The design world’s abuzz with projects inspired by bees, including a bee hospital, an urban home for bees and furniture made with bee resin.
1 Bee Hospital
The worldwide decline in the bee population prompted New York designer Shau Heng Li to develop a futuristic concept to help bees survive our increasingly unfavourable environment. His “hospital” includes a variety of modules, including supplement centres (shown), where bees can collect probiotics and essential nutrients that enable them to digest pesticides. Mite guard dispensers attach to trees, drawing the bees in with syrup and dusting them with a chemical solution that kills Varroa mites, a parasite known to attack honeybees. The third proposed module type collects data to monitor the health of not only the bee population, but the environment as a whole.
3 Urban Beehive Project
This past June, phase two of Nine Yards Studio’s Urban Beehive Project was unveiled at the PEI Farm Centre in Charlottetown. The initial phase saw a pair of sculptural hives installed on the site, providing both a secure home for bees and opportunities for adults and children to peek at the inner workings of the colony through Plexiglas windows. Plan Bee, as part two is dubbed, adds a honeycomb-themed amphitheatre (above) to the garden. The multi-tiered stage is composed of three-foot-wide wooden hexagons and serves as a play structure when it’s not hosting educational events that see beekeepers enlighten schoolchildren and the public on the significance – and struggles – of pollinators.
3 Marlène Huissoud
Since finishing her M.A. in Material Futures at Central Saint Martins’ School of Art and Design in London four years ago, Marlène Huissoud has gained notice for her unusual material choices, often borrowed from the insect world. Inspired by her apiarist father, Huissoud frequently incorporates bee resin – as a binding agent and finish – into her decorative furniture and objects. A hive sealant made from beeswax and botanicals, the resin (also called propolis) is found in a range of colours; Huissoud prefers a jet-black variant that derives from rubber trees. Examples of these works are currently on show as part of Raw Design, at the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design until October 28.