About a year ago I met some new friends who had an interesting bee disappearance related story to tell. They had been keeping bees for a few years when last summer their queen bee and her hive suddenly swarmed one afternoon. These bees then took up residence in a neighbor’s rotted tree and were quite comfortably appointed when the neighbor asked that my friends remove the bees. In a move that I consider quite novel they hired an arborist and had him, wearing gear to protect him from the bees, remove the section of tree where the bees were living. They then moved this section back to their property where the bees thrived for quite some time until, one day, quite unexpectedly, they were gone. It’s possible the bees simply swarmed again, this time much further afield, it’s also possible that they fled their hive and died. Whatever the explanation, they, like many billions of bees all over the world simply disappeared.
All that was left of the bees after this event was their log hive, some abandoned beeswax, and a couple of short videos of them taken by my friends. I was very excited about what in my mind added up to an installation artwork. I soon had my greedy hands on the log hive and video and set about putting these things together to be presented at the Nocturne: Art at Night Festival. Hive was placed within a city garden bed on the corner of Spring Garden Road and South Park Street in Halifax from six pm to midnight on the night of October 15th.
Here’s the artist’s statement for Hive:
“Hive” is both a monument to the missing bees and what Jean Baudrillard might consider “a perversion of reality”. A viewer may initially be attracted to the hive by the buzzing sound it gives off even at a distance (from speakers placed covertly on the inside). A faint light emitting from the hive’s small entrance issues an invitation to cautiously peer inside. Stooping a little bit to see, the viewer may feel slightly anxious that the buzzing, combined with the way the hive blends naturally into the park setting may indicate the presence of actual bees.What the viewer gets instead is an unfaithful copy. A small screen plays a video of the hive’s former occupants while the scent of the hive’s abandoned comb lingers in the air. What remains is a an artist’s attempt to put humpty dumpty back together again; we can see and smell the bees and touch their hive but what we are experiencing is a copy which only serves to highlight their absence.