Seven years ago, father and son set out to redesign the way honey is harvested from bee hives. There must be a way, they reasoned, to get the honey from the comb without disturbing the bees and then bottling the honey directly from the hive. They...
Seven years ago, father and son set out to redesign the way honey is harvested from bee hives. There must be a way, they reasoned, to get the honey from the comb without disturbing the bees and then bottling the honey directly from the hive. They placed their idea on Indiegogo and early orders exceeded all expectations when they topped over $12.5 million US dollars! Today, after over 50 iterations of the product, Flow Hive has established itself as a solid name in honey production for the small scale beekeeper.
In this episode, we talk with Cedar Anderson, who alongside his father, invented the concept of the Flow frame, super and hive. We talked with Cedar’s father and co-inventor in the spring of 2021. Today, Cedar talks about the origins of the Flow Hive, the changes they’ve made and how as a company, they are now giving back to the planet through their multiple pollinator programs and research support.
One program they are working to expand is Billions of Blossoms. It’s a project dedicated to planting trees that bees can use. Not just honey bees, but all kinds of bees. So far this year they have planted a half million trees and another half million are planned across the United State, Australia and other countries
For the Flow Hive itself, they’ve expanded community support by ramping up their instructions, added to their YouTube sits and now have a regular call in program so you can talk to the folks who actually make and use these hives, in person, and ask them the questions you have with your equipment.
Listen to our talk with Cedar and hear for yourself all the projects they’ve developed to make the world a better place, one bee at a time. You might even consider a Flow Hive!
We hope you enjoy the episode. Leave comments and questions in the Comments Section of the episode's website.
Thank you for listening!
Links and websites mentioned in this podcast:
We welcome Betterbee as sponsor of today's episode. Betterbee’s mission is to support every beekeeper with excellent customer service, continued education and quality equipment. From their colorful and informative catalog to their support of beekeeper educational activities, including this podcast series, Betterbee truly is Beekeepers Serving Beekeepers. See for yourself at www.betterbee.com
This episode is brought to you by Global Patties! Global Patties is a family business that manufactures protein supplement patties for honey bees. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will help ensure that they produce strong and health colonies by increasing brood production and overall honey flow. Global offers a variety of standard patties, as well as custom patties to meet your specific needs. Visit them today at http://globalpatties.com and let them know you appreciate them sponsoring this episode!
Thanks for Northern Bee Books for their sponsorship of Bee Books: Old & New with Kim Flottum. Northern Bee Books is the publisher of bee books available worldwide from their website or from Amazon and bookstores everywhere. They are also the publishers of The Beekeepers Quarterly and Natural Bee Husbandry. Check them out today!
Thanks to Strong Microbials for their support of Beekeeping Today Podcast. Find out more about heir line of probiotics in our Season 3, Episode 12 episode and from their website: https://www.strongmicrobials.com
We want to also thank 2 Million Blossoms as a sponsor of the podcast. 2 Million Blossoms is a regular podcast featuring interviews with leading bee and insect researchers in the world of pollination, hosted by Dr. Kirsten Traynor.
We hope you enjoy this podcast and welcome your questions and comments in the show notes of this episode or: email@example.com
Thanks to Bee Culture, the Magazine of American Beekeeping, for their support of The Beekeeping Today Podcast. Available in print and digital at www.beeculture.com
Thank you for listening!
Podcast music: Be Strong by Young Presidents; Epilogue by Musicalman; Walking in Paris by Studio Le Bus; Original guitar background instrumental by Jeff Ott
Beekeeping Today Podcast is an audio production of Growing Planet Media, LLC
Jeff Ott: Welcome to Beekeeping Today Podcast presented by Bee Culture. Beekeeping Today Podcast is your source for beekeeping news, information, and entertainment. I'm Jeff Ott.
Kim Flottum: I'm Kim Flottum.
Global Patties: Hey, Jeff and Kim. Today's sponsor is Global Patties. They're a family-operated business that manufactures protein supplement patties for honey bees. It's a good time to think about honey bee nutrition. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will ensure that they produce strong and healthy colonies, by increasing brood production and overall honey flow.
