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How Architecture Can Respond to the Declining Number of Honey Bees?

Info: 12084 words (48 pages) Dissertation
Published: 20th Jan 2022

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Tagged: ArchitectureEnvironmental Studies


Urbanisation is occurring on an unprecedented scale. As a result, the natural environment becomes increasingly fragmented as buildings, factories and highways replace natural landscapes. One of the many repercussions of this are honey bees dying at a rate never seen before, and this phenomenon has received a surprisingly limited attention despite the importance of the honey bees’ role in global agriculture, ecology and economy. One reason may be the deteriorating relationship between city-dwelling people and nature – A disconnect. This ongoing alienation between people and nature is termed the “extinction of experience”.

This research project is to present an understanding of the importance of the honey bees’ role in global agriculture and ecology; the contributing factors of the honey bees’ rapid demise, and the so-called extinction of experience. The project will discuss on how architecture can reverse the deteriorating numbers of honey bees with a particular emphasis on reducing extinction of experience as well. This would be achieved through a review of research journals, reports and case studies. The project will then analyse the recommendations and possible solutions that have been attempted to reverse the honey bees’ decline and people’s disconnection with nature.


Architecture; Biophilia; Ecology; Environment; Extinction of Experience; Health and Wellbeing; Honey bees; Nature; Urbanisation; Urban Beekeeping; Urban Health; Urban parks.


Urbanisation is occurring on an unprecedented scale. The global urban population has grown from 55% in 1950 to 78% in 2011. This urban growth is expected to increase to 86% by 2050, wherein comparison in 1900, only 10% of the global population were urban inhabitants[1]. As a consequence of urbanisation, the natural environment has become increasingly fragmented as factories and highways replace natural landscapes. Arguably this destruction of natural landscapes is one of the biggest contributing factors towards the decline of honey bees.

The global disappearance of honey bees has occurred at an astonishing rate in the last century in America and Europe alone[2]. These disappearances have prompted questions on what the consequences to humanity will be if populations continue to decline. However, this pressing subject has received little to no attention from the members of the public, and this may be because of the deterioration in the interaction between people and nature.  The term ‘extinction of experience’ is used to describe the effects of people’s increasing disconnect from nature, and this includes the loss of opportunity to emotionally and physically engage with nature[3]. It can be argued that without this experience there would be catastrophic consequences[4].

This essay is to present an understanding of the importance of the honey bees’ role in global agriculture and ecology; the various factors that has been researched as possible causes for the honey bees’ rapid demise and understanding the extinction of experience.  The essay will explore on how architecture can respond and reverse the deteriorating numbers of honey bees with a particular emphasis on biophilic architecture.  Through a review of research journals, reports and case studies, the essay will recommend solutions for humans to respond to reverse the trend of honey bees’ decline.

Why are honey bees so important?

“The history of flowers would almost be a blank…a hundred thousand varieties would disappear if the bees did not visit them; and if we reflect how much human civilisation in its critical pastoral and tribal stages has depended on agriculture we realise how greatly we are indebted to these honey-suckers and pollen gatherers.”

Frederick William Gamble. Animal Farm (E.P. Dutton, 1908), 281-282

Honey bees play a key role in global agriculture and ecology from collecting nectar and pollen. The honey bee’s role as one of the primary sources of insect pollinators is significant because they are the only species of pollinators that are widely managed by humans[5]. As a result, honey bees are worth billions to the food production industry and, as demonstrated in Europe, an estimated 84% of their overall agriculture is dependent on insect pollination[6]. With the number of honey bees dying at an increasing rate, soon there will be not enough honey bees to sustain adequate crop pollination levels for agriculture production[7]. Rachel Carson hypothesised this situation in her book, Silent Spring, of which ‘no bees droned among the blossoms, so there was no pollination and there would be no fruit’[8]. As a consequence, 84% of the insect pollinated crops in Europe will decline[9]. Therefore intermediate actions from the government and communities need to be taken to reverse the deteriorating population of honey bees before the consequences become irreversible.

As one of the key insect pollinators, responsible for pollinating 78% of flowering plants, honey bees are important in contributing towards global ecology[10]. Flowering plants, such as daisies and marigolds, can significantly improve the overall look of gardens and other green spaces, from city parks to road verges[11].Studies have shown plant diversity is considered attractive and aesthetically pleasing to the human eye[12]. The aesthetics of flowering plants in green spaces can also have a positive impact on people’s health and wellbeing[13].This demonstrates the important benefits that biodiversity can bring into cities and people’s lives.

Honey bees are important species’ to global agriculture, economy and ecology, as discussed above. The rapid decline in honey bees is a major concern due to the consequences that will affect all species, including our own, who depend on insect-pollinated crops and plants. First and foremost, in order to take action towards the conservation of honey bees, research is needed to be undertaken to gain an understanding of the causes that may contribute to the sudden decline in honey bees.

