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Guerilla Beehive - Research Page

During the residency at the FabLab Barcelona, I will design Intelligent Guerilla Beehives.
An 'Intelligent Guerilla Beehive' is a functional sculpture, a shelter that provides a home for swarming bee colonies.

In a first phase, I want to work on the architecture of the beehive object/sculpture.
The biomimetic-inspired design (in form and matter) is shaped upon the needs of the bees: it has the the ideal inner volume for a developing colony, it is mobile and easily deployable on different spots in public space : e.g. attached to the wall of a building or secured on the branch of a tree - or the objects can find a place as a stand-alone sculpture on the terrace of a city apartment.
Besides the form, the material of the skin is very important. The surface or the skin is a place of encounter, where materials and patterns change into meaning. Shape and material offer an entry point to explore the project into space and time.
The objects are made out of smart organic materials with usefull biomimetic properties in reaction to temperature fluctuation, humidity and ventilation. The objects have a high tactile potential. It is about touch and feel.
Once the colony decides to leave the hive, the object should fall as a rotten apple from a tree and decompose completely. It has to be a cradle to cradle design.
In a second phase, I would like to add bio-sensors (e.g. for measuring the temperature inside/outside) incorporated in the 3D-printed skin.
The sensors give the intelligent sculpture a futuristic view, and make it entirely appropriate for a non-intrusive observation of the bee colony as well as the monitoring of the environment. Microbial fuel cells, fed with organic waste from the beehive, will power the sensors. Once realised, these sculptural prototypes are a perfect blend of biodegradable materials and green technology.

The timeline for the proposed project during the Fab Lab residency is till a 3D-printed Proof of Concept, with a focus on the first phase: the development of the biomimetic design and the realisation with the smart materials.
I would like to explore new materials (as e.g. working and 3D printing with Chitin or Chitosan, extracted from the exoskeleton of the bees and other insects) and combine these new materials with digital production methods (3D printing) for the realisation of my organic beehive-sculptures.
For the realisation of the work, I will start from the content that I have collected in recent years through far-reaching behavioral and botanical observations, as artist, beekeeper and herbalist. The new perspectives that I want to test should lead to exceptional works that open the eyes of spectators for the beauty but also for the fragility of nature.

1.a. DESIGN : nature as a parameter for form

biological requirements on dimentions and orientation of the guerilla beehive
Elements from botanics inspire form, functionality and materials.
(Describe the interesting qualities and functionalities in each of the examples below).

CourgePollen wireframe blenderspiky courgetteCourgePollen blender rendercourgePollen rubber spikes

- starting from SEM-images of pollen
- organic form
- double 3D-print: inner and outer skin
- outside skin should allow (future) integration of electronics
- design should allow integration or close link to independent energy supply (small micobial fuell cell)
- material or design of outside skin should provide following qualities: ventilation/stomata, thermoregulation/reflective_absorbative colors, insonorisation/rubber spikes, …
- material and design of inside skin must offer strength for attachment of comb building (mycelium, wood, hexagons, triangles)

outer skinwax block frontviewwax block sideviewmultiple layers - hanging wasp nest

SEM photographs Pollen Database
guerilla beehives research
material experiments

1.b. DESIGN : a resilient structure

waxblock outer skininsulated

- inner and outer skin, double 3D print
- hexagonal inner structure for strength

borago pollenmentha pollen

- stomata for ventilation

Translate the organic forms in geometrical shapes (polyhedra) and make 3-dimensional renderings in Blender.
Existing Blender-files (add screenshots):
- blender Eucalyptus (JB): wireframes mathematical (1 and 2)
- blender Cucurbita pepa (JB): wireframes mathematical
- blender Cucurbita pepa (OfS): wireframes and free style textures (1 to 9)

sunflower pollendouble printed skinskin structuredouble sided cell structure

- outside printed in flexible material (rubber); rubber spikes to enhance the hive surface for better thermo protection
- inside printed in rigid bio/organic material (wood)

1.c. DESIGN : attachment possibilities

natural fixations (wasp nests, trees, ...)
weaver bird nests: a woven natural extension on tree branches

double bagdouble bag

- nests envelop the twigs or branches; double bag or saddle principle (hive + tech)
- nest fixed on natural twig-hook

corkscrewcorkscrewone stalk

- spring/corksrew (Erodium cicutarium)
- threads of mycelium
- double sided suction cup (attachment to walls)
- swivel (attachments to trees)


Qualities of the bio-materials, possibilities to 3D-print with it or to make new printheads.
Thermo-regulation, ventilation (stomata), insonorisation (city noise, wind, water), insulation, sustainable, recyclable, not eaten by bees.
Living, self-growing materials. Look intocel biology. Membranes, skins.

skin made from plant cellulosetriple layer

- plant cellulose
- bacterial cellulose
- mycelium (grown into different supports)
- starch from potatoes (in filament)
- chitin/chitosan
- rubber/latex ninjaflexninjaflex-adafruitfilaflex
- leather
- wooddust
- cork cork hive
- wax
- clay
- plaster
- rice
- algae
- sugar/salt


- design Rhin0ceros or Blender
- making (pos/neg) molds in high density foam with Milling Machine


Sensors and actuators.
- compare sensors to form, material, functionality and emplacement of hairs on plants and bees
- compare additive solarpanels to emplacement and functionality of leaves
- microbial fuel cells/integration (where, how)

5. THEORY: the STORY behind the CONCEPT

Intelligent Guerilla Beehives.
Go into the machine (bee swarm), not a study of-, but a discovery together with 'the other' (organisms, here = bees). (Tim Ingold)
Post Human, Post Anthropocentrism.
Animal Politics. Glass Bees, The Cyborg Idea.
New Materialism (De Landa, Braidotti). Process of materialization.
Embodied, non-linear, immanent, connecting/interaction/collaborating with the non-human other.


- concept, visualization, model, evaluation
- make final design in Blender or Rhin0ceros
- model milling in high density foam, (vacuum)cover styrofoam models with plant- and bacterial cellulose fabric
- adjust design
- research bio 3Dprint materials (rubber & cork) (rubber-like for outside in combination with bioplastic and/or wood for the inside?)
- integrate hive attachment in 3D print, double print, skin inside/out
- if possible integrate electronics (proof of concept)
- print (different?) models in (different?) materials

guerillabeehive-researchpage.txt · Last modified: 2016/04/12 15:01 by ami