Behive design

I was asked to manufacture a box for Bee’s. The customer who is currently undertaking a PHD in Animal Psychology at Exeter University needed a specific sized box with handles enabling it to be carried to different locations. There also needed to be ventilation with out
letting in rain.
Using the off cuts of TGV from a garage door I am making and some Marine plywood I came up with this box. The vent holes are 4mm in diameter which after some experimentation proved to be the exact size hole to allow air in but keep water out. The whole piece was finished with three coats of varnish.

Buff-tailed bumblebees (Bombus terrestris audax), are important native pollinators in the UK. Colonies are found underground and comprise a queen, males, and up to several hundred workers, though the number of worker bees in a colony can vary greatly. The lid of the bumblebee box protects the colony from incoming light, mimicking the naturally dark environment found inside the hive. Workers can be individually released from the hive and travel up the tube in the Perspex box, in a similar way in which they would travel through a tunnel to the surface of their underground hive. Upon exiting the tube, bumblebees form a spatial memory of the nest’s location, in a display called a “learning” flight, in which they circle the nest entrance and memorise its location. This facilitates the ability of workers to return to the nest after foraging. The tube’s exit hole is lined with blue tape, which provides a prominent visual cue to help the bees memorise the appearance of the nest entrance. The ability to form a spatial memory of the nest is not unique to bumblebees, and can be found across many different types of hymenopteran insects, including in wasps and ants.


The bumblebee box allows the hive to be transported so that workers can forage in a range of different environments, including in agricultural and in urban settings. Wild bumblebees can now commonly be found nesting in both agricultural and urban environments, and understanding bumblebee foraging behaviour within these landscapes is becoming increasingly important due to the expansion of agricultural activities and urbanisation in the UK. For example, urban light pollution, which can be generated by outdoor lighting, businesses and residential housing, may disrupt bees’ circadian rhythms, affecting colony survival and productivity. Such factors are currently the topics of research investigation that can help inform the conservation of bees and the pollination services they provide.

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