Communing with the Honeybees
“Messages for the bees are passed along the subconscious pipeline, shifting them from one person’s dreams to another until a memory becomes a daydream related over a cup of steaming tea at breakfast.” – Yolanda Doolittle’s Journals, 1916
A simple, sweet afternoon, communing with art and bees, at Van Dusen Gardens in Vancouver.
I saw and smelled labernum groves, catalpa trees, allium, lavender and roses and raspberries.
My friend Lori is a lady who wll pass your messages, your troubles and your hopes to the bees. A wonderful, quirky and imaginative performance artist, she has of late taken on the persona of Madame Dolittle, modelled on Yolanda Doolittle,a Victorian figure (fact or fiction?) who communed spiritually with the bees. She calls it The Beespeaker Project. Dressed in Victorian garb, Lori/Dolittle appears intermittently at farmers’ markets, festivals and gardens (this month, at Van Dusen Gardens), to remind us, in her wise and poetic manner, of the power, beauty, and value of bees – now, in North America, an almost endangered species!
“Whether you suffer from and seek relief from anxieties, ailments, sorrows, lost objects, or simply wish to share the gratitude of your recent joys, Madame Dolittle will pass your messages onto the honeybees.”- from Madame Beespeaker‘s business card.
I shared a picnic with Lori and her partner in love and art, Peter, in the gardens, next to the hives and just beside a verdant vegetable garden, most of whose produce goes to low-income people. We ate sushi, bean pate, bagels and dried mulberries, and talked about feminist art, parties with a single-ingredient theme (my suggestion to Lori: a honey party!), recent food experiences, and bees, of course.
Then Lori showed me other artworks that are appearing in the gardens as part of the Second Site Collective‘s show that runs to the end of July (with “sporadic interventions” in August) – check this link for Beespeaker and other schedules.
Delicate artworks intervene electronically and visually into the lives of plants. Robin Ripley mends wounded leaves.
Ken Gregory creates prosthetic devices, “Sun Suckers”, for flowers.
Lori Weidenhammer lets you listen to the bees and then listens to you. Send your hopes and concerns to email@example.com.
Any honey or bee stories to pass on?
I like these post script challenges.
In 1976 I and my buddy Robin, worked the icecream and cheese counter at the Good Morning Dairy Bar (next to the old Life Stream at Burrard and 4th in Vancouver). Of course we felt obliged to taste everything and ask lots of questions in order to appear knowledgeable and good at our jobs. There were many locally produced products. Stormy Monday’s honey sweetened organic carob & goat milk ice cream, which was the most creamy, dreamy, divine concotion, never lasted long in the freezer. In the spirit of really knowing all about the icecream, we arranged an excursion to meet the goats that made the milk etc…we took lots of photos of the curious kids and hung them at work.
Then there was Mrs.Coutt’s prize winning honey. It was blond, densely chewy and strangely not so sweet. I asked her one day why it was so different. She explained that she didn’t feed her bees sugar water or anti-biotics and that the reduced sweetness also had to do with leaving in the propolis, royal jelly and pollen. Her bees were very healthy and their honey had a notable pot ash content because of it.
The sun is out again and the bees are out in full force in Vancouver. The city workers however, are not so active. They are on strike and the Gardens are closed, along with the city swimming pools and community centres. So the bees have the gardens all to themselves without being pestered by messages from nosy performance artists.
Sandi, I am fascinated by your bee anecdote. I’ve been wondering if feeding the bees sugar water over the winter doesn’t weaken their immune systems as well. Pot ash you say? Here in Vancouver, the bees just have pot nectar.