The demise of the honey bees: colony collapse disorder

In recent years there have been growing reports of domestic bee colonies declining in America and Europe[14]. Evidence reports that there was a 59% loss of colonies between 1947 and 2005 in the USA and a 25% loss in Europe between 1985 and 2005[15]. In the United Kingdom alone, the number of honey bee colonies fell by 53% between 1985 and 2005[16]. This alarming rate of collapse has prompted a global study on what might be the cause for the disappearance of honey bees around the world.

Studies have found that beehives which suffer a sudden loss of adult worker bees have the usual characteristics, such as the presence of young bees (broods), a live queen bee surrounded by a small cluster of worker bees, and an adequate storage of pollen in the hives[17]. The disappearance of honey bees is uncharacteristic of normal bee behaviour because honey bees are considered to be a ‘social’ and colony- orientated species[18]. The sudden loss of honey bees would mean that there are insufficient numbers of honey bees to care for the broods, and the rate of foraging for nectar is reduced[19]. This occurrence is described as colony collapse disorder (CCD).

The exact cause of CCD is unknown, however numerous of factors such as diet, nutrition, genetics, habitat loss, pesticidesand beekeeping management issues have all been suggested to contribute towards CCD[20]. In 2009, a report from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) concluded that no single factor alone is responsible for CCD[21]. A hypothesis was formed that ‘CCD may be a syndrome caused by many different factors, working in combination or synergistically’[22].  These contributing factors can place a significant amount of stress on honey bees, which can weaken their immune system and make colonies more susceptible to diseases and parasites[23].


Agriculture is arguably one of the primary causes for the decline of honey bees because of the degradation and destruction of the many semi-natural habitats which honey bees rely on food, shelter and cover[24]. Global demand and the consumption of agricultural crops has meant the industry has grown to 140% in the last century[25]. This intensification of agriculture has meant that policies, such as the UK’s 1947 Agriculture Act, were passed to promote maximum productivity[26]. This provided farmers with an incentive to develop unfarmed areas, such as hedgerows and unimproved grasslands. These areas provide the opportunity for wildflowers to bloom throughout the season and is a stable support for honey bees to forage.  However, as one of the effects of the act, over 90% of unimproved lowland grassland was lost in the UK between 1932 and 1984[27]. Additionally, with the introduction of invasive crops and plant species in agriculture, poor dietary and nutrition deficiency in honey bees becomes more common as nectar diversity diminishes in the surrounding landscape[28]. The diversity of flora will be greatly reduced and this will further contribute to the further degradation of the environment[29]. Therefore, under these circumstances, combined with the degradation and destruction of many landscapes, it does not come as a surprise that studies suggest this to be one of the major causes of declining numbers in honey bees[30].

Climate Change

The impact of climate change can affect honey bees’ foraging behaviour and flight activity. Honey bees can be influenced by abiotic factors such as temperature, humidity, solar radiation and wind[31]. False springs and adverse weather conditions are examples of events that can contribute stress towards colonies, causing them to be more susceptible to parasites, mites and disease. Especially with the global increase in average temperature, which has provided favourable conditions in the beehive for them to thrive on.

Parasites, Mites and Diseases

Parasites and mites have always posed a significant problem for beekeepers and were initially thought to play a large role in honey bees developing CCD[32]. Studies have shown that parasites may compromise the immune system, which results in immune deficiencies, making them more susceptible to diseases[33]. Studies have also found that they are most commonly associated with the mortality rates of honey bee colonies[34].

Pesticides and other chemicals

Beekeepers use of pesticides, to treat honey bee colonies for parasites, mites and diseases have become more widespread in recent years. Additionally, farmers are increasing their use of pesticides to increase crop productivity to meet increasing global demand and consumption. Recent studies have shown the use of systemic pesticides in agriculture have contaminated nectar and pollen[35].  This means the honey bees are exposed to these pesticides, producing effects that can impair honey bee behaviour and immune systems[36].


Urbanisation has posed a heavy burden on environmental sanitation, causing the destruction of bee-friendly habitats. As a result, the rate of foraging in honey bees is reduced as biodiversity is reduced[37].  Similar to the consequences of agriculture, the loss of these habitats can have a knock-on effect and can be said to be one of a major cause of declining numbers in honey bees[38].

Additionally, as a result of urbanisation, temperatures found in urban areas are significantly higher than rural areas. This is because of the increase of thermal mass found in the urban environment, which in turn has contributed towards the rise in temperature as heat is released from materials within cities[39]. This occurrence is called Urban Heat Island (UHI) and can affect the flight ability and the rate of foraging in honey bees. As a result of the increase in temperature in the hives, this will likely contribute towards their vulnerability to parasites and mites[40].

Mitigative and preventive measures to CCD

It is important that governments and local communities are made aware of the severe consequences of honey bee population decline so that they can take action in preventing any further losses. As a response to this, there have been numerous efforts to mitigate the problem which has resulted in positive steps towards reversing the trend of decline in honey bees[41]. For example, groups such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have organised a large-scale research report on the health and productivity of honey bees in the European Union[42]. Reports like these have provided the opportunity for researchers to collaborate with each other in order to provide accurate recommendations and suggestions to reverse the trend of honey bee decline. These recommendations include pesticide bans, urban beekeeping, raising awareness in community and organic farming projects, funding for education, research and much more.


