Beegin – Bee Bunka Moulds

  • 2019

  • Social Impact

Designed By:

Commissioned By:

Ivan Leroy Brown

Designed In:

South Africa

The Bee Bunka Moulds are easy-to-use concrete moulding tools that allow anyone, anywhere to produce durable, protective, insulating, lightweight-concrete beehives. These low-cost, improved beehives protect the bees and beekeeper from a litany of threats while promoting growth and sustainability in a troubled, and vital global agricultural industry.

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  • Beekeepers around the world are struggling to compete with cheap, imported honey. A result is that common problems like the loss of hives to fires, floods, bears, badgers, theft, vandalism and weathering are harder for beekeepers to absorb. Diseases and pests, pesticides and mono-cultures, loss of habitat and climate change are also causing a lower annual honeybee mortality rate. In many places the costs of beekeeping have simply become higher than the potential income - driving beekeepers out of their jobs and preventing beekeeping for rural-social development initiatives from creating long-term impact.

  • Aside from broader economic, environmental and agricultural issues, the main problem beekeepers face is equipment attrition, namely the loss of beehives. The standardized wooden hive used around the world is costly, requires machinery to make, and is subject to destruction by numerous forces. The aim of the design research project was to ascertain if there was a way to increase the sustainability and accessibility of beekeeping through a technology intervention - an improved beehive that would last longer and produce more honey, helping the bees and the beekeeper.

  • The Beegin technology has positive impact on three user groups: beekeepers, farmers and marginalized, rural communities. For beekeepers the hives reduce overheads, increase honey production (through insulation), promote permanent apiaries and offer protection from the above threats. For farmers the system offers them a feasible method for making their own permanent beehives and taking pollination into their own hands - reducing reliance on the unsustainable migratory pollination system (expensive, and detrimental new beekeeping practice). For low-income, rural groups the technology provides a business opportunity for someone to make beehives easily and sell them to others who can begin sustainable beekeeping businesses.

  • The Beegin system is the result unique, design-based, observation and experimentation in the fields of beekeeping, materials, moulding and implementation - each containing key features. Beekeeping is an ancient practice that has led to a refined system centered around the beehive. It was possible to make several minor improvements to the hive, like interlocking components, built in hand-holds, locking systems, an entrance landing platform and the overall aesthetic style (classic beehive, modernised). There were also fixed parameters that could not be changed. So this beehive is based on the globally standardized Langstroth beehive and frame sizes, allowing users to easily transfer from their wooden hives and use all the corresponding equipment. The material was not a fixed parameter and, after testing a dozen options, lightweight concrete emerged with the greatest potential for positive impact. What remained was to develop a system for making the hives that could be easily transferred and scaled - the moulds. Endless iteration has led to the current mould-sets - one-part, tray-moulds that make the 3 beehive parts. The moulds are made from thick, vacuum formed plastic, capable of producing hundreds of beehives. The moulds are affordable and come with a detailed instruction manual. Beegin also offers other support.