Telling of the Bees

2019—Present  International

What we have, we owe to bees. Among the most prolific pollinators on the planet, bees helped create and maintain the biodiverse ecosystems that made it possible for humanity to take root and grow. Over millions of years, our shared evolution has grown increasingly intertwined. And today, human activity is impacting wild and domesticated bee populations in unprecedented ways. Due to the integral role bees play in supporting the ecosystems we depend on, this ongoing relationship affects us all: bee, human, and otherwise.

Admittedly, I hadn’t always understood or appreciated the inherent interdependence between people and bees. In fact, I was terrified of them as a boy. But what was once an irrational fear of bees has since transformed into an existential fear for bees—and, by extension, for the ecologies we all share. And now I wonder: if we look closer at our relationships with these magnificent pollinators, what might we learn about our responsibilities to all other-than-human beings?

To help imagine new ways to address our unfolding ecological crises, Telling of the Bees explores the nuanced and complex relationships between people and bees. More specifically, this evolving body of work considers the opportunities and implications of these interspecies interactions as they manifest across industry, agriculture, ecological research, environmental conservation, human healthcare, bioengineering, and spirituality.

Download project PDF

To consider
What are our environmental and ethical responsibilities to bees? And what are their responsibilities to—and because of—us?

A patient looks on as her therapist works to secure a honey bee during an apitherapy treatment. In Bee Venom Therapy (BVT), the patient is injected with apitoxin (bee venom), through live bee stings or lab-extracted solutions delivered by syringe. All methods of venom extraction are lethal to the bee. Bellaire, TX. 2019

the use of substances produced by honeybees (such as venom, propolis, or honey) to treat various medical conditions in humans

What we have, we owe to bees
Human evolution is expressly linked to bees. Among the most prolific and successful pollinators on the planet, bees have helped create and maintain the biodiverse environments that made it possible for human civilization to take root and grow.

Bees join the honey harvest. Heisykha, Ukraine. 2019

Friends share homemade honey wine during a summer picnic. Heisykha, Ukraine. 2019

Telling the bees
Historically across cultures, it was common for people to inform their beehives of important developments in the household, including births, marriages, and deaths.