Eden gives bees a chance with spectacular new observation hive
The Eden Project is celebrating becoming a protected bee reserve for an important local honey bee by unveiling a new observation hive which will enable visitors see how these fascinating creatures live.
The Great Hive Mind is a striking installation made from reclaimed scaffolding poles. It contains an observation hive which is home to a colony of around 25,000 bees expected to rise to more than 50,000 by next summer. It is situated in Eden’s Outer Estate in a field full of wild flowers above Eden’s Wild Chile area and was unveiled at a launch event on October 9.
The Great Hive Mind joins other beehives around Eden as a home for the local European dark honey bee (Apis mellifera mellifera), also known as the native dark honey bee or black bee.
Eden is the fourth such reserve in Cornwall. This project was developed by B4, a Community Interest Company representing beekeepers, which works to conserve, protect and increase the population of these bees.
Dr Jo Elworthy, Eden’s Director of Interpretation, said: “Pollinators, including bees, pollinate around a third of our crops and help our wild flowers to survive and thrive. They play a huge role in conserving the biodiversity of our countryside and food supply.
“We’re proud to be working with B4 in becoming a European dark honey bee reserve. It’s really important that we look after regional biodiversity. Beekeepers can choose to keep bees local to their region and we can all help conserve these and other pollinators by ensuring our gardens and green spaces in our community, at work, and at school are pollinator-friendly by planting wildflowers or leaving some areas to go wild.”
The European dark honey bee is the only honey bee that originates from the UK and it is uniquely adapted to environment in this country. Beekeepers often buy imported bees which are less well adapted to UK climates and have also introduced new pests and diseases to local honey bee colonies.
The Great Hive Mind observation hive is constructed with mirrors so visitors can view the bees without disturbing them. It was built over the course of two weeks by a multi-national team of nine architecture students organised by CAUKIN Studio, a collective of young architectural designers working on a variety of design and construction projects worldwide.
Pollenize, a social enterprise that brings together the power of community and technology to reverse pollinator decline, supplied the remote hive monitoring system and bring a research element to the exhibit.
The Great Hive Mind is a collaboration between Eden, the B4 Project and CAUKIN Studio. The project was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
A video of Sir Tim Smit talking about the European dark honey bee is available at https://youtu.be/suduwO3fM9w.