Intensive agriculture has no doubt been one of the major factors contributing towards CCD in honey bees[43]. However, there are moves to reverse this decline by combining the goals of agriculture and conservation together to form an agri-environment scheme[44]. The intention of the scheme is to promote biodiversity by replanting hedgerows, sowing wildflower strips, and restoring flower-rich grassland[45]. The restoration of biodiversity in these lands will help sustain honey bee populations, however, this scheme will need to be applied across larger areas of land in order to increase the chances of success in the long term[46].


As previously discussed, the effects of pesticides on honey bees can cause significant harm to their health so given this point, pesticides and others alike should be in used until further research has proven that sub-lethal doses are proven safe to honey bees.  This means beekeepers need to be encouraged to use alternative, natural methods instead so that the exposure to pesticides is reduced. This also provides an opportunity for honey bees to gain a natural and stronger resistance against parasites and mites[47]. There is also a need for a greater consideration of the guidelines and policies in weed and pest control applications.

Urban Garden

With the increase of degradation and the destruction of natural habitats, urban green spaces are becoming an increasingly important sanctuary for honey bees. Private gardens and allotments are now a major component of urban green spaces and can provide a high floral diversity to neighbourhoods within cities[48]. Studies have found gardens can enhance urban biodiversity, which can increase nectar intake in honey bees well above the rate found in natural habitats[49]. These spaces can also bring health benefits to people[50]. However the biodiversity growth in gardens is because of the use of exotics plants, and further research is needed to see how this impacts on native plants and the local ecosystem[51].

Urban Beekeeping

Urban beekeeping could play a positive role in leading a healthy lifestyle in an urban environment.  However, the potential benefits could be undermined by the possible hindrance urban beekeeping can place on to the public. Swarming is a natural occurrence in which honey bees leave the hive in search of a new home. Through this, it can disrupt the daily organisation of the city. Especially iif a swarm settles in unwanted place such as parked cars or outside a restaurant[52]. This problem arises because there is not sufficient amount of food sources for the honey bees or there is an issue of bee colonies being too close to each other so they are in competition with each other over flora resources. Problems like this occur because of novice beekeepers and their inexperience so there is a need to raise awareness in promoting accurate information about sustainable beekeeping. In UK alone, there is no register of honey bee hive locations so there is no control on where the colonies are placed. Thus it is extremely difficult to monitor and manage the colonies over a large scale area, however experienced beekeepers would give daily checks to the beehive and know what are the impacts of decline At present, there is no central register of honeybee hive locations in most countries, including the United Kingdom, and there are no controls on where hives are placed. It is thus extremely difficult to monitor or manage this potential threat to native bee species.

. *something*, in 2010 beekeeping in New York City was made illegal because honeybees were considered too dangerous to be kept in the city[53].The skewed public perception of the dangers of honey bees is a likely result of the extinction of experience.

Understanding the extinction of experience

Studies and research have established that honey bees are essential to agricultural production and global biodiversity, and should the honey bee population deteriorate, the majority of the consequences fall upon the public. That being the case, how has this issue continued to receive such little response from the public? As the lack of contact between people and nature increases, the feeling of disconnection and disaffection towards nature strengthens and the lack of interest to environmental concerns becomes the norm.

Extinction of experience is the loss of opportunity to experience nature. As humanity becomes increasingly urban, billions of people living in cities will lose the opportunity to develop an appreciation for nature as their daily contact with nature diminishes. It is expected that the world’s urban population will grow to 60% by 2030[54]  – as more and more people adapt to an urban lifestyle.With the loss of opportunity to interact with nature, they have also lost the chance to forge an emotional affinity with nature.

In The Thunder Tree: Lessons from an Urban Wildland, Robert Michael Pyle describes the extinction of experience as: ‘…a decline in specific qualities of attention, ways of learning and thinking about the natural world’[55].He also claims that contact with nature is vital in order to forge an emotional intimacy which cannot be formed in other substituted experiences. Similarly, social-biologist Edward Wilson proposed that people have always had an intimate relationship with nature because people have evolved on nature’s subsistence and should be part of their daily lives[56]. Wilson used the term “biophilia” to describe the emotional affliction between people and nature and claimed that people have always had this connection since inheriting this trait from their ancestors[57].

Studies have demonstrated that those who do not directly interacted with nature are; more likely to be exposed to many health issues[58], less likely to perceive the benefits nature can bring[59] and are less motivated to protect and visit natural areas[60]. Studies have also concluded that there is a positive relationship between people’s emotional connections to nature and the frequency of their visits to natural areas[61].Pyle also emphasised that without any contact, humans will only continue the cycle of apathy towards nature[62]. This is further reinforced by James Miller, as he asks rhetorically: ‘If people no longer value nature or see it as relevant to their lives, will they be willing to invest in its protection?’[63]Given this point, an intervention is essential to bridge the gap between people and nature in order for people to be committed to helping reverse the declining number of honey bees.

