I usually hesitate to speak about what I am ruminating about, in terms of new art projects. I feel that the first articulation needs to be visual before the discussion (others’ input?) and expectations freeze the idea into a less malleable form. Nonetheless, I will tell you that last week was pretty exciting for my husband Ben, and also for me, when we together cut the first honeycombs out of frames from his four hives.
Ben is new-ish beekeeper, and it is not so easy to learn. He is learning from a local beekeeper, Dennis Hermann, who has an established family of hives and sells honey & beeswax candles at our local farmer’s market. They have brought a couple of swarms over here, introduced first to hives on loan and then to hives Ben bought. Tragically the first few swarms died — it is horrible to watch the bees struggling out, half dead! Finally last summer, with new hives, the bees stayed and have seemed to prosper. A few weeks ago we both suited up and went over to inspect the hives, and were able to harvest a few frames of honey (now we find it might have been too early in the season! Oh no!) and last week we cut them up.
Lexie Holeman designed the labels, I contributed the ribbon (and yes, as the ribbon was an afterthought we will re-calibrate the labels so the ribbon doesn’t cover the labyrinth) and we proudly took the first 10 boxes over to the New Harmony Coffee House where Ben sells honey from around the world.
Those of you who know my tapestries will remember that bees have populated my work since the early 1980s, so you can imagine what resonance all this has for me. Add to it the dimensions of harvest, cooking, and nurturing that all of this implies and you might understand the satisfactions of having one’s own bees. But, bee architecture….!
It is raining this morning and so I took this picture from the cabin porch, but here are Ben’s hives, set against the edge of our property. The neighboring field is in spring flood (the Wabash river is on the other side of the field). I have been weaving large moths lately but will switch insects in a few weeks and move into hive housing on the loom, I do believe. There, I have said it! let’s hope it is not a jinx.
(the photo of the beekeepers in suits is from this weekend: Ben, our son Will, and Christine)