DISCUSSION

Learning Curve? Ron Breland suggests Catenary to describe Festooning: by Maria

Our friend and admirable builder of the great dodecahedron beehives, Ron Breland suggested that rather than a parabolic curve, Honeybee Festoons might follow the laws of the Catenary Curve. He e-mailed us and said: “Rather than a parabolic curve, I believe the shape and term for the form the bees create is the Catenary Curve. The mathematic formula with it’s constant was discovered by the Swiss mathematician, Leonhardt Euler around 1744.” … And he provided us with this link from the National Curve Bank!

We’re learning new things every day and eager to soak up more from such generous resources as Ron. This is one of the many conversations we’d love to have inside the hive. We are psyched that he’ll be taking part in our Apisocial Saturday!

On Honeybees and Shakers as Communal Dancers:   workshop proposal for Mattress Factory ArtLab by Maria

Honeybees and Shakers share many surprising commonalities. Tending toward Matriarchy within unique models for population expansion and craft-based productivity, the key to their respective successes relies on group participation (often called “Hive Mind”) and a calculated structure for communal living. Contrary to popular belief, neither group is native to North America. Since their arrivals from England in the early 18th century, both have inspired philosophers, theologians, artists, economists, etc for their Utopian demonstrations. Now that the livelihoods of both bees and Shakers are challenged, many are going to great efforts to preserve their practices, bi-products, and valuable teachings.

As a beekeeper myself, I have been so fortunate to witness bees “Waggle Dancing” for the sun and while I have not witnessed first hand the sublime convulsions of a Shaker inspired by the Spirit, I have visited the last surviving three in their Sabbathday Lake community (New Glaucester, Maine). From these experiences I have taken away a deep admiration for the way these beings work as one and how they move together. I plan to get students moving and shaking like the best of the bees and Shakers through both free-form improvisation and structured, shape-shifting group rhythms aligned with the practices of both of our subjects. Following, I will offer several unique approaches to contact improvisation inspired by honeybee festooning as well as exercises stemming from familiar, circular group games. We will do a short workshop that translates simple chalk drawings into original choreography, share snacks paired with the cleanest of honey, and more!

Colonization, Appropriation, and the Beehive Metaphor:   by Maria

Before colonists set out to conquer the New World, envisioning America as “the land of milk and honey,” they were faced with such burdens as land shortages, religious intolerance and overpopulation. Adopting agrarian philosophies to support and defend social manipulation they appropriated various beehive metaphors to classify the poor as useless drones who should “hive off” from the rapidly growing swarm of English. Though honeybees are not native to these parts of North America, they were introduced by settlers and have continued to influence our social politics, industry, and landscape ever since.

Throughout history the “Beehive Metaphor” has influenced and supported political, theological, philosophical and architectural movements peeking interests in phenomena from communism to identity politics and now the mysterious drama of Colony Collapse Disorder. Bees offer a little something for everyone’s ideological diet. Impressed by their ability to seemingly bend the rules of nature while also maintaining its pulse, we tend to say, “One can learn so much from the bees.”

Inside our hive, we hope to address questions about what “the bees are telling us.” But we’d also like to call attention to our culture’s appropriation and interpretation of bee-haviors onto which we project human desires. Many plea to “save the bees!” from pesticides or the hand’s of mal-practiced keepers, but might we also aim to liberate them from the burden of these interpretations, debunk certain myths, and celebrate their mysteries. Reading from influential texts and inviting expert beekeepers from around the city and country for contributions, we hope to facilitate conversation about relevant issues ranging from the gentrification, gender, spiritualism, environmentalism, art and so on.

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