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Gadget Allows You to Keep Bees In Your Apartment 252

greenrainbow writes "Philips just unveiled a new concept for an urban beehive that would allow anyone to become an amateur bee keeper – even those who live in apartments with no backyards. Best of all you pull a little string and all the fresh honey you want comes out. Hopefully no bees come with it!"


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Gadget Allows You to Keep Bees In Your Apartment

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  • At most, all the fresh honey contained therein will come out. This may be less than all the fresh honey I want.

    • IANABK but aren't the cells containing honey capped with wax? Maybe excess honey drains to the bottom, but from what I've seen on tv, the bees do a pretty good job of containing the honey
  • is this a /. troll?
  • by kellyb9 ( 954229 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @11:00AM (#37999276)

    Philips Unveils Sexy Urban Beehive Concept

    I'll admit... it's entirely possible that I don't understand the meaning of that word.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by SJHillman ( 1966756 )

      It all depends on a person's fetishes...

    • by Chrisq ( 894406 )

      Philips Unveils Sexy Urban Beehive Concept

      I'll admit... it's entirely possible that I don't understand the meaning of that word.

      Just in case you're mind's going where I think it is, on no account should you stick your dick in a beehive..... At least without smoking it first.

    • by vlm ( 69642 )

      The second "outside" photo looks a heck of a lot like a urinal. I suppose with aggressive enough bees drunk guys will only make the mistake once. The phrase "in the closet" has been replaced by certain morally superior republican lawmakers with "in the bathroom" so to a certain red state constituency this probably is extremely sexy.

      Now if you remember the "milk bar" scene from Clockwork Orange then something similar outputting honey would be kind of cool, but this is not it.

      The final possibility is someth

    • You think that's bad? I once read of an external laptop battery pack being described as "sexy" in a trade magazine a number of years ago.
  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <(eldavojohn) (at) (> on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @11:01AM (#37999280) Journal
    I'm not a beekeeper but my aunt had a couple hive boxes that she kept year round. One had a hive that stayed around but the other had a problem of dying off or swarming and moving away (despite the fact that we treated each box exactly the same and packed them with hay bails just before winter). Once she captured a hive with a nuc and successfully moved it into the failing hive box but it didn't last long. This minimalist design appears to solve the warmth issue (by keeping it on the inside of your home) but what happens when your swarm moves or your queen dies and there's no brood to create a new hive? Is there a method to repopulating these things?

    Also, does anyone know if bees select their hives based on locality to fields and nectar sources? From my aunt's experiences, bees seem to be fickle creatures and will readily leave due to inattentive keepers. I imagine a lot of these things would just end up empty.

    One more concern is that the small aperture on the outside might be subject to blockage by freezing rain, ice or snow and in the picture it looks like it would be hard to remedy that.
    • From what i know just sticking a swarm into an empty hive will work well enough - you just need to get yourself a swarm from a local bee keeper (can't wait for all the lawsuits from people stung by agitated bees).

    • by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @11:12AM (#37999408)

      A lot of good questions there.

      I would presume that there's some form of service contract or services that can be purchased for things like "seeding" a new hive. What I'd be more worried about is the aspect of getting it cleaned out if you had a hive die-off due to infection or mites.

      As for how bees select their hives... that's an oddity. I would guess that there was some unknown difference between your aunt's two hives - either in the genealogy of the bees themselves, or the location of the hive, like too much or too little shade compared to the other one. As you said, they can be fickle creatures. With the indoor/outdoor aspect, I'd be more worried about them getting fooled by the interior temperature during winter, and sending out all their scouts to die off in freezing temperatures.

      In the other side though... you're about one 5-year-old with a baseball bat from having an angry swarm of bees in your apartment and a giant honey mess on the floor with this design. I don't know if that's such a great thought.

    • by Slartibartfast ( 3395 ) <ken @ j> on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @11:27AM (#37999630) Homepage Journal

      A hive that doesn't winter well is a sickly hive; something's wrong. A hive that's kept warm all winter, I'd actually have huge concerns about: the bees' metabolism would kick into gear: they'd both need more food, and (likely) need to clean the hive. The first would be... interesting to implement, the second would almost certainly be impossible with temperatures near or below freezing. (Bees really don't like to be out in temps below the mid 50's.)

