Villa Bee Houses - Wood Trays, BeeTubes, and Natural Reeds

The Concept     

In 2020, we enlisted the help of a class of students at Northwest College of Art & Design (NCAD) to help us design a new bee house. Anna Malakhova had the winning design with her Cabin Bee House - read her story here. Working with the students at NCAD was such a fun experience, and we were fortunate to work with the students at NCAD again for our newest bee house design.

NCAD tailors its programs to provide the skills needed to succeed in a career in the creative industry. So to give the students some real-world career experience, we asked them to create and submit their proposals, and the winning design would head to our local manufacturer to be built and sold on the Crown Bees website.

Dave Hunter and Kim Stevens from Crown Bees first gave the class a mini-lesson on solitary bees - the resources bees need to survive, bee-safe nesting materials, and key features we wanted to include in the new design. We asked the students to keep sustainability and functionality in mind as they worked on their plans. Ideally, we were looking for the new design to be different than what we currently offer, with a more contemporary look that might appeal to a younger generation of solitary beekeepers.

The Crown Bees Team chose our top seven designs based on a list of bee-safe criteria and manufacturing constraints. We then asked our friends and bee raisers to help us determine the winning design by voting in an online survey!

Motion graphic design student, Clifford Russell-Nichley, had the winning design. We offer two different sizes of his design, The Villa is the larger hex (7.25" wide), and the Cabana is the smaller hex (6" wide).

Clifford started the design process by creating some sketches in his sketchbook to get ideas down on paper. He then created 3D models of the houses and 3D printing prototypes to have proof of concept.

Bee House Sketch Ideas
Above Image - Bee House Sketch Ideas - Clifford Russell-Nichley
3D Model 1 - Clifford Russell-Nichley

Above Image - 3D Model 1 - Clifford Russell-Nichley

3D Model 2 - Clifford Russell-Nichley

Above Image - 3D Model 2 - Clifford Russell-Nichley

When asked about the inspiration behind his design, Clifford said he wanted to create something that appealed to a younger demographic.

"I was inspired by nature and common interior designs that you might see using hexes. Obviously, honeycombs aren't a super original idea for anything bee-related, but I wanted to appeal to popular aesthetics and create a modular design that could be built upon over time if someone decided they wanted to expand their bee house collection.

I also wanted to ensure that since the design was such an open concept, it allowed for some protection from the elements, so the covered cocoon storage and overhang were essential. I also wanted them to be small enough for apartment living since the target demographic for this particular design is younger generations, many of whom live in apartments."

Clifford is passionate about Motion Graphic Design and hopes to spend 2-4 years in the industry after he graduates from NCAD - ideally for The Pokemon Company or Microsoft. After gaining more experience in the field, he plans to pursue his master's degree in education to teach high school and college art classes.

Thank you, Clifford! We appreciate your modern, modular design and wish you the best of luck in your future career!   

Clifford Russell-Nichley with Villa and Cabana Bee Houses

Above Image - Clifford Russell-Nichley with Villa and Cabana Bee Houses

The Villa and Cabana Bee Houses 

The Villa and Cabana features:

  • The Villa and Cabana have a built-in cocoon hatchery to protect cocoons from sun, wind, rain, and predators.
  • The Villa can accommodate 78 natural reeds with bee observer, 125 natural reeds without bee observer, 150 BeeTubes, one 48-hole wood tray for mason bees, or one 78-hole wood tray for leafcutter bees.
  • The Cabana can accommodate 50 Natural Reeds, or 75 BeeTubes. The Cabana is too small for wood trays and bee observers.
  • The modular design allows you to add additional Villas and Cabanas as your bee population grows.