What is a “To-Bee Hive”?

19 February 2015

The Short Answer (TSA)

The “To-Bee” hive is another in a growing collection of hives not designed for commercial beekeepers. Instead this hive is designed to give amateur beekeepers an opportunity to keep a bee colony in an urban or densely populated suburban area.

The To-Bee hive’s designer, Bar Lavi, a student of Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy of Arts and the Design, has created a new design for convenient urban beekeeping that is both innovative with at least some traditional influences.

The “bookshelf” design has two parts. First, there is the tube or large, tall structure on the left side. This “tube” is the hive, proper, where the bees build brood and honey combs.

Second, is the flat shelf extending to the right. More than a shelf, it conceals a hollow tube or pipe which allows the bees to come and go. Bar Lavi, likens the entrance/exit tube to the honeybee version of an “escape pod” to be used by the bees when they need to leave the hustle and bustle of the hive.


“Escape Pod” Entrance and Exit

The large tube, or hive, has a window allowing the owner to observe activity within the hive. So, the To-Bee is also an observation hive. I’ve read no comments about the traditional quality of, at least, the tubular part of this hive. I couldn’t help noticing the resemblance of this tubular part to the ancient clay hive.

Collection of Clay Hives

Collection of Clay Hives

Clay hives were baked clay tubes that were, and still are, used in some parts of the Middle East and southern Europe. But clay hives are notoriously inefficient when it comes to harvesting honey. That part of the To-Bee hive, the larger tubular structure, which houses the combs, has solved the honey harvesting problem. The hive is fitted with a second, modular, inner wall that allow easy removal of combs for examination or honey harvesting.

A Modular Removeable Inner Wall Allows Easy Comb Removal

A Modular, Remove-able Inner Wall Allows Easy Comb Removal

Only recently, have we understood that, with all the other factors that affect bee health, habitat is among the most important. Not only do human populations and structures cover much more of what was once our natural environment. Our mowing and manicuring of even open rural areas may give a “pleasingly neat” look to our roadside scenery, but it also destroys the wildflowers and grasses that most bees depend on to survive.

The To-Bee hive is another in a growing number of hives designed especially for the urban dweller. There is a strong likelihood that amateur urban beekeepers will become a potent force in preserving our honeybee populations by creating a much more bee-friendly environment in areas, our cities, where these insects were once unwelcome.

But the latest generation of urban hives doesn’t just give honeybees a “place to live.” There is a growing trend toward beauty together with functionality. Urban dwellers are finding that their new insect guests are more than just entertaining to watch. Making a home for a honeybee colony introduces a “decorating” opportunity – a chance to make our “personal landscape” a bit more attractive and expressive.


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