Three years ago, father and son Australian investors Stuart and Cedar Anderson rewrote the record books on crowdfunding when they went looking for cash for their revolutionary beehive on Indiegogo.
They were after $US70,000 for the product they called Flow Hive, which allows you to harvest honey without disturbing the bees too much. They hit their target in eight minutes and went on to secure $US12.2 million ( $A15.5m) from 35,000 orders in 100 countries.
Since the beehives first started rolling off the production line in August 2016, they’ve shipped 51,000 units to 130 countries, and like all inventors, found time to tweak their original idea, returning to Indiegogo, last week with Flow Hive 2. A week into a three-week campaign, they already have $2 million in orders from more than 1,100 customers.
The duo say the new version has 14 changes to improve beekeeping and make harvesting system easier for both the bees and beekeeper. The basic kit is selling for around $US700 and will ship in July in Australia (they’re offering it to the US market two months earlier).
But the big change for the Andersons is that this time, the product will be manufactured on home turf, not far from where they live in Byron Bay, on the New South Wales north coast.
Last year, they also found time to release the “pollinator house” made from bamboo and the recycled offcuts from the original Flow Hives. They designed and produced 800 for solitary and native bees – the honey bee is just one of 13,000 bee species – which sold out in days. The profits will go to habitat regeneration.
Cedar is also having a bout of deja vu with this campaign after his partner, Kylie Ezart, had their first child, Jarli, during 2015’s initial campaign. They’ve just welcomed a girl, Mella, to the family.
“They’re both packed with lots of great features,” he joked. “But I think in future we’ll try to avoid launching new products and new children at the same time. It gets pretty hectic.”
The difference between a conventional hive and the Flow Hive is that it allows the beekeeper to split the honey cells using a crank on the outside and drain the honey straight into jars, avoiding the need to remove the frames, scrape off the wax and then use centrifugal force to extract the honey.
Here’s the duo explaining their latest product:
The Flow Hive has lead to a resurgence in backyard beekeeping with one estimate that in the US alone there was a 10% increase at a time when bees are increasingly under threat, despite their importance to the agriculture industry as pollinators.
“We’re really pleased by how we’ve been able to not only bring about a resurgence in beekeeping, but an interest in responsible stewardship,” Cedar said.
“Bees are fascinating creatures and the honey is really just the sweet reward for taking really good care of them,”
The Flow Hive 2 crowdfunding page is here.