Ceramic beehives made in Limoges to protect biodiversity in the city


Ceramic beehives with an original shape will be made by ceramic artisans from Nouvelle-Aquitaine. By installing their creations in the green spaces of Limoges, the bees will find shelter for their new swarms.

The first domestic hives appeared in Egypt 4,400 years ago. Nothing to do with modern wooden hives containing frames where the beekeeper collects honey. These hives were cylindrical, made of ceramic or terracotta, and very common throughout the Mediterranean.

Over the centuries, this ancestral technique has disappeared but this could well change thanks to the members of Refractories. This association brings together around thirty potters from New Aquitaine who want to reinvent this know-how. The idea took shape after meeting Christian Vigneron, a beekeeper who presides over the association. The tree and the bee. ” I was looking for someone to make a ceramic beehive and we didn’t even know it existed”confesses Axelle Labrousse, treasurer of Réfractaires.

From the meeting of these two worlds, a collaborative project was born, supported by the City of Limoges, labeled a creative city by UNESCO. The hives will be installed in the city’s parks and green spaces for educational and artistic purposes.

Prototypes presented in March

To make this hive, potters studied the way of life of bees. ” They need a permanent temperature of 39 degrees, rough walls to adhere to and build their cells, the openings should not be large because of predators », Axelle Labrousse.

Therefore, the hive will be ovoid. the most suitable for the bee and containing 30 litres. The specifications are set, the prototypes will be manufactured at the beginning of the year and will be presented on March 19, 2022 at the Adrien Dubouché National Ceramics Museum in Limoges. These hives are not intended to produce honey but to serve as shelter. ” After the swarm, the queen and some bees leave the hive and look for a new place to settle, these hives scattered around the city will be able to accommodate them. », says Axelle Labrousse.

In this way biodiversity will be preserved. For the production of the prototypes, the eight mobilized ceramists will receive technical support from the ENSIL-ENSCI engineering school in Limoges.
To achieve this, several factors must be taken into account, starting with the porosity of the material, the ventilation of the hive and global warming. The goal is to create a new way to distribute heat in the hive and protect the bees from humidity.

The potters will work in teams on various topics such as porcelain cob, basketry and 3D printing, at the moment we do not know if this material will be suitable. This new shape will pave the way for thought, even if it means adjusting after testing prototypes. explains Axelle Labrousse.
And tomorrow maybe other pollinating insects will take refuge in ceramic insect hotels.

corinne merigaud



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