BEE HOUSE PROJECT

The Bee House Project was funded by the Center for Pollinator Research at Penn State University and it consists of a structure, video, and two live honeybee colonies. The immersive installation connects the free labor of honeybees with the expected domestic and emotional labor of women in our current patriarchal and capitalist society. Conceived and made by Christina Dietz, the large scale, public art piece and was revealed at the 2016 version of Penn State Department of Entomology's  Great Insect Fair and was later installed on the main campus of the Penn State University.

Photo by Helen Maser

The Bee House

A small structure that poses as a domestic space houses two observation hives and a video. The honeybee hives are installed in the windows of the house so the viewer can get a glimpse of what goes on inside of a hive.

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Photography by Helen Maser

2016

 

4’x 6’x 12’

Installation with house structure (wood, drywall, flooring, shingles), two honey bee hives

Observation hives (live honey bees, tempered glass, wood), and film

The Film

Honeybees and Homemakers: Pollination and Gendered Labor

2016 | 6:59 min.

Cinematography and editing: Michelle Nash

Society values women under the condition that they act in accordance with the normative role of caregiver as well as that of domestic servant. This role is hyperbolized in Honeybees and Homemakers, as the women take on the role of honeybee in a society that has driven bees to extinction. They become a prosthetic pollinator, using their hats as reproductive aids. Both women and honeybees, as a whole, are expected to perform an invisible labor necessary for sustaining life. This labor is undervalued and overlooked until the absence of those that perform is felt, at which point it is “too late”. 

 

In the film, the role of fieldworker is aestheticised, reflecting the trend of growing food/gardening happening in privileged households (often from a white upper-middle class background) that have the time and money to consider this a hobby. The U.S. romanticizes its roots of agriculture while wholly ignoring the labor of enslaved people and immigrants that have fed its people for centuries. The systematic homogenization of society and agriculture is a dangerous road that leads to extinction. 

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Photography by

Helen Maser