bees

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Amazing Science

An Extraordinary Glimpse into the First 21 Days of a Bee's Life in 60 Seconds

May 20, 2015

Christopher Jobson

In an attempt to better understand exactly what happens as a bee grows from an egg into an adult insect, photographer Anand Varma teamed up with the bee lab at UC Davis to film the first three weeks of a bee’s life in unprecedented detail, all condensed into a 60-second clip. The video above presented by National Geographic doesn’t include commentary, but Varma explains everything in a TED talk included below. The primary goal in photographing the bees was to learn how they interact with an invasive parasitic mite that has quickly become the greatest threat to bee colonies. Scientists have learned to breed mite-resistant bees which they are now trying to introduce into the wild. Learn more about it in this video:

(via Reddit)

 

 



Art

A London Street Artist Paints Swarms of Bees on Urban Walls to Raise Awareness of Colony Collapse Disorder

March 24, 2015

Christopher Jobson

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Street artist Louis Masai Michel is on a one-man mission to raise awareness of the plight of the humble honey bee through his Save the Bees mural project . The murals began shortly after Michel returned from a trip to South Africa where he was painting endangered animals, when he began to learn about about bees and the grave implications of colony collapse disorder. He immediately set out to paint a series of murals incorporating bees on walls around London in May of last year, but the endeavor proved wildly popular and has since spread to Bristol, Devon, Glastonbury, Croatia, New York, Miami, and New Orleans. Many of the bee works were done in collaboration with artist Jim Vision, including pieces in Shoreditch, Bethnal Green, and Hackney.

Michel is currently taking a break from bees to open a show of unrelated artwork at Lollipop Gallery later next month, but plans are in the making for a phase two sometime next year. You can see more of his bee work in this gallery.

We learned about this Michel’s #SavetheBees work through a collaboration between Sony’s #FutureofCities project and photographer Abbie Trayler-Smith who has been documenting urban beekeeping in London. You can read a short interview with her here.

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Photo by Abbie Trayler-Smith courtesy Sony’s #FutureofCities

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Photo by Abbie Trayler-Smith courtesy Sony’s #FutureofCities

Update: Updated to include information about collaborating artist Jim Vision.

 

 



Design Food

Honey on Tap: A New Beehive that Automatically Extracts Honey without Disturbing Bees

February 19, 2015

Christopher Jobson

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The Flow Hive is a new beehive invention that promises to eliminate the more laborious aspects of collecting honey from a beehive with a novel spigot system that taps into specially designed honeycomb frames. Invented over the last decade by father and son beekeepers Stuart and Cedar Anderson, the system eliminates the traditional process of honey extraction where frames are removed from beehives, opened with hot knives, and loaded into a machine that uses centrifugal force to get the honey out. Here is how the Andersons explain their design:

The Flow frame consists of already partly formed honeycomb cells. The bees complete the comb with their wax, fill the cells with honey and cap the cells as usual. When you turn the tool, a bit like a tap, the cells split vertically inside the comb forming channels allowing the honey to flow down to a sealed trough at the base of the frame and out of the hive while the bees are practically undisturbed on the comb surface.

When the honey has finished draining you turn the tap again in the upper slot resets the comb into the original position and allows the bees to chew the wax capping away, and fill it with honey again.

It’s difficult to say how this might scale up for commercial operations, but for urban or backyard beekeeping it seems like a whole lot of fun. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine these on the roof of a restaurant where honey could be extracted daily, or for use by kids or others who might be more squeamish around live bees. You can see more on their website and over on Facebook.

Update: The Flow Hive is currently seeking funding on IndieGogo. So far they’ve raised $1.8 million in 16 hours.

