Ann and Jeff Ross – Hive Haven

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Ann and Jeff Ross are the founders of Hive Haven – a company which offers both honeybee and native bee boxes to suit backyard hobbyists, pollinators and professional apiarists. Their plan is to start to commercially manufacture an affordable product that is aesthetically pleasing and environmentally sensitive, while respecting the natural behaviour of bees. As a company, they hope to become a leader in environmental sustainability in this industry, retailing on-line and supplying hive assemblies to the local and international markets.

Bees face an uncertain future; they are at a tipping point. And yet they are so critical to human survival. Bees are critical to life on this planet as we know it and are unique, industrious creatures. They are tough, resilient and play a vital pollination role, not only in nature but also to our agricultural crops

The heat waves of 2013/14 in South-east Queensland devastated both honeybee and Stingless native bee colonies across the region. They were housed in traditional hoop pine boxes that just weren’t capable of protecting the colonies from that level of heat. Over the next two years HiveHaven has worked feverishly to develop solutions to this and other apiary problems such as temperature control, small hive beetle and spore based disease.

Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?

In 2011 we discovered a colony of honeybees that had made a home in the wall of our mechanical workshop in Beerburrum. Many people might have followed the advice of friends and called in the exterminators but, having come from a family of apiarists, I coaxed the bees into a box and before long bees and honey had become our passion and we were entrenched in the rapidly growing hobby of beekeeping.

My newfound interest in bees and love of the bush meant it wasn’t long before I discovered Australia’s native stingless bees making nests in the wild. These would be the honey producers of the future. They are sustainable and offer honeybee producers the opportunity to diversify. Before long we had grown our colony of native bees to eight hives.

The heat waves of 2014 in South-east Queensland devastated both honeybee and stingless native bee colonies housed in traditional hoop pine boxes. In response to this, over the next two years we developed solutions to everyday apiary problems such as temperature control, small hive beetle and spore based disease, which has resulted in the design and manufacture of a complete hive assembly – the Hive Haven Honey Bee Assembly.

We have now integrated our environmentally friendly bee boxes into our plant and equipment to address best farming practice in the Apiarist industry. Our very own honeybee and Stingless native bees have been housed in HiveHaven boxes since late 2013, with remarkable results, and the prototypes are currently being trialled by members of the Queensland Professional Bee Keepers Association. Our innovations are timely, as they have the potential to help to save an apiary industry that is currently in crisis and facing extinction, along with the majority of bee species themselves.

Can you please explain your business model?

  1. We sell our cold pressed pure and natural honey.
  2. We hope to raise enough $$$ from the crowd funding campaign to find a way to small scale manufacture our honeybee boxes to generate an income.
  3. We will use this income to supplement R&D to develop a Stingless native bee box that will prevent hive overheating and overall maintain a stable temperature. 

What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next year?

Two main things:

How do you make ideas happen?

I think about an idea and then I try to make the benefits of that idea benefit a broader audience. Because when you invite more stakeholders to participate in the same idea it becomes a better idea with a better outcome for everyone.

What does your typical day look like?

Emails usually. I work in our mechanical workshop and study at uni so every day is busy. I don’t have any trouble filling in a day. The other night I actually had a dream about watching a movie!

What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?

I don’t know any difference really. We have been self-employed (mechanical, for 25 years) and there’s always plenty of paperwork. 

What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?

It is not an idea it is tangible thing… but I would like to give away bees and bee boxes… but I can’t afford it.

What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?

I can only think of USC and CSIRO who are researching bees!

What about internationally?

In the States they are really starting to rally to save their bees.

What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?

Though corporate social responsibility – there is an obligation to contribute to their community when it is needed for the better good. The need for business to support social change is a big conversation.

Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?

Yes bees are very emotive and have to be saved! The campaign outcomes (not only monetary) will mould the future of the company…

Please support our crowdfunding campaign:

We’re aiming to build a community of Australian idea makers helping each other. If you could have one question answered about start-ups, marketing, social media, accounting, monetization, product development etc. What would it be?

Probably a statement… Most people think that start-ups are IT etc. but Hive Haven isn’t…We do incorporate RFID and GPS trackers into the boxes, this is different. 

What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?

Pasta Divine – Sue and Oskar – Simpson Street Beerwah


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