Urban Aerobiomes As Seen by Honeybees

As bees forage, they traverse the microbial clouds associated with elements in their environment – green spaces, bodies of water, industrial landscapes. These signatures can be read from the “bee debris” accumulated at the bottom of the hive. We are collaborating with beekeepers in NYC and beyond to recruit honeybees as citizen scientists collecting information on urban aerobiomes, and use the data to understand the environment of their foraging range and detect bee or hive pathogens. 

Holobiont Urbanism is an ongoing project initiated in 2015 by  Kevin Slavin (Former PI, and founder of Playful Systems Lab at the MIT Media Lab) with Miguel Perez (MIT Media Lab) and Devora Najjar (MIT Media Lab and Wyss Institute), Dr. Elizabeth Henaff (NYU) Dr. Chris Mason (Mason Lab at Weill Cornell), Benjamin Berman (MIT), Chris Woebken (Research Affiliate at the MIT Media Lab), and Regina Flores Mir (Parsons School of Design) exploring the potential of using honey bees as proxy sampling mechanisms for the urban and rural microbiome.

This work has been shown at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2016, and published here. 

Starting in Spring 2021, this project is being continued with NYC beekeepers, spearheaded by Annick Saralegui at the Henaff Lab. 

Project website is here. Are you a beekeeper and would like to collaborate? Please visit the project website for more details.