Oliver and Amelia make a bee box

Oliver is five, and has produced this lovely bee box for school. He did the modelling, the painting and some of the soldering, and had lots of help from his very talented big sister Amelia, who is seven and did all the programming for this project in Scratch.

bee box

The bee is made of clay, and has a magnet inside his body. His location is determined by some reed switches inside the box, which are connected to the GPIO pins on a Raspberry Pi, as are the LEDs in the flower and the hive. Amelia’s Scratch program, running on the Pi, then uses a TV to display what the bee’s up to (and, to a very enthusiastic Oliver’s great pleasure, emits a buzzing noise).

I mean it about the enthusiasm. Seriously. If you could bottle this stuff you’d make a fortune.

Full instructions on how to make your own bee box (it’s a really enjoyable project for parents to set up with their kids, and I’m sure you can think of a million ways to customise it) are available at Dad Stewart’s website, along with the Scratch code you’ll need, some GPIO instructions and a costed parts list.

Thanks to Oliver and Amelia from all of us at the Foundation – we are flapping our arms and shouting “BUZZ” right along with you.


vasi avatar

Awesome! This proves the Foundation’s goals are pretty much achieved. Kids now have their BBC’s modern equivalent to grow up with and dream about becoming the best in these areas that are now totally cool, fun, exciting or even hip, if it must.
It’s a virus, it will spread and infect everybody, you don’t have to do anything more now. Snowball effect or something.

Now, that all this is done, what will your next big goals be? :))

Jim Manley avatar

Oh … Em … GEEEE!!! This is absolutely the most amazing use of the Pi yet! Who woulda thunk it? Oh, of course, a seven year-old. Well, when they say something is so easy to use a child could do it, I immediately seek out the assistance of the nearest child – pretty much any of them will do!

If we aren’t all standing around with our hands in our pockets while kids build bee boxes at the San Francisco Maker Faire on 18 – 19 May, we might as well just pack it in! :D

Alex Eames (RasPi.TV) avatar

Excellent – well done guys :)

Simon Walters avatar

Very nice work :)

Did you use my Scratch GPIO package or did you roll your own handler code?

Gareth Jones avatar

Brilliant. Rather ironically I was just listening to Gardeners question time about the decline of Bees when I surfed over to the Pi Website to see this….

Patrick avatar

Jim Manley – Your comment is sarcastic and uncalled for. Give them a break – they’re just kids. I seriously doubt that you were doing anything special at that age. Rather, I suspect that you were still wetting your pants and eating your Nose Nuggets.

liz avatar

I don’t think he’s being sarcastic – he’s being enthusiastic. (I’ve met Jim a couple of times since we’ve been doing this Pi thing, and he’s a fantastic advocate for education with the Pi; he even volunteers as a STEM ambassador. I can’t imagine he’d be sarcastic about something like this in a million years; he IS, however, almost as buoyant as young Oliver when given half a chance and some blue Smarties.)

Tom avatar

What fun!

Stewart Watkiss avatar

Hi Simon,

I did use Cymplecy.

I did some research to get Scratch to talk to Python, but we only had about a week to work on the project (2 week school holiday with me travelling with work for a week). Fortunately I found your project and it was a great help – so thanks for that!

I had some other things I still needed to overcome to make it autostart without the Scratch message. I have written the blog post below to explain how I used your code, the presentation mode and getting it to autostart. I was going to publish this earlier, but I’m in the process of moving my blog onto a new version of software and it needs some changes (so this is still not linked from the main part of the website just yet).

How to have Scratch autostart on the Raspberry Pi with GPIO enabled

I’ll be linking the article to that as well once I’ve got the blog working a bit better.

Brian avatar

“The bee is made of clay, and has a magnet inside his body”, surely that should be “inside HER body”. Girl Power!

liz avatar

It appears I am mixing up my drones with my workers. (Although I have to say, I always thought that the queen bee was the perfect example of girl power. Thatcher aside.)

Jesus Tupamaros avatar

This topic brings up a question I am asked almost all the time by any non-techie that has heard of Pi: What about kids who dont have a teacher or relative who knows computers and electronics?

Is there yet a program in place which would allow parents to buy a kit and have the kids learn on their own through online tutorials, experiments, videos, etc?

The reason why I like the Pi isnt the price or the fact that its small, its the goal it has of reaching kids and getting them interested in programming.

I think a school oriented component to be very important but reality is that most schools dont offer or have anyone knowledgeable to teach this. Which is why the educational aspect has to cover both kids who have knowledgeable help and those who dont have help with this..

My boss wanted to buy Pi’s for nephews and nieces who live elsewhere but without him around to help, he’s afraid it would be nothing more than a paper weight or at best a web browser since the parents arent technically aware.

Any such projects right now or plans for this?


liz avatar

This is something we’re actively working on – watch this space!

Tom avatar

Great work…. very cool

Daniel M avatar

This is incredibly cool! I can’t wait to get Scratch working the GPIO. My daughter and I did a simple project recently (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nblw8LyYHr8) , but of course the programming bit was a bit of a stretch for her (we used Ruby). So this is like magic!
Thanks for all the hard work.

liz avatar

CympleCy’s got a helpful post on Scratch and the GPIO at http://cymplecy.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/scratch-gpio-version-2-introduction-for-beginners/ – well worth a look if you and your daughter are planning on giving it a go!

Joe Schutts avatar

Loved the T-Shirts! Loved the project! Loved the 2 kids as well! Leave it to 2 young (AND intelligent) kids to come up with an interesting AND amusing AND entertaining project like this. It kind of makes me wonder WHAT they’ll come up with for their next project. Both mom and dad should be extremely proud of them both!!!

Cheers and greetings from the USA…

Take care and the best of ALL the good luck in the future…

Joe S.

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