A Sculpture controlled by bees

If bees were to create a sculpture, what would it be like?

Well, we do know this - it would be a gorgeous beehive complete with geometrically perfect honey comb.

But what about a more avant garde sculpture?

British artist Wolfgang Buttress has built a sculpture that responds to the vibrations of honey bees in a hive attached to it, at Kew Gardens, open a couple of days ago.

As the

Guardian Weekly

says "

Its 170,000 pieces of aluminium, suspended from the ground, appear as a twisting swarm of bees from afar, but as you come closer it becomes a hive-like structure of latticework whose low humming sound and hundreds of flickering LED lights draws you in to a multi-sensory instillation. The intensity of sound and light is controlled by the vibrations of honeybees in an actual hive at Kew that is connected to the sculpture.

Honeybees communicate primarily with each other through vibrations. By biting a wooden stick connected to a conductor, visitors to the Hive can get a sense of four types of vibrational messages through the bones in their head. These include the tooting and quacking signals that virgin queen bees make when they challenge each other in a display of strength to determine who will be the queen of the hive; begging, when a bee requests food from another another; and the waggle dance which communicates the location of a good food source."

For more gorgeous pictures check out the

Kew Gardens page

. And if you are interested in the science-y bit, there is a tiny amount of information



Stunning Bee Photography

Coming up soon at

Two Rooms Art Gallery

is this stunning series of photographs of bees by Anne Noble. Its part of the Auckland Festival of Photography. Her exhibition is entitled

No Vertical Song


 "No Vertical Song is the latest installment, showcasing 15 photographic portraits of dead bees, called the Dead Bee Portraits. These works are installed as if populating an imaginary museum of the bee, for a time when the bee no longer exists. The artist’s concern with the worldwide decline of the honeybee results in an exhibition that is a haunting and elegiac reminder of the importance of our relationship to the natural world."

These stunning photographs were made with a scanning electron microscope. And plenty of magic.

Oxfam - Walk or Volunteer for Honey

Coming up on April 1-3, the weekend after Easter, is the

Oxfam Trailwalker.

 It's in Whakatane this year, rather than Taupo. And if walking all that way is not your cup of tea, how about volunteering to help behind the scenes as an

Oxfam volunteer

? You get to stay with others who are helping and the jobs are not nearly as hard work as all that walking - I'm vacuuming and keeping the volunteer lounge stocked with food and driving volunteers around I think, sounds fun!

And on top of all that, the funds raised go to good causes in the islands, like this one:

'By volunteering in Oxfam Trailwalker, you’ll be helping people in poverty throughout the Pacific and Southeast Asia find new opportunities to make a decent and sustainable income, to feed their families, pay for school fees, and much more.

In the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea, producing and selling honey is proving to bee one sweet solution to the sticky problem of increasing family incomes in the region.

Oxfam and our partner the Henagaru Village Development Cooperative in Okapa District of the Eastern Highlands Province are hosting bee keeping training.'

Check out the whole story about

honey here.

And, if all that is not enough,

studies show

that people who volunteer live longer!

Bee Sculpture Art

I went along to the Auckland Botanic Gardens this week to check out the new Sculpture Trail. They have an exhibition every year, of very large pieces which are spread around the gardens in strategic spots. For sale, but you would need a paddock, not a suburban backyard for most.The gardens are also in full bloom at this time of year, so a lovely afternoon out. Lots of great bird sculptures this year too, which I loved. But in the little shop, it seems the artists have small models and other pieces, also for sale.

And I found this great bee. Isn't she fabulous? No, I didn't buy her, unfortunately. And, I forgot to photograph the artist, so no idea, sorry.

The Bee Bug Bites

The last post about swarming reminded me... Vitamin Bee got started through a swarm. This bunch of bees landed in a tree at David's place in Auckland. A beautiful sight, but scary too if you don't know what you are doing, 1000's of bees hanging out in the open. Noisy too I expect, but I find the sound of bees to be absolutely mesmerizing.

Luckily Will has been a beekeeper for some time so he came rushing and together he and David tried to capture the swarm and get it into a hive box. I think they shook the branch and the bees fell into a big cardboard box and then they magically tipped them all into a hive. I don't understand the concept of 'tipping' bees, but there it is, seems they 'flow'. Don't try this at home, children ask your parents first.....

But...it didn't work - probably because the queen wasn't in the bunch of bees put in the box, but in the tiny pile left under the tree. So all the tipped bees eventually flew off with their queen. But...out of small failures, large change began. The bee bug had bitten. Vitamin Bee started that day.

Here's our first lineup of hives, back last year.