2012 Animal Architecture Award Honorable Mention
BeehiveHighrise: the urbanization of a beekeeper’s hive.
With the urbanization and rise in density, people are often concerned with green space. We seek to increase green space while maintaining high densities through the use of pocket parks and rooftop gardens. However, simply planting these gardens is not enough. We must put in place an ecosystem that will sustain the garden over time. An essential part of this ecosystem is the honeybee. Honeybees pollinate fruits and vegetables, and many other crops that are then eaten by humans. In fact, it’s been estimated that “every third bite we consume in our diet is dependent on a honeybee to pollinate that food” (International Herald Tribune). Without bees, these plants would produce far less, leaving our food chain in shambles.
Urban gardens would benefit greatly from honeybees in the neighborhood, but the bees could feel the benefit as well. The population of the bees has been steadily decreasing for the last 50 years, both in beekeeper’s hives and the wild. A phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder has left scientists and beekeepers baffled with colonies full of dead bees, riddled with so many diseases that the pinpointing the issue becomes impossible. Scientists are unsure of the repercussions if bees were to go extinct, but the general consensus is very negative. As mentioned before, without bees, one third of our food supply would potentially disappear. Making beekeeping a feasible part of the urban life, would help boost the bee population.
The traditional beehive consists of trays enclosed in a box. The beekeeper accesses the bees by lifting the lid and pulling out a tray. Instead, the BeehiveHighrise utilizes a redesigned system which enables access from the sides, with each tray fitting snugly and keeping the box enclosed. This allows the hives to be lined up in rows as well as stacked, forming a wall of hives that could be shared among several beekeepers. One of these walls could hold as many as 90 hives, each of which could pollinate around 240 million flowers daily!
Initially, many bee-fearing people will likely be unenthused at the idea of more bees buzzing around the city. However, most people’s fear of bees is completely irrational; bees rarely sting unprompted. The expulsion of this irrational fear could be an addition benefit of the BeehiveHighrise, which would present opportunities for classes about bees for kids and adults alike, as well as more bee/human interaction in general.