The Melissa Project
Bees are an integral part of our ecosystem, with more than sixty percent of the food crops we produce directly pollinated by bees. The global decline of bee populations is placing significant pressure on agricultural industries as they struggle to continue to meet the demands of their growing consumer markets. The implications of declining bee populations presents a seemingly intractable problem, with bees responsible for one out of every three bites of food we consume worldwide.
As environmental stewards, we need to protect bee habitats, and provide healthy, nutrient-rich environments, and opportunities for them to thrive. The critical roles that bees play within our agricultural industries and environments is beginning to be recognised, and efforts to stem the decline in the health of bee populations has resulted in increased community interest and urban beekeeping.
While these efforts are admirable, they reflect a paradigm in which bees are seen as working animals, often exploited purely for their capacity to make honey. This project tackles the human-bee relationship in a different and more empathic way. In doing so, it aims to enable members of the community to create new and non-farmable habitats; to help people realise that our relationship with bees goes beyond just their capacity to create wealth; and through design offer a changed human-bee dynamic.
Research including expert interviews, systems analysis of bee ecologies, apiculture and bee-related artefacts, has lead to the position that a change of perspective is needed – one that places the bees’ interests ahead of our own, manifesting in a product service system design. The project reframes motivations for keeping bees within urban environments, and proposes an alternative way of providing habitats and providing future security for bees.