Bee Boxes: Designing Spaces for Stories

Deborah Maxwell, Liz Edwards, Morvern Odling

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Bee Boxes were one strand of a research through design project that worked with communities of beekeepers, storytellers, and school groups. The overarching project sought to understand existing and changing knowledge systems of beekeeping to imagine and potentially shape narratives and knowledge systems for future generations. The Bee Boxes were created in collaboration with three rural primary schools, in an area historically renowned for hard fruit production. To strengthen and contextualise school children’s understanding of their local environment, a physical story box was designed in the shape of a wild hive to store pupils’ stories. Each school had their own hive shape, inspired by organic, parabolic forms of honeycomb. Following a talk by a beekeeper, pupils collaboratively wrote stories and decorated their Bee Box. This paper illustrates the value of a design-facilitated making process to extend engagement opportunities and provide a resource for inspiration and future narratives. We will discuss the use of research through design to create open experience-artefacts intended for use in environmental education about honey bees and pollination. We reflect on the ways that openness has enabled appropriation of these artefacts creating additional opportunities for knowledge sharing and gathering by considering the role of the Bee Boxes across five distinct life phases.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 3rd Biennial Research Through Design Conference
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2017

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