Homegrown Mushroom Give Life to Ireland’s Bees

An Irish designer is growing unique mushroom hives in a quest to protect her island’s local black bees. For years, Ireland imported a rabble of bees from places with tropical climates and warmer weather. Bees find it challenging to survive in Irish climate but other generic factors like loss of habitat and increase in the usage of pesticides have also lead to a decline in the bee population. Further, the imported new species mated with local bees to procreate hybrids that stormed the hives of the black bees and still could not get adjusted to the weather.

A Prototype Recognized for its Sustainability

Econooc is a prototype hive designed by Niamh Damery, an Irish designer, to save Ireland’s native black bees. This hive is among the world’s finest 20 and has been considered for the James Dyson Design Award for Sustainability. The designer not only aims to protect the bees but also intends to have people participate in its conservation.

The mushroom hives are cultivated from mycelium pores with by-products like straw or wood shavings used as substrate. Mycelium, the mass of interwoven filamentous situated underground, provides support to the fruiting body. These mushrooms are emerging as a probable design tool. GNN reported that mushrooms could be used to build things like canoes, bricks, and coffins. To create the beehive, mycelium and the substrate concoction is stuffed into a mold in the replica of the actual hive. It is then heated in the oven to secure the shape.

Prioritizing Sustainability

Econooc mimics a hive and is placed in the hollow of a local tree. This is the natural habitat of the black Irish bees, where they build their shelter, store food and protect their young ones. Recycled plastic is used to make a landing pad so that owners can watch the activities of the bees. The hive is secured on the tree with the help of old car seatbelts used as straps. Every aspect of the project is based on sustainability.