Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bee hives in New York: for honey or for concrete production?

The Rosslyn Chapel hives; photos courtesy of the Times

Amidst all type of solutions for urban farming, it disturbes me to image thousands of bees on the rooftops. More than this, there is an article about bees that could produce concrete, if they are manipulated as "special bees." See what I've found:
Organic rooftop farming is all the rage these days, with places like Roberta's and Brooklyn Grange growing vegetables and other produce just a few hundred feet above street level. And now it seems that one of the city's swankiest hotels is looking to get into the mix: the Waldorf-Astoria New York has recently installed beehives on its roof, with plans to harvest honey and help pollinate plants in midtown.
Sweet Lord!
The Episcopal bishop of New York welcomed the newest members of his congregation yesterday: a hive of 15,000 bees he hopes will provide a harvest of tasty honey and help pollinate gardens.
“May the sweetness of their honey remind us of the sweetness of your [God’s] love for them,” the Right Rev. Mark Sisk said in prayer yesterday as he blessed the hive at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

Last month, over at Scotland's Rosslyn Chapel, it was announced that "builders renovating the 600-year-old chapel have discovered two beehives carved within the stonework high on the pinnacles of the roof. They are thought to be the first man-made stone hives ever found."

    It appears the hives were carved into the roof when the chapel was built, with the entrance for the bees formed, appropriately, through the centre of an intricately carved stone flower. The hives were found when builders were dismantling and rebuilding the pinnacles for the first time in centuries.
As the article goes on to point out, "Although human beings have collected honey from wild bee colonies since time immemorial, at some point they began to domesticate wild bees in artificial hives, made from hollow logs, pottery, or woven straw baskets. The Egyptians kept bees in cylindrical hives, and pictures in temples show workers blowing smoke into the hives, and removing honeycombs. Sealed pots of honey were found in Tutankhamun’s tomb." 

But, combining all these stories, what about bees that make concrete honey, artificially bred and housed inside hives in the spires of buildings? Hives that they themselves have printed? 

High up on the roof of St. John the Divine sit six symmetrical stone hives, inside of which special bees now grow, tended by an architecture student at Columbia University; the bees are preparing their concrete to fix any flaw the building might have. No longer must you call in repair personnel to do the job; you simply tap the sides of your concrete-mixing beehives and living 3D printers fly out in a buzzing cloud, caulking broken arches and fixing the most delicate statuary. 

Nearby homeowners occasionally find lumps of concrete on their rooftops and under the eaves, as if new hives are beginning to form. 

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