Biophilic design principles

Biophilia is at term based on the assertion that people have an innate connection with nature and this should be expressed in people’s lives[64]. Based on this statement, biophilic architecture seeks to bring nature into and onto every built structure available, so that people can experience a variety of natural elements as part of their lives within the city[65]. Materials and forms are often used in architecture to express affiliation with nature, however, Timothy Beatley argued that biophilic designs are not measured in terms of the presence of greenery but the engagement of the design with nature and people[66]. These are the following fundamental principles that should be considered in biophilic designs:

  • Enhancing positive contact with environmental process[67]
  • Reducing the disconnection with nature[68]
  • Building within the context of culture and ecology[69]
  • All being basic to people’s health, productively, and wellbeing [70]

Although biophilic architecture primarily focuses on the connection between people and nature, it is acknowledged that nature focused designs can bring additional benefits, such as a positive contribution towards people’s health and wellbeing. In the same way as the main principle of biophilic design is to reduce people’s disconnection with nature, the intention of biophilic architecture is to provide opportunities for meaningful interactions with it. As the understanding of nature deepens as a result of continuous and meaningful contact, the willingness of people to preserve and protect nature strengthens.[71]

The latter half of the project will focus on investigating how architecture can respond to the declining number of honey bees. *put summary of effects and consequences. The question!


The methodology of this project is the investigation of three case studies that were specifically selected because of their similar intentions to raise public awareness in urban beekeeping culture. These case studies often came up in the initial research, and as this project explored the topics of extinction of experience and biophilia, it made sense to choose them because the function of all three case studies was to engage people with honey bees and nature.

The review of the biophilic principles, combined with the factors that contribute to CCD in honey bees, have provided specific questions which are to be addressed to each case study. The following questions are:

  1. How has the case study applied biophilic principles to the design
  2. How did the case study attempt to achieve an interaction or engagement between people and the honey bees, and are they successful in achieving reducing extinction of experience?
  3. Does the case study actively respond to the declining number of honey bees, and how?

The chosen case studies are Vulkan Beehive project, Honey Factory and Elevator B.

Case Studies

Vulkan Beehive project:

The Vulkan Beehive project, designed by Norwegian architecture studio Snøhetta, is situated in central Oslo and features two wooden beehives located on rooftops between Mathallen and Dansens Huson. The project’s main intention was to introduce honey bees into the city and create an opportunity for the public to engage and learn about sustainable honey production[72].

The distinguishing feature that makes this beehive stand out from other regular beehives is the sculptural design, which was inspired by the natural geometry found in honeycombs. The distinctive honeycomb pattern and the light-coloured wood finish (see fig. 1) illustrates the intent to showcase the honey bees’ presence and their relationship with the local context, especially with Mathallen Oslo. Mathallen is a place for speciality shops, cafés and restaurants which the locally produced honey are sold. [73] In this case, the project highlights the process of honey production and emphasises the importance of honey bees are to food production through their role as pollinators. As a result, this project creates an opportunity for people to visually engage with beekeeping culture and food sustainability. As their appreciation for honey bees broadens, the more they understand how beneficial honey bees are to people’s lives.  This increases the willingness of people to preserve and protect it as previously remarked by Miller and Pyle.

The installation on the rooftop keeps the hives away from the public but still showcases the bee’s presence from the public areas on ground level. It is suggested that seeing bees roam around is one of the enjoyments nature can bring to people[74]. Combined with this point and the nearby presence of a food court with outdoor seating; the sight of honey bees can enhance people’s experience with the food court and it can encourage more portion of the day spent outside.

The project is part of a larger regeneration scheme to revitalise an area of the Akerselva River which is known for its many parks and green trails. The restoration of the parks and green spaces are vital to sustaining urban beekeeping as they are sources of food and shelter for honey bees. This suggests that the project is successful in bringing honey bees into the city because of the combined effects of the regeneration scheme. The beehive itself would not have been successful in responding to the decline of honey bees as it only provided a suitable habitat and shelter for honey bees. To achieve sustainable urban beekeeping, there must be an adequate number of crops and plants in the area to support the honey bee colony[75]. In this case, the restoration and regeneration of semi-natural landscapes in Oslo have provided abundant sources of nectar to allow the honey bees in this project to thrive.

Overall, the project has brought more honey bees into the city as originally intended. It is now home to a strong honey bee colony of 160,000[76]. This has demonstrated the success of sustainable urban beekeeping with the combination of the city-scale regeneration scheme. The project has also created an opportunity for the involvement of the public to engage with honey bees and nature just by the introducing sculptural beehives in the city. As this enhances their experience with nature, the frequency of visits to Mathallen would increase as more people are encouraged to spend more time outside to enjoy the benefits the project brings. Therefore reducing people’s disconnection and apathy towards nature, through the daily opportunities the project creates for a continuous contact with the honey bees.

