Elevator B is a 22 -foot-tall, free-standing steel, glass and cypress tower that was raised in "Silo City," an area along the Buffalo River where several massive abandoned grain elevators are located. The bee colony that now inhabits the tower was living in the walls of a long unused outbuilding destined for rehabilitation.
The new habitat's exterior hexagonal shapes are inspired by natural honeycomb, and its tubular design echoes the shape of the grain elevator silos that surround it. Elevator B is sited in a field adjacent to the historic "Marine A" grain elevator, built in 1925, which rises 196 feet from the shore of the Buffalo River.
Inside the tower is an innovative "bee cab" or bee elevator constructed of cypress and glass, which will actually house the colony and provide it with protection and warmth.
The bee cab typically will be in a raised position to allow visitors to step into the tower, look up and watch the colony through a glass window. The bees will enter the cab through holes near its top, about 10 feet above the ground in its raised position. The cab can be lowered to the ground to permit the beekeeper to attend to the health and safety of the bees.
The competition, organized by the Ecological Practices Graduate Research Group and sponsored by Rigidized Metals Corporation of Buffalo, which owns the Silo City site, required teams of graduate and undergraduate architecture students to design habitats in which the entire "living body" of the colony -- thousands of bees and a huge honeycomb -- could live long and prosper.
The winning team is made up of five graduate students in the school's MArch and MUP programs who say their intention was not only to design a structure to house the bees, but to offer a way to educate the public about bee work and its contribution to our ecological system.
The contest was sponsored by Rigidized Metals Corporation, a Buffalo metal fabrication company, its CEO Rick Smith and his colleague, Jeff Ede.