Mini cave: bees & their surroundings

For research purposes of the Institute for Bee Research Hohen Neuendorf, we developed a five-sided simulation environment for bees in cooperation with the Visual Computing (VISCOM) business unit of Fraunhofer FOKUS.

In order to better analyse and research the behaviour of bees, the Institute for Bee Research recently acquired an optical simulator for behavioural experiments on insects. This five-sided simulator projects immersive worlds of experience for bees. For a bee, for example, projections from different perspectives can give the impression that other bees are circling around it. Natural environments such as trees, meadow landscapes and other living environments can be simulated as well.

Bee researchers can change the shape, position and size of various projection objects. The transfer to the illuminated surface is so realistic that the movement of the objects from the insect’s perspective creates a lifelike impression and the bee behaves naturally within the “BienenCAVE”. The simulation environment will allow bee researchers to study and understand the mating behaviour of male bees with the queen and other behaviours at close range.


The software for animating moving objects on the omnidirectional screen was adapted by FOKUS researchers to the special requirements of the BienenCAVE. The 360° FOKUS projection software is also used at other locations, for example in planetariums and dome cinemas. Within the scope of this project, VISCON GmbH designed and built the entire hardware setup made up of projectors, deflection mirrors, scaffolding and cave frame, cubic projection surfaces and computer architecture.

The BienenCAVE is in operation at the Hohen Neuendorf research site. In connection with research and breeding work, the Institute for Bee Research keeps roughly 300 bee colonies. The Institute is funded by the federal states of Berlin, Brandenburg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia on a project basis. The members of the association consist of the representatives of the participating states as well as representatives of beekeepers’ associations and research institutions.

Learn more about the Institute for Bee Research

Did we already mention that we really love bees?

Here is a small impression of “our” beehives. Our apprentice Erik’s father is taking care of them. This year there was a lot of honey… “Viscon Flower Dream” – a new business idea in the making? 🙂​​

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