Revolutionary Honey Harvesting Beehive Crowdsources $2 Million in First Day
Father and son beekeepers from Bryon Bay, Australia—Stuart and Cedar Anderson—boast that they have created "a revolutionary beehive invention allowing you to harvest honey without opening the hive and with minimal disturbance to the bees." They say, "Flow is the most significant invention in beekeeping since 1852." And, apparently Stuart and Cedar Anderson are far from the only people that think so.
A lot of beekeepers have been looking at and sharing the Andersons' Indiegogo page, which launched on Feb. 22. In the first day, the campaign blasted past its $70,000 goal by more than 25 times, raising more than $2 million from more than 5,000 funders. It runs through April 5, so it's staggering to think how much it will eventually raise. The Andersons are already talking about adding manufacturing facilities in America to bring down shipping costs to the U.S. and Europe. They've got pledges from the U.S., the UK, France, Croatia, the Phillippines, Thailand and Abu Dhabi.
"I’ve wanted to raise bees for some time, but was overwhelmed by the extraction process and equipment required," Dale Rottschafer posted on the Flow Indiogogo page. "Thank you for removing that hurdle. Full steam ahead!"
"Parsons’ Gold Apiaries here in northwestern OH, USA are super excited over the creation of this Flow Hive!" posted Deborah Kauble Wright Parsons. "My husband and I have talked about this creation and wished there was such a thing."
What is it that's got so many people so excited? The Andersons point out that beekeeping and honey-harvesting has typically been a labor-intensive activity.
"Harvesting your honey used to be a real labour of love," they say. "First you had to protect yourself from stings; Fire up a smoker to sedate the bees; Crack the hive open; Lift heavy boxes; Pull out the frames, trying not to squash bees; Brush the bees off the combs, or use a leaf blower; Transport the frames to a processing shed; Cut the wax capping off each frame with a heated knife or automatic uncapping machine; Put them in an extractor to spin out the honey; Filter out all the wax and dead bees; Clean up all the mess."
A beehive contains frames in which bees make wax honeycombs and fill them with honey. In a standard hive, the frames have to be removed to collect the honey. Flow comes with partly formed honeycomb cells on which the bees build and in which they deposit the honey. Flow then cuts through the cells to allow the honey to flow out of the hive through a tap. The bees quickly rebuild the cut cells. Not cutting the honeycombs by hand means less wax in the honey. And being able to extract it so easily means that it's easier to keep up with the bees' rate of production and harvest more honey. One intriguing aspect of the Flow frames: they have clear end frames so you can not only see when the frames are full of honey, but you can watch the bees making it.
"This also allows you to keep an eye on the strength of the hive," say the Andersons. "You will naturally develop a close relationship to your bees."
The Indiegogo campaign offers a "light" option of three or four Flow frames to go between the traditional frames of an existing hive; a Flow "superframe" to replace all the current frames in the hive; or a complete hive fitted with Flow frames, lacking only the bees to get started. They've sold more than 250 of the complete hives at $600 a piece.
The Andersons have built and tested prototypes and shared them with other beekeepers in order to work out any glitches in the system prior to launching the Indiegogo campaign.
"The bees took to it quite quickly and filled the box in a couple of weeks," said Australian beekeeper Michael Howes. "The honey comes out clean, no filtering needed. The bees remove the caps off the comb and start filling it again. Great system. I’ve seen this working and I would recommend it.”
Explaining their connection to bees and why they spent more than three years developing this new system of honey harvesting, the Andersons say, "Beekeepers and bees have a special symbiotic relationship that goes back thousands of years. We have literally evolved together. We care for them, they pollinate our crops and of course make lots of delicious honey. Without the bees we may not be able to sustain human life as we know it, and without the beekeepers we wouldn’t have enough bees. In this modern world of limited natural habitat, beekeepers have become vital carers of bee colonies. We hope Flow hive will encourage thousands more people to become passionate carers and advocates of bees and become more aware of the threats facing not only bees but the matrix of life."
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A stretch of coastline in the Philippine capital, Manila has received backlash from environmentalists. The heavily polluted Manila Bay area, which had been slated for cleanup, has become the site of a controversial 500-meter (1,600-foot) stretch of white sand beach.
