As media-artist and beekeeper I am studying since 2009 the co-evolution between city honeybees and urban ecosystems. In many industrialized nations the bee colonies are threatened, often because of the state of ecology in the bees' foraging areas. It is remarkable to see how a bee population functions and evolves very much in accordance to the human activities we are developing around them: gardening and urban agriculture. The production of honey is different related to the flowers we grow, the plants we like, the garbage or pollution we produce. Bees are sensitive bio-indicators and they are very responsive to the different biotopes that we share.
My beehives are augmented with webcams, microphones and sensors to monitor the behaviour of the colonies, whilst the surrounding ecosystem is scanned by analysis of the pollen and nectar that the bees bring back from their foraging flights. The different hives are all nodes in a distributed guerilla beehives network.
In order to research the optimal conditions for survival of the honey bees I have set out several urban test fields -populated with beehives- in the Brussels' Canal Zone. This area generates diverse activities, from community gardening and urban agriculture to accidental nature, this all developed between industrial buildings, office zones and living areas. The test sites are connected by the flight routes and foraging fields of the bees. Together they shape a green corridor through the city.
The research into the survival of the honeybees constructs an open discursive framework to tease out a range of issues in relation to our environment. It is a project on the edge of art, science and technology.
AnneMarie Maes studied a masters in fine arts, a masters of cultural studies and a specialisation in anthropological documentary film. By founding the organizations Looking Glass and OKNO she has played a major role in organising the multi-media art scene in Brussels, bringing together artists and art spaces from different European countries to engage in workshops and open research labs. Her artistic work shows several interwoven threads, from multi-media installations to social and anthropological projects. The current line of work focuses on ecological issues, as in the ongoing Open-Greens project which sets up laboratories of urban gardens and art works based on monitoring bee colonies.