The weather is warming up, and as we approach 80 degree summer days, it may be time for a new hobby that doesn’t involve cranking up the oven.
How about this new, rather unconventional quarantine hobby courtesy of Ikea: beekeeping. Ikea’s research and design lab, SPACE10, in partnership with European design studio Bakken & Bæck, and designer Tanita Klein, has released a free design so you can make your very own customized bee home, from the comfort of your home.
This isn’t a beehive, mind you, but a homemade habitat for solitary bees, which don’t produce wax or honey, and simply act as pollinators. So the end result won’t look like a hive, but more along the lines of a tiny apartment complex—with balconies and all.
It’s not a frivolous pursuit: Bees have been under siege lately, whether from murder hornets; rising temperatures; or pesticides, parasites, and poor nutrition. And that’s scary, because bees are vital to our ecosystem and our food supply. They pollinate common crops like cherries, apples, melons, blueberries, and cranberries; and pollinators are responsible for one in three bites of food we take, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This is a hobby that’s good for you and good for the planet.
Making a bee home is fairly simple, and the website guides you through the process. You choose the height, number of floors, and how you want it positioned, then the site generates the design plans and instructions that you can print out. You’ll also need to source some hardwood for the project (you can use oak, larch, cedar, or mahogany); one plank should do it, but base the length on how large your structure will be. The bee home needs to be outside, so keep that in mind, city dwellers, but solitary bees are nonaggressive and won’t sting since they don’t have a queen or any honey to protect.
Once you settle on a final design, download the instructions and find a local “maker space” with a CNC milling machine to make your new bee home by inputting your address on the website. (Check to make sure it’s open, as current stay-at-home orders vary by state.) Hand over the design files and the wood; once they’ve construct the bee home, all you have to do is put it where you want, plant some flowers nearby, and voilá.
Space10, which researches and designs solutions for major changes they expect to affect our planet in the near future, says it hopes the Bee Homes will inspire conversation and lead people to take action to preserve the world’s biodiversity. Designing a tiny habitat is one way to make an impact on the planet at large—even as our worlds currently feel a whole lot smaller.