Honey on tap seemed like a good idea, but it could be flawed. Here's why.

Bees (and WE) have a problem. But is Flow Hive really the way to help?

There's a bee problem.

And that's a problem because we humans heavily rely on bees for the food we eat.


Many people have good intentions to help — including the inventors of the Flow Hive, who raised over $10 million on Indiegogo to bring the invention into reality.

Their premise is that making beekeeping easier for average consumers will attract more people to the hobby, thereby increasing bee populations and getting more people up to speed on why bees are important.

But some bee experts argue that it's the wrong kind of help and could do more harm than good.

Maryam Henein, the filmmaker and advocate behind "Vanishing of the Bees," lays out three big problems she sees with the Flow Hive.

by Maryam Henein

1. Plastic Honeycombs: Bees create wax from their own abdomens. They have no use for the plastic.

"But instead of working with the wax comb they've created, the Flow Hive forces bees to deal with hormone-disrupting plastics that off-gas.

“Honey bees are able to recognize the smallest differences in wax composition but not polypropylene," adds Jonathan Powell, of The Natural Beekeeping Trust.

2. Nonexistent communion between bees and beings:

"If you just want honey, make friends with a beekeeper."

The Flow Hive is touted as a "beekeeper's dream." But in my opinion, it's a wannabe's fantasy. The point of beekeeping is to commune with the bees, not to further remove oneself from them. There's nothing like slowing down, with reverence and care, to peek into a hive and observe the virgin sisters of toil. Bees work themselves to death, so why should we have such easy access to their food?

"I always tell beginners in my workshops, there is only one real reason to keep bees, and that is because they are fascinating. If you just want honey, make friends with a beekeeper," says a beekeeper in Australia who goes by Adrian the Bee Man.

3. "Expensive gimmick":

For $600, you get a full automatic bee farm. But many beekeepers I've spoken to believe that it's overpriced and unsustainable. Flow Hive actually costs more than a standard Langstroth hive.

Flow Hive has been described as a possible "key in keeping the world's bee population from further decline." Really? How so? This just makes honey collection simpler and easier. How does it help bees survive the issues they are currently grappling with? Like systemic pesticides and loss of habitat?

To quote Ricciardi once more, Flow Hive invites "lazy, hungry honey-eaters who are also terrified of being stung. It will create a generation of oblivious people who don't know the delicate mechanics of the beautiful hive."

Please note that no one is saying that these people are bad. But as they say, the road to hell was paved with good intentions, and "good inventions" too.

A big thanks to Maryam Henein, both for the above insight and for her permission to share it.

What is a true bee lover and helper to do?

Why not spend a day in a workshop at your local beekeeping co-op? They are all over and a quick Google search can help find your nearest hives. You could take your kids, go on an unforgettable date, or just entertain some friends.

Support local bee lovers by purchasing local honey for yourself and for gift-giving.

And commit to learning about the reasons why our honeybee population is so threatened right now.

It's not too late to start caring about our bees!

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

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Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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