Save the native dark honey bee

Hear from Eden's Tim Smit on efforts to save this native bee.

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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.

Native dark honey bees

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.

Design and construction

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.

The silhouette of the structure creates lattice shapes in reference to the honeycomb produced by bees. In the same way as a bee colony acts as a single organism, each structural column is connected and dependent on the others in order for it to stand strong.

Carefully chosen native flowers have been planted in the planters on each side. They will grow and die in a cyclical nature, reflecting the lives of the bees and their hive.

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.

Photo credit: CAUKIN Studio