Beehive Innovation Story Explains Why Small Businesses Should Turn to Crowdfunding

Date posted: September 4, 2017

flow hive

By Kenny Lim, Vice President, Customer Success, Ingram Micro Commerce and Fulfillment

They say necessity is the mother of invention…but these days, the sheer volume of unusual and wildly successful products seem to contradict this notion. While Stuart and Cedar Anderson didn’t exactly need a new way to harvest honey, they realized the process was difficult and time-consuming and a danger to the bees. The desire for something better led the father/son pair to invent the Flow Hive as a safer, more sustainable alternative to today’s current beekeeping process.

Beekeeping requires beekeepers to remove wooden frames from the hives in order to extract honey. The process of removing and then reinserting frames back into hives is highly disruptive and can harm bees.Cedar was began to wonder if there was a better way to not disrupt the bees, so he conceived of a way to improve it.

Traditional Beekeeping Methods Are Burdensome, Dangerous

Even with heavy beekeeping suits, the Andersons were stung frequently during honey harvesting. For years — nearly a decade — Stuart and Cedar brought ideas to life in their garage, looking for an alternative and modern hive concept. They talked about different designs and used their own engineering intuition to tinker with prototypes.

Their eureka moment happened one afternoon when Stuart came to Cedar and motioned with his hands the mechanism he believed would finally allow them to bring their vision to life. In that instant, they understood splitting the cells of honey vertically would take them from prototype to working hive.

After building a few trial hives and asking friendly beekeepers to test them, Stuart and Cedar applied for patents and began production of what would become “Flow Hive.”

Flow Hives Turn Garage Tinkering Into More Efficient Beekeeping

The Andersons’ patented design meant no more constant opening and closing of hives during harvesting and no more filtering honey then replacing the frames — procedures that often harmed bees.

The Andersons built beehives that replace traditional wooden frames with plastic ones. Rather than having to sedate the bees with smoke and wear heavy protective gear, the Flow Hive allow keepers to drain honey through a tube, directly from the hive.

To continue their journey toward transforming the beekeeping industry, the duo had to raise money to fund their vision.

Innovative Design Leads to Record-Breaking Campaign

Thus began their Indiegogo fundraising campaign. The campaign’s results were astonishing. Within minutes, the Flow Hive campaign met its $70,000 funding goal. By campaign’s end, the two had raised more than $12 million and set a record as Australia’s most successful Indiegogo initiative.

Initially, the company began with a two fulfillment center model in the central U.S. and Australia before expanding into multiple U.S. locations, Netherlands and Canada to manage growth before setting sights on future expansion.

Success Breeds Success … and Scale

Following the fulfillment of their initial Indiegogo crowdfunding orders, the next step for the Andersons was to find a way to manage the logistics of international order fulfillment. Following their crowdsourcing success, they needed help from a logistics company and wanted a provider capable of scaling with their business and understanding the nuances of international shipping and supply chain management.

For the Andersons, the journey has just begun. Their company (officially “Bee Inventive,” of which “Flow Hive” is a product) continues to uncover innovations within the age-old tradition of beekeeping and is constantly improving its products, all while focusing on the environmental impact on the bees. Their continual growth will is definitely a story worth keeping an eye on.

Kenny Lim is the vice president of Customer Success at Ingram Micro Commerce and Fulfillment.

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