Paul Gröneveld @ Fab Academy 2016 >>> Principles and practices, project management

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Initial project proposal

What is in for the bees when I think about Industry 4.0, Big Data, Connected, Smart Farming and Internet of Things?

In the last decades bees were in certain areas around the world under pressure. One in five beehives were dying out because of a combination of reasons. Three of them are (1) using new types of pesticides (2) Mono cultures of crop that farmers are growing, no flowers for the bees, and (3) Bees in hives are attacked by varroa mites, this is a parasite on the bees.

If we go back in time for about 100 years, almost every farmer in the area where I live had bees for a combination of reasons. For harvesting honey and for pollination of crop and trees. There were special markets to buy and sell bee hives. In the area where I live now almost no farmer has bees any more.

Will it be possible to connect bees to people again? If so, how can this be done? If I want to be a bee keeper, I need to take a course to learn how to do this. This can be very interesting and I will probably do it, but for many people it will be too much effort. On the other hand many people are “scared” for bees because they might sting you. This is in most cases not true because bees are now bred for friendly behaviour.

Robotic bee hive network

A solution to the above mentioned problem might be a network of robotised beehives covering a big area of land. Local people can take a share in the harvest of the local bee hive. In return the robot from the beehive will take care of most of the work to manage the hive. Without any additional machinery honey can be extracted from the beehive. A secondary product from the beehive can be the bee wax. This wax can for instance be used to mold or print a new packaging for the extracted honey. This can be a great example of visible honest production, reliable, pure nature. Responsible production without waste and with a distribution network close to the people / from the people.

For who can it be interesting
1. for local people who would like to improve their local nature environment (education in how to keep bees)
2. local honey production for local people
3. bee hives can provide a service in pollination for farmers
4. robotic hives can be a research tool for biologists, monitoring the health of bees, is also monitoring the health of local nature.

Circulair design strategy and business models

From a circular design point of view design strategies for durability, attachment & trust from people, standardisation and easy to maintain & repair can be used to develop the robotic bee hive. The business model for the network can be based on the Access Model. The primary revenue stream is generated from providing the product to consumers for a limited period of time or a fixed amount of usage.

Design layouts

From a short research three different archetypes from beehives were selected. The ancient stro bee hive, the top bar bee hive and the Warré hive. The ancient hive is not structured by human on the inside at all. Bees are free build honeycomb in any direction they want. At the end of the season most of the bees are slaughtered to be able to extract the honey. The top bar bee hive is a simple horizontal layout that gives more structure to the buildup of honeycomb by using frames without premolded wax grids. Bees are just free to build honeycomb from the Topbar in an parabolic shape downward (natural shapes). Top bar frames can be taken out from the hive for inspection, extraction of honey or reconfiguration of frames. Just like in the ancient bee hives, top bar hives have no separation between hatch-honeycomb and honey-honeycomb. The last design layout is the most commonly used system. The hive is very modular and reconfigurable. There are two main areas. A chamber for hatching and a chamber for producing honey. Frames within these chambers are reconfigurable and can be placed in any order to manipulate the behaviour of the bees in the hive.


The two beehives below were developed in Barcelona.

Colorado Top Bar Beehive by akerkit on Sketchfab

Figure 2: Colorado Top Bar open scource beehive.

Barcelona Warré Beehive by akerkit on Sketchfab

Figure 3: Barcelona Warré open scource beehive.

Functions of the robotic bee hive

  1. Capture the status of growth and behaviour of the bees in the beehive by taking out frames with and without bees.
  2. Send the captured data to a server for analysing the hive. Comparable to a MRI scanner in a hospital (cross sectional images).
  3. Based on the evaluation of the captured data different interventions can be organized.
    -> Reconfigure frames in the beehive
    -> Harvest honey from a frame
    -> Cleaning the frame border
    -> Cut out sections from a frame

Frames in the hive

Frames can be used in different ways. In commercial bee hives pre molded wax patterns are assembled in a frame and bees are building onto this wax pattern. This improves the production of honey. So using pre molded patterns might be a good idea. Using no pre molded frames has the advantage that wax is produced and honeycomb in the consumable honey can be appreciated. Recently a new system was introduced, the Flow Frame. This is a very clever system from pre molded plastic sections of a frame. By turning a handle the sections will break the seal between all honeycomb with results in the honey just flowing out of the beehive. Another idea can be pre assembling beeswax molded open boxes in a frame. Bees can build up the honeycomb in the boxes. When the bees are ready the boxes can be taken out from the frames. With a beeswax lid it can be closed and it will be ready for the consumer.





Packaging ideas

For this moment the honey can be packaged with or without the honeycomb. The material for the packaging can be glas, sceramic, beeswax (molded or printed) or plastic.


