Beehives don’t have to be boring wooden boxes; they can be skyscrapers, stackable units in bright colors, or even displays in a glass bell jar. These 10 (more!) hive designs help take beekeeping from country fields to suburban backyards and the inner city, helping honeybees affected by Colony Collapse Disorder recover all around the world.
Beehive in a Bell Jar
One beekeeper’s experiment with a glass bell jar makes for one of the most unusual and decorative hives we’ve ever seen. The bell jar was placed on top of a mini hive, and soon, the bees moved in, quickly building their architectural masterpiece inside.
With a top bar that mimics the way bees live in nature and a viewing window that lets human beekeepers take a peek inside, the BuBees hive by designer Steve Steere is a perfect relationship compromise. Steere salvaged almost 100% of the wood for 100 of these limited-edition hives from a Long Beach bookstore and a neighbor’s construction project.
An industrial design student at Loughborough University created the Urb concept, a cone-shaped hive that accommodates the shape in which bees naturally produce their honeycombs. Responding to feedback from beekeepers about what they’d like to see in a hive, Chris Weir integrated a wireless infrared camera and a temperature gauge that can be seen through the viewing window or through a live video stream on a PC or smartphone.
Urban Beehive by Rowan Dunford
The stackable Urban Beehive by Rowan Dunford is a design aimed specifically at city dwellers, to help support the global honeybee population. Dunford aims to make beekeeping feel safe, modern and fun, appealing to people who might see beekeeping as a rural hobby.
Supporting urban beekeeping while keeping bees well out of the way of passersby, the Sky Hive is mounted to a tall pole, so it can be raised and lowered as needed. The first prototype was placed in a heavily trafficked park in Maastricht, and trained beekeepers maintain the bees each week.
Compact, well designed and offering more than one function, the To-Bee is a backyard beehive that mounts to a wall, offering a shelf surface as well as a place for bees to build their honeycomb. The compact setup encourages more people to take on beekeeping as a hobby.
If you want a simple, modern beehive design, but you’re partial to natural materials rather than bright plastics, the Thrive Hive might be just what you’re looking for – and you could potentially make it yourself. This hive has a straw-covered, barrel-shaped bottom, offering a natural setting that better suits bees’ instinctive building tendencies.
Elevator B is a waterfront skyscraper for bees that’s every bit as visually stimulating as the average one we build for ourselves. Designed by students from the University of Buffalo, Elevator B was created for a bee colony that was discovered living in an abandoned and decaying grain mill nearby. Visitors can enter the tower and look up through a glass window to see what the bees are up to.
While most beehive designs focus on maximum honey production, Beepods use a modified top-hive bar design used for thousands of years to yield both higher quality honey, and easy inspection and maintenance of the hives. This benefits bees, too – checking honey combs requires exposing only parts of the hive at a time, leading to happier bees.
DIY Barrel Bee Hive
While it may not be anywhere near as aesthetically pleasing as most of the other beehives on this list, this one is nice because it’s so simple and achievable. Using a reclaimed barrel and some lumber – which could also be reclaimed, possibly from pallets – you can build a top-bar hive, with an optional plexiglass window.