2015-present – Beegin Urban Beehive

urban ag / beekeeping / appropriate technology / industrial design / Human-Centred Design

An Improved Beehive Design to Support Local Urban Agriculture.

Ivan Brown, BTech Industrial Design, 2015 & MTech Industrial Design, 2016-present
Supervised by Angus D. Campbell & Dr. Naudé Malan

Honeybees provide the irreplaceable service of pollination for many of our food-crops and as such their survival is directly linked to food security. In South Africa there has been a recent movement towards localised food production through urban agriculture for socioeconomic development and access to healthy food in marginalised communities. Due to modern agricultural practices the annual survival rate of honeybees globally is in a severe decline, whilst the success of urban agriculture initiatives has been limited by low income generation. This Design Research study aimed to find solutions that would help urban farmers adopt beekeeping to increase their economic capabilities and protect their pollinators. The study borrows from Appropriate Technology Development whilst adopting Human-Centred Design methods to developing accessible beekeeping technology for local urban agriculture. Through participatory research with expert beekeepers and urban farmers the design approach to beehives was improved through the creation of a beehive design toolkit. The product outcomes were: an entry-level cardboard beehive, a permanent cement beehive and moulds to produce multiples of the cement beehive. All of these catered to an intervention framework intended to facilitate the development of sustainable beekeeping businesses through community driven manufacture and staggered implementation. The revised approach to beehive production resulted in reduced costs and presented further opportunities for sustainable beekeeping and social development. Initial testing confirmed the products technical performance, however testing through implementation would need to be undertaken to determine the further success of the intervention.


This work is based on research supported in part by the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa for the Thuthuka, unique grant number 88030 held by Angus D. Campbell and titled, Designing Development: An Exploration of Technology Innovation by Small-Scale Urban Farmers in Johannesburg, and unique grant number 88059 held by Dr. Naudé Malan and titled, Innovation in the Soweto Food System: Engaging with Soweto Agriculture. Any opinion, finding, and conclusion or recommendation expressed in this material are that of the authors, and the NRF does not accept any liability in this regard.


Campbell, A.D. & Brown, I.L. 2017 (forthcoming). A Potential Difference Model for Educating Critical Citizen Designers: The Case Study of the Beegin Appropriate Beekeeping Technology System. In, Costandius, E. & Botes, H. (Eds.) Educating Citizen Designers in Southern Africa. Stellenbosch: SUNMeDIA.

Brown, I.L. & Campbell, A.D. 2017. Beegin: Redoing Beekeeping in Southern Africa by Designing for Outcomes. Proceedings of the Cumulus REDO Conference. Kolding, Denmark: Design School Kolding, pp. 169- 178. ISBN: 978-87-93416-15-4 (Peer Reviewed).

Brown, I.L. An Improved Beehive Design to Support Local Urban Agriculture. BTech Industrial Design Mini-Dissertation. University of Johannesburg. (12Mb)

For more info on the progress on Ivan’s masters project visit the Beegin facebook page here

Ivan’s Beegin concrete hive featured on Deutsche Welle on the 13 July 2017: http://www.dw.com/en/a-beehive-with-air-conditioning/av-39677845

Ivan interviewed by Spaghetti.tv for PPC on 11 June 2017. The Beegin beehive was awarded runner-up in Industrial Design category of the PPC Imaginarium awards in 2015/16:

Ivan’s presentation for the Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability (DESIS) Annual General Meeting in Hong Kong on 26 November 2016:

Ivan interviewed about the Beegin beehive on CCTV news 5 November 2016:

Ivan interviewed about his Beegin beehive for “Die Groot Ontbyt” on 13 July 2016: