This work is based on the research supported in part by the NRF for the Thuthuka grants held by Angus D. Campbell titled Designing Development: An Exploration of Technology Innovation by Small-scale Urban Farmers in Johannesburg and by Dr. Naudé Malan titled Innovation in the Soweto Food System: Engaging with Soweto Agriculture. Angus D. Campbell coordinates the Design Society Development DESIS Lab in South Africa, Johannesburg.

Honeybees provide the irreplaceable service of pollination for many of our food-crops and as such their survival is directly linked to food security. In South Africa there has been a recent movement towards localised food production through urban agriculture for socioeconomic development and access to healthy food in marginalised communities. Due to modern agricultural practices the annual survival rate of honeybees globally is in a severe decline, whilst the success of urban agriculture initiatives has been limited by low income generation. This Design Research study aimed to find solutions that would help urban farmers adopt beekeeping to increase their economic capabilities and protect their pollinators.

The study borrows from Appropriate Technology Development whilst adopting Human-Centred Design methods to developing accessible beekeeping technology for local urban agriculture. Through participatory research with expert beekeepers and urban farmers the design approach to beehives was improved through the creation of a beehive design toolkit. The product outcomes were: an entry-level cardboard beehive, a permanent cement beehive and moulds to produce multiples of the cement beehive. All of these catered to an intervention framework intended to facilitate the development of sustainable beekeeping businesses through community driven manufacture and staggered implementation. The revised approach to beehive production resulted in reduced costs and presented further opportunities for sustainable beekeeping and social development. Initial testing confirmed the products technical performance, however testing through implementation would need to be undertaken to determine the further success of the intervention.


  • Ivan Brown, BTech Industrial Design, 2015. MTech Industrial Design, 2016 – onwards
  • Supervised by Angus D. Campbell & Dr Naudé Malan.

The final BTech dissertation is available for download here

Visit the DSD DESIS Lab website here