Thoughtful design succeeds on multiple levels beyond aesthetic appeal: solving problems, starting discussions and, at best, raising awareness social or environmental issues that would otherwise slip below the radar of public consciousness. Jamie Hutchinson's "Bee Station" is an excellent example of all of the above, bringing attention to the "alarming and rapid decline of bees [in the UK]," also known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
Hutchinson himself learned of the problem through the RSPB—Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, for the uninitiated&mdash, which highlighted the facts: bees throughout gardens in urban UK are now so overworked that they barely have the energy to fly and fulfill the critical role as pollinators.
The RSPB report concludes with some actionable advice: "Much like us, a sugary drink could boost their energy levels and a simple sugar and water combination will be a welcome treat. Simply mixing around two tablespoons of white, granulated sugar with one tablespoon of water and placing the mix in a small container like an egg cup among bees' favourite flowers, will provide them with energy at this busy time."
Hutchinson's solution takes the form of an elegant ceramic globe that serves as a "re-fueling" station for bees, where they can consume simple syrup to their satisfaction and be(e) on their way. Moreover, the understated, sculptural—it's handmade in Stoke-On-Trent—bee-feeder also functions as a nesting station for a couple species of bee.
The Bee Station came to life&mdash:an earthenware ball provides a perfect environment for nesting bees (bees often try to nest in little holes in brick and stone) while recesses within the 'feet' of the Station hold sugar water reservoirs. A bee 'landing platform' in the centre of the base also pushes the nesting material up out of the way and kept nice and dry. Air ventilation holes at the back of the Station help provide plenty of oxygen while the ball design ensures rain water rolls away keeping your new bee family snug and toasty inside.
Puns scarcely belie the seriousness of the issue: the tagline, "There is no plan bee," is apt, given the hypothesis that terrestrial life as we know it could collapse following bee extinction, so great is their pollination power.
Still, I'm curious as to why none of the press photos show any bees... in other words, how well does this thing actually work? Guess I'll have to order one from Eco-Age to find out...