Bees already pollinate the great majority of our fruits and veggies – but could they build our buildings as well? Former Gizmodo Editor-in-Chief Geoff Manaugh, and designer John Becker came up a plan to use bees to 3D print architectural structures using geometric formwork. In the plan bees serve as 3D printer printheads, and their honey-making glands would produce concrete instead of honey.

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The purpose of the idea is to create a new way of making detailed concrete structures by combining architecture with biology. According to Manaugh, the goal is to produce entire architectural elements, but until that is possible, bees would be used to build and repair smaller architectural details. The bees would be placed into moulds or formwork, similar to the technique employed by designer Tomas Libertiny, who created vase-shaped hives colonized by bees — a process that the artist calls “slow prototyping.”

Related: 5,000 Honeybees to be Equipped with Sensors to Study Colony Collapse

Although the ideas of bees producing concrete instead of honey sounds a bit out there, there are actual projects that prove that the combination of bioengineering and architecture can work wonders. These include MIT’s pavilion woven by silkworms and a new U.S. military project which envisions goats making weapon-grade spider silk.

+ Geoff Manaugh

+ John Becker

Via Dezeen

Images by John Becker