01 prototype: press fit honeybee nest box

From reading this book about bee’s collective decision making in finding the next location for their colony’s nest, I decided to try making one of the experimental nest boxes that the author describes in determining the bee’s ideal nest. The two main parameters are the volume of the cavity and the size of the opening to the cavity. So, I designed a box that can vary in volume through the insertion or removal of an interior panel and with an entrance aperture that can vary by switching between pieces with different sized openings.

The box as it would appear without an entrance aperture piece:

An exploded view of all the pieces, showing how the joints fit together, the interior partition, and the two entrance aperture options:

The individual pieces:


The cut sheet for milling:

I ran into a few issues in the first attempt to mill the nest box out of mdf (I used the Techno CNC in N51). Initially, I thought I could just send the job with the dogboned corners drawn in with the right radius for the quarter inch bit, but it turned out I had to set up a separate run just indicating the corners with points so the machine would just drill holes at those points. Although I was eventually successful in resolving the corners, it turned out something went wrong in my initial depth settings and so it didn’t quite  mill all the way through the mdf, leaving the pieces with a small beveled edge at the bottom, which in turn meant none of the pieces could be press fit together.

Milling away:


All the pieces, once I popped them out the rest of the way with a box cutter:


The dogbone corners:


The (unintentional) beveled edge at the bottom of the piece (on the right):


The pieces don’t fit…

4.196 Special Problems in Architectural Design Complete Fabrications Nick Gelpi Mon-Fri, Jan 5-7, 10-11, 13-14, 18, 20-21, 24-25, 27-28, 01-04:00pm, 3-402/7-432studio, 1st mtg Wed 1/5 Pre-register on WebSIS and attend first class. No listeners Prereq: Permission of instructor ; Yr-1 MArch students who have completed 4.123 only Level: H 9 units Standard A - F Grading Can be repeated for credit Lab Fee: 150 A comprehensive introduction to methods of “making” explored through a wide range of brief but focused exercises. Skills = developing complex geometries from flat components; fine-tuning press fit construction, molding and casting, and making repeatable molds for customization. A two-part workshop, the first half will contextualize contemporary tools and techniques within the trajectories of historical case studies of building, combined with hands on familiarization of tools. The second half will implement the tools of our workshop in the context of Design. Working on group design build process for three MIT 150 FAST installations, students will test and influencing designs through the instrumentality of production. These hands-on design build projects are intended to produce reciprocity between skills and design, making more complete the problems of fabrication. Subject limited to year-one MArch students who have completed core-1 studio. Contact: Nick Gelpi, 9-224, 253-9415, -


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