Bee Alert

by Erika Woelfel

Many of us have heard the alarming and puzzling stories about the world’s shrinking bee population. Not only is this a bad turn for those who enjoy honey in their tea; the greater concern is how dying bees can impact the global food supply. Although it is difficult to quantify, scientists believe bee pollination accounts for the propagation of nearly 1/3 of the plants, fruits and vegetables we are accustomed to consuming. With this understanding, the bee’s role is critical to our basic nutrition!

Scientists are racing to discover why global bee populations are diminishing. Studies point to certain pesticides as the culprit, but other factors may include fewer flowers thanks to land development; and bees succumbing to mites, viruses and exposure to other pathogens.


Increasing public awareness has brought the bee’s plight to the limelight. Backyard beekeeping has become an extremely popular activity. It is possible to keep bees in both rural and urban areas, thanks to kits that teach amateur bee keepers how to keep a thriving hive. Current cities that allow bee keeping in residential areas include Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Minneapolis, New York, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle and certain counties in California.


Bee keeping in a residential area brings honey to local areas.

Designers are also keeping track of the bee-keeping trend, finding new ways to give shelter to these insects and their fragile existence. A tower hive designed by architecture students from the University of Buffalo gives the humblebee hive a 21st Century make-over. The eco-art project is named Elevator B for the grain distribution area where it is located. The 22-foot tall hexagonal structure is made of steel and cypress that help insulate it in the winter. Triangular cut-outs in the metal allow the bees to come and go.


A doorway at the bottom of the structure allows viewers to enter the hive. A glass panel mounted overhead allows a view of the bees working inside the structure.

Hive mentality: Inspired by the honeycomb design and colors, a shelving unit supports the amazing life of a bee and their role in the environment.


Colorfully yours,




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