Bees are dying, but creatives aren’t letting them go without a fight. While scientists have blamed pesticides and cell phones for declining bee populations, habitat loss is another element of the complex issue. As more land is developed for human use, bees have less room to construct hives. Designers, tea companies, and architecture students are among those who have imagined visionary bee homes allowing bees and humans to co-exist harmoniously. Check out seven of our favorite hopeful bee hotels from around the world.
For the 2012 Muttersholtz Archi Festival, AtelierD designed the K-abeilles Hotel for Bees. Shaped like a huge honeycomb, the wood pavilion was comprised of hexagonal components, some open and some packed with natural materials where bees could nest. Humans could sit inside the pavilion on hexagonal seats, close enough to marvel at and appreciate the bustling bees.
UK tea company Taylors of Harrogate, whose blends depend on fruits pollinated by bees, decided to raise awareness about bee population decline with an adorable luxury bee hotel. They teamed up with Kew Gardens to create the Grand Beedapest Hotel, evocative of the magnificent hotel in Wes Anderson’s most recent film. Details like a peppermint leaf swimming pool and lemongrass ginger bar added to the quirky charm of the bee hotel.
PopTarts Works designers utilize laser cut, recycled cardboard to make Beehive Hotel for an entire bee colony
The designers of PopTarts Works decided to create their Beehive Hotel to help out the bees of Toronto. Using recycled corrugated cardboard, they made a five-foot-high habitat that resembles wild hives. They installed the hotel and bees speedily began to nest inside. The Beehive Hotel has enough room for a whole mason bee colony, whose members can pollinate as much as 2,000 flowers every day.
While a student at Kingston University, Tom Back of Thumb Designs created his Thrive Hive out of straw and wood. The hive design was meant to more closely match natural habitats of bees than box homes do, and woven straw insulation ensured the bees inside would flourish even in severe weather. His concept is one that has potential for urban areas as it could be used on a balcony or in a small backyard. Back showed his design at the London Design Festival.
University at Buffalo architecture students get in on the bee-saving action with steel cylindrical Elevator B bee skyscraper
When a bee colony was found dwelling in an old grain mill, University at Buffalo architecture students decided to design them a better home. Courtney Creenan, Scott Selin, Lisa Stern, Daniel Nead, and Kyle Mastalinski created Elevator B, a towering 22-foot-tall bee apartment made with steel, cypress, and glass. The bee skyscraper mimics the silos where the bee colony once lived, and is equipped with insulation to offer the bees space to reside in the city even during cold winters.
UK auction house Phillips de Pury & Company asked creatives from around the world to transform waste packaging and catalogs into habitats for bees, bats, or birds. Tomoko Azumi of tna design studio responded by upcycling the papers into a modern, colorful Bee Hive. 13 other architects, designers, and artists also utilized Phillips de Pury & Company waste materials to create funky homes for pollinators, and the auction house sold the creative designs to raise money for Adventure Ecology, founded by David de Rothschild.
MIT Media Lab creates controlled Synthetic Apiary to keep bees safe from pesticides, drought, climate change
Even MIT is trying to make a difference for bees. The MIT Media Lab and Mediated Matter created the indoor Synthetic Apiary, where researchers can control conditions to keep bees safe year-round from pesticides, drought, and climate change. While they’re still testing the design, they did record the first ever birth of a bee in an artificial environment.