AnneMarie Maes - Intelligent Guerilla Beehive

Fri 23 Oct 2020 - 09:00 to Sun 25 Oct 2020 - 17:00
Provinciaal Domein Dommelhof, Toekomstlaan 5, 3910 Neerpelt

Pollinators are threatened in all industrialized nations. Given that the survival of bees is crucial for human sustainability, there is a great urgency to improve by all means the ways in which wild colonies could thrive. With the Bee Agency project, AnneMarie Maes wants to give back autonomy to the Apis mellifera and support colonies to live again ‘in the wild’, after being domesticated for long times by beekeepers who’s apiaries are mainly honey production factories. The Bee Agency project has an exemplary meaning when it comes to the public perception of biodiversity and sustainability. It is a project on the interstices of the arts, design and science. 

AnneMarie Maes founded the Brussels Urban Bee Lab in 2009. It is the place of action for a group of artists, scientists and technologists to observe bee colonies in non intrusive set-ups. The Urban Bee Lab is also a vehicle to raise public awareness via art installations, talks and workshops. The Bee Agency project is one of these actions. In this project, bees, humans, microorganisms and plants are working together to assure a sound basis for the further development of our ecosystem. With the Intelligent Guerilla Beehive, the project proposes a shelter for swarming bee colonies and supports the bees in their roles as pollinators and caretakers of biodiversity rather than as honey producers. Because bees are recognized as important biomarkers, the Guerilla Beehive is augmented with sensors and sensory processing algorithms that observe the behavior of the colonies, analyze the diversity of pollen and monitor airborne pollution in order to check the state of the ecology in the surrounding area. 

The design of the Guerilla Beehive is inspired by nature. The content responds to the nest-needs of a bee colony living in the wild, and the mobile architecture makes it easily deployable on different spots in the public space, hence its name. The hive can be grafted onto the wall of a building or wrapped around the branch of a tree in a park. The beehive has been enhanced with a sensor network in order to monitor the health of the colony without interference and thus allow better care. The Guerilla Beehive is made out of smart organic materials with useful properties in respect to temperature fluctuation, humidity and ventilation. The hive has a high tactile potential; the flexible bacterial cellulose of the outer skin and the warm and soft cork of the inner skin invite you to touch and feel. All materials are biodegradable. Once the colony decides to leave the hive, the Guerilla Beehive will fall as a ripe apple from the tree and decompose completely. It is a cradle to grave design. 

AnneMarie Maes (BE) is an artist who has been studying the close interactions and co-evolutions within urban ecosystems. Her research practice combines art and science, with a keen interest in DIY technologies and biotechnology. She works with a range of biological, digital and traditional media, including live organisms. Her artistic research is materialised in techno-organic objects that are inspired by factual/fictional stories; in artefacts that are a combination of digital fabrication and craftsmanship; in installations that reflect both the problem and the (possible) solution, in multispecies collaborations, in polymorphic forms and models created by eco-data. On the rooftop of her studio in Brussels she has created an open-air lab and experimental garden where she studies the processes that nature employs to create form. Her research provides an ongoing source of inspiration for her artworks. The Bee Agency as well as the Laboratory for Form and Matter, in which she experiments with bacteria and living textiles, provide a framework that has inspired a wide range of installations, sculptures, photography works, objects and books, all at the intersection of art, science and technology. 

The Intelligent Guerilla Beehive project received an Honorary Mention in the category Hybrid Art at Ars Electronica. 

This installation is part of the 3-day Expo-route from 23.10-25.10 at various locations in and around Provinciaal Domein Dommelhof, the Canal Zone and Gemeente Pelt.