TIK festival : the BeeArcHive

Bee observation Installation : stories from the Drying Room

In “The Bee Archives or Stories from the Drying Room” the city honeybees are the main performers. The sonification of the bees’ activities creates a real-time subtle soundtrack for the life in the hive. An OpenStructure observation beehive displays the organisation of the community and the collective decision making both among bees and artists.
The basic idea was to make an observation beehive and to describe the life of a bee colony with the sound. There are contact microphones that pick up all the activity in the hive – the buzz, when the bees walk over, or fly against them. The monitoring of the bees means to look at time in a different way, due to the ecological process of the bee season. This process then becomes the monitoring of the bee season. The spectator – even when s/he spends only 5 minutes here – will see the progress. In the morning the activity will be different than in the evening. If there is a sunshine, there is much more activity.
The process is completely transparent and one can see everything that happens. But for me, the first thing is working with living matter as a source of an art project. In the scientific observation of a bee colony, you would not do it  like this. This beehive is not so practical, it is more like a sculpture with bees in it. You try to make it the best for the bees and for art. There’s only one negative point, it is a little bit demanding that they have to go climb via the inserted tube. It becomes problematic when they have to carry a weight, like bringing out a dead bee.
The bees are good bio-indicators, they inform us on the status or our environment. When they enter via the tube, you can see on the color of the pollen which flowers they visited. Most of the people are quite surprised when you say you keep bees in the city, and the first question is always – where do they find the food? It relates to a wider notion of environment and biodiversity. You can also see the bee colony as a representation of a self-organizing community, with horizontal, non-hierarchical collective decision making.