To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.
Will revery alone really do if bees are few? As much as I love to daydream, I’m afraid the answer is a resounding, gut-wrenching ‘NO’. Bees are crucial to the continuation of human life. But our impact on the environment through the misuse of insecticides, added to the proliferation of pests and diseases and loss of habitat, is threatening the survival of this mighty insect. When bees have access to good nutrition, so do we – you can thank them for one in three bites of food you eat – and yet every batch of pollen has at least six pesticides in it.
From poetry to politics, religion to architecture, the honey bee has managed to waggle-dance itself into every nook and cranny of the human world. Our relationship with the bee is one that spans thousands of years, and I have attempted to synthesise it in one single book.
I divided this book into 6 chapters, each one edited in a specific way: a piece of writing is preceded by a full-page image and followed by a selection of images in relation to the text. The full-page images are of the stormy skies that descended over London on 16th October 2017, when hurricane Ophelia made her way to our shores. All I could hear and read at the time was “It’s the end of the world!” and I couldn’t help but find a parallel with what could potentially happen if bees were to become extinct. The texts are a mix of personal life experiences and detailed knowledge about the honey bee and its history in relation to us.
The imagery is a mix of found artefacts and my own photographs. Mingling the past with the present is my way of showing our constant and ever-growing relationship with the honey bee. My hope is that there is something for everyone in this book; if a teenager were to pick it up and see a photo of Beyoncé, I would love for it to peak their curiosity and push them to do a little bit of digging.
This project is more relevant now than ever. Every day, news articles emerge with ever-growing alarming headlines about bees and insects in general. We humans hold the fate of the wee honey bee in our millions of hands. By some unimaginable, intangible natural power, we have been given the gift of life, and it is our duty to make sure all living entities that share our cosmos continue on the path they were meant to take.