This beehive raised $5.6 million -- and that might not be a good thing

cedar anderson honey
Cedar Anderson and his dad Stuart, founders of Flow Hive.

Beekeeping has exploded in popularity as the farm-to-table movement has swept the country, with people looking to not only grow their food but also make their own honey.

Problem is, harvesting a hive takes some serious know-how, heavy equipment and maybe a few bee stings.

A new product could eliminate that last factor. But some aren't sure whether that's really a step in the right direction.

Flow Hive, created by a father and son team from Australia, makes harvesting your own honey as easy as turning a faucet. It's raised $5.6 million on Indiegogo so far, making it the most successful campaign in the site's history, and there's still a month left to go.

The Flow Hive is built so as not to disturb the hive -- there's no need to wear protective gear, smoke the bees to sleep or take apart the hive to harvest the honey. It's all done by flipping a switch, which activates a mechanism inside the hive, and fresh honey pours out of the tap.

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Cedar Anderson and his dad Stuart worked on the concept for the last decade. The family has been keeping bees for generations, and Cedar started his first hive when he was just six years old.

The Andersons say their method is good for the bees because it doesn't disturb them, and it's great for beginners.

"Of course, they still need to know what they're doing, but Flow Hive takes almost all of the work out of harvesting, which people wanting to get into beekeeping have rightly seen as a major obstacle in getting started," Cedar Anderson said.

But this separates the beekeeper from the bees, which is concerning to Andrew Cote, founder of the New York City Beekeepers Association. Beekeeping has also been in his family for generations, and he uses a traditional method that he says dates back 150 years.

"One does need to do hive inspections, check for disease, check for virility of the queen, and make sure that things are going well in the hive," he said.

While it's possible to see into the Flow Hive, it doesn't help if you don't know what to look for. If a disease in a hive goes undetected, for example, it doesn't impact just that colony -- it can affect hives within about a three-mile radius. In a dense city environment, that could mean many more infected hives.

"With any beehive, beekeepers need to check out how their hive is going and ensure their bees are happy and healthy," Cedar Anderson said. "There may still be a need to open up the box."

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Anderson recommends that people link up with local beekeeping groups to learn how to properly care for their bees.

Cote said membership in his beekeeping group has grown exponentially over the years, and he advises people to spend a good year learning, taking a course or joining an apprenticeship program before embarking on hive ownership.

beekeeping nyc
Members of the New York City Beekeepers Association work with bees on a rooftop.

So far, more than 12,000 people from 120 countries have supported Flow Hive's campaign -- and more than 900 have paid $600 for the hive (which is expected to ship at the end of the year).

"I'm concerned it could be like the Christmas puppy that people get and they lose interest in it," Cote said. "It's much easier to put a box of bees on the roof and forget about it." Still, he agrees that the more people who care about bees, the better.

"I'm not anti-beekeeping," Cote said. "At the same time, I don't think everybody needs to have a beehive."

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