Two days ago was World Bee Day — May 20 — and it’s easy to overlook these tiny creatures so essential to life on this planet.
Bees and the service they provide are a vital part of our ecosystem and have been shaping our natural environment for millions of years. But now, because of human impact, their place in this world is threatened.
IKEA and Space 10 joined forces with technology-driven design company Bakken & Bæck and industrial designer Tanita Klein to inspire people to solve this global challenge in a playful and accessible way.
And the result is the Bee Home — a free and open-source design that enables anyone, anywhere to design, customise and fabricate a home to support these tiny pollinators locally.
Photo: Space10 + Irina Boersma
The Bee Home looks like apartment blocks. The many holes are for bees to live, store food and provide shelter for the eggs they lay, recreating as natural an environment as possible.
One for Solitary Bees
The Bee Home is designed to house solitary bees, which unlike honeybees, do not live in hives or produce honey.
“Solitary bees are great pollinators: a single solitary bee could provide as much pollination as 120 honeybees. With nearly 90 percent of the world’s flowering plants depending on pollination — including a third of the world’s food supply — solitary bees are vital for life on planet Earth,” it says on the Bee Home project page.
“Every female solitary bee is a queen. And since every queen gets 20 to 30 offspring, a single Bee Home could give life to hundreds of solitary bees ready to ensure the survival of flowers, trees, animals and us humans.”
“Solitary bees are friendly — they don’t produce honey and therefore have nothing to protect. They only sting if trod on and are safe to keep around kids and pets.”
Make a Bee Home in 3 steps
Design your very own Bee Home in a few minutes. Just select size, visual style and desired placement, like a rooftop, balcony or garden — or play around with the shuffle button. Your design will instantly update.
(I played around with the design and in a few minutes, customised this 2-feet, 5-storey standing Bee Home, pictured here.)
Download the design files for free. Then, either DIY or locate a makerspace with a CNC milling machine to get it fabricated.
Once assembled, place your Bee Home facing the morning sun and within 300m of local flowers. Solitary bees usually won’t travel further than that.