 

 



Art

Geometric Beehive Sculptures by Ren Yue

July 15, 2014

Christopher Jobson

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Artist and beekeeper Ren Yue employs bees in the construction of these amazing encapsulated sculptures. The artist first builds transparent polyhedrons and cubes with an inner framework of wooden dowels, at the center of which he places the queen. After introducing the rest of the hive, he then rotates the sculpture every seventh day based on the roll of a die, an act that he says references the biblical concept of creation. Not only does the dice roll create an element of randomness, but it also changes the effect of gravity, causing the bees to build in different directions resulting in more evenly dispersed forms.

While we’ve seen several artists using honeycomb as a medium such as Aganetha Dyck and Tomáš Libertiny, Ri seems to put slightly more emphasis on the beehive itself as being the primary form on display. You can see a few more photos over on his website. (via iGnant, Huffington Post)

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Art

Artist Aganetha Dyck Collaborates with Bees to Create Sculptures Wrapped in Honeycomb

February 19, 2014

Christopher Jobson

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Photo by William Eakin

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Photos by William Eakin

In North America, Europe and many other parts of the world, bee populations have plummeted 30-50% due to colony collapse disorder, a fact not lost on artist Aganetha Dyck who for years has been working with the industrious insects to create delicate sculptures using porcelain figurines, shoes, sports equipment, and other objects left in specially designed apiaries. As the weeks and months pass the ordinary objects are slowly transformed with the bees’ wax honeycomb. It’s almost impossible to look at final pieces without smiling in wonder, imagining the unwitting bees toiling away on a piece of art. And yet it’s our own ignorance of humanity’s connection to bees and nature that Dyck calls into question, two completely different life forms whose fate is inextricably intertwined.

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Born in Manitoba in 1937, the Canadian artist has long been interested in inter-species communication and her research has closely examined the the ramifications of honeybees disappearing from Earth. Working with the insects results in completely unexpected forms which can be surprising and even humorous. “They remind us that we and our constructions are temporary in relation to the lifespan of earth and the processes of nature,” comments curator Cathi Charles Wherry. “This raises ideas about our shared vulnerability, while at the same time elevating the ordinariness of our humanity.”

If you want to learn more I suggest watching the video above from the Confederation Centre of the Arts, and if you want to see her work up close Dyck opens an exhibition titled Honeybee Alterations at the Ottawa School of Art on March 3, 2014. A huge thanks to Gibson Gallery as well as Aganetha and Deborah Dyck for their help. All photos courtesy Peter Dyck and William Eakin.

 

 



Photography

Macro Bee Portraits by Sam Droege and the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab

December 20, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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Courtesy Sam Droege / USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab

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Courtesy Sam Droege / USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab

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Courtesy Sam Droege / USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab

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Courtesy Sam Droege / USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab

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Courtesy Sam Droege / USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab

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Courtesy Sam Droege / USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab

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Courtesy Sam Droege / USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab

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Courtesy Sam Droege / USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab

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Courtesy Sam Droege / USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab

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Courtesy Sam Droege / USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab

Sam Droege is the head of the USGS Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Program in Maryland, an organization that monitors the health and habitat of bees in the U.S. as well as creating archival reference catalogs that aid researchers in the identification of bee species in North America. The project is no small task as there are literally thousands of bee species in the U.S., some of which vary in only the most minute ways that may not even be distinguishable to the naked eye.

To aid in the identification process the USGS Bee Inventory relies on extremely high resolution photography, an initiative led by Droege that has been ongoing since 2010. Droege’s macro photos of bees are so clear and well executed that they practically pass as works of art in their own right. He shares with Flickr:

“When we started looking at these pictures, I just wanted to gaze at these shots for long periods of time,” Sam says. “I had seen these insects for many years, but the level of detail was incredible. The fact that everything was focused, the beauty and the arrangement of the insects themselves — the ratios of the eyes, the golden means, the french curves of the body, and the colors that would slide very naturally from one shade to another were just beautiful! It was the kind of thing that we could not achieve at the highest level of art.”

You can see many more of these bee portraits (as well as photos of other insects and even animals) over on Flickr. (via Daring Fireball, Flickr)