Now is a great time to consider what type of patty is right for your area and your honey bees. Global offers a variety of standard patties, as well as custom patties to meet your needs. No matter where you are, Global is ready to serve you out of their manufacturing plants in Airdrie, Alberta, and in Butte, Montana, or from distribution depots across the continent. Visit them today at www.globalpatties.com.
Jeff: Thanks, Sherry, and thank you Global Patties. Each week we get to talk about how much we appreciate our sponsor's support and we know you'd rather we get right to talk about beekeeping. However, our great sponsors are critical to help making all of this happen, from the transcripts, the hosting fees, the software, the hardware, the microphones, the subscriptions, the recorders, they enable each episode. With that, thanks to Bee Culture magazine for continuing their presenting sponsorship of this podcast. Bee Culture's been the magazine for American beekeeping since 1873. Subscribe to Bee Culture today.
Hey everybody, thanks for joining us. We're really happy you're here. Before we get started, just a quick reminder to subscribe or follow Beekeeping Today Podcast and give us a five-star rating. It really does help. Also, we are now adding complete transcripts of each episode on the website after the show notes. Check them out. You can also leave questions and comments online under each show. You can leave a comment, ask a question, reply to a question. Ours or a listener's. Click and leave a comment at the top of the episodes' show notes to join the discussion.
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Hey everybody, thanks again for joining us this week. Kim will be joining us in just a few minutes. Hey, if you want to get a lively discussion going at your next beekeeping meeting, just ask the group, "Hey, so what do you think about the Flow Hive?" Then stand back and listen to the discussion. The Flow Hive is one of those innovations that is so unique in its approach that beekeepers either love it or hate it without ever seeing or using one.
Today's guest, Cedar Anderson, is the CEO of Flow Hives. He and his father Stuart invented the Flow Hive about seven years ago. You may recall we talked with Stuart back in April of 2021. That was Season 3, Episode 48, in an in-depth discussion about the Flow Hive. We are certain you will enjoy today's discussion as well as we talk about updates, innovations, and other projects they're working on and funding.
Speaking of seasons, how is your late spring season coming along? Based upon what I'm seeing on social media, lots of honey has been made across the country, and that is really good to see. Unfortunately, we are still cool and wet here in my little corner of the Pacific Northwest. The bees are consuming more honey than they are bringing in, the local blackberries are looking like they will bloom in the next few days, and I'm seeing them start to bloom in pockets as I travel around the county. I'm afraid this means also seasonal honey will come into full bloom and then get rained out. I'm just like any other farmer, I guess.
I'm sure my concerns are shared across the country one way or another. That said, I do hope your season is shaping up to be a good one. Thanks to everyone who subscribed and listened to our YouTube channel. Also, thanks to you who have either written to us or left comments on the website, and even on the YouTube website. They are fun to read and it's great to hear from you. Let's get on with our talk with Stuart Anderson of Flow hives. First, a quick word from Strong Microbials, who've just released a new probiotic that can be fed in syrup, in a patty, or even dry: SuperDFM Extend. You can find out more information on their website www.strongmicrobials.com.
StrongMicrobials: Hello, beekeepers. Your honey bees face a lot of challenges out there. Unbalanced food sources from monoculture crops, holding yards, drought, food shortages, antibiotics, pesticides, and pathogens like chalkbrood. To overcome these challenges, your bees need the multiple bacteria that are in all nectars, pollens, and the environment. These bacteria aid honey bees' digestion and improve your honey bees' response and resilience to pesticides.
Now, you can help improve your honey colony health with a quick, easy, and safe-to-use product. Strong Microbials' SuperDFM-HoneyBee uses naturally occurring bacteria to restore the healthy gut biome of your honey bees. Check them out today at www.strongmicrobials.com.
Jeff: Hey, thanks a lot, Strong Microbial. Hey everybody, while you're out there, make sure you click on and subscribe to The Hive, the regular newsletter full of interesting product updates and beekeeping news. Hey everybody. Welcome back. Sitting across the virtual Beekeeping Today Podcast interview table is Cedar Anderson of Flow Hive. Cedar, welcome to the show.
Cedar Anderson: Thank you very much for having me, Jeff.
Kim: It's good to finally meet you, Cedar. We talked earlier about your company, but it's good to have you back.
Cedar: Fantastic. I believe you spoke to my father, Stuart.
