Image credit: The Architecture Foundation/Midtown Buzz
From Omlet's trendy Beehaus urban hive, to more traditional alternatives like top-bar and Warré hives, every now and then we see alternatives to the conventional beehives used by most professionals and hobbyists.
Now a new competition is aiming to reignite the search for alternative hive designs, and it is calling in architects to help solve the puzzle. Created as part of a "Midtown Buzz" initiative to encourage beekeeping and habitat creation in central London, the Architecture Foundation is holding a competition called inmidtown Habitats to encourage fresh thinking and new ideas in the design of bat boxes, beehives, planters and bird boxes:
The competition is inspired by and is envisaged to complement inmidtown's existing initiative, "Midtown Buzz", which provides free beehives and bee-keeping training to its members who wish to produce their own honey on site. The project has now completed its first year, with the first honey harvest collected this September.
During this first phase, it has become clear to the members of the scheme that although beehives exist whose designs have stood the test of time for bees and beekeepers alike, these hives are not in fact ideal when relocated from the traditional rural context into urban areas. As a natural continuation of the "Midtown Buzz" scheme, and in order to ensure its success and expansion, the Client has commissioned The Architecture Foundation to run this competition for a truly urban beehive.
I should note that while they have their detractors, many bee experts, like leading entomologist May Berenbaum, consider conventional hives with their pre-drawn comb and regulated "bee space" to have been a hugely an important innovation for healthy bees. So there is likely to be some scorn at the idea of the design community trying to reinvent a wheel that many say ain't broken.
Nevertheless, this should be an interesting exercise. And it's good to see all entrants being encouraged to attend a "meet the clients" workshop and bee walk to ensure they understand the task set out before them.
Watch this (bee) space.