With over 30,000 supporters and millions of dollars raised, will this new way of harvesting honey change beekeeping forever?
Most crowdfunded projects are either based in technology or the creative arts. It's normal to see campaigns to raise money for producing albums, new apps for your phone or for an independent film. So how did a campaign for a new beehive design become the most successful crowdfunding operation in history?
The Flow hive design raised over 10 million dollars from more than 30,000 supporters in the one-month long campaign on Indiegogo. The design features a plastic frame that allows the beekeeper to look into the hive without disturbing the bees. If the combs are full, the beekeeper can twist a handle that allows the honey to flow out of a tube and into a container. With an original monetary goal for the design set at $70,000, is this new design really worth this huge amount of support and funding it's received?
The traditional task of harvesting honey from bees is one that is painstaking and time-consuming. To obtain the honey, the beekeeper must gain access to the hive by removing the lid and temporarily tranquilizing the bees. The bees are then removed from the honeycomb to gain access to the wax frames that the honey is extracted from. It's a long and complicated process that this new design seems to have streamlined.
However, some are not convinced that the Flow hive is a step in the right direction. Many traditionalists who have spent years cultivating their practices and skills in beekeeping see the technology as a shortcut that may cause less than stellar results for both the honey and the well-being of the bees themselves.
Still, many are excited about what the Flow hive could do for awareness of the depletion of the honeybee population. The USDA has reported that since 2006, a third of the entire honeybee population has died. The cause of this die-off is suspected to be from a class of insecticides called Neonicotinoids. Even with this decrease in honeybees, there has been a resurgence of interest in urban beekeeping in recent years. This modern method of easily obtaining honey from the hive is perfect for those smaller-scale beekeepers.
Although the true impact of The Flow hive won't be known for months or even years, the interest and support that it has already developed speaks volumes. The importance of beekeeping and sustaining a honeybee population is something that matters to all of us, and advances in technology like this help to benefit both consumers and harvesters alike.