For this project we had to choose a species that lives closely with humans – a ‘companion species’ or close neighbour. Research their ‘life world’ and compose an artwork for them. The species that we chose was the honey bee, after researching about them I was quite astonished at how remarkable creatures they are.
Our Idea was to create a Night club for bees so they could stop working and take a minute to relax “To produce a pound of honey, foraging bees have to fly a whopping 55,000 miles!” (Buzz about bees, 2015)
The project focused on 4 key senses which were sight, touch, hearing and taste this is because we wanted to replicate an environment that felt natural to the bee.
When it comes to pollenating flowers bees have an advantage over any other species and that is their “ability to see ultraviolet light gives them an advantage when seeking nectar. Many patterns on flowers are invisible to humans. These nectar “bulls-eyes” are visible only to animals, such as bees, that have the ability to see ultra-violet light.” (Riddle, 2016) We incorporated this into the project by painting bullseyes on to our nightclub that would light up under a Ultra violet torch. See images below:
Dr.Schmitt from Germany spent 10 years photographing nature with “special cameras, lenses and filters that simulate the world as seen by the bee and other insects.” (Starr, 2013) The images below show what a human would see and what a bee would see, this is why we went for a bullseye pattern.
fig 1 Visual light shot of Rudbeckia fulgida – © Dr Schmitt, Weinheim, Germany
fig 2 Simulated bee vison of Rudbeckia fulgida – © Dr Schmitt, Weinheim, Germany,
Fig 3. Bee vs human vision
To alert other honey bees about the location of food sources or potential threats honey bees use a special dance to provide information on what direction/ how far away nectar is from the hive, The shorter the dance the closer the food source is. This is called the waggle dance which acts as a sat nav, “During a waggle dance, a worker bee waggles her abdomen as she walks in a straight line (waggle run), then turns either to the left or right to return to the starting point (return phase), before she usually repeats another waggle run” ( Al Toufailia et al., 2006)We incorporated this into the project by including a Arduino that had a servo motor attached to it recreating the same vibration that gets let off during the waggle dance. See Image below:
To find more out about the waggle dance, click on the link here
One thing that I found out whilst researching the honey bee was that they are rapidly declining which is really alarming as it could have a big knock on effect with food production as bee’s are one of the animals that we rely on for the pollination of flowers. Dave Goulson, a biology professor at the University of Sussex and a leading bee expert and conservationist, explained that around three-quarters of the crops grown by humans depend on, or benefit from, pollination from insects like bees. (Bolton, 2016) Fruits such as Strawberries, Raspberries & blueberries aswell as runner beans, courgettes etc could be heavily affected due to the decrease of bees. As bee’s are attracted to daisy shaped flowers and sunflowers we can have a positive impact that will help the survival of the honey bee by planting these types of flowers in our gardens (Cardy, 2008)
A Ted talk from 2013 about What is it about bees, Why they’re fascinating, why they are dying and what can save them had 3 experts talk about this subject matter and what they mentioned about how we can save them are the following, Marla Spivak talked about how “planting flowers is first. But second is paying very careful attention to pesticide use, and asking question before you grab the bottle. “Do I really need this? What’s in this stuff? Does this kill bees?” and Noah Wilson-Rich talks about how important bees are for pollinating flowers which in turn creates more food sources, he mentions “anybody who likes food likes bees. It’s important that, if you think about urban planning, you think about how to feed all of the people, and how to make the best use of space. With that comes the need for pollinators. It’s the little connections.” (Torgovnick May, 2013)
Al Toufailia, H., J. Couvillon, M., L. W. Ratnieks, F. and Grüter, C. (2006) Honey bee waggle dance communication: signal meaning and signal noise affect dance follower behaviour. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. Vol. 67, No. 4: 183. [Online] Available from: https://dle.plymouth.ac.uk/pluginfile.php/625371/mod_resource/content/0/Kruger%2C%20T.%2C%20%282006%29%20Nonsense.pdf [accessed 15 December 2016]
Bolton, D. (2016) Bee decline could cause major global food production problems, expert claims. [Online] Available from: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/bee-decline-dying-out-honeybees-uk-food-production-extinction-a6939266.html [accessed 15 December 2016]
Buzz about bees, B. (2015) How Do Bees Make Honey?. [Online] Available from: http://www.buzzaboutbees.net/how-do-bees-make-honey.html [accessed 15 December 2016]
Cardy, M. (2008) Ten things to do to help honeybees. [Online] Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2008/may/13/wildlife.endangeredspecies [accessed 15 December 2016]
Riddle, S. (2016) HOW BEES SEE AND WHY IT MATTERS. [Online] Available from: http://www.beeculture.com/bees-see-matters/ [accessed 15 December 2016]
Starr, B. (2013) HIDDEN PATTERNS: HOW A BEE SEES THE WORLD OF FLOWERS. [Online] Available from: https://www.visualnews.com/2013/04/08/hidden-patterns-how-a-bee-sees-the-world-of-flowers/ [accessed 15 December 2016]
Torgovnick May, K. (2013) What is it about bees? Three experts on why they’re fascinating, why they’re dying, what can save them. [Online] Available from: http://blog.ted.com/what-is-it-about-bees-three-experts-discuss-why-theyre-fascinating-why-theyre-dying-and-what-can-save-them/ [accessed 15 December 2016]