Collaborators Jad Choucair + Dylan Martorell + Max Shannon + Nic Dowse
If you do beekeeping right, it can be about using all the senses.
to observe the bees, coming and going from the hive (before opening them up) as well as inspections of frames. We use
all the time: bad smells from hives can indicate a disease or problem; good smells of honey and propolis are reassuring (nothing smells as good as a healthy hive on a warm summers day; it’s the best). And the smoker – we select fuel based upon the aromatics a smoker throws → paperbark is a favourite, pine needles are also sweet. If a beekeeper knows their bees, and is relaxed enough, going gloveless and using the sense of
makes for more careful and sensitive inspections. As a beekeeper you take your time, watch your moves much more closely – and kill fewer bees – if your skin is exposed to potential stings (our bees usually only sting if you squash them). Going gloveless, and feeling your way gently through an inspection, levels the playing field out a bit too – you can go in there but if you make a stupid mistake you pay for it! And
honeycomb toppings on gelato! It’s a prime motivator! We also use our sense of
Beekeepers listen carefully as they open a hive: a quiet buzz is a good sign; a big roar indicates that something may be wrong, or that the bees are stressed. The longer you keep a hive open the louder the roar gets. It’s a simple signal that the patience of the colony is being tested. There are other noises a hive makes too: two queen bees in one hive perform ‘piping’ when communicating their location to each other (apparently the piping sound is a G♯. The adult queen pipes for a two-second pulse followed by a series of quarter-second toots). When a beekeeper smokes the bees, they also roar.
Temple Music is a collaboration between humans and honey bees that investigates the sounds bees make inside a colony, and how beekeeping practices (such as smoking the bees) can generate sounds that human musicians can improvise with.
Images - Caitlin Shannon, Spencer Smith, Nic Dowse