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Artist Fixes Damaged Objects By Placing Them in Beehives

Aganetha Dyck latest collaboration with bees teaches us about natural design.

These honeycomb encrusted sculptures look like they're 3D printed or shaped by a sculptor’s hands but all have been built by nature's most efficient designers: bees. Canadian artist Aganetha Dyck is the woman behind these wax-covered objects with over 20 years experience working with beekeepers, scientists, and hundreds of bee collaborators. 

Dyck’s work reflects the evolution of design today, where due to advancements in technology we can manipulate nature as an effective tool to produce elaborate artwork. Dyck has an inherent interest in collectibles and memorabilia and her personal work mirrors this fascination. Her honeycomb covered collection exhibits a range of items including Edwardian figurines, helmets, shoes and sports equipment that look as though they ought to be sitting within an old curiosity shop.

Dyck tells The Creators Project, “Throughout my life I’ve had an interest in figurines and collectibles. I wondered about dust and dusting of figurines and of the glass cabinets containing these untouchable treasures. These collectibles were beyond my reach as a child and adult alike.” But Dyck’s object choices are also political. “Choosing sports equipment is a reaction to the press discussing the importance of sports and their related public funding vs artists and cultural workers and their public funding.”  By using relatable items, Dyck explores the relationship between the natural world and humanity; the shared dependency we have with different species that as humans we’re essentially at the mercy of. Her sculptures are visual representations of this dependent communication.

Dyck deliberately chooses broken objects from second-hand markets and covers specific areas of the piece to attract the bees before placing them in the hive. She asserts that honeybees pay attention to details while "mending" the damaged parts with their honeycomb layers.  She says, “While working with honeybees I discovered their methods of construction and their ability to mend the hive's cracks and crevices with honeycomb, wax and propolis. I thought of the vast number of damaged figurines in antique shops and second-hand stores. I knew honeybees were masters of mending and decided to give a selection of these now unwanted, damaged, figurines to the honeybees. I was surprised that once the honeybees had mended the objects, the figurines became collectibles again.”

This method requires a lot of patience and understanding of the species, as Dyck tells us. “My patience is due to the honeybees themselves. They have routines; they must not be disturbed any more than necessary and only for a few minutes at a time.” These pieces evoke thought over our Western lifestyle; how we are often quick to throw away something without mending it, with lack of thought and patience. 

Dyck's work highlights the natural world that we often take for granted and what it can be used to create. Her project helps us understand the importance of pollinators, which are essential for plant growth in order to feed the world’s ever-increasing population. As Dyck tells us, “It appears that human nature requires patience in realizing that we have environmental issues which we are responsible for. The basic question I ask is: What are the ramifications for all living beings should honeybees disappear from Earth?"

To view more of Dyck’s work click here.

Related:

Don't Touch the Beehive Sculpture at MoMA

Artist Uses Bees to Build Honeycomb Sculptures

Gasoline Paintings and Honeycomb Skulls Recast Ancient Traditions