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BEEcosystem creators looking to create a buzz about bees

BEEcosystem creators looking t...
The BEEcosystem has been designed to be modular so that more hives can be added as the colony grows
The BEEcosystem has been designed to be modular so that more hives can be added as the colony grows
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The BEEcosystem has been designed to be modular so that more hives can be added as the colony grows
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The BEEcosystem has been designed to be modular so that more hives can be added as the colony grows
The BEEcosystem attaches to a wall using a provided wall bracket
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The BEEcosystem attaches to a wall using a provided wall bracket
The BEEcosystem has a tubing system that gives its bees outside access via a nearby window if it is installed indoors
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The BEEcosystem has a tubing system that gives its bees outside access via a nearby window if it is installed indoors
A foam entry and exit way slots below a sliding window and provides a platform for the bees to fly from and land on
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A foam entry and exit way slots below a sliding window and provides a platform for the bees to fly from and land on
A red-tinted viewing cover allows users to look at the bees at night when they need to be shielded from artificial lighting to maintain their day-night cycles
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A red-tinted viewing cover allows users to look at the bees at night when they need to be shielded from artificial lighting to maintain their day-night cycles
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Honeybees play a crucial role in pollinating crops, but colonies are in trouble. Earlier this year, the Bee Informed Partnership reported a 23.1 percent loss of US managed honeybee colonies in the 2014/15 winter season. Though that's down from the previous year, the total annual loss rose to a staggering 42.1 percent. The BEEcosystem observation hive has been designed to help combat falling bee numbers by encouraging people to take up beekeeping and get educated about bees.

Designed by urban agricultural design startup GreenTowers, the BEEcosystem is aimed at helping to make beekeeping more accessible to everyone and encouraging conversation about their importance, as well as that of other pollinators. It is a hive that can be installed either indoors or outside and has a viewing window so that people can see into the working hive.

The hive ships with honeybees already "installed" inside, simplifying what is required from the end user. Users simply need to mount the BEEcosystem on a wall using the wall bracket provided and open it up to the outdoors to let the bees begin exploring their new surroundings.

Some indoor hives need a hole to be drilled through an exterior wall in order to gives the bees outside access. The BEEcosystem has a tubing system, however, that gives its bees outside access via a nearby window. Spring-loaded hinges ensure that the hive is sealed off automatically in the event that tubing comes away, ensuring the honeybees remain inside.

The BEEcosystem has a tubing system that gives its bees outside access via a nearby window if it is installed indoors
The BEEcosystem has a tubing system that gives its bees outside access via a nearby window if it is installed indoors

The BEEcosystem has been designed to be modular so that additional hives can be added as the colony grows. Its hexagonal shape means the it can be expanded in any direction, with side vents used to block openings if they are not in use or that slide out to provide access between hive modules.

Among the other features of the BEEcosystem is a cleaning drawer that allows for the clearing of debris from the bottom of the hive while keeping the bees safely contained and a red-tinted viewing cover allows users to still look at the bees at night when they need to be shielded from artificial lighting to maintain their day-night cycles. There is also a top feeder for the hive that allows the bees to be fed during times when few flowers are in bloom.

GreenTowers says that basic beekeeping skills are needed for the BEEcosystem, but that it helps to make things more simple and that learning the skills us fun and "very doable." The BEEcosystem is also reported to be small enough for non-traditional beekeeping spaces, but large enough to produce a small raw cut-comb honey harvest of around 1 lb (0.5 kg) each year.

A foam entry and exit way slots below a sliding window and provides a platform for the bees to fly from and land on
A foam entry and exit way slots below a sliding window and provides a platform for the bees to fly from and land on

A Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign is underway for the BEEcosystem. At the time of writing, it's possible for individuals who pledge from US$450 to receive on of the hives, assuming all goes to plan with the campaign and roll-out. Shipping is expected from December this year.

Sources: BEEcosystem, Kickstarter

BEEcosystem: Reconnect with Honeybees

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8 comments
POOL PUMPREAPAIR guy longwood
Great idea, bees are cool and just slightly important.
DrPepper59
Really cool, but...once a year you need to get the honey out of the hive and supply a new starter comb. So how do you do that and keep the bees out of the house?
John Sweet
sell it as "Natures art" no two hives alike. And the urban honey will be localized for the taste of the region, be it San Francisco, Salt Lake, Denver.
Carl23
Looks cool, but I thought I had a bad morning earlier when two of my kids were fighting and managed to knock over a bookshelf. I can now imagine something much, much worse.
PedroNuno
This is cool but you can't have a bee hive near home because bees will eventually sting you. If you go near a bee hive they will protect their hive and attack you. This is a major concern when you have children. Grownups can run away but children can't do it as fast. Would be better to make many artificial hives and put them in the wild and just let the bees do their thing. Humans and bees don't get along very well. After all, we steal their honey.
frogola
i like this one better http://www.honeyflow.com/
CharlieKoenen
I'd like to think this is a great idea... surely getting bees in front of people really important, but I'm afraid this system is not the answer. Even in the best of conditions, a bee colony needs more contiguous room for their bedrooms and pantry. While the design and idea are cool, there is no where near enough space to grow a family large enough to feed the growing brood needed to store honey for the off season. The queen prefers to stay on her wax comb, confined to the brood chamber (bedrooms) where she lays hundreds of eggs a day. She is not likely to move between those hex boxes laying eggs. So it would seem she'd be restricted to one box for brood and there's clearly not enough room. Even the photographs appear to show lots of drone comb in the hex boxes... drone eggs can be made by workers. What might be a better idea is a bigger hive outside with a tube to the inside chamber in hopes the bees will make pantry comb there. Sorry, but this one needs more testing and thought before it will be any more than a biologic sink, helping to drain the bee population.
MarkAnthonyPatterson
Another fad playing on winter loss figures and the bees need saving bull crap to help sell itself. Despite 41% losses across the US last year the USDA report colony numbers are up 30% at a 20 year high. there are more colonies in the US today than pre CCD in 2006. Loss figures tell you very little except that x many bee-keepers lost x many colonies that winter....it doesn't tell you how the 60% of surviving colonies go on to reproduce and rebuilt their numbers in spring.
There is nothing different or new about this observation hive except its shape. I have a bespoke built one indoors that takes 6 brood frames and 4 super frames which cost less than the quoted amount here. Mine offers sufficient room for a colony to expand and contract and I only need remove the occasional frame of sealed brood to manage the colony size. Even if you were to add additional boxes (at $400+ each that would become very expensive) to this unit you would quickly run out of space and still have need to rotate frames of brood to manage the colony size otherwise it would take up your entire wall space.
The shape and layout of the design is also not optimal or conductive for the colonies preferred brood nest shape. It looks as though each unit comprises a brood chamber in the lower half them a queen excluded area above for honey storage - when additonal units are added this would create a patch work of super comb and brood comb which is not how a natural nest would form or shape itself. At least with a traditional hive the bees can form something of a natural nest shape (an uninterrupted rugby ball shape over several frames which conserves the hive temperature and humidity)
Another disadvantage with this design that I can see is its only 1 frame deep so in winter the bees will struggle to form a proper cluster. Even my bees indoors still cluster in winter. My wall mounted obs hive is 3 frames deep which allows them to cluster. Mine is also mounted on hinges which means I can pull it away from the wall and observe both sides of the colony not just the one facing into the room. Inspection trays, red hue glass/perspex to filter the light and reduce disruption are also not new nor neccessary. Many labs have observation hives which are constantly under lit conditions and it has no effect on the bees.
Mine has shutters which can be placed over the glass to reduce disturbance/insulate the unit.
As I say nothing new or ingenious about this