Bees May Mass Produce An All New Type Of Waterproof Material
Bees are amazing insects. Not only do they provide the world with the sweet-tasting honey, but they also provide nearly all of the agricultural food products that we take for granted. In addition to providing humanity and many other animals with an invaluable service, researchers have recently found good evidence to suggest that bees are easily the smartest insects in existence. Unlike most insects, bees are not your typical creepy-crawlies that are deserving of disdain; instead, bees enable humans to survive on this planet. Of course, the pollination of the world’s agricultural crops is an essential service that bees perform, but soon they may also keep people from succumbing to harsh outdoor conditions. A startup company based in New Zealand is attempting to synthesize a material that mimics the sturdy nests that bees create. Manufacturing this material will not add pollutants to the environment, unlike other textile manufacturers. The material may also prove to be the most effective form of protection against the damaging effects of water and cold temperatures.
A New Zealand native, Veronica Harwood-Stevenson, has created Humble Bee, which is a startup company that is aiming to produce outdoor waterproof products such as coats, pants and tents with a more durable material. Humble Bee is unique for being one of the few companies to explore the benefits of biomimicry. Harwood-Stevenson is hoping to mass-produce a cellophane-like material that is made from the same materials that bees create in order to build their nests.
In order to create this revolutionary material, Harwood-Stevenson is focusing on the yellow-faced Hylaeus bee. Like most bees, the Hylaeus bee pollinates flowers, but they do not build independent hives; instead, these bees build protective cell linings where they store their food. These cells are built into natural crevices that are found in nature, such as on trees. This cell is made from a super sturdy and waterproof lining that could keep humans well-insulated. Harwood-Stevenson is funding her research into this bioplastic material with prize money that she won from the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency’s Bright Ideas Challenge.
Do you think that biomimicry involving insects will one day become the standard for producing durable materials that are meant to keep humans safe?