Jeff: Yes. Anybody who wants to listen to that show, please do. It's a great show about the Flow Hive system. It was in April of 2021. It was a good show. Cedar, welcome to the show. Just let everybody know. Kim is sitting in State of Ohio. I'm sitting in the State of Washington. Cedar, you're in Australia. What state in Australia are you in other than early? [chuckles]
Cedar: We're in New South Wales and we're at the most easterly point of Australia. We get the sunshine first, which is almost coming up now. The sky is turning pink. It's a good time to be talking beekeeping.
Jeff: There you go. Thanks for joining us this hour of the morning in Australia. By this point, anybody who's into beekeeping has at least heard about the Flow Hive. Can you just give us a quick synopsis of the Flow Hive and then we can refer anybody who really wants the detail can listen to our earlier episode with Stuart, your father, and we can talk about other things with Flow Hive in this show.
Cedar: The Flow Hive really came about from an idea. I was keeping bees in the conventional way that we all know very well where you pull apart your hive; you take those frames out; you take those frames to the processing shed, which happened to be the shed that I lived in, and you go through the process of decapping them, putting them in a centrifuge and so on. I was selling buckets of honey to the local shop. Every time I sold that bucket of honey to the shop, I felt like it just wasn't worth it.
If you'd add up all the time it was taking to actually produce that honey and to go through that process of hot, sweaty, heavy, messy work and clean it all up. I had pretty grumpy bees. I thought the bees aren't really enjoying it, I'm not, there has to be a better way. From that came this idea of, "Can't we just tap the honey straight out of the box into the jar without going through that process of opening up the hive and doing the conventional extraction method?"
From that sparked a decade-long journey of inventing where I would make up something and put it into the hive and see what the bees thought of that. See whether it was useful to the bees and see whether it actually worked for us. My father joined in and together we eventually got there a decade later with the first jar of honey coming out of the hive at the turn of a handle. Since then, we worked out how we wanted to bring it to market.
We didn't have a dollar to our name, so we jumped on crowdfunding. What happened next was absolutely extraordinary where suddenly it became a global sensation of people getting so interested in what we had invented that we crashed the crowdfunding platform several times, we broke all of these crowdfunding records and ended up with $12.2 million in pre-orders of our Flow Hive and we hadn't even started manufacturing yet.
That was going from living in a shed doing other things to earning income. Teaching paragliding was what I was doing. My father was doing more social work and all of a sudden we're now suddenly pedaling hard to produce thousands and thousands of Flow Hives and deliver them to 130 different countries. Life hasn't been the same since. That's how Flow Hive started. Here we are seven years later. We've got a fantastic global community that's really engaged with beekeeping and we're going great.
Jeff: That's quite the story of success. It sounds as if it was a sudden success as opposed to slowly getting up to speed. It's like all of a sudden you're at full speed.
Cedar: Yes. They say a decade of work to be an overnight success. I think that rings true in this case.
Kim: Well, one of the things I'm interested in when we talked to your father, he laid out the basics of what a Flow Hive is and how it works and how people manage them. In the seven years that you've been at this, have you made changes, A, and B, have you incorporated new equipment, new techniques, new ways to manage bees in this kind of a hive?
Cedar: Good question. The frame itself, although it looks pretty similar to how we started, it's actually had 52 minor changes. We keep tweaking things a little bit and keep improving things. That's just a part of making things better as we go. Of course, there'll be more changes to come. That's with the Flow Frames, which is the core of the invention. As far as the equipment goes, the box, which is still made out of wood, we like wooden material, but what we've done is we've added a bunch more features to make it easier for people to look after their bees. We'll continue to add features.
Some examples of that. We've put a pest management tray in the bottom. We've put levels on the side of the hive to help people get their hive level for harvesting honey. With the Flow Hive, you need to get on the right slope, but also if people are choosing to do foundationless frames, then it's really important to have the hive level in the sideways direction so the bees can hang the comb inside the frame, so we put levels on the back there as well and put adjustable feet. You can just adjust those and really get your hive leveled up. A lot easier than how we used to do it by getting out there with a spade and poking bits of wooden bricks underneath to try and get your hive all set up.
We put more observation windows on it, which is a really handy thing for beekeepers. It's funny when we show our Flow Hive to commercial beekeepers, they often go, "What have you got these windows on here for?" It's like, "Well, we find them really useful and also really engaging, but useful to see what's going on in the hive, check on bee numbers, see when the honey is ready and things like that."