Sand Makeup Crucial for Ecosystems<p>While UNEP/GRID-Geneva generally supports finding <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/not-enough-sand-for-construction-industry-despite-abundance/a-49342942" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">alternative sources of sand</a> so as not to disrupt ecosystems in rivers and oceans when extracting them, Vander Velpen stressed it was vital to use sand which closely matches the makeup of the native sand to protect beach fauna.</p><p>"If you change the core characteristics of the native sand, the original sand, you need to do an environmental impact assessment (EIA) to find out how it's going to impact the ecosystem and nearby ecosystems," he told DW.</p><p>But according to Torres, such an assessment was not done in Manila.</p>
Beautification Stunt Instead of Proper Cleanup?<p>Manila Bay's waters are heavily polluted by oil and trash from nearby residential areas and ports. A huge "No swimming" sign warns visitors to stay away from the ocean.</p><p>Philippines' <a href="https://denr.gov.ph/index.php/priority-programs/manila-bay-clean-up/25-priority-programs/1825-frequently-ask-questions-faqs-on-the-dolomite-and-the-beach-nourishment-project" target="_blank">Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)</a> has denied dolomite sand poses any risk to human health and the ecosystem.</p><p>However, scientists of the University of the Philippines have come forward disputing the DENR's claims. A <a href="https://biology.science.upd.edu.ph/index.php/ib-statement-regarding-dolomite-in-manila-bay/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">statement by the Institute of Biology</a> said that using crushed dolomite did not address any of the rehabilitation phases and instead was "even more detrimental to the existing biodiversity as well as the communities in the area," pointing to the case of water birds. "The dumping of dolomite in Manila Bay has effectively covered part of the intertidal area used by the birds thereby reducing their habitat."</p><p>At peak migration season, Manila Bay is home to 90 aquatic bird species, including species of international conservation concern that are facing a very high extinction risk in the wild. </p><p>Authorities should focus on protecting and conserving biodiversity, the Institute of Biology added. "Rehabilitating mangroves is an example of a nature-based solution that is cheaper and more cost-effective than the dolomite dumping project," the scientists said.</p><p>Moreover, <a href="http://www.msi.upd.edu.ph/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the Marine Science Institute</a> has warned that prolonged inhalation of finer dust particles of dolomite could "cause chronic health effects," leading to discomfort in the chest, shortness of breath and coughing.</p><p>They also warned dolomite sand grains would erode during storms and be carried out to sea, essentially being washed away.</p>
Rehabilitation vs. Reclamation<p>Environmentalists say covering up the beach doesn't address the real issues of the bay. Torres and others believe the best way to clean up Manila Bay is not to add anything, but rather remove trash and pollution.</p><p>"There have been studies saying much of the waste comes from already collected waste — so these are open dump sites along the coast that get washed up because of the rain," Torres said.</p><p>She criticized the authorities for continuing to push reclamation projects she says are at odds with each other. These projects will affect large areas of mangrove forests, she said, and experts warn that this, in turn, exacerbates coastal erosion.</p><p>"If you've removed the areas that helped trap the sand, like mangrove forests, then the likelihood increases that you will have to nourish a beach. Same as building right up to the waterfront," said Vander Velpen of UNEP/GRID-Geneva.</p>
Plenty of Sand in the Sea?<p>The question of Manila's contentious white beach echoes larger questions about sand mining worldwide. <a href="https://unepgrid.ch/storage/app/media/documents/Sand_and_sustainability_UNEP_2019.pdf" target="_blank">Global sand consumption has tripled</a> over the past two decades, UNEP/GRID-Geneva has found. A huge chunk of it is now taken up by construction.</p><p>"Many operate on the assumption that natural sand is endless in its supply," said Vander Velpen.</p><p>Sand scarcity is a concern shared by Stefan Schimmels of <a href="https://www.fzk.uni-hannover.de/fzk_start.html?&L=1" target="_blank">Forschungszentrum Küste</a> who's done extensive research on shore nourishment to stop coastal erosion. And as climate change and rising sea levels are threatening coasts, demand for sand will grow even more.</p><p>A large study, the <a href="http://www.stencil-project.de/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/STENCIL_SWOT_Analyse_191026.pdf" target="_blank">Strategies and Tools for Environment-Friendly Shore Nourishments as Climate Change Impact Low-Regret Measures (STENCIL project)</a>, focused on the German island of Sylt, a popular vacation spot.</p><p>About 1 million cubic meter of sand per year is used to maintain the coastal area of Sylt, STENCIL project head Schimmels said. That's about 100 million 10-liter buckets of sand.</p><p>When sand was extracted off the coast of Sylt, underwater craters were formed. "You can still detect these craters even decades later," Schimmels told DW.</p><p>"Also when you add a couple of meters sand onto the beach — you essentially bury all things that do creep and fly," he said. "How quickly will they recover?" Schimmels said more research was needed as there was still too little known about long-term effects on the environment. </p>
Criticism Piling Up<p>As for Manila's artificial white sand, it looks like some might have already been blown away by a recent storm. DENR claims it wasn't washed away, but said that grayish sand, stones and other material had simply piled up over the dolomite sand. People in Manila have tweeted photos showing how the storm has ravaged the beach. </p>
<div id="adc0b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="98f9390db6bb81cb421aaf0bb9d9a6fb"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1318816633280851969" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Exactly one month after giving excited netizen a glimpse of Manila Bay white sands, look what happened now after ju… https://t.co/X0Z9i0bPB0</div> — M*A*S*H (@M*A*S*H)<a href="https://twitter.com/Magtira_Matibay/statuses/1318816633280851969">1603265362.0</a></blockquote></div><p>Authorities have been called tone-deaf for spending around 389 million pesos ($8 million) on a beach nourishment project in the middle of a raging pandemic.</p><p>An image of cake iced with the words "It really hurts - that's [worth] 389 million pesos?" has since gone viral.</p>
<div class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4387aad52ea316e4db7330052318ca2f"><div class="fb-post" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/theweekendpatisserie/posts/144564207350008"></div></div><p>"It's just a waste of precious resources," Torres said. </p><p>The environmental activist now also worries that she might be labeled a terrorist for speaking out under the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/philippine-anti-terrorism-law-triggers-fear-of-massive-rights-abuses/a-53732140" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Philippines' controversial new anti-terrorism law</a>. She says she could be arrested for inciting fear when talking about environmental dangers.</p>
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