It had been 150 years since any major innovations had taken place in the world of beekeeping – but when it did that innovation took place right here in the northern rivers in Bangalow. Stu and Cedar Anderson invented the flow hive and it took the world by storm two years ago, far exceeding their expectations and attracting nearly US$12.2 million in revenue.
‘The whole journey for the past two years has been incredible,’ said Stu. ‘We’re still pinching ourselves. The fact we were so successful with the crowdfunding – and with an agricultural innovation was almost unheard of.’
The flow hive has just received the Fast Company World Changing Ideas Award for the consumer products category and is a finalist in the food category in New York.
‘It’s a huge honour to have won this award,’ Cedar Anderson said.
‘When we went to crowdfunding two years ago, we never expected things to blow up like they did. Now, to win this award alongside big, long-established companies like Microsoft and GE is kind of overwhelming. We were just trying to get some money together so we could make some moulds and fund a small commercial run.’
It took them over ten years to invent the flow hive with plenty of experimentation along the way. ‘It was a great adventure,’ said Stu. ‘It meant for me, as a Dad working with my son, that we had that much time and opportunity to be connected.’
Working with local beekeepers and other bee enthusiasts they got a wide range of responses to the idea and designs from general dismissal of the idea to overwhelming enthusiasm. ‘We had had such a range of responses that we didn’t really know what to expect,’ continued Stu. ‘We wondered if we had inventors blindness and we couldn’t see its faults.’
Breaking crowd funding records from the get go Stu said its success was due to the great work of his step daughter and the wonderful short films she came up from Melbourne to shoot on weekends.
Once the orders were in through the crowdfunding campaign it took five IT people two months to untangle all the information. ‘We really didn’t realise how much work was involved in getting the product manufactured and getting it out,’ laughed Stu. ‘We gave ourselves nine months to do it thinking that was a long time and we managed to get the last ones out by April 2016, only two months behind schedule.’
Flow hive has created 35 jobs locally and support Australian manufacturing by getting the hives made in Brisbane.
In two weeks Stu and his partner Michelle will be heading to the UK and Europe to talk bees and beekeeping starting at the British beekeepers convention.
‘The response has been marvellous,’ said Stu. ‘There are so many new people getting involved in beekeeping for the first time. As soon as people get honey bees people start thinking about other insects. They begin to understand that losing species is potentially catastrophic and what a symbiotic relationship we have with the world.’