They say, "Oh, no, we're just lift the hives. We just lift it and see how heavy it is." We're like, "Yes, we get that. We do that as well, but [laughs] have a go," and then they try it and they go, "Wow, those windows are really useful." Adding those windows and more of them was a good thing. Then we just upgraded little things like the knobs. Instead of wooden ones, we've changed to brass, which lasts longer and all of that. There's just been incremental changes over the last seven years to improve both the hive body and the frames inside.
Kim: It sounds like it's going in the right direction. That's good to know. Just the next step, what do you see on the horizon? I'm not going to say improvements, but for changes and for additions to the program.
Cedar: We're continually working on innovation and it's fantastic that we've got ourselves well set up now. We've got a great team doing all of the bits and pieces. I need to do less and less of the daily work to keep everything going and to get all the deliveries out. Now getting time back in the workshop with my father, working on inventions, which is fantastic. We've got one coming up that will assist people in looking after their bees, which we hope to release some more information on soon, but we're not quite ready, and also other innovative bits and pieces to do with the harvesting. We've got some exciting things coming. We're back in the workshop, watch this space.
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Jeff: I would think one of the areas you'd want to look into and do some development work in is with beekeepers with disabilities. We had a couple of weeks ago Justin Ruger on the show. He works with accessiblebeekeeping.org and developing best practices for beekeeping for folks with disabilities. I think that would be a big area to work in. The Flow Hive would fit perfectly in that space.
Cedar: Fantastic. We do have something that should help in that space, which is good because as you know, honey harvesting for somebody who can't lift those heavy boxes and do all of that, we've made honey harvesting easier, but still managing your colony is still the same as it's been in a way, so we've got an invention to help with that coming along. Hopefully, the person you talk about will like what we've got coming up.
Jeff: That's great news.
Kim: Good thing to keep track of, folks. If you've got issues along that line, the Flow Hive may have some answers for you. Just a quick question. I've been to your web page. I want to talk about some of the information I saw there, but where can I get the Flow Hive?
Cedar: What we've done in terms-- Because from square one, we are a global thing with orders from 130 different countries, all of a sudden, we had to set up systems that could deliver to people easily. What we've done is set up warehouses in the major places. There's one in the US, one in Canada, one in Australia, one in Europe, and so on, so that if you order online at honeyflow.com, then it'll come quite quickly to you.
Usually, within a few days. That's assuming there's no supply chain interruptions, which there have been a few, but it hasn't been too bad for us. There is a lot of companies that are struggling at the moment with all sorts of issues to do with supply chain due to the way of the world at the moment.
Kim: I would guess you're having that problem at your manufacturing facility also, just like everybody else's. "I've got everything but, so I can't send one out." Have you seen any of that?
Cedar: We've been lucky so far. We've been through two floods. We've been through COVID. Now there's more things at play, but somehow we've been able to avoid most of it. There has been situations where there's been a few weeks of delays for people ordering, but mostly it's still coming on time within a few days. We've been lucky as a company, I guess, not to be stranded.
It would be a real issue if the supply chain broke down, but what we did to mitigate that is we ordered all the bits and pieces, like screws and things that we needed en masse. We've had them on the shelf and we're made right here in Australia, so we have control over what we're doing and making sure that we don't run out of those little components.
Kim: Thinking ahead of the curve. That's good to hear. What comes with the Flow Hive? Is there an instruction manual? Is there a how-to? I'm guessing here that there is, but how is that evolving?
Cedar: What happens is you end up with two boxes arriving because it's a bit heavy all of the equipment together. You get one, which is all of the wooden wear, all of the metal components, and another, which is the Flow Hive frames themselves, the invention. In both of those, there is an extensive manual about assembly and about the use of the product. Also, a lot of people tend to like watching videos and how-tos, so there'll be a web address in there. When people order, we also send them the web address for the videos. You'll probably get sick of my voice telling you how to do all things beekeeping and putting the hive together and so on.
