I've been quite busy over the past couple of days working on the beehive explosion box. I have made the panels for the outside of the beehive, out of strips of card matching the main structure of the box, which I embossed with one of my new Fiskar's Texture Plates, the woodgrain one. I then inked them with Tim Holtz Distress Ink in Walnut Stain, which has picked out the woodgrain pattern very nicely. To give the effect of the slightly overlapping layers of the beehive, which in real life are lifted off to expose the comb inside, I attached the top edge of each piece with hot glue from my glue gun (I don't want these coming off) and the bottom edge I attached with strips of double-sided sticky foam, to lift them away from the surface.
Here's a picture of the outer box in the folded position (i.e. not exploded) and held in place with an elastic band. You can see the added dimension given by the foam strips.
Here's one of the box laid on its side, to show the detail of the embossing a bit better:
I have spent a great deal of time since then designing the eight tags to go in the tag holders on the inside of the flaps of the box - I have made four larger ones for the outer box, and four smaller ones for the inner box. After a lot of thought about how best to do this, I decided to keep everything as flat as possible, to avoid too much bulk, and the problem of the flaps catching when the box is exploded. I have designed these tags on my desktop publisher (Serif PagePlus) with the help of my photo editor (Serif PhotoPlus). I have saved them as PagePlus documents as I can set the size exactly, and will print them on cream card and then cut them out. They will probably be backed with beige card embossed with the honeycomb design and inked. I will colour the tags in the same way as a digital stamp, probably using coloured pencils, keeping the colours fairly limited to tone with the general gold/brown/cream of the project.
I thought it would be fun to make tags to illustrate some of the many activities which take place inside the hive, which is in effect a self-contained city - a community of bees, each having their own role in the collective, but in a humorous way - very anthropomorphic, but I make no apology for that!
I have saved each tag as a jpg file so that I could upload them and share them. At this stage, they are still greyscale, of course, not having been printed out. Photos of the finished tags will follow in due course.
This is the Food Store, showing the honey which the worker bees have made, and which in real life they store in the honeycomb, not in jars, of course!
This is the nursery, showing the bee larvae in their wax cells in the comb - I like to think of these as little cradles! The larvae are all genetically identical, the baby sisters of the adult worker bees. Special "nurse" bees are appointed to feed them, and when the time comes for them to pupate in preparation for their emergence as adult bees, these workers cover the cells with a lid of wax.
This is the "Drones' Club." Those of you who watched "Jeeves and Wooster" on TV, based on the novels of P.G. Wodehouse, will recognise this scene. The young men in that series were all rich, air-headed young men who lived lives of idleness and were only interested in getting up to silly pranks, eating and drinking, and falling in and out of love with young ladies. They congregated in a London Club appropriately named "The Drones' Club." In the hive, the male bees, known as drones, are vastly outnumbered by the workers. Apart from the Queen, they are the only fertile bees in the colony, and they do absolutely nothing all their lives to contribute to the life of the hive; the workers feed them, and then when a new queen arises, she makes a "nuptial flight," flying as fast and as high as she can, and the drones all chase after her. The strongest one reaches her and their aerial mating is followed by the death of this drone, and all his brothers. This tag shows them at leisure - relaxing, drinking, enjoying music, dancing, and fighting.
In the hive, the worker bees are not called that for nothing; they do not have time off, but I thought it would be fun to imagine them having "down time" and enjoying some entertainment, so I have given them a cinema where they can watch - what else - bee movies!
During the life of the colony, there comes a time when the Queen will lay eggs in special, enlarged wax cells, and the workers feed them differently from worker larvae; this special food enables them to develop into fertile bees, i.e. young queens, which will have to leave the hive and form new colonies. This food is Royal Jelly. In this tag, I have put the Queen in her royal palace, seated on a throne, surrounded by her royal jellies, with some jelly moulds hanging behind her throne.
In this tag, "Food Inwards," the fruits of the outside workers' labours are shown. Worker bees have a structure on their rear legs which looks like a basket, and into this they can pack a phenomenal amount of pollen from the flowers they forage for food. You can often see bees with great yellow lumps on their legs! My hubby and I always imagine them going off shopping with their little wicker baskets and coming home with the provisions for the family! This is "first stop" back into the hive for them, where they offload their supplies.
One of the most remarkable things which has been discovered about life in the hive is the way the worker bees communicate with one another. Like many other communal insects, they use chemical communication, but in order to tell other workers where to find a good source of food, the returning workers do an elaborate dance on the surface of the comb, moving rapidly in a semi-circular pattern, waggling their abdomens as they do it, the size of the waggle indicating the richness of the source, and the angle of the dance the direction in relation to the sun where this food may be found. In this tag you can see the workers learning their dance routines in the "Dance Academy" - note the tutus they are wearing!
In the final tag, we have the Female Workers' Union building, showing their badge and motto.
I have not presented these tags in any sort of order, because all these activities are taking place simultaneously, producing a harmonious whole which is one of the miracles of creation. When I think of the complexity of the collective, and how it comes together to produce what is like a single organism of many parts, I am amazed at the handiwork of our Creator God. Add to that the fact that without the bees, we would not be fed. We depend on them for the pollination of many thousands of acres of fruit orchards and much more. Honeybee populations are in decline today, for many reasons which have yet to be fully explained, and the situation is serious. These wonderful little creatures deserve study and appreciation! I have never wanted to keep bees myself, but my grandfather did, and invented a queen segregator which may still be in use today. (Unfortunately my hubby is allergic to bee stings so we couldn't keep bees even if we wanted to!) This explosion box is a gift for a friend who keeps bees in London. When she visited last year, she brought a jar of the most delicious honey I have ever tasted. As well as being a gift for her, this project is a tribute to all dedicated bee keepers who do so much for us all.
Sorry this has been such a long post to read, but I couldn't just show you these pictures without an explanation and a reason for my appreciation!