Tuesday, April 12, 2011
A Rest Stop Keeps Honeybees From Dropping Dead From Overwork
The United Kingdom's bees are overworked and declining, so Jamie Hutchinson designed landing pads that help them rest and recharge.
After five years of breathlessly freaked-out news reports, nearly all of us have heard of "colony collapse disorder" -- the label scientists have given to a mysterious decline in bee populations observed since 2006. After hearing that a mass die-off of bees would spell certain doom for the human race, designer Jamie Hutchinson felt compelled to do something to help avert the coming beepocalypse.
While the bees' plight almost certainly isn't going to result in the extinction of humanity, his creation -- an adorable little hut called "Bee Station" -- may help reduce the stress on the bee populations in his native United Kingdom.
Hutchinson designed Bee Station as a kind of "truck stop" for the overworked honeybees left pollinating local plants after many of their kin died off. Apparently, these bees are so stressed out that Britons have observed them dropping near-dead on their lawns and sidewalks -- when all they need, says Hutchinson, is a comfy place to rest and recharge with some sugar water. Conscientious bee-helpers could just put egg cups of sugar water in their gardens, but they'd soon get uselessly diluted by rainwater. The Bee Station solves this problem by providing a roof over the exhausted insects' heads.
This isn't some silly greenwashed stunt, though -- Hutchinson did his research, designing his earthenware huts specifically for two species (Bombus pratorum and Bombus horotorum) that seek out similar structures naturally to rest in. The round top shelters the bees from rainwater and stiff breezes, while the "feet" of the Bee Station hold reservoirs of sugar water. At $65 a pop, the Bee Station seems a bit pricey as a way to anthropomorphize insects that'd just as soon sting the sh*t out of you as accept a little TLC. But as GOOD magazine points out, the little buggers' pollinating services are worth $220 billion, so offering a bit of help while they're in a slump can't hurt. And let's face it, a cute white Bee Station would look a hell of a lot better in your flower bed than that stupid gnome you've got now.
Please note: (Comment added by a reader): "This is an interesting project, but this article has one glaring mistake:
"Hutchinson did his research, designing his earthenware huts specifically for two species (Bombus pratorum and Bombus horotorum)..."
Those two bee species that this was designed for are not honeybees, as this article repeatedly suggests. Those are bumblebees! Very different! Hutchinson "did his research", but apparently the author of this piece did not. "