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  • Larry

Colony Collapse Disorder

It's a bee painting!

A couple of months ago I was invited to participate in a group show to help bees and is scheduled for mid October of this year. The show is to help raise awareness and money for the study of The Colony Collapse Disorder. I immediately said yes and my first thoughts where, “I just need to come up with something spring-y or summer-y. This shouldn’t be hard. I didn’t think about much for a couple of weeks but I eventually started looking up the space for the show, who’s it to benefit and most importantly, what is this bee disorder thing.

It's research time.

The research on the bee disorder didn’t go so well. There’s plenty out there, the problem was more me. I’m reading the stuff but I’m just not into it. That sounds bad but it’s true. I’m interested in the cause but not the research. I’m reading a lot of stuff and I’m having to look up and do more research on the things I’m reading because I simply do not know what they are saying. I don’t study bees, pollen or plants so I’m kind of out of my realm. I can study art and paint all day but not bees. What “I’m inadvertently picking up here is this disorder in bees is a very complex issue. To simplify the issue, think about it like this: The disorder is a phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees disappear. The worker bees are the ones that we depend on to pollinate our food crops. No bees = limited food for us. Big Bummer!

So, I switch gears and do what I do best –

I start contemplating the universe and start sketching. Wow – harder than I thought it would be. I like to paint big and paint big things. My subject matter here is a small little bee. How am I going to translate this into me and my art? My mind goes a bit blank – Uh oh. I guess this is sort of like writers block but I’ll call it creative block. This creative block basically shut me down for about a month. Either that or I was famously procrastinating, I have been known for doing that in the past too.

Ideas eventually came and I started doing small sketches but nothing infamous was being born yet. Nothing made sense. I waited and kept thinking - Inspiration would come. It came one day as I was out in the yard cleaning the water bucket for my chickens. I do this in my back yard next to my Lavender plant. I love the way Lavender smells, particularly when you brush up against it and how your hands smell just after you have picked some. You know what? The bees love it too. I sat out there on the ground, eye level with bush filled with bees and instead of contemplating the universe, I contemplated the bees. You know what I’m doing here? I’m simplifying my thoughts.

I noticed the bees here in my yard were very active, abundant and focused on their jobs. They didn’t seem like the types not to fly back home once their leg pouches where full of pollen. What’s the deal? Was life back at the hive bad? I started thinking about the queen. Was she closing and locking door once the tribe left for the days work? I doubt it, the queen needs her workers. Does she feel abandoned when her workers do not return? Is she mad, sad, glad? What goes through her mind? Does she even realize there’s a problem? I start sketching the queen bee – or should I say, my version of the queen bee.

In sketching the queen, I could be literal, I could research and sketch a real queen bee. But… This is me and my art. I want to relate it back to us, humans, so my queen bee becomes human. I don’t think she is happy with loosing her workers and I imagine she is a bit mad, confused, judgmental, or all the above. If she’s mad is she mad at us, the world, or just the workers? If she is confused is it because the workers don’t show up at the end of the day, is she wondering what is happening to them, confused on what to do? If she is judgmental is she judging us, perhaps thinking the flowers are bad, or maybe the workers have identity issues. What is she thinking?

I don’t’ know….

But I know what I am thinking. When something has been working but suddenly stops working you must ask, “What’s changed?” The change is usually that something is missing or broken. If it is present, then it must be broken, if it’s not present then it is missing. Simple, right. Now keep in mind that this is me talking and I am in no way saying what I am thinking is true. I am not a scientist, I do not study bees, I am not a bee keeper and to be honest, I know their stings hurt I am a bit allergic to bee’s stings so I logically tend to keep my distance from them. What I am sure of is how I keep my life and my beliefs. I am a believer in God and in this I truly believe that everything in the world is made beautiful and perfect. Bee’s have been around for thousands of years and for thousands of years their simple task of collecting pollen hasn’t much changed. So, even though their sting hurts, I see them as being beautiful and perfect. I don’t think they’re broken so I need to ask, “What’s changed?” The bees haven’t changed so it must be the world around them. Do genetically modified plants affect them? What about climate change, pesticides, or fertilizers? Are we suffocating them by depleting their habitat in lieu of building freeways and housing tracts? We have seen that these things affect us as humans so I am sure we can assume they affect them as bee’s. The bees haven’t changed the world, we have. The loss of the bees is a direct result of what we have done. The change is complex but the results are simple.

Simple vs complex. This is will be the theme for my bee painting. I want to show a queen who is upset and judgmental but also regal and proper. I want her to be complex and the world around her to be simplified (opposite on how I had initially viewed it). I want to show how we are tricking them with our genetically modified, fertilized, pesticide treated flowers and how we are choking the bees out. Here is what I came up with:

More to come. Stay tuned...


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