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Honeycomb Constructs

Hilary Berseth's Bee-Assisted Art

— September 18, 2009 — Art & Design
Artists from Rodin to Warhol to Banksy have famously outsourced the construction of their work. The difference between them and artist Hilary Berseth is that the other artists relied on human help. Beserth’s wax and wire sculptures are constructed in collaboration with a team of small, winged yellow and black artisans. You see, Hilary Berseth toils in the world of bee-assisted art.

Hilary Berseth creates a form made of thin wax sheets that mimic the natural spacing inside a hive. He then places them to hang inside wooden cases and in the spring orders fresh colonies by mail to assist in the artistic process. At the end of the summer, when wax production is easing, Berseth removes the form from its casing--et voila, bee-assisted art!

So how do bees rate as artist assistants? “I knew they were ordered and regimented,” the Pennsylvania artist says, “I had an intuition that I’d be able to organize that, architecturally.” Having said that, bee assisted art isn’t the easiest way to work: “I have been stung a couple of times,” says Hilary Beseth, “And I swell up like a son of a bitch.”