Hive was created to reveal the mystery of the beehive and the wonder of sunlit bees in the air, while providing a heartfelt, lyrical wake-up call to the dangers facing these miraculous insects and, by extension, humans. The images and the physical structure of the book came from my experience as a beekeeper. The poems are from Carol Ann Duffy’s first collection of poems as Britain’s poet laureate.
Edition of 30 numbered and signed copies. $5000. Hive box measures 6 ½" x 7" x 9 ½". Individual "pages" measure 5" x 7 ½" x ½". 10 pp.
Hive was produced over the course of two years and contains nine poems from The Bees by Carol Ann Duffy, which are letterpress printed on Hahnemühle’s Ingre paper using Perpetua type cast by Michael & Winifred Bixler. The text is overprinted with a transparent honeycomb pattern. Master printer Kathy Kuehn provided technical assistance with printing.
The eight accompanying images of bees in flight are archival photographic pigment prints created by Linda Broadfoot and printed on Hahnemühle Photo Silk Baryta paper.
The poems and images are mounted on ten Russian birch plywood “pages,” their foreedges coated with beeswax, and encased within a fabricated one-half scale maple Langstroth beehive box structure designed by the artist and constructed by master carpenter Robert Lacombe. The title and a bee image are engraved on the top of Hive’s cover; mounted on the interior side is the title page.
PROCESS & INTENT
On first reading these words of Duffy’s from her book, The Bees, it was clear that her words about bees as a symbol of precious, endangered nature and my images of bees in flight would illuminate each other.
I can watch the bees from my bedroom window and have spent countless hours fascinated by them and the trails they make as they enter and leave the hive, swirling around it. Capturing this experience on film was a technical challenge. I solved it by creating an outdoor studio, using a black backdrop and utilizing the bright natural light of the mid-day sun, then opening the camera’s shutter precisely long enough to capture the pattern of their flight. The eight photographs included were selected from thousands made over the course of three years.
After obtaining permission to use the nine poems strictly about bees from Duffy’s The Bees, I chose materials, honed the Hive structure design, and printed the text while in residency at Penland School of Crafts in the winter of 2014.
The form of Hive is a half-scale replica of a Langstroth hive, invented in the 1850s, which allowed the beekeeper to look inside the hive without destroying the bees, their honeycomb or their young. The “pages” are modeled after the ten brood- and honey frames that hang inside the hive box. They hold poems and images conveying the sweetness and strength of honey and pollen and the vibrancy of young bees in their industrious work in and out of the hive. The beeswax-edged “pages” can be carefully removed and inspected, recreating the privilege of visiting inside the hive and sharing in the mysteries held within.
In February 2015, I had the honor of meeting Carol Ann Duffy, Britain’s first woman poet laureate, at Emory University on the occasion of The Raymond Danowski Poetry Library Reading Series and presenting Hive to her. With this, our mutual love and concern for the bees came into relationship - the project had come full circle.