      Bees don't leave due to inattentive keepers; they leave only when something is incredibly stressful in their environment -- not enough to forage from (though that's almost inconceivable in most locales, including cities), or -- far more likely -- persistent pestering by skunks, raccoons, etc. They seem to have no problem trying to get some honey for themselves in the middle of the night. There are two ways bees leave a hive: swarming, which is really just when the hive is large enough to branch out, and absconding, which is Bad News, and almost always due to environmental factors.

      And, yes, I was a beekeeper. ;-)

      • My question is if bees can even survive a winter if their hive is kept warm. I though the low temperatures during winter were what enabled the workers to survive so much longer then their normal 'summer' lifetime.

        • by flink ( 18449 )

          Bees don't hibernate or anything. During the winter, they expend a huge amount of energy keeping their hive warm. They must maintain a hive temperature between 85 and 95 degrees to survive. They do this by clustering together and rapidly vibrating their wings. That's what honey is for: it's stored energy so they can perform this function when there is no food available during the winter.

          So bees kept indoors might actually survive better due to not needing to expend as much energy. The only question I gu

          • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @02:09PM (#38001912)

            Bees actually do learn when there is food available and when there isn't. There are times in the San Joaquin Valley when it is a virtual desert for the bees. There's simply no forage for them at all. During this dearth the bees don't bother to send out foragers for food at all, just for water. They can tell the temperature outside and they won't fly outside to forage, just only quick enough to relieve themselves on a warm day. Having them indoors would help them get through the winter as long as you don't take their honey during that period. They wouldn't have to spend so much energy to keep warm and they'll still cluster. There's a lot of signals that tell the hive what to do. One of them is the length of the day. Shortening days tell the queen to slow down on egg laying and tell the workers to start getting the hive ready for the coming winter.

            While the design is cool, I see a lot of potential for problems. Bees like their privacy. While there are observation hives, they have covers to block the light from entering the hive when it's not being observed. Bees don't like light entering the hive, period, and will most likely try to cover the glass with propolis in an attempt to block out the light. If they can't do that then there's a great potential for them to abscond. It needs a cover for when they're not being observed. Simply filtering light to the orange spectrum is not going to help them.

            The article states that the hive will use some sort of foundation to guide the bees where to draw out comb. If the foundations are made out of plastic, and are not covered in a thin layer of wax, good luck in getting the bees to accept it. They'd rather draw out wonky comb where they want rather than use plastic foundation and that could mean that the glass gets covered with comb. To someone who really doesn't have any experience with bees, this means opening the hive to get that comb off the glass.

            I could go on and on, but in so many ways this is so wrong and it shouldn't be done. I am a Beekeeper in California by the way. Bees should only be kept where they can be put a safe distance from people. Bees can become extremely defensive of their hives and the potential for getting stung rises with how close you are to the hive. If you're within 10 feet of the entrance, you're considered a participant and fair game for a sting.

          • Bees don't keep the hive warm. Bees keep the *cluster* warm. At the center, it's near the temps you describe (which is where the queen hangs out); the fringes are considerably colder. The hive, itself, is probably several degrees above ambient, but it sure the hell ain't in the 80's. So, yeah, I completely disagree. ;-) If their metabolism were anything like it is in the summer, they would live the six-odd weeks that is the usual lifetime for a worker. As it is, wintering bees can see close to six mon

        • For a length explanation of this, read about how bees keep themselves warm []. Summer bees work themselves to death.
    • In an interview with a beekeeper:

      Phillips: I showed him some first phase renders of the Initial beehive concepts and asked him his opinion in general about the idea.

      Beekeeper: It is actually not a bad idea. It is kind of an existing product for beekeepers. It is a one hive system in a glass box and they use it for educational purposes. Also as a show element in markets and so on to promote their products and increase awareness for the bees and beekeeping. These are not suitable for honey production in a l

  • As a beekeper (Score:5, Informative)

    by PhracturedBlue ( 224393 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @11:01AM (#37999282)

    I have lots of questions, like, how can you extract the honey from the comb automatically? the normal way to do this is via centrifuge, and generally, you want to do that without the bees. also, bees are messy. They fill every nook and cranny with propolis, and build wherever there is space. By guess is the glass would fill up with extra comb and propolis making the hive a lot less elegant. Lastly...Smoking and then opening the hive into the home? That is crazy. Smoking bees calms them but it doesn't anesthetize them. They still fly around some, and they still don't like you messing with the comb after smoking.

