The goal of the Ideal Project was to come up with an idea for the “ideal bee” then create a model showing the modifications we would make. In the past these models were all 3D printed, but we were able to use any of the machines and resources in the 1819 Innovation Hub. The idea for the ideal bee was to be based on our knowledge of the bee, but it didn’t have to be feasible. My team brainstormed several ideas for small changes we could make, but we decided we wanted to create a completely different kind of bee, the medic bee. The role of this bee would be completely different from the other bees. Instead of being a worker bee or queen bee, its only role would be to keep the bees in the hive healthy, ensuring the survival of the hive. We started by creating a low-fidelity prototype of our medic bee. Since we had limited resources, we decided to build it out of clay. The bee’s fur and wings were removed, because they would have no benefit for a bee who never leaves the kid. We replaced the stinger with a syringe that would inject the bees with healing medicine. We also added a tube to the prototype that would spray water on the bees to remove pesticides. The entire class’s prototypes looked nothing like bees, but it was fun to see what everyone had managed to put together and hear the concepts behind the prototypes.
For the actual model, we decided to use 3D modeling. None of us had used Solidworks or done 3D modeling before, so we wanted to be able to learn how to use the 3D printers through this project. Since none of us had any experience with Solidworks, we were advised to use Tinkercad, a free program that is simpler and easy to use. The problem with this program is that it only allows you to put together basic shapes, and we were trying to use complex shapes to build a model of a bee. Unfortunately, most of our time was spent trying to create the shape of a bee on Tinkercad rather than making modifications to the bee. One thing we were able to add was a pre-designed honey comb, which we ended up using to emphasize that the medic bee doesn’t leave the hive (and so you could tell it was a bee and not an ant). Our final model had no wings or fur like our prototype. We were unable to add the syringe to the model, but we removed the tube to spray water and added claws to remove mites.
In our presentation, we went over our model and the idea behind it. I did not expect the array of questions we would receive. We had to come up with several possible explanations for features of a bee that does not actually exist. How does the bee create the medicine for the syringe, and does it change based on the needs of each bee? Is the medic bee bred differently like the queen bee is? This made me start to think past our ideas for what could be improved, and start thinking about how these modifications would affect the hive as a whole. We weren’t actually modifying a bee, but in reality, many genetic modifications have unforeseen consequences. Our idea for a medic bee may have ended up hurting more than it could help. Maybe bees in their current state are already ideal.