NPR Story
12:04 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Artists Tell Stories Of Dead Bees

A headline at green blog Inhabitat mentioning ‘thousands of dead bees’ and ‘dizzying mandalas’ drew me in. The image that greeted me when I clicked through did not disappoint.

In an email, Canadian artist Sarah Hatton shared her inspiration for the series of works:

”I am a visual artist who also happens to be a beekeeper. Life often finds its way into one's art, and I had long been thinking of an artistic way to talk about the global decline of the bees. I decided to use dead bees as the most direct visual way to represent this message, with the most emotional impact,” Hatton wrote.

The bees used in Hatton’s art work actually came from two of her own hives, which died from natural causes.

Hatton says she chose patterns that “have symbolic ties to agriculture.” And further, the ‘dizzying’ effect of the patterns is meant to reflect the effect of neonicotinoid pesticides, which Hatton says, “destroy bees’ navigational systems.

If you happen to be in or near Ottawa, Canada, you can see Hatton’s ‘Bee Work’ in person at a one-night showing December 4.

Just this week, Oregon’s Department of Agriculture announced they will restrict use of pesticides containing two specific neonicotinoids. The action is in response to die-offs this summer that killed more than 50,000 bees.

Another more artistic response to the Oregon bee die-offs comes from Portland poet and visual artist Pattie Palmer Baker. She said that the news of the bee deaths haunted her.

”I thought about how it looked. It made me see it visually,” Baker told me.

The event prompted a poem which she exhibited as part of a recent gallery show in Portland. Though Baker’s art work typically combines paste paper collage and calligraphy, for now the words stand alone. Baker intends to evolve the work to include the visuals soon.

Here's the full poem:

50,000 BUMBLEBEES DIE

-- Toni Tabora-Roberts

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