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Here’s what would happen if bees were architects

Beijing-based bee enthusiast Ren Yue has created poetic sculptures with the help of hundreds of bees.

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BY Janice Seow

July 24th, 2014


With a deep interest in bees and their colonies, Beijing-based artist Ren Yue began studying honeybees back in 2008.

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After spending a few years learning the art of beekeeping and observing hive structures and how they function, he began to conceive a method for transforming beeswax into sculptures using minimal human intervention.

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In ‘Yuansu II’, Ren by and large lets nature run its own course. What he does provide, in terms of the ‘human touch’, are transparent plastic polyhedron vessels to house the hives, and a weekly rotation schedule of the growing sculptures.

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With the queen bee placed at the core of each structure, worker bees naturally start building out waxy hexagonal structures from her position. And by rotating the plastic vessels every seven days – a biblical reference to the creation of the world in seven days – the bees are given a new centre of gravity to work from, resulting in the structure’s final organic shape. The fact that the decision on which way to rotate the sculptures each time is decided by a roll of the dice adds spontaneity and a further level of surprise to the works of art.

Yuansu II is on display at Hangzhou’s T Museum until 7 August 2014.