The Surrey Beekeeper: Book Title Competition

Beginner_Beekeeper_Book

James Dearsley AKA The Surrey Beekeeper tells us about his forthcoming beekeeping book and the competition to find its title.

As some of you may know I wrote a little book during my first year as a beekeeper. It was all about my efforts to get just one jar of honey and my journey learning all about bees. I had a lovely time in that first year and wanted to tell everyone about it. I was very lucky to have been picked up by the Summersdale Publishing Company who will be publishing the book next year. However, we are all deliberating on the final title and we thought we would have some fun and open it out to everyone else to make the decision.

Therefore, put your entries in the comments box (the more entries the merrier!); the team at Summersdale will then pick their top 5 and we will then put it to the public vote to see who gets to name the title. There are some amazing prizes (!)……and I may just chuck in a jar of next years honey to add to the prize fund.

Click here to enter.

James Dearsley AKA The Surrey Beekeeper

Bee Painting by Val Littlewood now at Bees in Art


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The Leafcutter Bee
The Leafcutter Bee by Val Littlewood

Bees in Art welcomes bee painter Val Littlewood.


Val Littlewood has recently completed a successful exhibition of bee paintings at the Lost Garden of Heligan, Cornwall.

Val Littlewood has been an artist, illustrator, designer and lecturer for many years. Currently her exhibition “Buzz, A Celebration of British Bees” is touring the UK.

While always interested in natural history subjects, the bee paintings came about more by accident than design:

“ Two years ago while doing some gardening for my father I found our old beehives, tucked away and no longer in use. Such memories flooded in about the delightful bees and their honey that I decided to paint a honey bee for my Pencil and Leaf blog. From came a commission from a bee enthusiast to paint a set of 16 bees. While researching and studying bees it was impossible not to become very fond of these delightful and hardworking little creatures. They are fine natural architects, ingenious nest builders, solicitous mothers and cooperative workers. Their stories are fascinating yet they generally pursue their crucial work of pollinating our crops and garden flowers unseen and unappreciated. To help raise awareness of bees and the need to protect them and their habitats I decided to paint 25 of our British wild bees for a small exhibition “Buzz, A celebration of British Bees” The aim of Buzz is to help people understand more about these wonderful friends of ours and appreciate their very distinct personalities. Bees need us and we need bees!

Val Littlewood

Art for the Love of Sark

Sark

Art for the Love of Sark: Taking place in the Channel Islands, UK

Bees in Art artists Bruce Pearson and Anna Kirk Smith are taking part in an Artists for Nature project: Art for the love of Sark. The project named 'Art for the Love of Sark' will involve the artists recording all aspects of island life from its rich and unspoilt natural history to the human aspect. The artists will come from all parts of the world, from Russia and the USA to Germany, the Netherlands and the UK, and among them the award-winning President of the Society of Wildlife Artists, Harriet Mead. A full list of the participating artists can be seen at The Land Gallery News Page.

Bee Prints @ Bees in Art


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Bee Prints @ Bees in Art

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Bee painting @ Bees in Art


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Bee Paintings @ Bees in Art

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Isle of Man Butterfly Stamps by Richard Lewington


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LewingtonButterflies

Isle of Man Butterfly Collection by Richard Lewington

Isle of Man Butterfly stamps painted by Richard Lewington available from the Isle of Man Post Office.

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Bees in Art by Andrew Tyzack


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Bees in Art by Andrew Tyzack

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Study for Venus by Andrew Tyzack


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VenusCranach Venus
Venus by Tyzack & Venus by Cranach

Andrew Tyzack has begun a series of works based upon Lucas Cranach’s ‘Cupid complaining to Venus’. Cupid is depicted stealing honey from a bees nest in a tree, being stung by the irate bees and complaining to his mother Venus.

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Bumblebee Queens go House Hunting


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Bombus lapidarius

Bombus lapidarius by Richard Lewington

In this guest blog, Laura Smith from Bumblebee.org discusses one of the most frequent enquiries put to her by her followers.


Bumblebee queens are emerging from their winter hibernation. The first thing they need after their long sleep is a good meal, and that means nectar and pollen from flowers. To get to the flower the queen has to fly, but to fly she must get her flight muscles up to 30 C regardless of the air temperature. She raises her body temperature above the ambient temperature by shivering and pumping her abdomen, so you see bumblebees aren't really cold blooded at all!

