Urban Bee Project

Date: December 2015

Thinking about the sustainable movement in urban areas and the push for more green spaces, this project  hypothesized the standard New York City walk-up apartment building as a urban micro-ecosystem. With the encouragement for plant growth on building rooftops and ad hoc urban re-programming projects, such as Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Highline, urban ecologists need to think about the entire ecosystem and the process of plant pollination and growth. The project hopes to reintegrate bee populations into the reclaimed vertical urban landscape to pollinate and to promote plant growth and dispersion. The project also is intended to re-educate people on bees and their habits because of the poor reputation bees have developed as being aggressive and deadly insects. Participants will will learn to live and coexist in the same ecosystem as bees and will encourage the necessary commensalistic symbiotic relationship bees share with humans for pollinating our plants and food crops.

The project is a pod based hive structure which assembles and breaks apart to encourage the spread of bee populations and their growth. The idea is to create a mother hive composed of multiple pod structures. Once the main beehive has grown to a mature size and has develop new queens, the pods are disassembled and relocated to new areas. After being relocated, the new hives are allowed to grow and develop on their own with empty pod cases. Then, after some time, the pods are reintegrated into the main hive. Alien bee populations are also slowly introduced through independent pod hives to promote genetic diversity and the eradication of any aggressive bee populations.

Hacking the concept of a window air conditioning unit, the hive pods will be placed in windows with a dividing armature to hold the pod in the window and keep bees outside. On the inside, one of the pod walls will be a clear pane that will allow the hive to function as an observation hive for the education of the participating apartment unit that is hosting the hive.

A secondary part of the project is to utilize the bees and beeswax as a form of additive manufacturing. A “natural 3D printer”, bees make complex wax honeycomb structures, a patterned structure which architects and designers have drawn inspiration from and have computationally tried to replicate. The idea is to 3D print pre-programmed forms which the bees will build up from and redefine to their needs and specifications. The wax structures will then be cast in bronze, porcelain, or potentially stay untouched as wax and turned into design objects. The process will become a mutualistic symbiotic relationship which both the bees and designers will benefit from.