Collaborators: Dana Abrassart, Chester Dols, Jenny Lim
Past Collaborators: Kadallah Burrowes
Date: January 2017- Ongoing
BetaBrew is a biodesign project which could potentially save two threatened food systems: the domestic honey bee and the hops flower. The honey bee has been threatened by Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and the hops flower, which is used for brewing beer, is threatened by climate change. Working together, the team discovered that the answer to these two issues could be in yeast. By genetically modifying brewer’s yeast, the group has been able to make a yeast strain which can produce hops beta acids. This is good for both the bees and the hops farming industry. Beta acids function as a miticide against the Varroa Destroyer Mite, a large contributor to CCD. The insertion of beta acids into the hive keeps the bees healthy without affecting their mortality or reproductive rates. The hops flower, which is a leafy green plant, uses excessive amounts of water and resources in its increasingly small regions of growth. The yeast which produces the hops beta acids can now be used to brew beer with less hops. The beer tastes great and resources are not wasted.
Furthermore, the system continues to feed back into itself. The honey byproduct of the bees can be used to ferment and sweetened the beer, and the yeast byproduct from the brewing process can be fed to the bees as a vitamin supplement. These two practices have been used by beekeepers and beer brewers for generations.
A large part of the project was designing a hive mechanism which could be used to give proper dosages of the hops beta acids to the bees. In order to be responsible, the group wanted a mechanism which could be implemented as necessary. The new hive is a modified Langstroth Hive with a modified bee-gate system on a few of the interior foundation frames. The new frames require the bees to pass through a series of apertures in order to coat the bees’ backs with beta acids. Thus, cleaning the bees and killing the mites.
New Museum, New Inc. Design Residency Initiative 2018-2019
Winner of the Intrexon Food and Agriculture Prize at the 2017 Biodesign Challenge.
Chester hosts and takes care of the bees in Brooklyn, NY.