Nature’s 3D Printers: Using Honeybees to Create Art
The importance of bees cannot be understated. In the US alone, the Department of Agriculture estimated that bees pollinate about 80% of flowering crops, constituting about 1/3 of everything Americans eat. Their ability to pollinate has a tremendous environmental and economic impact on the entire globe.
And now their influence is spreading to the art world where artists have used bees’ ability to build honeycomb to create sculptures made of the hexagonal wax cells. Honey bees naturally build honeycomb in their nests to contain their larvae and stores of honey and pollen. Below you will find a collection of bee art sculptures from various artists who have been experimenting with this technique since the early 2000s. Enjoy!
Whisky brand Dewar’s 3-B printing project was a collaboration with their marketing agencies, Sid Lee and The Ebeling Group. To promote their new Highlander Honey flavour, Dewar’s created honeycomb sculptures of the bottle and bust of the company’s famous ‘drinking man’ with the help of 80,000 bees and master bee keeper Robin Theron.
Typically, honeybees build their honeycomb hives inward so that their queen can populate it with eggs. So in order to create the sculptures the team had to invert the bees’ instinct to build inward by creating a 3-D model template for the bees to build on and off of. To ‘encourage’ the bees, the team wrapped the 3-D model with a base of honeycomb wax and ‘lightly’ textured hexagonal pattern. The clear outer casing helped mimic the enclosed space of a normal hive.
Born in Slovakia in 1979, Libertíny studied engineering and design at Slovakia’s Technical University Ko?ice and then earned a scholarship to study at the University of Washington in Seattle. He continued his study at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava in painting and conceptual design and then enrolled in the Masters program at the Design Academy Eindhoven where he received his MFA in 2006. He has founded a studio in Rotterdam where he is focused on exploring strategies in design and construction of objects.
Vessel #2 by Tomás Libertíny in 2011. Beeswax, glass, aluminum, 50 x 35 x 35 cm. Museum Boijmans van Beuningen collection.
The Agreement by Tomás Libertíny in 2012. Beeswax, glass, metal, wood
3000 x 1500 x 1500 mm. Dimensions of the beeswax sculpture 1600 x 915 x 490 mm. Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea site specific installation.
Vessel #1 by Tomás Libertíny in 2011. Beeswax, glass, aluminum. 86 x 86 x 86 cm (cabinet). 50 x 35 x 35 cm (vessel). Photography by René Spitz.
The Unbearable Lightness by Tomás Libertíny in 2010. Beeswax, Stainless steel, Glass, Steel, Plastic, Resin. 122 x 250 x 45 cm. Photography by Jos Kottmann.
The Honeycomb Vase by Tomás Libertíny in 2007. Beeswax 24 x 16 x 16 cm. Photograph by Raoul Kramer. MoMA New York collection.
Aganetha Dyck is a Canadian artist who is interested in environmental issues, specifically the power of the small. She is interested in inter species communication. Her research asks questions about the ramifications all living beings would experience should honeybees disappear from earth.
The Plexiglass House by Aganetha Dyck in 2008. Commissioned by the North Dakota Museum of Art. Photography by Peter Dyck.
The Extended Wedding Party by Aganetha Dyck. The Glass Dress, Lady in Waiting. Size 7 (Life size). In collection of The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada. Photography by Peter Dyck & The W.A.G.
The MMAasked Ball by Aganetha Dyck in 2008. Photograph by Peter Dyck.