The purpose of this "Ideal Bee" Project was to propose a solution to the issue of colony collapse disorder through design an improvement to the anatomy or structure of the bee. Our group chose to focus on the issue of decreased foraging ability of the bees due by enhancing the amount of food the bee would be able to carry back to its hive. Greater food collection equates to increased efficiency and productivity of the hive, and would also increase the health and wellness of the hive since the bees would be collectively gathering and consuming more food. Bees collect two products, pollen and nectar. The nectar is held in the stomach of the bee while the pollen is collected through being stored in the hair of the bee's back leg; our group chose to innovate a solution by creating a pollen sac on the mid leg just like the hind legs. The mid-leg doesn't have much purpose aside from balance for the bee, so the added pollen sac would not interfere with the functionality of the bee itself. The added pollen sac on the mid-legs would allow for the bee to increase its pollen collection by at least 50%. However, knowing that and increase of pollen would be more weight for the bee to carry and fly with, we wanted to ensure that the bee would handle this change adequately. Through research it was discovered that the bee wing muscle is actually the part that handles the mechanics of the weight and flight of the bee,, so we knew that this was a vital part to include in the improvement of the bee in addition to the leg. We proposed that this solution would be handle through a evolutionary change of the bees. As the stronger and bigger bees are able to carry more weight, they will be the surviving bees throughout the colony. Pollen is actually protein for these bees, so the more pollen they carry and bring back to eat, they are actually building their muscle over time, which would increase their ability to carry more weight over time. So through evolution, these bees would show a muscle increase along with the increase in the size and capacity of their existing and new pollen sac.
The next step in this project process was to physically represent our ideal proposal in and interactive and understandable format. We had access to the makers space in our building which provided us with many tools to be able to demonstrate our idea. We chose to use three forms of visuals to communicate our work: laser cutting a wooden leg, creating a graphic poster to compare to the leg and provide visual anatomical aid, and sewing fabric to represent the pollen sac on the bee. This process was thought up through rapid prototyping and what we wanted the audience to gain from our presentation. We wanted a piece that could be touched, played with, and interacted with on its own. We wanted the poster to stand alone, highlighting the areas of focus in red, and the leg to be able to attach and detach for hands-on understanding, the same concept with the pollen sacs. We made the leg articulate to demonstrate how the bee moves its leg to collect the pollen and to increase the interactivity of the product.
If there was one thing I could improve about our overall approach, it would be to mimic what we accomplished with the bee leg to match the bee sing muscle. Although we did cover this topic, I would have really liked to do more articulation with the muscle, whether through an "evolutionary" video or physical model.