*location next to the food court – i.e. bad idea

Figure 1: The distinctive honeycomb pattern and a light-coloured wood finished on Vulkan beehive.

Figure 2: The distinctive honeycomb pattern and a light-coloured wood finished on Vulkan beehive.

Honey Factory:

Honey Factory is an experimental project designed by Francesco Faccin, which houses a traditional beehive and equipment to process honey directly from the hive. Originally commissioned for an international exhibition, it was installed for 6 months as part of an exhibition on sustainable food production and farming[77]. The project’s intention is to provide a place within the urban environment to learn about sustainable urban beekeeping[78]. The designer collaborated with a professional beekeeper so that the design of the installation would satisfy and enhance the conditions a working beehive requires.

The distinctive design feature of this installation features a 4.5 metre tall “chimney” and acts to capture the curiosity of the public. This also accentuates the arrival of honey bees to the installation and the immediate surroundings. As a result, people are drawn to the installation where they can observe and interact with the honey bees. The design features an observation window on both the front and back elevation to allow people for a closer observation of the honey bees without disturbing the hive and protecting the spectator from the possibility of bee stings[79]. By producing this opportunity to allow meaningful interactions with honey bees, people’s apathy towards nature reduces and their willingness to preserve nature strengthens.

Working in collaboration with a professional beekeeper, the project provides courses and live demonstrations to the public to further inform them of sustainable beekeeping (See Fig.3). It is through these courses and demonstrations that enhance the positive contact between people and honey bees. Through a physical engagement alongside with the beekeeper, their interaction with urban beekeeping can reduce extinction of experience within themselves and are more inclined to protect and preserve the honey bees.

Similar to the Vulkan beehive, the success of this project depends on an adequate number of crops and plants within the range of honey bees to sustain the colony. The installation can be adapted to many different locations and the flexibility from this provides many opportunities for the installation to raise awareness in urban beekeeping throughout cities. Additionally, this also benefits the honey bees and the local biodiversity because this will increase the diversity of nectar intake in the honey bee’s diet when they encounter a vast range of plants whilst on a different location. However, problems may arise if the installation were to be installed near or areas where a large number of pollinators already resides in. Competition between honey bees and other pollinators can be more severe when floral resources are reduced. It has suggested this can negatively affect each party in terms of foraging efficiency[80].

The design of the installation specifically considered optimal conditions that a working beehive requires. The feature of the chimney allows for passive ventilation to occur so this can alleviate some of the pressure from the worker bees to maintain a constant temperature of 34°C of where the broods are kept in the hive. [81] Additionally, the structure of the Honey Factory prevents bad weather from affecting the beehive, for example, the mono-pitch roof draws away the water from entering inside the wooden installation (see Fig.2). In both of these approaches, the project has actively responded in the design to lighten the stress honey bees by optimising the conditions in the beehive.

Given these points, it can be said that this project has successfully created a place within the urban environment for people to interact and learn about urban beekeeping. The project provides opportunities for people to directly engage with the honey bees through live demonstrations and this can enhance people’s experience with honey bees and nature. This project promotes a biophilic lifestyle to city-dwelling people, as more time is spent outside with nature as a result of the installation[82]. As the time spent in contact with nature increase, the willingness to care about environmental concerns such as the declining number of honey bees strengthens[83].For this reason, the project has the potential to protect honeybees from a further decline in numbers.

*on stilt foundations – minimal impact to the environment

Figure 2: Live demonstration of urban beekeeping

Figure 3: A closer view of the beehives. Francesco Faccin, “Honey Factory,” 2015, http://www.francescofaccin.it/?p=1915.

Figure 4: The Honey Factory

Elevator B

‘Elevator B’ is the product of a group of architecture students from the University of Buffalo. The intention is to build an installation to act as a permanent home for honey bees that had taken up residence in an abandoned office building in Silo City, Buffalo. By relocating the honey bees from a restricted-access building and into this installation, the intent was to stimulate activity around the site by creating a 7 metre tower (see fig. 4) to bring the subject of beekeeping back into the attention of the public[84].

The beehive is suspended near the top of the tower in a glass-bottomed wooden box. Visitors enter into the tower through an opening on the ground level and they are able to look up and observe the working life of the honey bees inside a hive. As the visitor enters into the narrow and atmospheric shaft (see Fig. 5), this imposes an intimate engagement on to the visitor with the honey bees. The beehive is accessed by the beekeeper by lowering it through a pulley system which allows them to closely check the status of the honey bees. This feature can also be used to encourage visitors to get a closer view. A survey was conducted suggested that visitors purposely came to the site to experience this intimate interaction[85]. This demonstrates that project was successful in stimulating activity around the subject of beekeeping. This success is further illustrated by the efforts of the local nature preserve, having organised several school field trips to the tower, it is now in the process of developing a formal educational program centred on the importance of bees and CCD[86].

