Bees Making Art

Insect Aesthetics and the Ecological Moment


  • Mary Kosut
  • Lisa Jean Moore



In many cultural fields honeybees reveal themselves as a highly generative species; one that humans have become dependent on.  Within the backdrop of Colony Collapse Disorder, this essay examines how live bees are used in the production of art works.  Historically, bees have been an absent presence in art as artists have relied upon bees for the raw material they create (wax, honeycomb) and for their metaphorical value. Most recently, bees themselves have become art by being transformed into sculptural objects or employed in collaborative insect/human performances that depend upon their embodied labor and participation. Using a bee-centric approach, we track the bees’ path across human art worlds, attentive to the complex ecological, agricultural, and cultural systems they co-create. These interspecies exchanges testify not only to trends in contemporary art, but larger ideas about animal/human boundaries and contemporary environmental issues.


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Author Biographies

Mary Kosut

Mary Kosut is a cultural sociologist and Associate Prof. of Media, Society and the Arts and Gender Studies at Purchase College, State University of New York. Her interdisciplinary research examines art worlds, body modification practices, and the entanglements of insects and humans. She is the editor of The Encyclopedia of Gender in Media, co-editor of The Body Reader, and co-author of Buzz: Urban Beekeeping and the Power of the Bee, a multispecies ethnography of New York City bees and their human keepers.

Lisa Jean Moore

Lisa Jean Moore has recently published Buzz: Urban Beekeeping and the Power of the Bee with Mary Kosut.  She is now working on a project with Atlantic Horseshoe Crabs (aka Limulus). A professor at Purchase College SUNY, Moore lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.




How to Cite

Kosut, M., & Moore, L. J. (2014). Bees Making Art: Insect Aesthetics and the Ecological Moment. Humanimalia, 5(2), 1–25.