Bees aren’t just cute – without them, nature and humans would have a real problem.
Plant species – including one third of agricultural crops – depend on bees for pollination. As a result, colony collapse disorder is endangering both the ecosystem as a whole and traditional food production. One of the primary causes of this problem is shrinking habitats, which is why bee projects that offer these valuable insects protection and room to thrive are becoming all the more important. Waste management company AWG Abfallwirtschaftsgesellschaft mbH Wuppertal (AWG) has an industrial site located right next to a nature reserve. Spurred on by similar projects, the company took the decision to create a wonderful home for four bee colonies – and the profile technology of our MB Building Kit System was chosen as a material for the hives’ subframes.
Making a beeline
The company got in touch with two local young beekeepers who, as it happens, were looking for new sites for their hives and were thoroughly impressed with the site. An agreement was quickly reached, and AWG undertook to supply the subframes for the hives. As one of the beekeepers works as a designer at a Wuppertal industrial company, he had his own ideas to contribute: “Naturally he knew about item profiles. And, when he has something to build, that’s exactly what he uses. After all, he knows how flexible and stable they are,” says Willy Görtz, deputy operations manager at AWG. Although wood was initially considered for the subframes of the hives, it is prone to weathering and would need to be replaced on a regular basis. Durability and stability were precisely the reasons that our aluminium profiles were chosen or, to be more specific, why the subframes were built using Profile 8 40x40 light, natural.
An individual hive has to be viewed as a kind of house for an entire bee colony and, in this particular bee project, each hive consists of three floors (frames). Hives are sealed on top with a cover, which also provides protection from the weather, while a hole is made in the base so that the bees can get through – hence the need to raise the hive off the ground by mounting it on a subframe. The lower section houses the brood chamber, followed by the honey super, where the honey frames are suspended. The frames are made of wood and are where the bees create and store their famous honeycombs. Two hives, which are so important for honey production, fit onto each subframe. Once they had been built, it became clear that the hives needed additional “landing boards” to make it easier for arriving bees to land and get in. To add the boards – which are around the size of a sheet of A4 – 30-cm-long profiles were therefore also fitted to each subframe.
Sustainability part of the company’s DNA
In the meantime, the bees have moved (or rather, been moved) into the new hives and are therefore no longer with the beekeepers’ colleagues or neighbours. They will undoubtedly feel at home on the otherwise unused plot of land and, once their hibernation is over, will be able to explore the surrounding area. The local ecosystem, too, can only benefit from the new insect neighbours. The bee project certainly ties in perfectly with the company’s responsible attitude, as Görtz points out: “Sustainability is naturally a major issue for us. We are a specialist waste disposal company and operate a waste-fired power station. Our job is to generate district heating and electricity from the waste that is, after all, produced by everyone in Wuppertal.” This focus on sustainability is also reflected in other projects. For example, AWG is currently working on the production of hydrogen for fuel cells that can be used to power buses in the public transport network.
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