Since 2009, Okno is researching the co-evolution between city honeybees and urban ecosystems in its OpenGreens and Bee Monitoring programs. Bee colonies are now threatened in all industrialized nations. Given that the survival of bees is crucial for human sustainability, there is a great urgency to improve by all means the ways in which colonies could thrive.
The research program surveys in an artistic way the multiple fields of interaction between honeybees and the (urban) ecosystem. It is remarkable to see how a bee population functions and evolves very much in accordance to the human activities we are developing around them: gardening and (urban) agriculture. The production of honey is different related to the flowers we grow, the plants we like, the garbage or pollution we produce. Bees are very responsive to the different biotopes that we share. Though we seem to have rather few insight into what constitutes the diversity of our surrounding living place, and that’s something we want to research on a deeper level. As bio-markers, bees can give us valuable information about living conditions in our continuous productive urban landscapes.
To monitor the bees in a non-intrusive way we are building Intelligent Beehives. These are hives that are augmented with sensors and sensory processing algorithms that analyse the quality of pollen and propolis as well as the behavior of the bees in order to monitor the state of the ecology in the surrounding areas. In a first research phase, the people’s hive of Abbé Warré was adapted to the grid of the Open Structures project. The new Warré-hives are a collaboration between OKNO Brussels, Fab Lab Barcelona and Sony Computer Science Lab in Paris. The Intelligent Warré Beehives are distributed in a European network, the data are available online and the creation of local biological Corridors can be consulted in realtime.