Paul Evans

What do I think about when I think about bees? Maybe the first image that springs to mind is really a medley of images, mostly cartoons of vividly coloured CGI honeybees co-opted to advertise breakfast cereals … then an ear worm … Kellogs Honey Nut Loops, let’s loop together … blissed out hyperreal bees, stings glinting benignly in the artificially rendered sunlight that bathes the golden, digital hive …

Once the sugar rush has settled down a bit, I think of an emblematic 17th Century woodcut symbolising utopian co-operation – an industrious unit within a perfect society, the proverbially busy bee, the worker that knows her place …

Things get decidedly complicated when I think more directly about honey … the product of all that industry … I’m now overwhelmed by images of honeycombs, ideas of glucose and energy release, a synaesthesia of aromatic, heather smelling stickiness … I think of mead, wax, architectural structures of elegant organic simplicity … hives …

Then comes the biology … the astonishing meta organism …

Finally we have arrived at the concept of the insect at the core of these speculations: Apis mellifera the ‘bee that bears honey’. The sheer complexity of this organism and its organisation … its life cycle, its ability to communicate with its own kind, to construct beeswax chambers of astonishing beauty and simplicity, and create an elegant strategy for survival that has lasted for millions of years makes my head buzz – I’ve approached a kind of white noise of thoughts that defies understanding …

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