honeybee observatory 00

The Bee Observatory project transforms 2 roof top gardens located in the center of Brussels at about half a kilometer
distance from each other into communicating vessels. The approach is to install hives in both of the gardens,with black honeybees (apis mellifera mellifera), a type endemic to Belgium.

It is expected that the bees will manage to bridge the spatial distance and to associate the locations by going about their business and natural processes within their individual yet overlapping territories. The presence and activities of the bee colonies makes the gardens interconnect and interfere. The emerging inter-space can be perceived as place of encounters and neighborhood.

Observing and monitoring the activities of the hives makes bee information directly available. A translation of this data into more symbolic signals can be accessed through online streaming and public moments.

In a first stage, the project idea suggests the transformation of 2 urban roof top gardens into interfering, communicating (synchroniced) entities by installing bees into both spaces. The two roof top gardens are located at about 400 metes of distance from each other at Koolmijnenkai 30 (OKNO) and Vlaamsesteenweg 60, respectively and offer convenient locations for beehives. The “technical” necessity of air channels for free entrance and exit flight trajectories and sunny location for at least parts of the day are met. The inter-visibility between the two places is given and hence emphasizes the “symmunicative” and encountering nature of the installation.

The distance between the locations can be metaphorically bridged by the bee’s presence and their natural activities. Since each colony will be active in a radius of at least a few kilometers from their housing hive, the respective trajectories, areas of floral visits and individual territories will be overlapping and an interference of the hives/gardens takes place. A new space of encounter, the mutual area of existence, can be defined, a new perception of neighborhood can be realized.

Observing and monitoring the activities of the hives coupled with ongoing documentation of each individual hive as well as the interaction between the different colonies will be performed. Information can be obtained from bee hives through visually observing, by listening or smelling. Changes of the hives can be monitored in terms of weight, size or outside/inside temperature of the habitation/colony and via the honey amount or quality. This data has abundant information value, but can also be used and made available in a more indirect/symbolic way. A translation of the signals/data into something publicly accessible is intended. Direct “public moments” on the roof top gardens in the vicinity of the hives add an interactive facet.