For our most recent project in Design Research, we were to choose a subculture we were unfamiliar with and spend time with / interview / study them. Out of that observation we were to create insights, find needs, and then create a few opportunities based on those insights and needs.
My project partner, Lizzie and I chose urban beekeeping, because what could be more interesting than spending a few weeks learning about urban beekeeping? Turns out, not a whole lot. Beekeeping is remarkable! It’s an extremely diverse field and it seems there are nearly as many styles of beekeeping as there are bees.
(You can see the final video with our findings here and view my personal portfolio for this project with opportunities here.)
When we started the project, we decided our goal was to talk to a wide number of beekeepers rather than just focusing on one to give us a more broad range to work from — we spoke with a designer at Facebook who keeps 4 hives on the rooftops of buildings in the city, an artist who keeps 2 hives in her backyard urban oasis in Berkeley, and a hospice nurse who also runs a bed & breakfast out of her home. At the time we had no idea there were so many different methods for keeping bees, but that ended up working out in our favor.
Frustrations & Successes
Ask someone to tell you what they think of when you say “bees” and typically you will get two types of responses; you’ll either get giant, angry swarms (which is an oxy-moron by the way), or happy, buzzing, busy bees. Thankfully this project leaned more toward the happy, buzzing, busy kind in terms of successes versus frustrations.
Overall, I was happy with the amount of video footage we were able to capture as well as the beekeeper’s own successes and frustrations with their hives. My main frustration is that we didn’t have more time to spend with the beekeepers because of the short timeline of the project. But so goes life.
I find it nearly impossible to finish a project and walk away without thinking of at least a handful of things I would change about the finished product. I would have loved to interview 1-2 more beekeepers or spend more time with each beekeeper in order to get more video footage, but unfortunately the beekeeper’s personal schedules didn’t allow for that. In terms of the finished product, I would love to refine the actual video — how it’s been cut, the music, etc — and just make everything flow more smoothly.
There are so many great learnings I took away from this project, but my favorite learning? Raw almonds and fresh honey make a delicious snack!