In the picture above you see the map of the Netherlands. On this map a network of Smart Robotic Beehives is growing. Beehives, the red dots are connected to each other and sending data from the Beehives to the central server. On the server the data will be analysed and instructions will be send to the beehives to commit interventions, like harvesting, reconfiguration of frames or cleaning frames. Over 90 % of the normal work of a beekeeper should be taken over by the robotic hive.


In the picture below you see the map of the Netherlands. On this map a network of Smart Robotic Beehives is growing. Beehives, the red dots are connected to each other and sending data from the Beehives to the central server. On the server the data will be analysed and instructions will be send to the beehives to commit interventions, like harvesting, reconfiguration of frames or cleaning frames. Over 90 % of the normal work of a beekeeper should be taken over by the robotic hive.


To explain the concept of the Beehive, side views are sketched from a beehive. At the bottom there is a hatch chamber with frames for the bees. The queen bee lives her. She produces 1500 eggs per day. So every day that many new bees will be born. On top of the hatching chamber you will find the Honey chamber with the same size frames. The queen bee can not go there to lay the eggs. This way the honeycomb stays clean. On top there is an exchange space for frames. In the next sketch This hive will be turned into a beehive with drawers, just like in your kitchen. The drawers are connected to a spindle screw and a stepper-motor. This way the drawer can come out quite precisely. The goal is to take out frames with a robotic structure. In this case an H-bot mechanism. This H-bot can take out a frame and take photos from the frames. It should also be able to remove the bees from the frame by shaking it. It harvest the honey the frame will go to a router, this will mill out the honeycomb with the honey. The exchange frame drawer will be used when frames go from one drawer to the other.


The video below shows the movements of an H-bot system. In the B-hive this structure will be placed vertically.

Below a report from the first week

Wednesday 27-1-2016

Hello people, this is my first week in the Fabacademy project. The encounter with the other participants in the Waag in Amsterdam was interesting. The introductory presentation from Boston was informative and went quickly. Very good you can watch the video right back. Concepts are clearly explained, but then there quickly change the subject. This is necessary to keep the presentation within the time. In the evening I went to watch tutorials on git and tutorials on Wordpress. About git I don’t know what to think of it. The functionality is very good, but the user interface does not explain this. It will take me a while to learn to work with it. The concept of the branches and how to use them is not clear to me jet. I wonder how we deal with other development files such as CAD files and other files. How to operate the directory structure? After a couple of helpful videos about git, I'm going to look at Wordpress. It was clear that I could make a perfect website, by following a tutorial of 2.5 hours. This seemed to be a good idea…..

Thursday 28-1-2016

On Thursday we are working on programming instructions in HTML. It all went very quickly in a short time. At the end of the lesson, I thought I still wanted to start with Wordpress, because I wanted a beautiful site. After some discussion with fellow students this has changed my opinion. It is better to begin with a self-encrypting HTML site, with a very simple look and structure. If this site is working, it can always be adapted in the next weeks of the course.

The idea behind the design of my site is that I want it to look simple and I want to have a lot of white background paper to work on. Without borders or backgrounds. This white paper is endless and can be filled with the elaboration of the week. On the top of the page, I use a table of contents so that you can easily go to the different chapters. Just by googling I found out how to do this. The index page displays only a simple menu on the left side. At the top I put my name to see a sketch image on each page.

At this moment, the site is not set up smart. Each new site has new copied content. The use of the css I can not apply for this moment. I understand the concept but do not know how I'm going to apply it. The fontstyle I want to change, because it's not pleasant reading. I also have to align the text better. I've managed to incorporate advanced embedded CAD models in my site (3d-viewer). This works very well. Insert images also works well, though it is often a lot of work compared with a text editor.

Friday 29-1-2016

On this day I was invited to a workshop on Circular Design CIRCO. Here I could use my idea for my final project as a subject. A circular scan is applied to an existing product, then a value proposition is determined. With different business models a circular design strategies is used in thinking about new concepts for the product. It was an interesting day which fits well on my ideas about the final project. I got some nice feedback from design professionals.

Saturday 30-1-2016

No work on the project.

Sunday 31-1-2016

Worked on improving the site and generate content on the site. With pleasure I was thinking about and working on the final assignment. But I must ensure that the project remains viable. Wrote an introduction and made sketches for the concept.

Monday 1-2-2016

The site was already pretty full. Now I'm working on the elaboration of one week (this text so).

What I would like to improve on the site? - Does the site work through the archives of the Fabacademy? There I received yesterday errors - layout and font - I want to go even more deeply into the issues that the instructor (Ivo) has left behind. Part of his instructions, I have used, but in another part I have not studied yet.


The first weeks I worked with Komodo, a free to use, HTML-editor. Later I started using MarkdownPad 2, because I wanted to have a more graphical interface and a spelling check integrated in the software.

Managing files

On my laptop I work in two folders. One is the folder for my files which are not final and the other is the final work folder. This last folder is uploaded to GIT every week or more.

How to do this?