The Decline of the Honey Bee

With not long to go until the Plymouth University Degree Show in June, the honey bee sculpture made from old gas pipe is starting to take shape nicely. Lee at LandWorks has been an absolute godsend in helping cut, sand, and prepare the pipe ready for bolting together. Not only that, we’ve had some hilarious and truly mind-opening conversations in the process, which to a certain extent is what LandWorks is all about.

Many thanks to Chris Parsons for his always-admirably-positive approach and continued support, it’s a pleasure and inspiration to be involved with a genuine project which is having a real impact.

The sculpture itself has developed from being a conceptual piece which comments on fragmentations within society, to actually becoming socially engaged with an under-represented fraction.

The concept also investigates the way our structure of living is impacting on the bigger picture, here specifically our influence on honey bees and the repercussions in turn for us. At the Apiculture: Bees and the Art of Pollination symposium held at Plymouth University on Friday 25th April, it became more apparent still the drastic reduction of the honey bee population, which has been associated with pathogens, pesticides, and pests. However this symposium presented by a range of artists and scientists, looked specifically at the impact of the UK’s changing landscape, which has seen a loss of natural meadows and hedges over the decades, giving over to agricultural production to feed our ever growing population. This means bees are having to travel further to collect nectar and pollen, thereby becoming less efficient. To sum up the consequences of neglecting the honey bee situation, artist Amy Shelton provided the incredulous quote (similar quotes have been widely attributed to Albert Einstein!):

it is actually estimated that more than a hundred thousand varieties of plants would disappear if the bees did not visit them

Maurice Mattock, The Life of the Bee

With this in mind, it seemed pertinent to develop the work into a practical solution on how to face this possibility. One answer is a shift in our attitude to garden spaces, away from pristine lawns and shrubs, towards a diverse habitat for bees and other insects to reside. Some may call them weeds, but our natural flora are in my mind really quite beautiful. The structure of the sculpture could easily hold plantings of wild flowers, which would contrast well with the bright plastic material from which it is made; the cylindrical shape also allows for incorporation of bamboo nests for solitary bees (an idea spurred on after seeing Alec Finlay’s Book Nests).

Watch this space for more updates and an invite to the Degree Show coming soon.

2 thoughts on “The Decline of the Honey Bee

  1. Oh I hope you DO plant it up Sarah, it would wonderful with clumps of meadow grass turf in the end of most (but not all) of the tubes. It’d be lovely to see the green on the yellow like dandilions and then the wild flowers come out of that grass.
    It’s going to be great, you should be very proud x

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