Honeybees are extraordinary creatures. They’ve been around for 30 million years and they’re responsible for pollinating a third of all of the plants we eat. Despite our reliance on these creatures, pesticides and rapid urbanisation threaten the success of bee colonies all over the world. Bee numbers are in decline all over the world and one artist is using his craft to raise awareness about their plight. The Good of the Hive initiative founded by US-based artists Matthew Willey works to inform the masses about our impact on the lives of bees while there’s still time to stop it.
Willey has painted murals in various parts of the US dedicated to the beauty and significance of the honeybee. While some still fear the bee and a swarming hive is still considered a nightmare, Willey believes a swarm represents a new beginning.
“The bees, like us, are having a tough time these days. And I see that beautiful flight… that explosive, harrowing leap of expansion… as one of the natural world’s best examples of faith. We all have to take leaps like this in our lives in order to grow… a kid jumping into a pool for the first time… asking someone on a date when rejection is highly possible… going back to school at 40 for something that is not based on money or status... We all leap in our own ways when we are ready to grow,” he writes in his personal blog.
His work is inspired by the powerful connection between honeybee hives and human societies. The initiative begins with the struggle of the honeybees, but it also views the hive as a metaphor for communities of people.
“Honeybees within the hive ‘think’ collectively; their immune system is collective: the health of the individual is based on the health of the collective,” reads the initiative’s website.
Willey has committed himself to painting 50 000 bee murals and has currently painted just under 1000 of the pieces.