The tower is clad in steel hexagonal panels inspired by the natural honeycomb structure of beehives and they are perforated to allow light to and ventilation through the tower. It is said that the tower is designed to optimise conditions for the beehive[87] – and the panels can shelter the hive from adverse weather conditions and the panels are designed to allow for both solar shading and gain in summer and winter[88]. However, this should be further tested as the use of stainless steel in summer may provide too much solar gain for optimal conditions for the honey bees. The use of stainless steel panels was a response to the local context of former industry site as well emphasising the presence of the tower.

The tower was built as a permanent feature to the location, however, it has the potential to be adapted similarly to the Honey Factory where it can be moved and installed around different places like a temporary installation. The simple form and subtle design can easily integrate itself in urban parks whilst the stainless steel cladding and the immense stature can attract people’s attention easily. The honeycomb shaped panels can easily be seen from afar and project the intention of the project. The use of stainless steel panels may bring some solar relive during summer, however, will it be effective enough to maintain the optimal temperature a hive requires? Further testing is required to see if the use of the steel panels has any impact on the conditions of the beehive, however, given that this project started in 2012 and length of time has shown that the colony is still ‘buzzing’ suggest that conditions in the tower can sustain a honey bee colony.

This project has managed to bring people to engage with the honey bees in an exciting and unique manner. The journey of entering into the tower alone is mysterious and unknown; only for the visitor to be greeted by an atmospheric, tall and narrow shaft with a beehive suspended above them. It is through this opportunity that ‘Elevator B’ has enhanced visitors experience with the honey bees so they can have a better understanding of the honey bees and the environmental and physical stress they are under in. The willingness to take action to preserve and project increases; this is one of the outcomes the project advocates and is part of a biophilic trait in where contact with the environmental process is enhanced and it reduces extinction of nature through the intimate interaction the project creates.

As mentioned before, the honey bees were relocated to the tower as their previous habitat was in a nearby abandoned building. This meant that the location has an adequate amount of flora resources to sustain the colony. With no introduction of new colonies to the site from this project, it can imply that the installation of the tower enhanced what the site already provided.  Through this, it has managed to bridge the gap between humans and nature and installed a positive structure to provide a new habitat for honey bees.

How has the case study applied biophilic principles to the design

How did the case study attempt to achieve an interaction or engagement between people and the honey bees, and are they successful in achieving reducing extinction of experience?

Does the case study actively respond to the declining number of honey bees, and how?

Enhancing positive contact with environmental process[89]

Reducing the disconnection with nature[90]

Building within the context of culture and ecology[91]

All being basic to people’s health, productively, and wellbeing [92]

Figure 5:


This analysis of the ‘Vulkan beehive’, ‘Honey Factory’ and ‘Elevator B’ demonstrated the integration of biophilic principles in the design to illustrate how architecture can respond to the declining number of honey bees. Drawing upon the principles of biophilic design and extinction of experience that emphasise the connection between people and nature, the conclusion of all three case studies highlights on the following points in response to the question stated in the methodology.

Biophilic principles was not so heavily expressed in the design except for the ‘Vulkan beehive’ and ‘Elevator B’ where they both used imagery from the natural geometry found in honeycombs to express the project’s affiliation with honey bees. Whilst the ‘Honey Factory’ had no expressive design featured, the glazing between both sides of the structure provides the public to connect the project’s intention in relation with honey bees as people can watch and listen to the buzz of the honey bees behind the glazing.

All three case studies enhances people’s connection to nature by created an opportunity for them to positively engaging with environmental process – The Vulkan beehive provided some glimpses of the honey bee’s presence for the public, the Honey Factory provided live demonstrations and promoted in a more personal interaction with urban beekeeping as a result (see fig. 3) and the ‘Elevator B’ project for the public to glimpse into the life of honey bees without

allowed the public to visually to see the honey bees from

The physical engagement of people entering Elevator B and being able to so close to honey bees is far more a stronger interaction of the honey bees than the engagement of Honey Factory and Vulkan beehives achieve to do.

Limited information is available on existing case studies

Some projects are best evaluated after a decade or more.

*re-interate the question

* meaning of the case studies and their importance

*do they need to meet all the questions and criticial of biophilic princples to say it is successful

Are there other similar case studies

Was it right to move the honey bees in elevator b from their nature habitat

*limitations – how

The following observations were drawn from the case study findings and can act…

Thirdly, the reviewed studies were generally conducted over relatively short time frames leaving our understanding of the long-term benefits of interacting with nature unstudied. Lastly,

The introduction of the honey bees and their importance, the possible factors that may contribute to CCD and mitigative measures that can be tackle was only briefly discussed in this essay because of this restriction.

