Italian startup Beeing has innovated a compact, modern beehive that makes it easy for anyone to start keeping bees—no matter where they live. With the recent crowdfunding success of their B-box, the company is revolutionizing the way we think about bees by keeping both insects and humans safe.
Designed to fit into small spaces, whether it's an urban balcony or country garden, B-box has been carefully crafted to benefit the bees while making harvesting honey a simple task for both experienced and novice beekeepers. By breaking down barriers of entry, they're encouraging more people to begin the beekeeping journey and not only gain delicious honey, but help the ecosystem.
Bees move in and out of the hive via a seven-foot-tall chimney, keeping them well clear of your average human. The transparent inner walls allow both adults and children to get up close and observe the bees without disturbing them and without having to wear protective gear. In this way, humans and bees can live in harmony and co-exist in even the smallest of quarters.
A common complaint about some modern beekeeping equipment is that it allows for too much honey to be harvested at once, causing damage to the health of the hive. To counter this fault in other designs, B-box keeps small combs within its patent-pending harvesting chamber so that the bees don't suffer from over-extraction. The harvesting process itself has also been carefully thought out for the benefit of everyone.
By pulling a simple lever, anyone can cut off bees from entering the harvesting chamber. This quick, effective method allows for honey extraction without special equipment, and prevents bees from being crushed. Once the honey has been harvested, the comb is simply replaced, the protective cover goes over the top, and the lever is released to allow the bees to resume their work.
Now available on Indiegogo on demand, B-box is truly a breakthrough in modern beekeeping and was created by people who care about bees and their impact on the world. We had the chance to speak with Beeing founder and CEO Roberto Pasi about his childhood growing up with beekeeping grandparents and how he's poured this passion into his startup. Read on for My Modern Met’s exclusive interview.
What are your earliest memories of working with bees?
When I was 5 years old, I spent a lot of time helping my grandfather who was a beekeeper. I remember the smell of the beeswax, the buzz of the bees, and the colors of fresh grass near the hives. I was completely fascinated by all that. Since then, I have developed a strong interest in the honeybee world.
How did these experiences inspire you in your career?
My past experience as a mentor in the startup field guided me in developing the BEEing project. My idea was to combine beekeeping, which represents my roots, with technological innovation, which is definitively the future. Along with my partner Gabriele, who is a software engineer, we decided to found a start-up which could effectively make the difference by innovating beekeeping. We also invented some IoT tools, which we called IoB–the internet of bees.
B-box has been an evolution over several years. How did you first come up with the idea?
We started to notice that the global interest in bees and beekeeping has grown significantly in recent years. Since we know that nowadays bees are well-comfortable in cities as well as in the countryside, we thought “Why not? Let’s do that!” We developed a new concept of the urban hive which can be used easily by everyone—experienced or not—in any geographical context.
How does the design balance convenience for the beekeeper with what's best for the bees themselves?
The choice of high-quality materials is certainly B-box’s strong point. Our hive is made of solid red pine and polycarbonate—the same material used for eyeglass lenses. Moreover, B-box’s design is developed bearing in mind the bees' health and beekeepers' usability. Our idea behind its design is to bring together humans and bees in harmony. For example, B-box's special wooden chimney has a 7.2-foot entrance and exit above the ground, which is comfortable both for bees and users. In fact, people can personally observe the hive without disturbing the working honeybees.
What did you learn in your testing phases?
One of the most fascinating aspects of our project has been the design and planning process. From the idea to the prototype status, moving finally to production, this was quite a challenge, but very rewarding. B-box has been designed to combine financial sustainability with high-value creation.
What would you say to novices who are afraid that beekeeping is too complicated?
Anyone, trained or not, can buy any type of beehive and start keeping bees. Our mission is to make beekeeping possible for more people in urban and suburban environments. Of course, we suggest people do extensive research and read up on exactly what it means to be a responsible beekeeper. In addition, everyone who backs B-box will receive a basic beekeeping tutorial and we will personally assist new beekeepers with finding a local, experienced beekeeper to help them on their bee journey.
Why do you think it is important to educate people on bees?
Well, the public’s most common misconception about bees is surely that bees are dangerous. It is not like that. In reality, bees are social insects, really independent. They are completely focused on their incessant work. They are naturally not interested in humans’ activities. Plus, many people confuse bees with wasps, which are entomologically different.
That is the main reason why we strongly believe in our project, which ultimately has the aim of educating more and more people on the importance of bees and beekeeping. Remember that bees are essential to our living, ensuring the balance of the ecosystem.
What's next after the Indiegogo campaign?
So far we had positive feedback from our community/backers. So we surely want to consolidate the BEEing project in the near future. There is still much to be done, but we are positively convinced that it will have great success. Plus, we want to further develop new products, like IoB, our hardware/software tools. There’ll be lots of new things.