How Much Honey Does a Beespoon Hold?

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Photograph by Lindsay Perth

If you’ve been following the progress of Telling the Bees over the past year, you’ll know that we (a few researchers from universities across the UK) have gathered in and around Perth to meet lots of wonderful, generous and knowledgeable beekeepers and storytellers from the local community. Our purpose was to learn and share stories and knowledge about bees and beekeeping. Then, together, over a series of workshops, we created and developed ideas and design prototypes, using some of the old stories about bees as inspiration. Such stories ranged from the well known ‘Telling the Bees’ (where the bees would be told of deaths in their beekeeper’s family) and ‘tanging a swarm’ (making metallic and/or banging noises to supposedly attract a swarm of bees to land nearby), to the more controversial (e.g. bees instinctively hate black dogs). Our collaborative design ideas included the Ultimate Bee Experience (a multi-million pound visitor centre), a video virtual hive (with each video frame in the box revealing a different type of management practice or colony) and a sound space with digital remastering of bee sounds (where you could produce music with bee noises, as well as soundscapes of bees: the gentle humming of happy bees, evening fanning of wings, raised or angry buzzing, and queens piping).

In early October 2105 we were part of a local Fruit Festival in Perth, where we showcased some of the wonderful co-created project outputs so far, including an augmented bee suit – a hat and veil with speakers embedded inside that told you stories as you walked around the site.

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Drawing the Bees – photography by Lindsay Perth

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The Augmented Beesuit – photography by Lindsay Perth

We’d also worked with some local primary schools to help them learn about honeybees and to create their own bee-related stories that were then put into their own elaborately decorated bee story boxes. These boxes, with a design inspired by the shape of natural honeycomb, were installed on site at the fruit festival, so people could look at and read the stories. It was incredible to see how their stories took shape after hearing from a local beekeeper and watching live bees in an observation hive. There were stories about wasps stealing honey, drones with superhero costumes who saved the queen, the healing powers of honey, and waggle dance-offs. In short, the children came up with some brilliant, highly imaginative ideas!

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Story Box – photography by Lindsay Perth

We had a special beespoon installation, with a tiny copper spoon 1/12th the size of a teaspoon to represent the amount of honey a single bee can make within her lifetime. We invited visitors to create origami flowers (representing the approximate 1800 or so flowers that one bee would need to visit to make the honey) and place them on the wall; and then to press a button that counted how many flowers had been created, which in turn slowly dispensed honey onto the waiting beespoon, drop by drop. Visitors all expressed amazement at how little honey a single bee can make and reflected on how much honey they used on their breakfast toast!

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Origami flowers – photography by Lindsay Perth

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Triggering the drops of honey – photography by Lindsay Perth

In case you’re wondering, our beespoon holds around 25 drops of honey.

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Spot the drop of honey! – photography by Lindsay Perth

Huge thanks goes to everyone involved in Telling the Bees including the SBA, Perth & District Beekeepers and our community partner TayLP.