    • Re:As a beekeper (Score:5, Informative)

      by MancunianMaskMan ( 701642 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @11:06AM (#37999338)
      As a fellow beekeeper, i'd go further and say this is utter BS. Like most of the "inhabitat" stuff, actually.
      • Re:As a beekeper (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @11:13AM (#37999430)

        Also as a fellow beekeeper, there are so many things wrong with this system that I don't know where to start. Beekeeping is taking care of bees, and unless you can pull and inspect combs to deal with queen cells/aging queens/wax moths/mites/foul brood/cycling old comb/harvesting/collecting pollen?/oh dear god...

        Let alone, keeping the bees room temperature during the winter encourages the hive to fly on cold days and kill itself.

        Oh, and the weight of the hive will drastically increase and change over the course of the year. Where's the physical support?

        And how would you get your bees into the hive in the first place? Not a large enough opening to dump a box of bees in. ...


      • It looks like it's a conceptual art project designed by someone who's never left the city and that it has never actually been tried. The pictures are mock-ups.

    • Re:As a beekeper (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @11:08AM (#37999372)

      I was a beekeeper for about 10 years. Had about 150 hives at my peak. I completely agree with you. How in the world are you supposed to maintain this thing? Its not like you can just scrape propolis off. That stuff is natures caulking! Also, there is no queen excluder, so you can't control where eggs are laid. This means the eggs with be in the center of the comb and spread radially. You probably won't have any comb that is just honey, so extraction without decimating the population will be nearly impossible. I suspect the person who designed this learned about bees by reading a Winey the Poo book.

      • Dude, it's not an actual product. It's a piece of concept art. It's not intended to be functional. It's designed to appeal to urban hipsters so that they can feel like they are ecologically responsible. Or something. The same ones who keep a compost container on their apartment counter despite the fact that they have no garden to use it on.

      • Simple, easy to correct design flaws. This is more artful than anything, and the "string" is non-existent--that hole is for smoking the hive to remove the glass pane. Of course it needs redesign with a confined separate area for the queen, and removable panels so you can smoke out the bees and get at the honeycombs. If only you could build a one-way panel that only let bees out, but not in ... then, with the turn of a key, close it as a door and allow the upper compartment to empty. Then open that and r
    • Re:As a beekeper (Score:5, Informative)

      by TFAFalcon ( 1839122 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @11:10AM (#37999396)

      The bigger question is how you get the honey but not the eggs/larva. While probably not inedible, honey with all the extra 'protein' would be quite disgusting.

      • Comb generally doesn't mix the two. Larvae and honey are usually stored in separate locations. That being said, I have no idea how "pulling the string" would be able to differentiate. I imagine, however, that a strainer of some sort could keep most of the unpleasantness away. That being said, "as a fellow beekeeper," I, too, am with MancunianMaskMan: I just don't see how this could reasonably be expected to work, especially in cooler locales, where they'd be wintering in a room-temperature environment.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          This is not true. I've removed dozens of hives from the walls and attics of homes, as well as several trees that were being removed. I've even removed a hive that was built on the OUTSIDE of a limb (I guess the swarm gave up looking for a home). Think of the hive as a sphere (adapted in shape to the enclosure). The eggs are generally at the center of the hive and as the hive grows in size, the radius of the comb that contains eggs grows as well. Honey and pollen are stored on the outer most part of the

      • by Thud457 ( 234763 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @11:33AM (#37999694) Homepage Journal
        NO , the bigger question is why we have more than four people claiming to be beekeepers on /.
        That's a demographic, there.
        • I'm less interested in why we have beekeepers, and more interested in how one becomes one. Is there some education you pursue? Did you decide on it as a career, or get to it by happenstance? Did you always love bees, or did you wake up one day and think, "I want to herd bees!" How hard is the business aspect of it? Is it your main business, or were you already a farmer and this is just a supplement?