This is also the time when bumblebee queens are found in the strangest places. You can see them flying close to the ground ignoring the flowers and investigating every dark crack and crevice. They are just searching for a good place to nest. Here at www.bumblebee.org we get masses of emails from people who have found queens in pockets of jackets, in rotary lawnmowers that have been left over winter uncleaned, we even had an email last week from someone who found a bumblebee queen sharing his duvet! Abandoned mouse and vole nests are still their favourite nesting places, though.

Commercial bumblebee nest boxes are expensive and have a low success rate leading to great disappointment. However, take heart, even professional scientists have a low success rate when it comes to bumblebee nest box occupancy - sometimes fewer than 10% of boxes will be occupied. So what can be done increase your success? Well there are a few basic things to check first.

  1. Get the right size of box for your species of bumblebee. Above ground nesters tend to have smaller nests, and ground and below ground nesters tend to have larger nests.
  2. Place the box in, on or above ground according to the bumblebees you have in your garden.
  3. Make sure you have suitable nest material. The very best is an old mouse or vole nest, then a bird nest, but failing that the natural stuffing from sofas, commercially sold mouse/hamster bedding, kapok or even dried moss and cut up bits of grass not straw will do.
  4. Food. The queen will want nectar and pollen nearby, so that her eggs do not get cold. So if your garden has masses of lavender and other summer flowers she might ignore it - the promise of food to come is meaningless to her. She needs food now, so spring flowers are the thing. Even a couple of flowering heathers in pots might be enough to tempt her.
  5. Do not keep checking the box to see if she is OK. I know the temptation is hard to resist, but do resist it until she really has decided to set up home.

You can tell if a bumblebee queen has found a nest site by looking at her hind legs. If she is carrying pollen in her pollen baskets then she has found a nest and is taking home food to make a store in case the weather turns bad. She makes "bee bread" - a sticky mix of nectar and pollen which she kneads into a ball the size of a pea. Then she lays her eggs on this, and broods them like a bird keeping them at around 30 C. All this time she still has to gather enough food to feed herself. To do this she has to leave her eggs, and this is dangerous as they cool down quickly in the cold weather. She will be the sole provider of the nest until the first batch of workers hatch out as adults. Then she can sit back and relax a little while they take over the hard and dangerous work of gathering pollen and nectar.

Laura Smith Bumblebee.org

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Fred Enock: Wood boring wasp catching its prey


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Wood Boring Wasp

Fred Enock (1845-1916)
Wood boring wasp catching its prey: pen and watercolour on paper, cut out and mounted on black gouache, (most) backed with linen, 17 5/8 x 17 3/8in (44.9 x 44.2cm.).
More to follow.

pastedGraphic

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Wild Flowers loved by Honeybees. Nestlé 1935



Wild Flowers loved by Honeybees. Nestlé 1935.

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Lewington Bees

Honeybees by Richard Lewington

If you would like to receive updates from Bees in Art news directly to your inbox, then please use the Feedburner subscription box (top left). Simply enter your email address and you will receive a daily email with details of our latest news. Emails will only be sent when there is new news.

Kind regards,

Andrew Tyzack

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Andrew Tyzack: Front Cover: Beekeeping in Britain: Trends in Biochemical Sciences

Tyzack Trends

Andrew Tyzack: Front Cover: Beekeeping in Britain: Trends in Biochemical Sciences

Andrew Tyzack’s painting: ‘Beekeeping in Britain’ was recently licensed for the front cover of ‘Trends in Biochemical Sciences’. Inside, this is what they said:

As any apiarist will tell you, knowing that there is a ‘sting in the tail’ will provide you with a keen awareness of how you should regulate your behaviour around your bees. Similarly, recent structural studies of protein phosphotase 2A (PP2A) family members show that the ‘sting’ in the carboxy-terminal tail of its A-type subunits is important for the binding and dynamic exchange of its regulatory B-type subunits. Trends in Biochemical Sciences



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Licensing @ Bees in Art

We can arrange for licensed use of any of the images used here and other work by Bees in Art artists. Licensing fees for use of images are based on type of usage, display size, print runs, geographical and language rights. All images are available for rights managed use. High-resolution JPG or TIFF files can be supplied. Fees are negotiable, and discounts are available for multiple images.

Please visit the home page of
The Land Gallery for other wildlife based art; photography, painting, print, drawings etc. Images are available for licensing for editorial or commercial purposes.

