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Design and Build an Artificial Beehive.

Completing my final year project, producing an open source beehive, and hoping to interact with the online maker community

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The aim of this project is to design and build an artificial beehive, with the view to repopulate bee species using sustainable materials/processes and monitoring the nests using sensors. This project will involve product design, extensive material research, mechanical engineering, and programming in order to provide a fully working prototype.

In this period of upheaval due to COVID-19, the new isolation restrictions mean that I no longer have access to manufacturing facilities. I am therefore hoping to reach out to the online maker community (particularly those with an interest in beekeeping and product design) who can share their knowledge and expertise in order to develop my designs.

I will upload any sketches and STL. files of prototypes and my final design if anyone wishes to manufacture it and share their recommendations for any improvements.

Honey bees are under extreme pressure. Recently, there have been growing concerns over the global threat to bees, with 25 species threatened and 31 of conservation concern in the UK alone. Research shows a 54% decrease in honeybee hives in the UK between 1985 and 2005, which further prompts concern over the ‘pollination crisis.The biggest contributor to this decline is viruses spread by a parasite, Varroa Destructor. But this isn’t a natural situation. The parasite is spread by beekeeping practices, including keeping the bees in conditions that are very different from their natural abode of tree hollows.

The heat losses in man-made honey bee hives are many times greater than those in natural nests. Now, using engineering techniques more commonly found probing industrial problems, it has been proven that the current design of man-made hives also creates lower humidity and temperature levels that favour the Varroa parasite. To maintain temperature homeostasis in a cool environment, energy lost through the nest enclosure must be made up by more honeybee activity and stress, either to generate more heat or to cluster. Langstroth beehives (typically made from wood) experience 7-8 times more heat loss than natural nests.

So if I can redesign beekeeper hives to recreate the conditions of a natural tree enclosure we could help stop the parasite and give honey bees a chance to recover. Therefore, after extensive research I have decided to design a beehive made from plastic (provided it is non-toxic), due to their insulating properties.

  • Thermal Performance of Beehive Design 2

    bjenkinson105/02/2020 at 19:44 0 comments

    A thermal simulation using Fusion 360 was used to evaluate the heat flux out of the beehive with a temperature difference of 20 degrees.

    - Convection in the air gap was neglected due its small thickness of 15mm. 

  • Beehive Parts 2

    bjenkinson104/20/2020 at 16:06 0 comments

    The frames, frame holder, screws and supers have been designed the same as the top half allowing the beekeepers to add as many supers as they wish. 

    ENTRANCE

    The bee hives have one bottom entrance with a size of 10cm^2, similar to natural hives found in tree cavities. 

    STAND

    Provides ergonomic height for the bees, as the entrance will not be blocked by grass etc.

  • Beehive Parts

    bjenkinson104/20/2020 at 16:00 0 comments

    LID

    The beehive has slanted lid so rain water can 'run off' the hive without leaking into any other compartments. It is also made up of a thick layer material in order to reduce the amount of heat loss through the roof.

    FRAME HOLDER & FRAMES

    The frame holder will maintain at 8mm bee-space between frames. The frame holder is to be hand drilled into the main body using M6x65 screws.

    SUPERS 

    The honey supers have been designed as two separate parts (so they can fit into a CNC machines build volume) which are easily assembled using press fit joints. 

  • Design 2

    bjenkinson104/20/2020 at 15:22 0 comments

    Below i have included renders of my second design, I have included a double-wall feature where the air gap can act as insulation for the beehives and therefore lower the rate of heat transfer. 

    Due to Covid-19 I am unable to manufacture this, instead I intend to run a thermal insulation to validate this design. For anyone who wishes to build this I will attach the CAD files (I suggest this be manufactured via CNC machining, with the frame holders be drilled into the main body using a hand drill machine or similar). 

    This urban beehive has been designed to provide easier maintenance, and to be more aesthetically pleasing than current traditional beehives whilst providing a more natural enclosure for the honey bees. The hive has a volume of 45L as seen below, however this can be altered depending on adding or removal supers. 

    Any feedback for my dissertation will be greatly appreciated. 

  • Initial Concept

    bjenkinson103/26/2020 at 15:51 0 comments

    I have attached sketches of prototype 1 (a mini hive), the beehive is intended to be assembled modularly (currently manufactured out of PLA as it is non-toxic, biodegradable and doesn't shrink as much as ABS).

    Each part will be attached using bayonet fittings (i have also attached images of how this works) although I still need to determine tolerances. Once tolerances and wall thickness have been determined I will consider how the final design can be scaled up. 

    Second iteration of this prototype coming soon; with ventilation and insulation improvements. 

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David Polson wrote 12/18/2019 at 09:08 point

I'd love to see some pictures of your ideas. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

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