An Oldham student has come up with a buzzing idea to tackle Britain’s sharp decline in honeybees by designing a simple home bee keeping kit.
Laura Dransfield has designed her FreeBees housing unit for her final year product design degree project at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in Preston. The 22-year-old’s design is similar to that of a BBQ at first glance but would instead be used as a home for honeybees and provide home grown honey for a family.

Laura commented: “Britain has suffered one of the biggest decline of honeybees in Europe so I wanted to tackle this very real issue in my work.

“A lot of bee housing units are designed on a large scale so the idea behind my design was to make something smaller and more accessible for the average family to get involved. I set out to create a family friendly bee housing unit that will hopefully remove any negative stigma people have of the insect, show people the important role bees play in our ecosystem and also allow families to make their own honey at home. It’s a win-win situation.”

The former Counthill School and Oldham Sixth Form College pupil’s design allows for the brood box, which houses the insects’ eggs, and the super frames, which hold the honey, to be self-contained and easily removed. It is the same size as other units on the market, but allows the keeper to add more brood boxes if they want to expand the hive. Laura has also created a spring frame and an inspection tray so that the keeper can monitor the bees at a glance.

Laura estimates that her FreeBees unit would cost around £300 to buy, which is around average for high-end bee keeping units, and says hers is different because it’s targeted at families and encouraging children to take an interest in bee keeping and the role the insect plays in the food chain.

She added: “I have always been interested in bringing nature into the home and looking after local wildlife and now after completing this project I am thinking of keeping bees myself.”

The budding designer will now take her FreeBees housing unit to the New Designers Show in London where she hopes it will create a ‘buzz’ amongst industry professionals.


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