The Buzzbench is a sculptural bench doubling as a stay for wild bees and other insects. Because wild solitary bees do not have to protect a honey-filled nest, they will not sting. Visitors can peacefully observe the insects up close. Bees and insects can lay their eggs in the hollow reed and bamboo tubes between the support structure. Just like in nesting chambers, they also store food there for the future larvae. The biomorphic shape is derived from flower petals and it enhances the humming sounds.
Bees form a superfamily with a huge variety of species. This family does not only include the many species of wild bees, but also wasps and bumblebees. The honeybees, the wild bees and several bumblebee species are under pressure. Parasites, pesticides and other yet unknown causes have resulted in drastically declining numbers since the beginning of this century. Since bees play an important role in the pollination of plants, this decline in the bee population poses a threat to our food production. A group of designers have therefore started the Bee Collective project, with the aim of promoting beekeeping in the urban environment. Not only through physical projects, but also by raising awareness among the population and organizing workshops to train beekeepers. The collective placed the Sky Hive in the Sphinxpark in Maastricht. Bees can’t be kept just anywhere in the city. There is simply not enough space at the street level. It is also wise to avoid possible confrontations between people and bees. The Sky Hive is an inventive and playful solution: it lifts the bees to a higher level. Furthermore, the object makes beekeeping visible to urban dwellers. This approach is not location-specific and is now also used in other cities.
A ‘beeline’ is a chain of initiatives to help bees survive. They can now be found in many Dutch cities. Its length of more than 3 kilometres makes the beeline in the north of Rotterdam a special one. The line connects the northern part of the city with the green countryside. The goal of this project is to strengthen the ecological network and, more specifically, to contribute to a better living environment for the wild bee. The project consists of regularly spaced insect hotels in a continuous green structure. Even more important than the hotels is the new management of the roadsides and riverbanks. Wild flowers and plants were sown in the roadsides, and the cutting policy has been adjusted. A mix of species was chosen, so that they are in bloom at different times of the year. Of course, many other species of insects, and thus also insectivorous birds and small mammals, can benefit from the beeline as well. In addition, the route has an educational function. Schools along the route contribute to its maintenance, and panels along it inform people about the insects, plants and animals. Perhaps the most beautiful part of the beeline is realized by local residents. Where the local authority left part of the route aside, residents along this part of the line did not only do the sowing, but also took the management and control into their own hands.
The chosen mix of vegetation ensures the line is in bloom for a large part of the year. The continuously available nectar is a rich source of food for various species of bees and other insects.
-ROTTERDAM (NL) 2012
-BUURTBEWONERS (CITIZENS), MICHIEL VAN DER LUGT, GEMEENTE (MUNICIPALITY OF) ROTTERDAM
These objects, both beautiful and insect-friendly, can be found in several city parks in London. Insect hotels come in many shapes and sizes, and these ones prove they can be very appealing to people and insects alike. For this insect hotel, the designers used a design strategy called ‘bionics’ or ‘biomimicry’. With biomimicry, natural phenomena are translated into new products, materials, architecture or even computer programs. For this design, they looked at a seemingly irregular structure that is very common in nature. This pattern is also called to the Voronoi diagram, after the mathematician Georgy Voronoi, who was the first to describe this pattern of polygons touching at the corners. This pattern is sometimes regular, for instance in beehives, and sometimes irregular, for instance in the wings of dragonflies. It is possible to make a solid construction with this pattern using a minimum of material. Here, the pattern was used to create a self-supporting structure for the ceramic object. Natural materials were used to fill the openings in different ways. As a result, a great variety of insects feel at home in it.
-LONDEN (UK) 2012
-SIMON SWIETOCHOWSKI AND MICK BRUNDLE, ARUP ASSOCIATES