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These customizable Ikea-like ‘homes’ hope to help save the bees

These tiny homes are causing a buzz.

For World Bee Day on May 20, designers with Ikea’s research lab Space10 developed customizable homes for bees that let you help bolster the world’s flagging bee population.

The design for the Bee Home is open-sourced, customizable, and available online. On the website, you can construct your own special bee home, connect with a local manufacturer to have it produced, and then place your bee home somewhere in your own home — ideally among some flowers for the bees to frolic.

“We want to enable people everywhere to help rebalance our relationship with the planet and ensure a sustainable home for all of us,” Space10 director Kaave Pour said in a statement.

The Bee Home is designed for “solitary bees,” — i.e. not honeybees — who tend to be very friendly, and on whom 90% of the world’s flowering plants depend for pollination, Space10 said. The bees live for four to six weeks, and if they are a queen (as all females are), they can leave behind 20 to 30 offspring the next year.

This project really exemplifies how design can do good for both people and their environment,” Tanita Klein, the designer of the bee homes, said in a statement.

An example of one of SPACE10’s Bee Homes.

World bee populations have plummeted to dangerously low levels, according to the United Nations. Around 35% of “invertebrate pollinators” (i.e. bees and butterflies) around the globe face extinction, meaning that many varieties of fruits and vegetables will, in turn, die out. The UN’s global day aims to draw attention to these threats.

“To reconnect with the many bees in our environment, we need to give back what we have taken from them: their homes,” said Myles Palmer, the Bee Home Project Lead with the design firm Bakken & Baeck, which collaborated with Space10. “By designing new interactive experiences, we can create a more sustainable manufacturing process for doing so: One that is truly open-sourced, informed by local living, and customizable for many contexts and uses.”

Space10 said that this free design will “pioneer a new era of democratic design for Ikea” — it has already experimented with open-source design in projects like The Growroom, an urban farming pavilion, and Building Blocks, a sustainable low-cost home initiative.

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