With the integration of biophilic architecture in cities, positive steps have been taken to respond to this and evidence have been found to suggest it can likely achieve multiple benefits within cities and people’s lives. Especially with how cities can be managed better and for the general public to engage in meaningful interaction with nature where the majority of the population live and work. The scale of how much biophilic architecture is required to produce a significant outcome is yet to be explored however this can be expanded on for further research.

Further recommendations and strategies

There are numerous of actions which governments and local communities can take to reverse CCD in honey bees. This is a further recommendation from how architecture can respond to the decline of the honey bees and the findings established in chapter -mitigative and preventive measures to CCD.

Firstly, further information and research should be encouraged on the general health and activity of honey bees. It is important to continuously collect data from these factors which will help to reveal a better understanding of the future. It is suggested that there is a lack of general of standardisation in reports which makes it difficult to compare and interpret data. There are now several EU initiatives scheme to establish the standardisation of surveillance and information collection such as the COLOSS network (Prevention of honey bee COlony LOSSes) and is one of the largest honey bee networks with 41 countries involved[93]. This will be useful as researchers and elected officials begin to use the research to develop agriculture and land-use policies to ensure they respond to the declining number of honey bees.

Honey bees are part of a vast range of pollinators and just a small representation of the bee species. Alike to the honey bees, other wild bees and pollinators heavily depend on the flora resources and are reported to be experiencing similar frequent losses in numbers despite other bee species more versatile than the honey bee[94]. In addition to the research about honey bees, it will be important to know how the loss of other pollinators will impact agriculture and local ecology and for researchers to begin to develop strategies to cope with the effects of declining pollinators to sustain agriculture over time. It is then important to educate colleges and communities about the factors that contribute towards the decline of the honey bee’s health and to provide them with opportunities to reverse this trend.

By being directly involved, people can have a better understanding of honey bees and the benefits they can bring. Therefore it is important for government officials and leaders to actively engage in actions that promote and reverse the trend of CCD. For example, Michelle Obama initiated for the White House to plant a pollinator garden which provided habitats for bees, birds and butterflies as part of efforts to promote pollinator health[95]. Initiatives like this provide an opportunity for people to appreciate and gain a better understanding of the direct role honey bees play in their lives. As a result, people and word leaders alike can make informed decisions about policies in regards with the future of the honey bees.

Planting gardens and beekeeping are some of the methods that the general public can achieve in order to gain a better appreciate for nature and honey bees. The use of rooftops is increasingly favoured upon as the shortage of spaces in cities increases. The placement of honey bees on rooftops is a perfect example of how the benefits of keeping honey bees can be tied into a city. For an example, the Mayor of Chicago in 2003 initiated in placing beehives on top of the city hall after seeing first-hand benefits of keeping bees in the urban environment during his visit in Germany.[96] This has resulted in policies and regulations to become relaxed to allow more people to keep beehives on the rooftops. However, it is important to educate communities and schools about sustainable beekeeping otherwise novice and inexperienced beekeepers can do more harm than good towards the overall health of the honey bees.

on building facades.

better appreciate the importance of honeybees and the direct role that these pollinators play in our lives. By being directly involved with bees, people can better understand colony collapse disorder and make informed decisions about honeybee policies.

However, the scale of how much connection is needed for people to see as nature relevant to their lives is a question to expand on for further research.

However, the scale of how much connection is needed for people to see as nature relevant to their lives for them to invest and preserve in its protection – this is a question that can be expanded on further research.


The honey bee population is rapidly declining. Increasing urbanisation and intensive agriculture are thought to be a great concern among conservation scientists but the ability to reverse this trend in government and the general public is lacking. Scientists and others alike have all emphasised how vital it is to maintain a viable population of honey bees. However, in order to do so, more attention is needed to restore the relationship between people and the natural world. The emergence of biophilic architecture could be implemented within cities to reduce extinction of experience in humanity whilst helping to alleviate symptoms of CCD in honey bees. Research is needed to develop an accurate understanding of the principles of biophilia and the type and amount that is required for specific outcomes such to reversing this trend over time.

This essay explores the case studies in how it could be employed to encourage better connection with people and nature within cities. They have also responded to the decline in honey bees through the emphasis of honey bee’s importance as their role in pollination. They also illustrate the potential that the small-scale projects can produce in raising awareness of honey bees’ rapid demise and increasing biodiversity is a few examples highlighted. The case studies and other references suggest by that by incorporating biophilic architecture into the urban environment, it can likely achieve multiple benefits such as the improvement of people’s health and wellbeing, increase of biodiversity in cities and effectively, how cities can be managed better with the integration of nature.

Together, these factors can demonstrate how cities can reduce the extinction of experience by simple changes in the public’s lifestyle such as: maintaining and establishing new bee-friendly spaces such as gardens and flower beds, and taking up beekeeping are a few things the general public can achieve to do to enhance and increase their daily contact with nature.

Miller summarised that as people’s lives become more exposed to the environmental process and see it as relevant to their lives, so does their willingness to invest in its protection. To further establish Miller’s statement, this will require many people such as conservation scientists, planners, architects and health professions to work together for the general public to engage in meaningful interaction with nature in cities where the majority of the population live and work. Otherwise, without these interactions with nature and the prevention for further losses in honey bees; the potential benefits for people and honey bees are too great to continue to ignore.


