Learning from the Bees: Schaumburg Bee House

The Bee House is a unique location for scientific, educational and cultural events – the only one of its kind in Germany. On the land of the forest apiary in Schaumburg, Germany, it is home to ten bee colonies that pique visitors’ interest in the fascinating world of bees and sensitize them to questions about our ecosystem. Here, the lifecycle of bees and their importance for natural balance can be experienced with all senses.

Even the building itself is unusual: The floor plan is inspired by the physical form of a freshly hatched bee larva. The core building materials – wood, straw, and clay – are not only ecologically sustainable but also reflect the materials that beehives were traditionally made from. The arched walls and ceilings create a unique sense of space, and visitors can watch the bees in flight through the large panoramic windows. In addition, there is a special device that feeds air from the bee colony into the room, so that its special quality can be directly experienced with the senses.

Another distinctive feature of bees is how they communicate with each other. The scouting bees use a kind of dance language to tell the collector bees where they have found good food sources. Depending on how far away these sources are from the hive, the scouts perform certain movements. Based on the duration of the so-called waggle dance, for instance, they communicate the distance to the site, which can be several kilometres away. The direction of the dance indicates the direction to be taken in relation to the position of the sun.

This unusual new event space and place for encounters expands the nature-pedagogical work of the forest apiary, which has been enriching the Schaumburg area for many years. The access and sanitary areas were intentionally designed to be barrier-free to enable all interested participants to attend the numerous events. These range from beekeeping courses and lectures on bee-friendly gardens to philosophical evenings, meditation and bee music concerts in which the musicians integrate bee humming into their music. “In an impressive way, the Bee House transmits complex ecological relationships and the enormous value of biological diversity”, said Christian Wüst, project manager at the Software AG – Foundation. “The visitors can experience how important it is to take active responsibility for nature and the environment.”

Video Footage from Bee House