Professors Arlen Speights and Sarah Williams
Making Meaning Matter
20 October 2014
Blue Rabbit Iteration 1
The population of honeybees has been going down drastically, which is also known as the “Colony Collapse Disorder” to most researchers. This is a major crisis for nature, and the food we need to live. Bees pollinate ninety percent of our food’s nutrition, and without honeybees we would be at a major decline in food, making it very hard to sustain a healthy daily diet. I believe that the printing of beehives to help sustain the bee population is something worth making in the world. This is why I have chosen printing a beehive that may be able to sustain and house honeybees for my Blue Rabbit Project.
I would like to back up my idea with more statistics on the importance of beehives, not just in the United States, but in the rest of the world as well. “Each year more than a million commercially produced bumblebee colonies are sold around the world.” (Paul H. Williams) These beehives produce more than ten billion dollars annually through their pollination service alone. The beehive industry is a fairly large one, and it is only getting larger with people already 3D printing these beehives. Lulzbot is a 3D Printer-manufacturing business with a blog about people who “design hives that can support bee colonies in a sustainable way, to monitor and track the health and behavior of a colony as it develops.” (https://www.lulzbot.com/blog/3d-printing-open-source-beehives)
The structure of a beehive is a repeated octagonal pattern. Basically, this is a pattern where each line intersects each-other at a one-hundred and twenty degree angle This pattern is not that hard to print, especially since the 3D Printers already print anything out in an octagonal pattern. I believe that printing out a plastic beehive is not very safe to the environment, because after time it enters our oceans and kills a lot of the animals that hunt in the ocean or live in the ocean. Most man-mad beehives are created out of wood and wire mesh, which creates the octagonal pattern. Plastic is harmful to the environment which is why I would like to create my beehive out of a different material. I considered beeswax, which would be a great substitute filament, because it would be easy for the bees to find and move into, and also it is a natural material that would not hurt the environment in any way. Although there is a type of extruder you can install on your 3D printer to print with beeswax, our school does not have one. This is the only thing stopping me from going through with it. There is a filament called “Laywoo-D3”, which is created out of recycled wood and harmless binding polymers. This type of filament would be immensely better for printing than the more common PLA filament, because it is not made mostly out of plastic.
In New Zealand, a golden honeycomb was created and placed in Sir Edward Hillary’s backyard “whereupon his bees adopted it as their own.” (Jacob E. Nyenhuis 140) This is only one example of bees moving into a man-made honeycomb, and I am sure that there are many more examples. Since the total number of managed honeybee colonies has receded 2.5 million in the last 40 years, it is very important that we create more, to keep the honeybee population sustained. By creating more honeybee colonies we can maintain the honeybee population, if not increase it, and in turn that will keep our plants pollinated to keep making the food we need. We cannot produce most of the food we have on this earth by ourselves alone. If we lost all of the bees in the world, we would start declining in populations ourselves. As humans it is our job to help the other species that live on this planet, especially the ones we need. Because there is already so much stuff on this Earth, I find it alright to create something that matters to the Earth, and is not just some useless plastic object that people will eventually throw out. I believe that studying beehives for a quarter is useful because bees are such a necessity to humans, and also flowers. If we 3D Printed beehives, bees would have more availability to colonies and this would help sustain their population. Most bees die in the winter because it is cold and because most of the flowers go away during this time of the year. While supplying more beehives to bee farms, we could keep them alive during the winter. This is why I think beehives are an important and useful object to create in the world.
“3D Printing Open Source Beehives.” Web log post. Lulzbot. Aleph Objects Inc, n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2014.
Kaplan, Kim. “Related Topics.” ARS : Honey Bees and Colony Collapse Disorder. United States Department of Agriculture, n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2014.
Nyenhuis, Jacob E. Myth and the Creative Process: Michael Ayrton and the Myth of Daedalus, the Maze Maker. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 2003. Print.
Williams, Paul. Bumble Bees of North America an Identification Guide. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2014. Print.