What is the “Bubee Beehive”?

19 March 2015

The Short Answer (TSA)

Last year, Steve Steere decided that one of the best ways to reverse declining bee populations in the United States was to boost urban and amateur beekeeping. And the best way to do that was to produce a simple, functional beehive that’s easy for the first-time beekeeper to use. He’s founded Bubees of Malibu, California to produce and sell beehives as attractive as they were ideal for the first-time beekeeper.

An attractive look also helps because, unlike the commercial beekeeper, urbanites and even residential, rural residents don’t have a remote place to locate a hive or two. Their hives will have to go right in the middle of their yard or, for apartment dwellers, on a small deck or balcony.

Lesson? If you’re an urban or amateur beekeeper, everyone will see your hives prominently displayed on your property. How a hive looks can be a real issue. And, if you make hives attractive enough . . . . Well, if beehives were to become fashionable components of popular modern landscaping designs, even more residentials would take up beekeeping!

Steere, as an Art Center College of Design graduate and professional commercial artist, took the aesthetic part of the challenge in stride. On the inside, his wooden hives are sanded, but not painted. On the outside, a shopper can choose from a rainbow of colors including aqua, gray, pumpkin, salmon, mustard or green.

These hives’ colors are produced with a nontoxic milk paint. And Steere salvaged almost all the wood used to construct his stock of hives. He says he has enough salvage left to build another hundred hives. But his respect for conservation doesn’t end with just the construction of his hives. Rather than buying a queen and workers from a commercial supplier, he recommends that the new owner of a Bubee hive give a swarm of wild bees a chance to find and adopt the hive.

To add a bit of background, Bubee’s hives are of the type called “top bar.” This may be the most popular type of hive used by amateur beekeepers, today. The body of the top bar hive consists of a long horizontal box.

Bubee’s top bar body provides a 36-by-18-inch living space is equipped with 24 bars, which are placed across the open top of the box. Then, a hinged lid is lowered to cover and shelter the bars and the bees’ living space — inside of the box. The bees naturally build brood and honeycombs extending downward from the bars. At the end of the season, bars with attached honeycombs can be removed and the honey harvested.

Not the least important feature, in terms of entertainment, is a viewing window that allows the owner to watch the bees at work. The bees don’t mind, and the viewer gets an opportunity that nature never offers – a chance to view the private life of bees in the hive.

View Window

View Window

The attractive Bubee beehive sells for $300.00 providing not just an ideal hive for the first-time urban beekeeper, but an attractive addition to a yard or deck.

See: Bubee of Malibu, California


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See also:

Five High-Design Urban Beehives

Bubee’s Beehive: Modern Architecture for the Urban Bee

Made in Malibu: BuBees Beehive

Dartington Beehive



What is “Dunford’s Urban Beehive”?

5 March 2015

The Short Answer (TSA)

There are already a number of hives called “urban beehives.”  One of the latest is a new design by Rowan Dunford, a graduate of New Zealand’s Auckland University of Technology.

The “urban beehive” concept has little to do with the basic hive used by traditional beekeepers.  Rather, the urban types are the members of a special class of “amateur” hives.  Though the newest “type” of them all, the number and variety of new ideas for urban hives seems to be exploding.

The urban beehive is designed for an urban-dwelling resident without the room for even a traditional amateur beehive.  Of course, these hives must be compact to accommodate the short space of an urban environment.  But, beyond providing some honey to the owner, it is hoped that the popularity of urban hives will encourage more beekeeping and  increase the populations of honey-producing bees throughout the world.

But back to Rowan Dunford’s “Urban Hive.”  The inner core of components are little different than the proven components of a standard commercial hive.  So, the buyer is assured a hive that works well for the bees as well as the beekeeper.

But, unlike the boxes (supers) of a traditional hive, the roof of each of Dunford’s boxes is plastic.  Not only do the plastic roofs protect the insect occupants from the elements, but these same tops can be removed and allow another box to be stacked on top.

So, “Dunford’s Urban” can change in size.  The individual “boxes” that compose this hive are, internally, similar to the boxes of a standard “top bar” hive.  But, the average urban-dweller doesn’t have the room to stack as many boxes as high as would a rural beekeeper.  So, the urban beekeeper can start with two boxes.  If a season’s experience is good, the owner can expand the size of their hive by adding more (modular) boxes – one on top of another.

Each box contains a number of “top bars” from which the bees will construct hanging combs.  The frames are spaced and sized carefully to encourage bees to build individual combs on each of the individual bars.

See: Rowan Dunford’s Urban Beehive at Yanko Design


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