The initial subject of my masterthesis was »rethink wood«. In this context, I wanted to explore the specific features and qualities of wood and unite them in a single product. What makes wood unique lies in the variety of application possibilities and the according specific characteristics.
My research has shown that wood can expound many of its strengths best when being used in immediate contact with living beings. During the concept development the idea of creating a beehive made from wood has emerged as a useful innovation, because of the diffusion-open quality, which regulates the climate optimally.
The research about bees has shown that the focus in today’s hives is not laid onto the welfare of bees, but on the practicability of application or on a maximum of honey production.
Further the research with beekeepers has proven that the activity is very exhausting and needs a lot of space. Therefore the aim of developing a hive optimized for the health of bees and humans and suitable for urban use, was born.
The brood chamber is arranged in an ergonomic height for beekeepers and can be adjusted in size steplessly. Through the rearrangement of standardized frames (Zander 420x220mm, also other sizes possible), the climate is drastically improved for the bees according to the principle of a tree cave.
In common beehives a lot of heat gets lost through the roof during winter. This problem is solved with the new arrangement. If you compare the footprint of the b.suite with a common hive (Zander hive), the footprint area is reduced by about 74% while still using the same amount of frames (10 frames).
The idea behind is, that the bees don’t have to heat that much during winter, because the heat spreads in a better way similar to a tree cave. If the bees don't need to heat that much, they consume less honey and also produce less condensation water. Therefore the burden on the bees over the winter should be reduced.
The working principle
With this arrangement, there are new possibilities in regard to handling the frames.
The first big advantage is that you can see all the frames at once, without having to remove the frames above (as usually in hives). Therefore you don't have to lift heavy frames, if you want to observe the brood. Furthermore you can adjust the volume for the bees with two cover frames, specifically to their needs. Therefore bees are not faced with a change of plus / minus 10 frames at a time.
In order to avoid an unintentional connection of the frames, there is a barrier with gaps in between. The gaps ensure that the bees have enough space to get through and that they are save while removing the frames. The distance is always the so-called bee space.
To keep the heat of the bees inside, there is sheep wool cushion at the top (Warré pillow). This allows condensation to escape.
b.suite is an ergonomic, nature-inspired and biological hive, that enables species-appropriate beekeeping in urban areas.
At the same time, b.suite offers beekeepers a very ergonomic and simple use. A grid door keeps the bees inside and you can look over the bees easily.
b.suite is designed as a stand-alone product. Because of the small footprint it meets the requirements of lack of space in urban areas. The storage inside saves additional space. The base has a special function, as it can be filled with sand to stabilize the beehive and can be emptied to transport it easily.
The hive only uses natural materials that are reusable and therefore should not make unnecessary garbage. The main part is spruce or larch wood. Fittings and hinges are made of stainless steel. The roof, base and other injection-molded parts are made of liquid wood, which is more endurable against environmental influences.
The design is based on a rectangle with rounded edges, to clearly identify one unit as one colony, even when they stand next to each other. Finally, I built a hive as a design model to get a better understanding of my concept.
b.suite is a concept and is not available for purchase yet.
b.suite can be used as a shared beehive in urban areas freely accessible at places such as parks, roof terraces or in gardens. The hives can belong to sponsors such as cities, hotels or student residences. Beekeepers can access the beehives with the b.link app to monitor their hives, collaborate and exchange with other users and get helpful hints to make their work easier. Pollination of crops, environmental conservation or honey returns are motivations to participate. This way, both owners and users of the beehive benefit from the shared system.
I am currently working on the next generation of my hive, which is easier to produce and works with the same principle as the first one. This beehive will be inhabited with bees to test the effects of the design on them. The next step is to produce the beehive for interested beekeepers. A long term goal is also to transfer the functionality for other standard frame sizes, in order to address a larger group of beekeepers.