Clients include:

AC & Black
BBC TV
Country Living
Gardens Illustrated
Plantlife International
The Royal Mail
RSPB
Saga Magazine
Trends in Biochemical Sciences
The Wellcome Trust
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust


The Land Gallery and Bees in Art are able to put you in touch with over fifty leading wildlife artists to find the right image to suit your needs. We have sourced images for use in national and regional TV, magazines, newspapers, private clients and Royal Mail stamps. Please telephone today: 0044 (0) 1430 810 239 or Mobile/Cell: 0044 (0) 7930 400 405 or fill in our contact form and we will get back to you.



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Alice Forward: Giant Varroa Destructor Mite

varroa destructor and apis mellifera mellifera

Varroa Destructor Mite 625,000,000:1, beeswax and honey by Alice Forward


Alice Forward is a sculptor and recent winner of the Site Darbyshire award.

Completed in February 2010, the Varroa Mite sculpture was exhibited at the BEELINES show at Stroud Valleys Artspace. Made mostly from beeswax and honey, its dimensions are: 840mm x 940mm x 600mm, and enclosed in a museum case 9000mm x 1000m x 2000mm.

A tiny worker bee is stood on her own perspex pedestal next to the Varroa Mite sculpture. The bee contrasts with the Varroa Mite sculpture’s size, which is 625 million times as large as a real Varroa destructor mite.

The Varroa Mite sculpture may be featured in a late summer event at Buckfast Abbey, but in the meantime it languishes loomingly in Forward’s Bedminster studio.

The Varroa destructor mite is a parasite of honeybees. It sucks the blood of both adult honeybees and larvae, leaving them less resistant to infectious disease, and is thought to be a contributing factor in Colony Collapse Disorder.



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Sark: Artists for Nature: Jubilee Project

ANF

CHANNEL ISLAND OF SARK TO HOST
JUBILEE PROJECT
ARTISTS FOR NATURE FOUNDATION'S


The international non-profit organisation Artists for Nature Foundation, ANF founded in 1990 in The Netherlands, have chosen the beautiful and unique, car-free Channel Island of Sark as the location for their fifteenth project. The ANF are a unique organisation who draw the attention of policy-formulators and decision-makers to the natural world by enabling groups of influential and talented artists to capture the spirit of endangered landscapes and species in their natural habitat through art.

Since the summer of 2009, Sarkee and artist Rosanne Guille (a graduate of the Royal College of Art) has been working with the ANF, planning and fundraising for a project which will bring 15 of these “Artists for Nature' to paint, draw and sculpt in Sark for ten days from 4th May 2011.

The project named 'Art for the Love of Sark' will involve the artists recording all aspects of island life from its rich and unspoilt natural history to the human aspect. The artists will come from all parts of the world, from Russia and the USA to Germany, the Netherlands and the UK, and among them the award-winning President of the Society of Wildlife Artists, Harriet Mead. A full list of the participating artists can be seen at www.sarkpaintings.com under 'current projects blog'.

During the artists visit, from the 3rd day on, there will be daily showings of their work to the public and some of the artists will work with the children of Sark school encouraging their own interest in art and nature. As with other ANF projects around the world, it is hoped that there will be sufficient funding for a project book to be published, and a film and travelling exhibition to raise awareness of what a special and unique, though fragile island Sark still is.

Donations from the residents and businesses of Sark and Guernsey have enabled the first artists visit in May to go ahead. The artists will be staying at Stocks Hotel where rooms have been kindly donated for their stay. What better way of celebrating nature than through the eyes of some of the world's most talented contemporary artists.

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Bees in Art joins The Nature Blog Network

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The Nature Blog Network is the nexus for the nature blog community, the portal through which readers and publishers alike can locate the very best nature blogs on the net. To serve the nature blog community, we’ve put together a site with two distinct parts:

THE TOPLIST

A toplist is a list of websites ranked according to a metric like pageviews. Successful toplists help connect interested readers to the sites they most enjoy. The Nature Blog Network list presents over 950 of the world’s best blogs on birds, bugs, plants, herps, hiking, oceans, ecosystems, and every other natural topic. Adding your blog to this spectacular toplist is the perfect way to reach new readers interested in exactly what you have to offer, and to see where your site falls amongst your respected peers. And it’s FREE!

This toplist is open to all BLOGS focused on the discussion of nature in its myriad forms. Learn more about the Nature Blog Network on our Join page.