Then what we do also is make ourselves available. Usually me, same time every week. It's Wednesday morning for us. It'd be Tuesday evening for a lot of you over there. What I do is I answer questions live. We're often inside a beehive pulling it apart, talking about different things, or we're harvesting honey, or we're just simply answering questions. I'll do that for usually around an hour. If anybody is having any issues, they tend to jump on there and just ask questions directly. That's a really nice way to engage with everybody as well, so they can make sure they're putting their product together. They're coating it with something that the bees are going to like and all of the questions that people have.
Kim: I was just going to say it sounds like an excellent support system.
Jeff: Yes, it does. I think it's actually very smart to do that. Is that a YouTube live-type thing? Is it recorded and available later?
Cedar: What we do is we do the live Q&A, and it streams to both Facebook and YouTube simultaneously. You can jump on there, put your questions in the comments, and Trace, who's our amazing office manager, she sits there on a chair and reads out the questions to me as they come in. She's got a mic and I've got a mic and sometimes my sister will be joining in, or my father.
Actually, yesterday or a day before, we had somebody who was brand new, never actually pulled apart a beehive or done anything beekeeping before who was working with me. That was really nice for people because she was asking all of the beginner questions and I was able to instruct her on what to do. By the end of it, I'm just sitting back and she's pulling out all the frames and doing all the things and I'm answering the questions. It was just a great way to be able to share that new beginner experience with everybody.
Jeff: Yes, that's brilliant. That's a good way of providing a service for your customers. That's good.
Kim: Jeff, you've seen that they're involved in things other than beehives. When I was looking at their web page, I came across something called Billions of Blossoms. Just a quick look gave me, "This sounds like a pretty exciting project." Can you tell me what you're involved in here?
Cedar: Yes. When we started, we realized, "Wow, we've got an amazing global audience here." I guess growing up with quite an environmental background, I used to do things like I would fly my little aircraft, which you can see in the background. It's an electric paramotor. I would fly for green peace. They would get me to somewhere in the world where, for instance, I would be flying over the Sumatran jungle spotting for illegal forest burning. I would do that kind of work. I guess I grew up in a fairly environmental area where looking after the forest was of great concern.
When it came to launching the Flow Hive, we quickly started thinking, "Oh, okay. Our invention is about bees. Bees need blossoms, bees need trees. They need safe nectar and pollen to forage on, so how can we leverage the position we're in to help?" All the way we've been doing various different programs in order to both raise awareness for bees to help the planet, the bee to create more habitat for the bees, which is everybody knows bees need cheese.
Billions of Blossoms is our latest one, which is an exciting project where we literally plan to create billions of new safe blossoms for bees to forage on on a global scale. We've kicked it off with TheBeekeeper.org. Now, I'll speak briefly about TheBeekeeper.org because that's an exciting program as well. What we did there is we removed it a little bit from Flow Hive because we wanted to make it bigger than Flow Hive, bigger than, I guess people using hives with our invention in it, so we started an online beekeeping course at TheBeekeeper.org, which has experts from all around the world contributing to that.
It's 50% of profits donated for habitat regeneration and protection. From that, we're really happy to say we're planting a million trees this year, which will have a lot of new blossoms for the bees. We're halfway through that now. We've planted half a million so far and we've got another half a million to go, and there's more people doing the online beekeeping course. We'll be, hopefully, planting another million next year.
It's all about how can we leverage our position to help not only the bees but all of the other insects that are vitally important and our planet in general. As you know, we completely rely on an intact ecosystem for everything to survive and the whole system of our planet to be maintained.
Jeff: The Billions of Blossoms is not just about honey bees. It's about all bees in general. All pollinators, I guess, would be a good focus on that.
Cedar: The honey bees are an amazing thing because when people become a new beekeeper, it's like a window into a new world. Often they're saying things like, "Wow, I didn't even realize trees had flowers," and, "Oh, I'm not going to use any insecticides anymore." I've gone around my whole block and converted the whole neighbourhood into an insecticide-free zone and so on. They are a real change agent, but of course, when you're looking after the honey bee, you are also looking after everything else that's pollinating.
420 million hectares since 1990 of forest has been cleared. Now, if we are going to be sustainable on this planet, we need to put that back. When we do that for the honey bee, we do that for the 20,000 native bee species that exist on the planet. We do that for the butterflies, the bats. We do that for everything that's relying on safe places to pollinate. We love to both educate and get people putting away the insecticides and getting out of the habitat, but also we really like to put together programs that can help on a mass scale.
