The Beespoon

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Photograph by Lindsay Perth

The Beespoon is a tiny copper spoon, 1/12th the size of a teaspoon, which can contain the amount of honey a single bee can make within her lifetime. We designed an accompanying plinth, on which the Beespoon is displayed. At numerous festivals and events around the country, we have invited visitors to create origami flowers and place them on a hanging display; and then to press a button that counts how many flowers have been created, which in turn slowly dispenses honey onto the waiting Beespoon, drop by drop.

Visitors express amazement at how little honey a single bee can make, and reflect upon how much honey they use on their breakfast toast. The time spent making the origami flowers also presents a space for discussion and the telling of bee stories. By asking people to decorate their flowers with UV-reactive pens, there is also an opportunity to talk about how bees see, i.e. using 5 eyes and towards the UV end of the spectrum.

Over the course of the two Telling the Bees projects, the Beespoon exhibit has undergone numerous changes and revisions. We learnt from previous mistakes, adding alternative power supplies and ways to prevent the honey becoming too cold to run. There are now three different kits in existence, including a beautiful wood and polished beeswax design produced especially for our long-time partners, the educational charity Bee Buddies.

Borrow the Beespoon

Whilst we can no longer tour the Beespoon ourselves, we do run a lending scheme in which we send a portable version, containing a full set of resources and instructions, to local beekeeping associations and educators for use at their own events. In 2018, these included the Harrogate Show (3 days), the launch of the bees hives at Lancaster University EcoHub (1 day), the Loch of the Lowes (2 days), the RHS Spring Festival at Malvern (2 days), National Trust’s Lyme Park (16 days), The Fenland Fair (2 days), East Lancs Woodland and Heritage Day (1 day), Twickenham and Thames Valley Honey Show (2 days) and the Bedfordshire Honey Show (1 day). In 2019, this range increased and we saw a number of repeat bookings.

The Process

  1. Contact Liz Edwards (liz.edwards@lancaster.ac.uk) with the dates you wish to borrow the Beespoon.
  2. Liz will check the dates and confirm your booking.
  3. Well in advance of your event, you will receive emailed instructions (also available to download below) on how to use the exhibit.
  4. Within a month of your event, we will arrange the couriers. Sometimes this involves the exhibit travelling to or from other borrowers.

Resources

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Origami flowers – photography by Lindsay Perth

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Triggering the drops of honey – photography by Lindsay Perth