Tag Archives: pollen

POLLEN SERIES – black/white SEM photo series

name: the SEM photo series, year start: 2013-aug, year end: 2013-sept, techniques: dissected honeybees, pollen grains, scanning electron microscope

This work is a series of photographs made with the high-end SEM microscope. During 2 months I was invited to work at the chemical engineering laboratory of the Vrije Universiteit Brussels (VUB) to carry out research on city honeybees and their relation to the urban environment. As well the honeybees, as the pollen grains the bees were bringing back from their foraging flights, were closely inspected under the SEM microscope. Continue reading


The last weeks I colletected yet on several days pollen at the entrance of the beehives. I also have a pollen collected from spring this year.
On 21/22/23-8 I can work at the Chemical Engineering Lab of the VUB on the SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope). The SEM offers the possibility to make perfect 3D images at +20.000 enlargment scale. Ideal for photographing pollen and bee-parts as proboscis, receptors, e.g.
The lab is specialized in surface metals research. I work with Gizem Süngü, a future PhD student. Continue reading


Palynology is the “study of dust” . A classic palynologist analyses particulate samples collected from the air, water, or from deposits including sediments of any age. The condition and identification of those particles, organic and inorganic, give the palynologist clues to the life, the environment, and energetic conditions that produced them. wikipedia.
At Sony CSL in Tokyo I meet Masatoshi Funabashi. Masa is an expert in complex systems relations in ecologies. We talk about flowers and insects, and we decide to work with honeybees (among other insects) to collect usefull information on the ecosystem. The bees will work as interface/sensor for gathering environmental information via the pollen they collect. In my wiki, I start with a pollen database.

bee covered with pollen

June 2013 Masa and me decided to work on a joined research project that investigates the link between insects, pollen and ecosystems. We will set up a database and compare pollen -straight from the plant- with pollen brought back by honeybees to the hive. With pattern recognition software we hope to collect information about the ecosystems foraged by the honeybees.
We will work with the software ELFE to discover emergent patterns in a multitude of pollen pictures.
In philosophy, systems theory, science, and art, emergence is the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions. Emergence is central to the theories of integrative levels and of complex systems.

I am completely fascinated by the aesthetical forms of the pollen grains. The more I research, the more I want to work with sophisticated machines to study the material. With the help of Professor Luc Steels I can work at the VUB in the chemical engineering Lab, where they have several SEM – scanning electron microscopes. Working on these machines a complete new world is opening up.


Masatoshi sends me an USB microscope to start developing our pollen database. I will photograph pollen brought back by the honeybees, and also pollen found in the garden.
Masa will do the same, and over a while we hope to establish a body of materials, starting to do some machine learning and later do pattern recognition. Another possibility is to compare the microscope pictures with existing pollen databases. Continue reading