We also assist a program called Bee Friendly Farming, which is in the USA, and we've helped it become a part of Australia. What they do is they get farms and you can also sign up if you just want to declare your home garden as a bee-friendly garden. The idea is you are taking those farmers on a journey to becoming more bee-friendly. It's about planting species that help the bees. It's about keeping hedgerows. It's about minimizing the use of insecticides or cutting them out altogether and slowly converting those farms into a bee-friendly farm.
Although it's not perfect, obviously, we'd love to cut out insecticides altogether, I think what they're doing is recognizing that we have a global food system that is how it is and what we need to do is make a transition that is going to be sustainable for all the pollinators, and in the end, that means sustainable for us. Of course, I'd love to see no insecticides altogether. Hopefully, we can get there, but it's going to be a big journey as a species to convert all our agriculture into truly bee-friendly farming. Something like a billion litres of chemicals gets sprayed on our earth surface each year for our farming,
Kim: The Xerces Society in North America has a similar program with similar goals. It sounds like you guys are working together from all over the place. I know Jeff had a question, and I do too, going back to your Billions of Blossoms program. Where are these trees being planted?
Cedar: What we've done is we were planning them in Australia and in the USA and in the rest of the world. Niall, on our team, has done extensive work. He's been partnering with the likes of One Tree Planted and other organizations. We're not physically planting themselves. Oh, we are some, but obviously, we've got beehives to make. We can't sit there planting a million trees every day.
It's really about funding organizations and vetting them and making sure the organizations we are working with we're happy with how they're planting, what they're planting, where they're planting and so on. Basically, it's all over the world, including mangroves in Madagascar, for instance. Mangroves store huge amounts of carbon. They actually produce decent flowers for the bees. We sat down and we worked out what we wanted to do, then it was a case of finding the organizations who could really support our goals with this.
Kim: It sounds like not only feeding bees, but by planting all of these trees, you're taking a potshot at climate change, also.
Cedar: Yes, absolutely. If you clear 420 million hectares in the last 30 years, there's no doubt that's going to have ramifications on our planet and we need to do a lot. One of the things we can do is put some of those trees back.
Kim: Definitely going to help the situation. A pat on the back. Keep it up.
Cedar: Thank you very much. It's what keeps us going. Because we've had some business success, why not just go and play with my kids on the beach and things like that? Well, what gets me out of the bed in the morning is, yes, we're producing Flow Hives, but we're doing more than that. We're making a positive difference in the world. We like to use, I guess, the position that we're in with the success that we've had in this business for a positive purpose because I guess it's a way you can create rapid change. When businesses get behind something, they can change things almost faster than any other way, so we're happy to be leveraging the position we're in for a positive impact.
Jeff: That's great. That's very commendable. I like your position and environmental standing there to give back and leave it better than you found it.
Cedar: That's the idea. Of course, it's a continual challenge. You can turn around and say, "Yes, we're doing great," but then you take a look at yourself and go, "Well, over here, there's still work to be done," so it's a never-ending journey of bettering what we're doing, improving things, and also creating and inventing new programs and new things to have a positive impact.
Kim: I'm impressed with both the scope and the goals and I'm glad somebody's thinking along those lines.
Jeff: Yes. I think it's fantastic and I'm encouraged. I wish more companies would take the position that you are doing with Flow Hives and the rest of your company. I wanted to go back real quickly to something I saw on your website, and this is interesting, that you're doing trials with commercial and large sideliner beekeepers with the Flow Hive. Can you talk a little bit about the large-scale beekeepers' production with the Flow system?
Cedar: In the beginning we designed the Flow Hive for thinking that the commercial beekeepers would be really interested. We even designed automation into it for it to be able to be automated. Now, that means systems detecting when frames are full and automatically harvesting and so on, but what we found is it was the home beekeepers with 1 to 10, 15, 20 hives that were far more interested in what we were doing than the commercial beekeepers.
The commercial beekeepers tend to have a whole system set up. They've invested a million dollars in their processing plant system to extract the honey and it's a big thing to change that to change over to something else. Instead of investing a lot in the processing plant, you're investing more in each individual hive, which for them often it's just a different model, right?
