To make people more aware of the need to preserve bees, Ikea came up with a unique initiative. The entity, along with research and design lab SPACE10 launched a free Bee Home project and it drew a massive response. The motto was designing a home for the solitary bees.
SPACE10’s Bee Home is an open-source project that enables the participants to develop customizable habitats for bees. The Ikea Bee Homes was co-created by the Bakken & Bæck design studio. The Bee Home was conceived as a habitat for solitary bees.
What’s so special about solitary bees?
- Solitary bees vary considerably in size, appearance, and where they choose to nest. Roughly 70 percent are called mining bees and nest in underground burrows. Bees that nest in houses are called cavity nesting bees.
- Do not live in colonies, produce honey, or have a queen.
- Do not produce wax to construct the cells inside the nest, instead different species use different materials to construct their cells and nests.
- Drink nectar directly from the flower and spend most of their time collecting pollen, which is mixed with a small amount of nectar as food for their young.
- Are fantastic pollinators: a single red mason bee is equivalent to 120 worker honeybees in the pollination it provides.
- Do not have pollen baskets for carrying pollen, meaning that each time they visit a flower they lose far more pollen than social bees, which makes them much better pollinators.
- Provide each larvae with everything it needs, but they do not tend to the young as they grow and never get to see their offspring emerge.
- Are non-aggressive and do not swarm.
- Are safe around children and pets.
These solitary bees play a major role in pollination and researchers are of the view that a single bee is equal to the output of 120 honeybees in this regard. However, they face the threat of extinction owing to rampant urbanization, deforestation, and rising levels of pollution.
A single solitary bee may fly for miles every day and move its wings approx. 11,400 times per minute. This can be exhaustive for a tiny winged insect. The Ikea conceived Bee Home offers these small bees protection from enemies and weather elements.
The Bee Home is launched
Space 10 was also upbeat about the project. The project was meant to empower and enlighten the masses about the importance of these bees in the ecosystem.
SPACE10 Director Kaave Pour said: “For almost 80 years, IKEA has enabled people to create a better everyday life at home. But our home is more than just four walls — our home is also the planet we live on. That is why we launched Bee Home: we want to enable people everywhere to help rebalance our relationship with the planet and ensure a sustainable home for all of us.”
The participants in the Bee Home were given enough flexibility to customize the design. They were asked to pick a specific size and height for the home. The structure would be placed in the backyard, balcony, or garden and it would be made using wood, such as mahogany, oak, or cedar.
Japanese wooden joinery design
The design of the Bee Home was inspired by wooden joinery practiced in Japan. The multiple levels in such homes can be interlocked courtesy of a user-friendly spine and key system.
The designers did not use tools, nails, or metal parts so that assembling the homes remains simple. SPACE10 designer-in-residence Tanita Klein, who co-created the physical design of Bee Home, said: “It was important for me that Bee Home is aesthetically pleasing and almost feels like you have added a sculpture to your garden or your balcony. This project really exemplifies how design can do good for both people and their environment.”
The Space 10-conceived Bee Home requires minimal to no maintenance. It can exist in the open for 3 years, once created. The design files can be shared with maker space — spaces laden with accessories like soldering irons, sewing machines, 3D printers, laser cutters. This makes creating a Bee Home a breeze.