Although this essay has concluded that opportunities architecture has created in a response to the declining number of honey bees, there were some unavoidable limitations.

Firstly, because of the time limit, this essay was only briefly touched the basics of CCD and the information available from the reviewed case studies were collected over a short time period.  There has been no recent review of the current statues of the case studies, only leaving our understanding of the long term benefits unstudied and having to speculation their success over time.

Secondly, the accuracy on the information collected can be questionable. This is because throughout the research papers and journal used, there are considerable limitations of the available data because of the lack of generalisation of methodology used to collect the data and the complexity of the various factors.  Therefore it required a careful interpretation on the data but this

Thirdly and most importantly, the question of how architecture can respond to the declining number of honey bees is a subject that was too ambitious to be answered fully in a restriction of 10,000 word essay. The term ‘architecture’ is vast and can be applied to many different fields. As a result, this essay was able to discover the subject of biophilic architecture and explored their fundamental principles on the analysis of the case studies. However there are more types of architecture fields that was suggested to develop in chapter 10.0 – Further recommendations.

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[22] Ibid.

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[27] Ibid.

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[36] Frazier et al., “What Have Pesticides Got to Do with It?”

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[62] Pyle, The Thunder Tree: Lessons from an Urban Wildland, 81.

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[66] Timothy Beatley, Biophilic Cities: Integrating Nature Into Urban Design and Planning (Washington: Island Press, 2011), 168.

[67] Kellert, Heerwagen, and Mador, Biophilic Design: The Theory, Science and Practice of Bringing Buildings to Life, 8.

[68] Ibid.

[69] Stephen R. Kellert and Elizabeth F. Calabrese, “The Practice of Biophilic Design,” 2001, 20, www.biophilic-design.com.

[70] Ibid.

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[76] Dan Howarth, “Francesco Faccin Creates ‘micro Architecture’ for Bees with Honey Factory,” Deezen, 2015, https://www.dezeen.com/2015/07/01/francesco-faccin-honey-factory-urban-beehive-bees-triennale-museum-milan-expo-2015/.

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[78]  Francesco Faccin, “Honey Factory,” 2015, http://www.francescofaccin.it/?p=1915.

[79] Howarth, “Francesco Faccin Creates ‘micro Architecture’ for Bees with Honey Factory.”

[80] Georgios Goras et al., “Impact of Honeybee (Apis Mellifera L.) Density on Wild Bee Foraging Behaviour,” Journal of Apicultural Science 60, no. 1 (2016): 50, doi:10.1515/jas-2016-0007.

[81] Ratnieks and Alton, “To Bee or Not to Bee,” 14.

[82]  Beatley, Biophilic Cities: Integrating Nature Into Urban Design and Planning, 167.

[83] Danielle F. Shanahan et al., “The Health Benefits of Urban Nature: How Much Do We Need?,” BioScience 65, no. 5 (2015): 476–85, doi:10.1093/biosci/biv032.

[84]Lori Zimmer, “‘Elevator B’ Is a Gleaming Skyscraper Home for Bees!,” Inhabitat, 2012, http://inhabitat.com/elevator-b-is-a-gleaming-skyscraper-home-for-a-bee-colony-in-buffalo/.

[85] Amy Frearson, “Skyscraper for Bees by University at Buffalo Students,” Deezen, 2013, https://www.dezeen.com/2013/05/06/skyscraper-for-bees-by-university-at-buffalo-students/.

[86] Ibid.

[87] Ibid.

[88] Patricia Donovan, “Animal Architecture: Rescued Bee Colony Gets New Waterfront Home,” University at Buffalo, 2012, http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2012/06/13491.html.

[89] Kellert, Heerwagen, and Mador, Biophilic Design: The Theory, Science and Practice of Bringing Buildings to Life, 8.

[90] Ibid.

[91] Stephen R. Kellert and Elizabeth F. Calabrese, “The Practice of Biophilic Design,” 2001, 20, www.biophilic-design.com.

[92] Ibid.

[93] Potts et al., “Declines of Managed Honey Bees and Beekeepers in Europe,” 21.

[94] Persson et al., “Bumble Bees Show Trait-Dependent Vulnerability to Landscape Simplification,” 24.

[95] Office of the First Lady, “First Lady Michelle Obama Dedicates White House Kitchen Garden and Highlights Impact of Let’s Move! On Healthy Living,” The White House, 2016, https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/10/05/first-lady-michelle-obama-dedicates-white-house-kitchen-garden-and.

[96] Veronica Hinke, “Here & There: Beekeeping on a Chicago Rooftop Garden,” Herb Companion Magazine, accessed February 1, 2017, http://www.motherearthliving.com/Cooking-Methods/here-there-beekeeping-on-chicago-rooftop-garden.

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