The apiarian world is abuzz about the pros and cons of use of plastic as a comb material in beehives.
Two Australian hobbyist beekeepers invented a beehive in which a polypropylene comb can be switched from a honey-collecting position to a honey-draining channel, allowing honey to be collected at the side of the hives in bottles. It cuts out an enormously difficult step in which bees are sedated, protective suits are donned, hives are taken apart, and honey is scraped off the combs while bees try to climb up the suits and sting the beekeepers.
Cedar and Stuart Anderson raised more than $12 million to build the hives on a crowd-funding site called Indiegogo after setting a goal of just $70,000.
Most of the orders came from the United States and one of the two manufacturing sites for the Andersons’ Flow Hive invention will be in the U.S. A hive with six frames costs $600.
The clear viewing ends of the frames are made from a virgin food-grade copolyester. The center frame parts are made from a virgin food-grade polypropylene.
Some enthusiasts don’t like the new-fangled contraption, claiming that bees don’t really like plastic. Some say that the comb is made of “hormone-disrupting plastics that off-gas”.
That’s so untrue that it renders all of their other arguments questionable. Yes polycarbonate contains BPA. Yes polyurethane can let off gas soon after manufacture. Is it fair to see that all—or even more than 5 percent of all—plastics are hormone disrupting or off-gassing? Of course not. It’s like saying that 5 percent of all Americans are thieves so therefore all Americans are thieves.
The Andersons (and their unnamed manufacturing partners) have chosen food-grade versions of plastics that are safe.