THE BLOG

Nature blogging isn’t easy. Not only do you have to impress your readers with an encyclopedic grasp of and infectious passion for your subject matter, you have to dazzle them with your unparalleled mastery of language, photography, and your chosen blogging platform. If you’re interested in the art and science of nature blogging, the Nature Blog Network blog has what you need. Don’t ever miss a post — subscribe to the Nature Blog Network blog feed.

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Let it Bee: Musical comedy made in 48 hours for the "48 Go Green 2011


Let it Bee
http://vimeo.com/20329503
"Musical comedy made in 48 hours for the "48 Go Green 2011"
Vote for this film and help us get to the Cannes Film Festival
11-17th of march 2011 voting deadline :
48gogreen.com/ signup_free"
Involves Jérôme DupontChristina BatmanPeter HudsonGigi Ledron and Tim Bentley.

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Lucas Cranach: Cupid stung by bees

Cupid Complains to Venus

‘Cupid complains to Venus’ by Lucas Cranach the Elder, oil on board

Lucas Cranach The Elder's painted 'Cupid Complaining to Venus' around 1526. Cupid is depicted stealing honey from a bees nest in a tree, being stung by the irate bees and complaining to his mother Venus, the goddess of love, who stands exquisitely by and chastises Cupid: 'There's never sweetness without pain'.

A honeybee will sting an intruder if it perceives a threat, this is a defensive mechansim. Once the bee has stung the intruder an alarm pheronome is released and alerts other bees from the hive. They may also sting. A bee's
sting is a modified ovipositor and during the act of stinging, bee venom is injected into the intruder through the sting. In humans this results in pain and itching, and motivates the intruder to flee the vicinity. The bees have then successfully defended their home.

Robbing wild honeybees of their honey, as Cupid does here, would almost certainly result in angry bees and stinging. Sometimes death may also result from a bee sting, this is called
anaphylactic reaction or shock. Honeybees often target the eyes of their disturber, apparently attracted by their movement. A sting in the eye is intensely painful (as the author can testify) and any attack of the eyes causes panic. In such a situation Cupid would see the disturbed bees fly towards him and here them buzzing angrily. He would experience immediate pain as the bees stung his flesh. The ensuing pain, panic and threat to his vulnerable parts, would cause Cupid to desire to flee. Later Cupid's stings would redden, swell, remain painful, and become itchy: along with Venus' chastisement, a lasting reminder of his theft.

Click
here to read the complete article.

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The Strange Effect of Light by Mark Rowney

The Strange Effect of Light

The Strange Effect of Light by Mark Rowney

Mark Rowney’s painting The Strange Effect of Light can now be seen at The Biscuit Factory in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK.

The Strange Effect of Light
The Strange Effect of Light (detail) by Mark Rowney

The Strange Effect of Light

There are moments when one’s eyes become adjusted to the light that we see much more than first appear. 'The strange effect of light' represents such a moment.The beautiful creatures that dance around us at night are always there but only seen when our own light attracts them.

The original painting 'The Strange Effect of Light'' was painted in acrylics on birchwood panel.


"My influences are the bees that sting me, the midges that bite me and the birds that sing so sweetly. I was born in 1962. With a stick and a pair of wellies I fought many battles in the hayfields and moors of Northern England.

I grew up somewhat whilst being educated at
St Martins School of Art in London, after which I was lucky enough to work for many of my favourite publishers, doing art work for Penguin Books, the Radio Times, Homes and Gardens and various BBC publications.

I moved to New York and lived in very small apartments, producing work for the
New York Times, Time Magazine and Travel and Leisure. While in America I became interested in leather work and started producing products for the fashion designer Paul Smith on 5th avenue. A fantastic way to meet models.

Life moved on and so did I. Several months spent in an Indian factory designing embroidered soft furnishings. What a beautiful and horrible place.

For many years now I have been living back in the lovely Durham dales where I pursue my love for nature in contemporary art, occasionally I dust off my wellies and sharpen my stick.
" Mark Rowney

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Bee by Rose Lynn-Fisher

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BeeBook128
View a preview of the book below and you can visit Amazon for purchasing here: Bee


The Bee Poetry of Emily Dickinson

Dickinson

Emily Dickinson @ Bees in Art



Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886) was an American poet. Born in Amherst, Massachusetts, to a successful family with strong community ties, she lived a mostly introverted and reclusive life. After she studied at the Amherst Academy for seven years in her youth, she spent a short time at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary before returning to her family's house in Amherst. Thought of as an eccentric by the locals, she became known for her penchant for white clothing and her reluctance to greet guests or, later in life, even leave her room. Most of her friendships were therefore carried out by correspondence.

