Here is the new design for the enclosure
The handles are built into the lid, and the lid slides into place under the J-hooks. The unit measures approx. 8″ x 8″ x 4″, so it’s actually quite small. Those are the standard dimensions of commonly available inexpensive 3d printers, so it’s the starting size for our modules to keep things simple. The outside walls are approx 1″ thick – I have concerns we may need to insulate. There are three exterior entrance holes, all facing what would be away from the building, and a triangular landing just underneath that runs along the middle 2/3rds of the structure. All transit holes are 9mm to conform to the large end of bee-space standards, and the ones on the exterior are at 45 degree angles coming into the structure to keep out weather and make them easier to defend, while still giving them easy access to most parts of the interior.
One thing missing in this design is a heat venting/rain shedding addition to the roof, anything else missing?
The trick to all of this, is the (say it with me!) variable lattice matrix that conforms to bee-space rules. This is pretty dang close, and would not take much modification. http://www.withinlab.com/case-studies/index10.php
Within has a sister company called Digital Forming, and they work with designers to help customers tailor products to what they want, while still keeping them functional. Take that concept and put it onto beespace rules. My hope is I can interest their leadership in this project, and get them to build us a little application that will let us generate beespace lattice matrixes that can be tailored to any size enclosure, and that give you the ability to easily and intuitively communicate to the bees how you would like them to build in a general sense, while still giving them all the tools they need to do the design as is most efficient for them. This is possible because of the three dimensional structure we can give them…. Hell, we could even print it in wax.
The application would ideally let you do things like designate brood free units, which would make sure the mesh did not allow the queen into the comb area, while still giving her a path from one unit to another. This is usually done with Queen Excluders, which cuts the queen off from part of the hive entirely…. Not an ideal situation but because we can generate meshes that are suited to different things in one manufactured package, it’s not a problem. Digital Formings consulting is all about making applications that are easy to use, so this could all be done with sliders where as you increase the “Honey Prodution” slider, the “Brood Production” slider decreases….
I’m still working out some details, but I’ve handed the design & measurements off to Brett – A new recruit from the RepRap side of things who will convert them into SCAD format. This will be a huge step forward towards our first in-the-flesh prototype, so stay tuned.