          I realize some of these sound flippant; I'm sorry. It's such a foreign thing, and yet pretty cool. I doubt

          • Re:Beekeepers! (Score:4, Interesting)

            by xC0000005 ( 715810 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @03:18PM (#38002796) Homepage
            I just do it for fun. I enjoy working the bees and learning about them. I enjoy writing about working with them (though over time my writing changed from describing "mystical forces" to being backed by research papers and studies). I woke up one day as an adult and realized that hey, there was nothing keeping me from getting some bees except me. So I found a local association, read a book, and got some equipment. And did I mention there's honey involved?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dunsel ( 559042 )

          Most /. readers had an ant farm as a kid and loved it.
          Keeping a beehive is a natural extension of that love.
          A glass walled beehive in your house is an unnatural extension of that love but it is damn cool.

        • Beekeeping is what nerds did in the middle ages before computers and HAM and model trains.

    • by nschubach ( 922175 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @11:26AM (#37999620) Journal

      the normal way to do this is via centrifuge, and generally, you want to do that without the bees.

      And deprive the bees of a carnival ride?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I'm just stunned with the number of beekeepers that read slashdot
  • If we feed this honey to dogs will they be dogs with bees in their mouths and when they bark they shoot bees at you?

  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @11:13AM (#37999426)
    So... it's Christmas, you have your entire family over, Uncle Pete is drunk again... doing his rendition of Grandma got ran over by a rain deer... trips of your sons new dump truck, reaches up to balance himself and pulls the entire hive down and crushes it under his drunken body as your relatives look on in horror. There's about a 3 second pause before you hear a single slurred word from Uncle Pete: "Owe... I think I gots bit er somthin... *gurgle*" the room erupts in screaming as people start climbing over each other trying to get to the door. Queue the Monty Python music, you'd better hope Santa brings you some calamine lotion.
  • Now have a look outside of that window. Where would the bees go to collect the pollen?
  • Very pretty, very functional. Now, rig this thing to fall off and smash when there's movement in the room in the small hours, and we've got a perfect burglar alarm. If you were attacked in the dark by a swarm of angry bees, the whole street would hear you screaming!

    And then there are the health benefits. Even if it didn't dissuade any burglars, it'd make you think long and hard about those 3am fridge raids...

  • by JustAnotherIdiot ( 1980292 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @11:20AM (#37999530) time we hear about this, it'll be a news story on how terribly this actually works.
    I seriously can not see this ending well.
    • We won't hear about that history. That is because PR only works one way, but it is also because of other things:

      1 - The bees won't survive on apartments. They won't have anything to eat, so all the other problems won't happen. There won't be bees attacking people, difficulty on getting the honey, birds suddenly deciding to live inside your house, this thing breaking, it getting ugly with time or any other problem.

      2 - It won't sell nearly as much to get at the news again. People aren't that crazy, and are la

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @11:21AM (#37999550)

    But that's not to say it would end well for either of us.

  • How does breeding more bees solve the problem of having too many son's of bees in most cities?

    More importantly (and more seriously), this is a lawsuit waiting to happen. And no landlord is going to like you cutting holes in your windowpanes (yes, I read the original press release [], not just the stupid article).

    Seems it would also violate rules against the number of "pets" you're allowed to have. Also, the honey produced in an urban setting would probably have too many contaminants to be healthy.

  • April (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Is it April the 1st already?!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I can't imagine the bees will be happy to have their diurnal rhythm screwed up by having their hive interior irregularly lit at night from room lighting.

  • by Zinho ( 17895 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @11:36AM (#37999748) Journal

    If you look at the Phillips Urban Beehive page [] you'll see that the pull cord is simply a smoke release, not a honey extractor. Even with the smoke, I wouldn't want to be running beekeeping operations in my kitchen. In fact, I'd be willing to say that the only purpose of this design is decorative, not functional: it's for people that just want to look at bees and feel good about being "close to nature" in their homes. I'll let the beekeepers on the forum take care of the rest of the design's flaws, they've already got it covered.