Although
Dickinson was a prolific private poet, fewer than a dozen of her nearly eighteen hundred poems were published during her lifetime.[2] The work that was published during her lifetime was usually altered significantly by the publishers to fit the conventional poetic rules of the time. Dickinson's poems are unique for the era in which she wrote; they contain short lines, typically lack titles, and often use slant rhyme as well as unconventional capitalization and punctuation.[3] Many of her poems deal with themes of death and immortality, two recurring topics in letters to her friends.

Although most of her acquaintances were probably aware of
Dickinson's writing, it was not until after her death in 1886—when Lavinia, Emily's younger sister, discovered her cache of poems—that the breadth of Dickinson's work became apparent. Her first collection of poetry was published in 1890 by personal acquaintances Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Mabel Loomis Todd, both of whom heavily edited the content. A complete and mostly unaltered collection of her poetry became available for the first time in 1955 when The Poems of Emily Dickinson was published by scholar Thomas H. Johnson. Despite unfavorable reviews and skepticism of her literary prowess during the late 19th and early 20th century, critics now consider Dickinson to be a major American poet.

From Wikipedia: Creative Commons: Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Bee related music and poetry



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Kit Williams: A Profile

The Bee on the Comb

The Bee on the Comb or Untitled

Christopher 'Kit' Williams (born April 28, 1946 in Kent, England) is an English artist, illustrator and author best known for his book Masquerade, a pictorial storybook which contains clues to the location of a golden (18 carat) jewelled hare created by Williams and then buried "somewhere in Britain."
Williams wrote another puzzle book with a bee theme; the puzzle was to figure out the title of the book and represent it without using the written word. This competition ran for just a year and a day and the winner was revealed on the live BBC TV chatshow Wogan.

In 1985, Kit Williams designed the Wishing Fish Clock, a centrepiece of the Regent Arcade shopping centre in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. Over 45 feet tall, the clock features a duck that lays a never-ending stream of golden eggs and includes a family of mice that are continually trying to evade a snake sitting on top of the clock. Hanging from the base of the clock is a large wooden fish that blows bubbles every half hour. Catching one of these bubbles entitles you to make a wish, hence the name of the clock.

Other clocks designed by Williams can be found in Telford Shopping Centre and in the Midsummer Place section of Central Milton Keynes Shopping Centre.

Williams was also involved in the design of the Dragonfly Maze in Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire, England, which comprises a yew maze with a pavilion at the centre. The object is not only to reach the pavilion, but to gather clues as one navigates the maze. Correctly interpreting these clues when one reaches the pavilion allows access to the maze's final secret.

In August 2009, Kit Williams was reunited with the golden hare which he had not seen for more than 30 years.[1] He is quoted as saying:

"I had not remembered it being as delicate as it is ... Then when I picked it up the little bells jingled, and it sparkled in a way that I had forgotten as well."

This reuniting was revealed in a BBC Four sixty minute documentary on William's work, The Man Behind The Masquerade on December 2 2009, beginning with Masquerade and ending with an exhibition of the best 18 pieces of his art from the last thirty years at London's Portal Gallery, which had first exhibited his work in the 1970s. The programme showed Williams being reunited with the golden hare for the first time when it was loaned by its anonymous present owner in the Far East.[2]

From Wikipedia: Creative Commons: Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Bee on the Comb: Kit Williams now at Bees in Art


In 1985 Kit Williams broke open a seal upon the mahogany bee-box (see title page) to reveal the title of his book. Readers were given one year after publishing to solve the book’s hidden clues and win the golden queen bee.



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Thank you for your patience



Apiary

Bees in Art would like to thank you for your patience during our recent renovations.

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Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo: Jessica Oreck: Myriapod Productions

Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo

Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo: Jessica Oreck: Myriapod Productions


In this guest post, filmmaker Jessica Oreck answers a few questions about her documentary Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo. The film, which delves into the ineffable mystery of Japan's age-old love affair with insects, is currently playing in theaters around the world and will air on PBS's Independent Lens series in the U.S. in May 2011.

Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo Trailer from Myriapod Productions on Vimeo.




Where did the idea to make Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo come from?

