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The Telling the Bees project is about practices of bee-keeping and what they might become in the future. Bees are under threat and their future is uncertain. But this project does not celebrate risk. Whereas other such initiatives might loudly campaign to ‘save the bees’ in one way or another – whether managing bee populations in captivity or freezing their genes – this project pursues other, more exciting avenues.

One strand of Telling the Bees explores future folklore, the intangible heritage of bees. Which stories are we going to tell about bees in the future?

Another strand takes its inspiration from speculative design. In which material forms might bee-keeping be manifested in the future?

In the future scenario Mr Shore’s Downfall, a world is imagined which incorporates fictitious technologies that reflect bees and honey as precious commodities. In the future, honey may have become so precious that it is contained within coinage.

Telling the Bees engages with ideas of future-making in very creative ways, bringing tangible and intangible aspects together and avoiding the trap of sentimentally aspiring to ‘rescue’ what is precious to us today. Instead, the project explores the nature and consequences of change and the tangible and intangible expressions of such change.

As far as research is concerned, perhaps the future is already here. Let’s tell the bees!


Cornelius Holtorf