Cedar: What we found is so far we're attracting what we call the boutique honey producer. The honey producer that might have 40, 50, 100 hives and what they'll do is extract honey in a different way and then market it in a different way. There's someone who's just come into our area recently from one of the Southern states here who harvests honey directly to the jar and then tells that story of this is a single frame honey, taste the difference. When you extract with zero processing, you get these rave reviews. It's not something that we set out to do. It's just feedback we were getting from people saying, "Hey, why does that taste better?"
John Gates up in Canada was testing Flow Hives before we launched, because we sent some out to key beekeepers around the world, and he said, "I don't share my Flow Hive honey with anybody. I keep that for myself. It tastes like when you're biting into a fresh honeycomb." Since then we've had universities study it and actually say, "Well, actually, there's fine floral essences in the honey that do get removed when it's extracted in conventional extraction methods."
It makes sense that when you process less, when you expose the honey to less oxygen, when you expose it to less things for it to react with like metal extractors and so on, and also that you're mixing the honey less. When you mix a whole lot of flavors together, you get something different. When you're harvesting with a Flow Hive, you have the ability to even get different flavors per frame.
Some people are marketing that and saying, "Well, here is a single frame origin," or, "This honey is harvested from a single frame in this hive." Actually, with that story, getting a lot more money for their honey. That's an interesting thing that's happening, but that's more on a boutique level. We're not seeing people with thousands of hives take up Flow Hive beekeeping.
Jeff: That would be a fantastic marketing technique is to say this came from a specific hive on a specific day from a specific frame and really market the honey that way. That is boutique. That would be really high value.
Cedar: Single malt whiskeys.
Kim: I guess my only comment here is I spent 30 years working for a company that produces beeswax candles and you are cutting out our supply of beeswax.
Cedar: Yes, that could be said to be true. Of course, you can still collect honeycomb from a Flow Hive by putting another box on or taking some of the side frames out of the brood nest from time to time when you're cycling out frames, but as you say, the conventional extraction method does have a big by-product of wax that Flow Hives don't. I guess that in turn will perhaps raise the cost of beeswax.
Kim: Well, there you go. If I'm a commercial beekeeper, I can do both. Better honey and more money for my beeswax.
Jeff: Just before you go, Kim, I just wanted to follow up on the commercial application of Flow Hive. It's still the same system, but are you able to do that on a larger scale, or are you still processing a single frame at a time?
Cedar: Originally we set it up so that-- We actually thought that people would be really interested in our frames to add to their own boxes. We put out information on how to do the cutouts in order to access the drain points and the mechanism and so on so that beekeepers could just get our frames and add them to any old beehive box and put it in the apiary, and then we thought they would connect up their plumbing, connect it to the honey tanks and so on, right?
Cedar: What we found is they don't tend to do that so much. Occasionally, you get somebody being inventive like that. We had someone in Canada stacking boxes five high with a whole lot of plumbing and things like that. Which was good to see, but yes, I think it's fair to say that people like a done solution and if we do want to inspire commercial beekeepers, we've got some work to do to provide a system that is more enticing for them and is more complete and aim towards the commercial harvesting of honey.
Kim: All right. Good. Cedar, we've covered a lot of ground here today and we've gone from the invention of the Flow Hive to we've moved it into commercial beekeeping. That's quite a giant step in just a few minutes. Your Billion Blossom program is admirable. I think I'm impressed with that. What have we missed?
Cedar: One great thing about the Billions of Blossoms program is it's primarily set up to solve another problem in beekeeping and that is you get lots of new beekeepers who need a handhold. Now, there's local courses. I encourage people to go out and join their bee clubs and do some hands-on beekeeping. There's online courses out there in the world. Do as many of them as you can if you're a new beekeeper and have a look at TheBeekeeper.org and what we've put together there, which is basically a program to take a beginner beekeeper from square one to even a deep scientific knowledge in beekeeping.
It's ongoing. It goes for two years. If people want to keep learning with lots of high-quality video content, we put a lot of effort into it and we get rave reviews about it, but the idea there is we do the best we can to support the new beekeepers, make sure we get them on track, make sure they get information that's not just how we do beekeeping here in Australia and the subtropics, but it's got the experts on there telling you how to keep bees when you're knee-deep in snow and all of that.
