Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A Beehive Design Revolution

Bees are fundamental to modern agriculture and horticulture.  Without them, few flowers would be pollinated and so ..........no fruit is produced........think vegetables, zucchini, melons, pumpkins, nut crops and fruits.

Beekeeping can mean getting stung, yet the system is critical for food production.

This story is truly amazing.........talk about thinking out of the box!

Originally on the ABC web site it is worth reproducing and then reading by anyone connected with food.

It could be a major game changer for apiculture.


A highly successful crowdfunding campaign has seen Byron Bay inventor Cedar Anderson become a millionaire business owner overnight.

Stuart and Cedar Anderson invented the Flow Hive. Photo: ABC
What if you spend years quietly tinkering in a shed on your invention, to find you have to take the reins of a multi-million dollar company overnight?

That is the reality for Byron Bay inventor Cedar Anderson, after his beehive invention went gangbusters on a crowdfunding site.

“The idea of having a 9:00am to 5:00pm office job was just frightening. To me, freedom is being able to do what I’m inspired to do. It’s being able to work on inventions, whenever I have an idea,” Cedar says.

But nowadays, he dreams of only a nine-to-five existence as his new venture sees him working all hours, seven days a week.

But do not feel too sorry for him. He brought the whole thing on himself.

As a child of parents who founded a community in the hills near Nimbin, Cedar had a wild and free childhood in nature, nurturing his natural curiosity.

“We’d go and pull apart an old car and pull out the dashboard and get all the light globes out and the horn and take it back and connect it to car batteries and make the lights go and try and make an instrument out of a lot of car horns,” he said.

“I guess rather than sitting down watching the TV, we were figuring out how things work.”

Figuring out how things work became an obsession, helped by his dad Stuart, the Mr Fix-It guy of the community.
Cedar Anderson had a brainwave after his brother got stung. Photo: Mirabai Nicholson-McKellar/ABC

While tinkering ran in the family, so did beekeeping.

Cedar is a third-generation beekeeper and, as a kid, recalls pulling apart the family’s bee hives, wearing makeshift bee suits and rubber gloves gaffer-taped at the wrist.

He also remembers his brother Chris getting badly stung. A small light bulb went off in his young head. “There must be a better way,” Cedar said.

“Ten years ago Cedar had this idea, ‘come on, we must be able to get honey from a beehive without opening it, extracting and stressing the bees’,” Stuart recalled.

Tinkering in his bush shed and living off the smell of a honey-stained rag, Cedar began developing prototypes of what would eventually become the Flow Hive.

In the past few years, Stuart came onboard and solved a few major design problems.

It was a beautiful, sunny day when they walked down to the hives to see if the prototype would work.

 They turned the handle and honey started to flow.

“We couldnt believe it. We just sat back in disbelief laughing. We had invented the beekeeper’s dream.”

But how to get it to market? They may have been children of the rainforest, but they were also children of the digital revolution.

Cedar wanted to bypass the venture capital phase and take the Flow Hive directly to consumers via a crowdfunding campaign.

The genius of this idea was that people could place an advance order for the hive so Cedar and his team would know how many to manufacture and have the dollars in hand to make them.

Cedar’s sister Mirabai slaved away on a video:

She hoped to pique interest. From the moment the video appeared, things moved quickly.

“That video went viral overnight and had a couple of million views, and that really kicked us into high gear. The media interest was massive,” colleague Yari McGauley explained.

The astounding success of the crowdfunding campaign garnered even more attention.

Hoping to raise $US70,000 ($96,952) to buy a new tool for the factory, they flew past that target in a few minutes, reaching more than $US2 million in just one day.

At the close of the campaign eight weeks later, they had $US12.2 million in advance orders.

After the champagne wore off, they had a major headache — of the logistical kind.

They had to manufacture 24,000 orders and export them to more than 130 countries.

Cedar’s life changed dramatically. Never a consumer, he suddenly had to spend up big on the infrastructure to keep things running.

“All of a sudden they’re telling me I have to have an office and I dont want an office, that’s my worst nightmare, but okay, we need an office, and now they want me to go to the office,” Cedar laughed.

It’s a steep learning curve of how to manage a team of employees and negotiate a complex business — not to mention how to be a dad.

Cedar Anderson with partner Kylie Ezart, their son Jhali and father Stuart. Photo: Mirabai Nicholson-McKellar/ABC

To add to the general chaos, his partner Kylie Ezart gave birth to their son Jhali in the middle of the campaign.

Although Cedar admits to feeling stress for the first time in his life, his brother Gabe has been surprised by his demeanour.

“He’s just taking it in his stride and he’s quite calm and collected about it. He just works through what he needs to work through, it doesn’t seem to faze him at all.”

No one thinks their sudden wealth will change Cedar or Stuart.

Both of them are still driving their old utes around, running them on vegetable oil to save money and the environment.

“Yeah, I have changed,” Cedar laughs. “With a bit of coaching, I went and purchased my first new pair of shoes in 20 years. It was a bit of a dropping of the guard.”



available only until 9 November

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