At Bayer, innovation, problem solving and creative ideas lie at the heart of what we do and this also applies to our activities at the Bee Care Center in Monheim.
It was, therefore, a pleasure to welcome Alex Roquero and Olivia Alexander, two winners of this year’s Design Innovation in Plastics (DIP) award, to our Center as part of their prize visit to Covestro in Leverkusen, Germany, the main industry sponsor for the award. Olivia had won her award with a clever design for a wall-hanging, bee-friendly planter that she designed with the idea of administering an anti-mite compound directly to the honey bees that came to forage on the flowers in the planter. Honey bees need good nutrition throughout the season and the Varroa mite is the main threat to Western Honey Bee health in the northern hemisphere. So Olivia’s idea to combine foraging with the control of the major honey bee parasite was an interesting one.
Olivia brought a mini demo version of her award-winning planter design to show experts.
During their visit, the winning innovators had the chance to learn more about the Bee Care projects and activities from around the world, and to meet experts to discuss Olivia’s award-winning product design. A visit to the apiary, to see the on-site honey bees, and pollinator garden were also part of the program.
In discussing Olivia’s design with experts from Bayer Animal Health and the Bee Care Center, it was clear that the design for a wall-hanging planter was a good one and would certainly provide insects and foraging bees with a source of nectar and pollen, providing it was planted with a variety of plants to give seasonal flowering.
The idea of combining the foraging habitat with an “anti-mite” product to protect honey bees from the Varroa mite was an interesting concept but, as one aspect, it became evident that many different insects may visit the planter, not just honey bees, and these would potentially also be “treated”, even if they did not need to be.
In discussing the design, the experts explained that the treatment needs to be close to the source of the problem where it will have maximum effect, so for honey bees this is in the beehive. The analogy that “if you were treating a person with a cold, you are unlikely to spread the medicine on the walls of their bedroom, if you want to get it into their body”, also helped demonstrate the concept better.
Our veterinarian also explained the extensive work needed to develop a new drug and regulatory requirements that have to be met to bring “anti-mite” products, like the one Olivia was proposing to use, into the market. As such, this aspect of her design may in reality, prove hard to get approval for.
Undaunted, Olivia was happy for the feedback and went away with thoughts of how to adapt her design to take on board what she had learned during the visit. For Alex, he was amazed at the wide variety of bees and left with a better feeling for the complexities of bee health and how this differs around the world.
It seems the day proved useful for the two product designers and we wish them all the best for the future as they start out on their respective careers.
Alex (l.) and Olivia, two of this year’s Design Innovation in Plastics award winners take a look at bee-related exhibits during their visit.