Milan Design Week 2016: Bubble Beehive

A colony for the urban development of our favorite pollinators

Additional reporting by David Graver

The global problem of declining bee populations is often looked over but cannot be taken lightly. Fundamental to our planetary ecosystems, and pollinating vegetation the world over, bees are intrinsic to our relationship with nature—in ways that affect more than just food production, and we still don’t have a good understanding of why so many populations are struggling. Bubble Beehive offers an urban solution. What began as an undergraduate university project by industrial designers Ada Bisziok and Nicolò Donna at the Free Academy of Fine Arts in Brescia (LABA) developed into a thesis topic and ultimately, a prototype seen at this year’s Milan Design Week (and last year’s, as well, by way of a design competition). Essentially, Bubble Beehive proposes to be an urban hive for city-living bees that’s both safe and also sustainable.

The project’s origin was more than an assignment. “Our vice director in college is a beekeeper,” Bisziok explains to CH. “He talked about bees and how they are slowly disappearing.” During the course, the professor challenged his students to find a solution and that’s where everything began. Bisziok and Woman began studying the beehive and the habits of bees—they were almost immediately hooked. “It was a situation where you start to study something and find it more and more involving and engaging as time passes,” she continues. “We wanted to go forward with this project because we became beekeepers, ourselves.”

“It works just like a traditional beehive made of a nest and supers,” says Bisziok. (The nest is where bees reside, while the supers play host to the honey deposits.) “Every traditional element to a beehive you will find here.” Adding to the traditional, an innovative molding technology aids in the structure, while a dual-layer wall preserves internal temperature despite cooler and warmer air outside. The hive rests on four ash wood supports, and is crafted from recyclable PE food-grade printed plastic. There are also wire frames for honey collecting.

There’s more at play here than an innovative object. “If we put a normal beehive in our yard, nobody would come to hear us speak, but if we put something extraordinary there, we can attract people and talk about how important bees are. This is a free working system for information,” Bisziok concludes. Effectively spreading information while allowing people to begin to keep and encourage beekeeping, the Bubble Hive is for anyone who wants to also become a messenger to help save these important animals.

Pre-order the Bubble Beehive online for €399. Production will commence shortly, but the team will only make 50 pieces total. Naturally, the Bubble Beehive does not come populated, but can be populated with help from your local Beekeeper Association.

Images courtesy of Bubble Beehive