Concerned about Colony Collapse Disorder and food security in general? Always dreamed of keeping bees, and maybe starting a little cottage industry on the side? If so, Renee Ferguson and Michelle Krochmal of Oyster Bay, New York, may have designed the house of your dreams.
The Bee House (which took the Innovation Prize in this year’s 100 Mile House Open Ideas Competition) makes extensive use of living walls and green roofs planted with bee-friendly vegetation. This built-in beekeeping system, completed by a backyard hive, serves to pollinate the home’s surrounding garden areas, which keep the homestead stocked with homegrown veggies as well as honey. The Bee House includes a work area and boutique shop where honey and beeswax-based soaps and candles can be sold to the public, perfect for the urban farmer with an entrepreneurial bent.
The 1,200-square-foot home is supplied with electricity via solar panels, and hot water via a solar thermal system. Like all of the entries submitted to the 100 Mile House competition, it was designed to be built with materials sourced from within a hundred miles of Vancouver, British Columbia; those materials, in this case, include locally-sourced, Forest Stewardship Council certified wood.
The Bee House was designed to make good use of Vancouver’s abundant rainfall, not only via the home’s living walls and green roofs, but with a rainwater harvesting system in the backyard. This system, composed of a large, in-ground tank, captures rain when it’s abundant and uses it for irrigation during the dry summer months. The landscaping design here calls for indigenous plants, a composting area, a garden composed of herbs, roots, and ground vegetables, and rows of berry bushes (an abundant source of food for both bees and their human keepers).
We like the sunny optimism embodied by this house, and its designers’ vision for a home that improves the urban ecosystem while offering the urban farmer a built-in source of income. Here’s a vision that goes far beyond the kind of thinking behind your average LEED-certified home, calling on us to consider the many ways that our homes interact with the natural world right outside our front doors.