The idea with the program is that if we can create as many really good beekeepers as we can, then that's going to help the industry going forward. Some of them will become the next academics in beekeeping. Some of them will become the next experts, the next authors. The idea is that that will have a positive impact on the industry ongoing to be really providing as much education as we can as people get started.
Kim: Certainly another great goal.
Jeff: I really like it. Well, this has been really enlightening, Cedar. It is so good to hear the additional work that you're doing. Even as a young company, seven years old, now you're giving back the way that you are to the world through your Billion Blossom programs and the other programs that you do that we didn't mention. I encourage people to look at everything that you're working on, or even supporters of the Ramsey Research Foundation, which we've had Sammy on the show quite a bit. He's a friend of the podcast. We're glad to see that you're supporting his work with the tropilaelaps mite there up in Thailand.
Anyways, I'm rambling. It's been fantastic having you on the show. I appreciate you getting up this early in the morning to join us.
Cedar: Jeff, Kim, thanks for having me. Keep up the good work, spreading the education about beekeeping.
Jeff: We will.
Kim: We will. Jeff will have all of these web pages and Facebook addresses and all of those things on the show notes-
Jeff: You bet.
Kim: -on our web page so people can go directly to your program, Cedar.
Jeff: Thanks a lot. It's really good to hear a company giving back the way that the Flow Hive folks are giving back to the environment.
Kim: To the environment, to the beekeeping world, to their customers, to people that aren't their customers, to climate change, all of the above. It's a pretty impressive program. I'm pleased to see some beekeeping organizations heading in that direction.
Jeff: I knew is amazing how quickly Flow Hive has grown, but when he said that in their Kickstarter campaign they raised-- What did he say? $12.5 million?
Kim: Something like that, yes.
Jeff: In the Kickstarter? [laughs] The only thing I could think of was there used to be a commercial on TV long ago and the guys were all sitting around a computer and saying, "Hey, everybody, we launched our product on the website." Everyone is huddled around the computer and then they say, "Yes, we got one order." Everyone is clapping and cheering. "Order number one" "There's number two." "Yes." "There's number three." Then, all of a sudden, thousands of orders and then they're all panicking because how are you going to fulfill it? I can just imagine that's a good problem to have.
Kim: Yes, it is. I imagine it was a problem, but they seem to have it under control. They're beginning to think about working with commercial beekeepers, so they're moving in the right direction.
Jeff: It'll be fun to see where they take it in the next seven years.
Kim: Yes, that'll be interesting to watch and it'll be interesting to see how the rest of the beekeeping industry reacts.
Jeff: [laughs] Definitely. Well, that about wraps it up for this episode. Before we go, I want to encourage our listeners to rate us five stars on Apple Podcast wherever you download and stream the show. Your vote helps other beekeepers find us quicker. Even better, write a review and let other beekeepers looking for a new podcast know what you like. You can get there directly from our website by clicking on reviews along the top of any web page. As always, we thank Bee Culture, the magazine for American beekeeping, for their continued support of Beekeeping Today Podcast.
We want to thank our regular episode sponsor Global Patties. Check them out at globalpatties.com. Thanks to Strong Microbials for their support of this podcast. Check out their probiotic line at strongmicrobials.com. We want to thank Betterbee for their longtime support. Check out all their great beekeeping supplies at betterbee.com. Thanks to Northern Bee Books for their support of Bee Books: Old & New with Kim Flottum. Check out all of their books at northernbeebooks.co.uk.
Finally, and most importantly, we want to thank you, the Beekeeping Today Podcast listener, for joining us on the show. Feel free to leave us comments and questions at "Leave a Comment" section under each episode on the website. We'd love to hear from you. Thanks a lot, everybody.
[00:45:52] [END OF AUDIO]
Cedar is an inventor, entrepreneur, and third-generation beekeeper. Born and raised in New South Wales, Australia, Cedar began beekeeping at the age of six.
After personally experiencing the frustrations and challenges of harvesting honey, Cedar decided there had to be a better way. He set out to create a system that would simplify harvesting for humans while simultaneously making the process gentler on bees. Cedar and his father Stuart spent a decade creating and testing prototypes. The final result is Flow Hive, which launched in 2015 and has now shipped more than 85,000 orders globally.
Cedar lives in New South Wales with his partner Kylie and their two children, where he continues to share his beekeeping expertise with others and expand Flow Hive’s product line.