Bob The Bee Man Announces His New Honey Gathering System
As you all know, Bob “The Bee Man” Luttrell who is one of our favourite presenters, has been very busy designing and patenting a completely new and revolutionary way of gathering the honey produced by Australian Native Bees. And now he has it both patented and in production.
So, here is what he has to say about this new and bee-friendly way of going about collecting the honey they make.
This has been quite a journey, starting back in 2013 with the early testing of a number of frame concepts with my stingless bees. The objectives were to reduce the high losses of actual bees inherent in the current systems, and the high level of contamination of a very special honey product which needed to have a hygienic means of collection. The results from this screening led to the start of the process to apply for patent protection for the resultant unique idea for stingless bees and finally to the eventual assessment of, and granting of a patent, Australian Patent No 2015261700 on 15/6/2017.
With that finalised, the process to take production beyond the very limited levels possible with 3D printing became possible. A design to produce the frames using injection moulding was achieved with the assistance of the draftsmen at Dienamics. I have become used to heart-searching, hiccups and delays, but now have the first Bob the BeeMan honey frames to be produced from the injection moulding dies or tools, using the FDA approved polypropylene resin. They look very nice indeed, a huge improvement on those from the 3D printers. The most important thing from my point of view is that quality and quantity production is now assured. It will only take an email to confirm another batch to be produced.
I will immediately get as many colonies as I can fitted with these frames, to further test the concept and provide demonstration material. I will be able to extend the microbiology testing that I have been doing as well. I intend to extend my testing of the concepts to the bees of Brazil and Malaysia. The 3D printers will not be rested, they will need to produce further prototypes.
Sales are now possible with the first production batch scheduled for September with the initial price the same as I have been selling my current frames, $20 per frame. This is for a very much stronger better presented frame, in FDA approved food grade polypropylene, and produced in a Brisbane injection moulding system. This is one thing I insisted upon, so that I could better monitor quality control, under the strong quality controls within Australia.
A stainless steel centrifugal extractor, powered by cordless drill at this stage, and capable of fitting 4 of these frames, has been designed by myself, and the maker, Euroflo of Brendale, Brisbane. The process takes honey direct from frame to bottle. Cleanup of the extractor is in a dishwasher as the extractor is small and disassembles. A strainer is inbuilt to keep bees and any loose fragments out of honey.
Now some explanation with the assistance of the accompanying photographs.
Photo 1 shows The Bob the Beeman stingless bee frame, which is 14cm square, and requires a space in a honey super of 15cm square. Note that the frame provides just the guides and support for the naturally build honey pots. The bees are required to use their own cerumen for the walls of the honey pots, this is important for both the character, and preservation characteristics of the honey. A complete plastic honey pot does not achieve this with our bees in Australia. Frustratingly, Brazilian bees are more co-operative in this area.
Photo 2. The frames are designed to stack to the level required. Each level of my AusINPA box fit 3 of these frames, each frame is 22mm high, other combinations are possible as we will see.
Photo 3 give a side view of the stacking arrangement, and the bee spaces provided top and bottom, and between frames. Also obvious are the studs set on the base on each frame, designed to copy the natural tendency of T carbonaria to attach the top of their honey pot to a close surface above. It has come close to opening the lower frames in nested sets. Less so in T hockingsi which do not exhibit this behaviour to the same extent.
Photo 4 shows the stacked set of 3 Bob the Beeman frames in an AusINPA MK 2 box honey super. The space around the outside of the frames is 5mm. The bee space, a new concept to us, though ancient concept for the main stingless bees if one looks at their nests, is about 4 to 5 mm. Giving clearances of this distance, minimises the obstructing resin used by the bees, just as allowance for the same concept does for honey bees. The frames are supported on the fixed separator of this level.
Photo 5 shows 2 Bob the Beeman honey frames in a Generic 20x28cm honey super, made to be compatible with the major suppliers of these boxes. Any box size and shape including round can be accommodated using this technique.
Photo 6 shows the layout design of the empty Generic 20×28 honey super with access points and made for 2 frames.
Photo 7 is an Underside view of the frame, showing the logo and AP No embossed in production.
Photo 8, is just a quick view of the MK 2 extractor. The MK 1 version is in Brazil, where there is a parallel project underway to evaluate the frames with some species of their bees that also have small honey pots. The smaller pots of some of their popular bees, prevent the efficient use of suction, their preferred hygienic method of honey collection from stingless bees. They have already found problems associated with methods other than suction.