4 December 2014
The Short Answer (TSA)
The Urban Beehive is, literally, a beehive “of the future.” That is to say, it’s not for sale and isn’t even in production. But the Phillips Design company has built a prototype. And a stunning looking item it is. I couldn’t help but be impressed by its sleek, stylish, and thoroughly un-beehive-like appearance.
Like many, at first, thought I was looking at a currently available product. But this is only a prototype – a design model that has yet to be fully tested, least of all, manufactured for sale. So, spokespersons for Phillips won’t say that this current version of the Urban Beehive can do what the final, actual product must do to fulfill its design objectives. But, if successful, this would be an amazing product.
The Urban Beehive is designed to fit neatly into a window of your home or apartment. From the outside, it holds and displays a flower pot in which you can plant living flowers. On the inside, is a beehive intended to house an actual bee colony.
The bees enter the interior beehive from the outside through a cleverly concealed entrance. The hive, itself, is wholly on the inside of the window. The hive’s shell is made of transparent glass. So, hive owners, relaxing in their homes or apartments, can watch their bees at work. The clear shell of the hive has a dark amber tint which the designers describe as permitting an orange wavelength of light into the hive. This orange light is the exact wavelength compatible with the bees’ natural sight.
Pre-prepared frames are textured for the benefit of the hive’s comb-building bees. The bees will work, on a daily basis, to gather and store honey and pollen in honey combs as well as raise the colony’s young in separate brood combs.
But what if you, the hive-owner, want to harvest some of the honey? Do you have to move the whole hive to the out-of-doors, drape yourself from head to toe in a beekeeper’s “outfit” and, then, quiet the bees with a smoker while you remove the honey combs from the hive?
Oh, no! That will be a thing of the past.
As the owner of the Urban Beehive, you leave the hive in the window. With no special precautions, you simply pull a cord, and the hive fills with smoke to calm the bees. Then, you open the hive and remove honeycomb(s).
Careful observers will note that there is a bit of an issue with the described harvesting process. If the smoke doesn’t work quite as it should, thousands of angry bees could flood into your living room — a much greater disaster than one might experience with any conventional outdoor hive.
Even if the smoke does its job, it would seem that a few bees might escape when the hive is opened during honey comb harvesting. This might create some issues. Bees are a bit moody. So, even if a few “calm” bees escape when the hive is opened — this minute’s “smoked” bee could be next minute’s angry insect.
But, these are problems to be ironed-out in development. The prototype is really more “a vision” than a concrete product. So, I’ll put my “wet blankets” aside and join the designers in describing the goal — without belaboring the difficulties.
Spokespersons for Phillips Design suggest that the Urban Beehive will allow members of urban families a “glimpse into the fascinating world of” honeybees. And, over the decades, many amateur beekeepers have said that they experience nothing less than a fascination while watching these insects at work. The designers go so far as to describe the observation of the working bees as, not only educational, but “therapeutic.”
Of course, the Urban Beehive’s bees will work to pollinate plant life throughout urban environments. And, the keepers will be doing their part to stem the decline of honeybee populations in many areas of the world.
Mark Grossmann of Hazelwood, Missouri & Belleville, Illinois