Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Gift

When I first got the bees I thought I would observe how they relate to the larger environmental issue of colony collapse syndrome: a worldwide phenomena of disappearing hives.  I knew it was related to the effects of pesticides, mono agriculture, climate changes and disease.  I knew bees were critical for the pollination of our food and generally indicative of the health of the planet.  What I wasn't prepared for was the profound effect studying the life in the hives would have on me.  Watching how they worked together, almost as a single mind, with such order and purpose, was mesmerizing and emotional for me.  Somehow, I felt they had the secret to how we all should live and relate to our surroundings.  This is why I named the piece nousbee. Any of you had a similar experience?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


The name of the installation, nousbee,  refers to the wisdom and order of the bee colony and how it's an analogy for humans and our connection with the planet.

Nous (nous) /'nu:s/

intellect or intelligence
true or real

The principle of the cosmic mind or soul responsible for the rational order of the cosmos.

An intelligent purposive principle of the world.

Nous: French for we.

Entre nous- between us.

Close Up Work

Separating the Bees from the Camera


Setting Up to Start Filming

Settled into Their New Home

The Queen Arrives in a Special Carriage
Unloading the New Bees

Naming the Queens

Zazzala and Tazzala are named after the DC Comics characters Queen Bee Zazzala and her sister and alter ego Tazzala.  They first appeared in a 1963 issue of Justice League of America.

The Precarious Life of Nousbees

The Precarious Life of the Nousbees  

                 The two queen bees Zazzalla and Tazzalla and several pounds of followers came to us this April on a chilly Sunday in the back of a pickup truck.  The pickup truck driver, Andy, had gotten them that morning from a bigger truck that had brought them from California.  It was a long trip and they were a little tired and groggy.  We got them settled into their new hives and then left them alone.  Tazalla and Zazzalla had their own private quarters for the first few days, while their the others got unpacked.  Everyone recovered well from their big trip and when Zazalla and Tazzalla were released they seemed to like their new home.  At least they didn’t fly off!  If they did everyone would have followed them and then we’d be sans bees.
These particular bees are Carniolan honey bees (Apis mellifera carnica).  They're from the northern part of southeastern Europe, around Austria and Slovenia.  They can take the cold winters of Colorado better than those mellow Italians and are still an easy going group to work with. 
Since there wasn’t much “locally grown” food yet we supplemented with some raw sugar water which they seemed to love.  They set right to work exploring and building comb and my photographer friend Robert and I set to work figuring out how to photograph them from inside the hive.  Being novice beekeepers, or beeks as some like to be called, we were worried that we’d be too intrusive, not to mention that we were wary of being stung.  Sticking your hands into thousands of buzzing bees requires a period of adjustment- even with the proper attire.
They're well established now and the hives are filling up with bees and honey.  Check in on their progress through the year.