extracting honey from his home hives, Australian Cedar Anderson and his father, Stuart, invented an “alternative setup” called Flow Hive. Needing money for production of their new product, they turned to crowdfunding site Indiegogo. Within seven seconds, they met their $70,000 goal. By the end of their campaign, they had “sold $12.2 million worth of hives and frames, setting a fund-raising record for an Indiegogo campaign.”
The Andersons have tapped into some deep cultural impulses, including the do-it-yourself and sustainability trends, which have led to a surge in backyard chicken keeping, home brewing, gardening…and bee keeping. They’ve also tapped into growing concern about the health of pollinators.
“Bees are literally in trouble, but they’re also a symbol of the trouble we’re in because of how we’ve been treating our environment,” Stuart Anderson said.
Not everyone thinks that the Andersons’ invention is the bee knees.
“I’m just concerned that it’s marketed to potential beekeepers who don’t really understand all the problems and difficulties associated with beekeeping,” says Rusty Burlew, director of the Native Bee Conservancy, which is based in Washington State, and a hobbyist who keeps a dozen hives. Among the hurdles is the need to check hives for mites and viruses at least twice a month in spring and fall — a task that would require opening the Flow Hive and rousting the bees, she said. Ms. Burlew also questions the need for an easier way to harvest honey. She concedes that beekeeping can be laborious, but she says the work comes in one short burst.
“Most beekeepers get their harvesting done during one day of the year,” Ms. Burlew says, adding that the Flow Hive, which she has not used, “solves a problem that doesn’t really exist.
With millions of dollars of orders from more than 150 countries and territories, the Andersons might disagree.