I was helping out in a classroom where a guest speaker, a young Japanese woman, was talking about different elements of Japanese culture. She mentioned, in passing, that people in Japan love insects. I have loved insects since I was a little girl, so my interest was immediately piqued. I studied filmmaking, biology, and ecology in university, and I knew I wanted to make films about ethnobiology (the way human cultures interact with the natural world), so this was the perfect film with which to start.

Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo

I raced to start my research but there was nothing about this phenomenon in English. Reluctantly, I set the idea aside. But only two days later, my sister is sitting in an airport in Baltimore, and she and the young man sitting next to her strike up a conversation. He is a bicultural Japanese American entomologist who travels around the US giving talks about Japanese love of insects. Um, providence? During our first phone call I told Akito Kawahara that I wanted to make this movie. He said something along the lines of, “Cool. We can stay at my parents house and I’ll introduce you to all of my beetle collecting friends.” It wasn’t quite as easy as that makes it sound, but it really feels like the stars aligned for this particular project.

Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo

How did you produce this film, and what are some of the challenges you overcame in the process?

Thanks to Akito, most of our subjects were chosen far in advance. We were also a really small crew: myself (recording sound), my boyfriend, Sean Price Williams, as camera, and then my best friend Maiko Endo as translator. So the actual production was, well, a blast. But determining the structure of the narrative, that was a bit more complicated. I knew I didn’t want main characters – I was more interested in the movements of social masses. I also had no intention of a formal narrative arc. I had a mystery, and I wanted to solve it, but I wasn’t going to force it into the conventions of a ‘story.’ I wanted to move backwards through time, uncovering clues that would point to how this cultural phenomenon came into being. I started with that idea and eventually the form of a filmic spiral shaped itself in my head – one that would move three-dimensionally around the subject (insects in Japanese culture through time), while allowing the periphery (history, philosophy, religion) to inform the framing.
I did extensive research before traveling to Japan – I drafted a 20-page essay containing pieces of Japanese history and philosophy that I wanted to include in the film. As the editing process progressed I continued to refine the ‘essay,’ skimming off outer details. That shortened essay (at three and a half pages) was translated into Japanese and became the voice over. Between editing the footage and writing and editing the narration, it was a very organic process. Everything just seemed to fall into place.

In general, what kind of relationship do Japanese kids have with the insect world, and how does this compare with the relationship most American kids have?

A Japanese child’s relation to insects isn’t that different from an American’s child connection – if you catch them young enough. Most young children don’t have an innate fear of bugs (from my experience watching thousands of them pass through the butterfly vivarium at the American Museum of Natural History). It isn’t until they see the dad flinch or the mom scream that they learn disgust or fear. What’s different with Japanese children is that they are encouraged to explore the insect world.

Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo

They keep them as pets, their dads take them on insect collecting trips, and they travel halfway across the country to watch the fireflies emerge at dusk. Of course I am really generalizing – but the phenomenon is generally quite widespread. I think that an individual’s understanding of the natural world is still mostly directly absorbed through the behavior of the people he or she admires, and that that is one of the reasons why this connection to insects continues to thrive in Japanese culture.

Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo


Did the people you met think it was odd that you, an American filmmaker, were so interested in this particular aspect of Japanese culture?

Everyone seemed happy to have us, though they were often confused by why we were making this film. We got a lot of, “What? They don’t sell beetles in America?”

What can this film teach Westerners about Japanese culture and values? What do you hope will really resonate with your viewers?

Those are big questions. What I have learned from Japanese culture that I think about most often is the concept of mono no aware. Essentially, mono no aware is the appreciation of beauty that is transient. For instance, to the Japanese, cherry blossoms are the most beautiful when they are falling. But mono no aware has implications outside of this definition. It isn’t necessarily limited to beauty – it is also about focusing on each moment as it passes. It sounds hackneyed to say “appreciate the moment,” but making Beetle Queen has helped me do that (at least more often than I used to).

I hope this is something viewers take away from the film as well, but I don’t want to limit the potential influences it could have. I have seen many diverse reactions. Plenty of people have been surprised by the loss of their fear, or by newfound knowledge, or a novel appreciation of beauty in unanticipated facets of their lives. But my favorite story is of a World War II veteran who approached me after a screening of Beetle Queen. He said something to the effect of, “For fifty years I have thought of the Japanese as my enemy. And in the past hour and a half, you have changed that.”

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Happy New Year 2011

Happy New Year 2011

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