Bees Build Down

Well, thus far my latest sculptural experiment has been a dud. Witness:


No, don’t get excited, the comb that’s actually in the sculpture, I put there as bait, hoping they’d work off it. The comb that’s gorgeous and full all around the sculpture but not touching it? The bees put it there.

First, if you have no idea why there is a tiny living room in my bee hive, see the Bees in the Living Room previous post.

However, I think I have a good idea of what’s going on. It’s not quite apparent in this picture, but the bees draw comb down, not up. This is more obvious if you look at the bottom of the box that I took off the top of this one. The “blank” areas you see here are filled with comb hanging from above. It’s also obvious if you know anything about bees, which I apparently do not.

So, humans, lacking wings and such, build their homes from the ground up. Bees, possessing wings and such, build their homes from the ceiling down. Thus, if I want them to build comb around my home, I’ve got to put it on the ceiling, not expect them to build up from my floor.

Next plan: attach the furniture to the floor as shown above, invert it and hang it in the hive. Update to follow.

Posted in Art.


  1. What if you suspend the furniture from top bars? Also- you would probably get different results with different hives. I’ve had hives build some really strange, Suessian comb patterns – and other’s that follow the rules to the letter. Same set up, same species – different bees.

  2. Fascinating, pollenate more mind stories with help of bees, of course. The most interesting hive in rememberance!

  3. Long time no post…figured this bit from a TED talk on pollination would provide winter inspiration. Some great bee footage, but the bats were my favorite.

  4. We have a Serge-style hive top feeder on our hives that we put all the wax from honey harvesting into. These sculptures remind me of some of the crazy wax sculptures out bees have built up there.

  5. That is a very creative idea. I am looking forward to see if you can actually get it to work. I saw an artist who would put drawings and such in his hives and then let the bees draw comb off of it. Had some very interesting, unique and expensive art. Maybe you can sell your sculptures once you get the process down.

    Wondering have you thought about coating with a thin layer of bees wax just to get them started?


  6. This is a wonderful bee blog. Thank you for writting on bees. I’ve been following Wallace Family
    Apiary. I found them on , good videos lots of good honey bees and Beekeeping
    I also typed in Wallace Family Apiary in, and found lots of great photos, and links
    The their web blog. I think you will find a similar interest as this beekeeping blog.
    Thank you,
    Nicole Dorcely
    Gainesville, Florida
    Nurse Bee….

  7. I have been practicing beekeeping for almost a decade now but I have never seen such extreme beekeeping practices:)))) Very interesting though. I have never pictured beekeeping as an art up till now.

  8. In the first “Living Room” experiment, you put the glass cake dome over everything and they seemed happy to build in there.
    So, how about grabbing the cake dome and dripping a line (or circle or spiral or whatever shape tickles your fancy) then put the dome in place and let’s see what they do with it.

    Whaddaya say?

    Matthew in L.A.

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