About Telling the Bees

Telling the Bees is an AHRC connected communities follow on project (Feb 2017 - Sept 2018) that builds on outputs from an earlier project (somewhat confusingly also called Telling the Bees). We are engaging with new audiences, bringing drama, design, storytelling and the maker (or hacker) movement together to explore playful, immersive ways to understand global environmental issues and share future visions about bees and beekeeping. Telling the Bees is a collaboration between the universities of York, Sheffield and Lancaster, and between GrowTheatre and York Explore.

What is “Telling the Bees?”

Telling the Bees is an old tradition in England and Wales, where beekeepers (or their families) would tell their bees of important family events (like births, deaths, marriages) so that their bees would stay healthy and wouldn’t swarm.

Project Aims

Our project aims are:

  1. To reconsider the concept of ‘future folklore’ about bees and beekeeping as embodied creative learning experiences by engaging with pupils in inner-city primary schools. We consider ‘future folklore’ as ways to share knowledge through stories with an intention of casting forward, this might include films, artefacts, written stories, or performances).
  2. To experiment with creative ways to secure a sustainable legacy for co-produced project outputs. For instance, we are exploring avenues for commercialising our Beespoon from the first Telling the Bees project.
  3. To share and gather knowledge and stories across communities about the global significance and challenges facing pollinators and the honey bee.

Project Strands

  1. Designing Fictions
    We have been working with Year 5 pupils from Manor Lodge and Wybourn Community Primary Schools in Sheffield to design imaginative Future Folklore prototypes that will either help save bees from extinction or replace them when they’re gone.

  2. Repackaging the Beespoon
    Our amazing Beespoon interactive exhibit is being rebuilt anew in a much portable and durable format. Once finished, we will experiment with new forms of ownership by sending it ‘on tour’ to local beekeeping associations and education providers for use at their engagement events.

  3. Widening Public Engagement
    We are attending a number of high profile events and festivals throughout the year. In collaboration with Explore York Libraries and Archives, we are also hosting a series of bee-themed workshops, events and exhibitions in the Autumn half-term.

  4. Commercialisation
    We are exploring ways to commercialise (manufacture and sell) the Beespoon, while navigating through the complicated ethical issues associated with making money from product co-designed with community groups.