A new beehive made of mushrooms could help save Ireland’s native black bees.
Niamh Damery designed the mycelium hive to help conservation efforts for Irish black bees while also educating the general public and making conservation more accessible and simple for the average person.
With her design, which won the James Dyson Design Award, she hopes to allow anyone in Ireland with bees in their area to help conserve them through the hives.
According to the James Dyson Award website, the hive, called Econooc, mimics the natural habitat of the Irish black bee. Beyond using mycelium, the hives are also made with other sustainable or recycled materials.
Mycelium is the underground part of the mushroom and it helps create a similar environment to the hollows of native trees, which is where the Irish black bees would typically live.
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Irish black bees were actually thought to be extinct according to Irish Times, but small populations of the insect were rediscovered later. However, their populations are still extremely low and conservation efforts are critical to see their survival to future generations.
It’s believed that their populations began to decline as a result of habitat loss and pesticide use. However, they also suffered when Ireland imported foreign bee populations that couldn’t survive the cold winters.
As a result of the bee importations, a hybrid bee was created that couldn’t withstand the cold winters but was still dominating the native black bee.
Econooc hives allow the bees a safe place to shelter for winter and store their food, as well as raise their young.
Each hive feature a landing pad, where owners can watch bee activity, and straps made from old car seatbelts to secure the hive to a tree.
Beyond the hive itself, which could greatly benefit the bees, Damery also created a calendar that aims to educate hive owners on the different native plants growing during each month that require Irish black bees for pollination.
The calendar also explains what’s happening in the hive during the different seasons.
Watch the video below to learn more:Whizzco