Bee Thinking, the world’s first beekeeping supplier specializing in foundationless beehives, is located in a 1,750 square foot building in SE Portland. Their beehives are designed in-house, crafted at their mill in Portland, Oregon using kiln dried Western Red Cedar from the Pacific Northwest, and made to be easily assembled by both a hobbyist or professional beekeeper. Bee Thinking also provides educational services, including classes, seminars, guest speakers, and how-to workshops.
The space plan was inspired by the study of a bee’s habitat and movement. Bees communicate through dance, the ‘Waggle Dance,’ which is a story communicated through a language of precise movement and physical cues. Upon entry, a customer is taken on a subtle journey starting with familiar bee products, such as honey, bee’s wax, and mead (with full tasting bar), to products that offer a deeper connection to beekeeping. These include an educational section with books and learning tools, fully assembled beehives, protective equipment, and do-it-yourself kits.
The material palette was inspired by a mason beehive, which is not the honeycomb so commonly associated with bees, but a tightly grouped series of patterned perforations in wood. The interior architectural volumes and custom fixtures are made of Western Red Cedar, in harmony with Bee Thinking’s custom built hives. Left in a natural tone at key moments, the cedar was weathered with a gray stain at key merchandising areas to offset the amber color of the honey and bee’s wax candles.
Bee Thinking’s foundation-less hives are pieces of art, and the design team opted to feature them as sculptures, worthy of study and consideration as not only tools, but profoundly beautiful objects with a noble purpose. Fieldwork Design provided architectural and interior design services and also designed and fabricated the retail fixtures and custom light fixture in their workshop.