BuBees beehive: modern architecture for the urban bee


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Backyard beekeeping is the buzz of urban farming, with some wanting to replenish bees disappearing through Colony Collapse Disorder and others simply wanting to harvest home-grown honey. Now a Malibu business called BuBees is making beehives that are as fashionable as the city dwellers keeping them.

Designed by commercial artist and Art Center College of Design graduate Steve Steere, the $300 hives are a blend of form and function. A so-called top bar design, BuBees beehives mimic the way bees live in nature. The 36-by-18-inch living space is equipped with 24 bars, under which the bees build their combs. Two solid boards that run the width of the hive can be moved to make the space smaller or larger depending on how many bees adopt the hive. A viewing window lets beekeepers see inside the space, which can accommodate thousands of the pollinators.


For beekeepers who want honey, the top bar system allows easy harvesting. Just lift out one of the bars, cut off the comb and smash it in a bucket.

Steere, 50, recommends that new beekeepers allow time for a swarm to adopt the hive, or to source a swarm from the L.A.-based Backwards Beekeepers, a group of organic, treatment-free beekeepers. His hives are available in green, aqua, gray, pumpkin, salmon or mustard nontoxic milk paint. The hives are sanded but not painted inside. Steere salvaged almost 100% of the wood from a Long Beach bookstore and a neighbor’s construction project, sources that will last for the construction of 100 hives.

Steere, who started BuBees last year, says his main motivation for building the hives was Colony Collapse Disorder, which has been blamed for a 30% annual reduction in honeybee populations, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“I felt it was very important to have as many people keeping bees in as many different areas as possible,” Steere said.


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— Susan Carpenter