  • by Is0m0rph ( 819726 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @11:38AM (#37999768)
    welcome our sexy, urban dwelling, bee swarm overlords
  • Anyone else old enough to remember Nickerson Farms restaurants?

    They had something like this in every one.

  • it is a concept after all, so some of it's shortcomings might be obvious to apiarist that aren't to the industrial designer who came up with the concept.

    from a non-beekeeper perspective, some things seem lacking:
    ingress/egress opening looks too small for proper venting... don't drones need larger openings in the summer to fan cooler air into the hive?
    mechanism for extracting honey probably is destroying cells to release honey... wouldn't the bees build around this mechanism after a few uses?
    i thought queens

    • It's not about the queen needing a special chamber, but if you let her move freely about the hive, then the cells filled with honey will be mixed with those occupied by her brood (eggs/larva). Since beekeepers don't want that, there is usually a 'barrier' inside the hive, that prevents the queen from accessing the part intended for later harvesting.

  • honey as a sweetener and go for something more humane, sustainable, and less likely to fill the kitchen with bees. []
    you might also solve this problem in the process []
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )


      What do you think happens when we get honey? we squish bees and the sweet stuff comes out?

      I suggest you learn as to how honey is made and harvested.

  • by j-turkey ( 187775 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @12:03PM (#38000040) Homepage
    I'd rather have a gadget to do exactly the opposite. That is, keep bees far away from my domicile.

    (not the inverse, which would turn my domicile into a massive beehive...{shiver}).
  • The second I see one of these in my apartment complex is the second I confront my landlord (and possibly, look for another place to live.)

  • It's covered in bees!

  • Half of this is in fact possible, and is already being done and has been for decades...its called an "observation hive". Glass on at least one side, sits inside where it can be seen, a tube through a wall lets the bees get outside, so on and so forth. Google can tell you all about them.

    The "pull a string for honey" part, however, and at least in my opinion, is total nonsense. Bees are not going to deposit the honey in a convenient comb-free location. And simply squeezing honey out of the comb would be a goo

  • All you need to do is give the bees an escape route, plastic tubes are used all the time for indoor hives.

    Problem is, hive maintenance is a PITA. Beehives need to be maintained, they are not automatic by the bees, the wax buildup in a active hive will become huge if you dont harvest it regularly.

    Any fool with some wood, plexiglass and PVC pipe can make an indoor hive.. BUT, if you dont maintain it and help them swarm to new hives, they will find a way to expand outside your hive and int your home. Be

  • This is technology. something which you can see in your neighbor's wall someday in future. The fact that it is not information technology doesnt make it less technology, leave aside 'idle'.
  • by SpaceAmoeba ( 1159183 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @01:36PM (#38001370)

    until they've worked the bugs out.

  • by RealSalmon ( 177174 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @01:44PM (#38001508)

    I am an avid beekeeper (yes, yet another on /. . . . very odd we have so many here). This thing looks all kinds of screwy to me. There a are quite a number of design flaws on this thing, of which a very small sample follows.

    • --Last I checked, in most areas it is illegal to keep bees in equipment w/o *removable* frames. In looking at the equipment here, I'm not sure it meets that requirement.
    • --Bees prefer to build their comb strait down, with the cell just slightly angled up. Among other things, this prevents gravity from taking its toll on the contents. The angle of the "frames" on this contraption do not allow for this.
    • --The queen prefers darkness. All that exposure to light seems to me to be an unwelcome source of stress for her. If mama ain't happy . . . ain't nobody happy.
    • --I simply don't think that there is enough room in this "hive" to house a healthy colony. They will quickly leave for a more suitable location.
    • --The insides of hives do not stay sexy. All that gorgeous, new, white comb very quickly becomes dark and brittle (in the brood nest, anyway), and they tend to build burr comb in places you don't like.
    • --Being able to drain honey from the hive whenever you may please . . . yeah, that's a good idea. In a hive this small (see above comment), they aren't going have enough room for surplus even if you never took a drop. They will starve in this thing over the winter . . . and probably over the summer too, depending on weather conditions. Again though, I doubt they will stay long enough for that to be an issue.

I've got a bad feeling about this.