A new device which allows beekeepers to extract honey without disturbing the hive is to go into full-scale production, after receiving overwhelming support from online crowdfunding.
Stuart Anderson and son Cedar, from The Channon, invented the inbuilt extractor which collects fresh honey as it drips out through plastic tubes.
Their product, the Flow Hive, was officially launched in Canberra this morning, with an online campaign which raised its $70,000 target within seconds.
The campaign will be open to online funding pledges until April and has already received more than $1 million in donations from bee enthusiasts around the world.
Stuart said the response to the product was unprecedented and unexpected.
“We’re sort of stunned really, because there’s been such an immediate response,” he said. “Within a few minutes we’d hit our target, and now it’s only a few hours later and it’s at $1 million.”
He said he and his son could not believe that no-one had previously come up with the concept.
“We did thorough patent searches and we realised that we were onto something, because we thought, ‘someone must have done this’,” Mr Anderson said.
“There were some people in the 1920s who tried it, but when we looked at what they’d done, we could see that it wouldn’t have worked. We’ve searched, but no-one’s done it like this before.”
The pair created a “plastic, artificial honeycomb or matrix” that the bees then build their honeycomb on.
“Instead of being separate cells it becomes a vertical channel, “ he said. “The honey can flow down those channels.”
Cedar said the invention was the result of a decade of tinkering.
“We hoped it would work, our tests showed it should work and we turned the handle and waited,” he said.
“When the first pour of fresh honey came out filling the jar, that was a moment.”
But Stuart said that moment was still sinking in.
“It’s going to take me a while to realise how big this is for beekeepers and for the world,” he said.
Manufacturing is expected to begin in Brisbane in a month, with plans to expand overseas already in the works.
“We’ll be setting up new factories … cranking out the parts as fast as we can,” Stuart said. “We’ll probably have one other manufacturing scene overseas somewhere. Maybe in America somewhere because the local Brisbane factory wouldn’t be able to supply the demand.”
Stuart said that commercial producers were maintaining a “wait-and-see attitude”.
“Beekeepers are somewhat conservative and set in their ways,” he said. “I can understand that, they’ve invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in machinery and gear and equipment to process beehives.
“They won’t change in a hurry, and that’s okay.”
Canadian beekeeper John Gates, who worked with the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture for 26 years, described the system as “mesmerising” – another renowned US beekeeper described it as “mind-boggling”.
Source ABC News