Honeybee Colonies: Art, Design, Science, and Culture

In the 19th century, the bee was a popular symbol of industry and co-operation. Caricaturist George Cruikshank’s 1840 drawing the British Bee Hive, illustrates a diverse range of English professions within a stringent and divided pyramid-based social hierarchy. For thousands of years, humans have had a close relation- ship with bees. Pots of edible honey have been excavated in 3,000 year-old Egyptian tombs. Honeybee colonies not only provide honey and beeswax, they are also a powerful metaphor for life; a lens through which we can explore art, design, science and culture.

This course investigates the world of the honeybee in all of its complexity. Through hands-on learning, readings, lectures, field trips and design-led research, participants will explore one of the most remarkable insects on the planet and how they relate to natural science, sustainable systems, social history, gastronomy, art and design. Informed by their research and learnings from the class, students will produce a final project inspired by bees in the medium of their choice.