Issue XXVI

August . 2017



Submission #1







Submission #2:


James Johnson—Perkins






James Johnson—Perkins






James Johnson—Perkins







James Johnson—Perkins











Submission #3:






Submission #4:

I have been digesting advice about setting up scenarios where people could do gestures (via an art installation) that mimic the acts I go through as I accumulate my materials.  In theory it seemed interesting, but the mere gesture of sticking a tube  or syringe-tip into a hole, belittles these acts of care-taking and love. The idea of setting up these sorts of simulations may seem profound, but the motions separated from the original intentions fall short of anything authentic. Performing these life-sustaining acts on anything short of a live person and expecting participants, who are merely going through the motions, to gain discerning insight is absurd.

For this reason, transforming the medical materials is far more valuable for me than attempting to re-use them in a different context, but similar to how they were meant to be used. The latter minimizes the depth of involvement that accompanies the “real’ gesture. While the former, at least, reaches for something poetic.

It was my first time presenting at the Artblitz Crit Group last night in LA. The timing was excellent to get a read from people who haven’t seen my new work in progress.

I was really surprised that my ritual of hand painting medicinal bullets and catheters did not come across as such. Instead, it was assumed that these things came that way, that they were purchased with red caps and colored tips and that they had not not already been used for their original purposes. (OK, those who are among my invisible culture, who were not part of this group, knew immediately that I had altered the things because, like me, they are familiar.) But my goal is to reach outside my own circle and despite my compulsiveness to prep and hand paint each item, no past-purpose was revealed to those who are not familiar. Instead it was erased.

Since I am working with medical supplies that have bodily functions, the question of repulsion came up. “What’s wrong with repulsion?” someone asked. A: “Doesn’t repulsion turn people away? I want to attract, not repulse.” Hmmm…Transforming these objects is meant to speak of the positive sort of  transformation that happens when  a person is changed by another. Not repulsed.

RITUAL is another take-away I got from last nights ArtblitzLA discussion. There is much ritual behind the objects; The first is in the original usage of the objects; The second is in their preparations for re-use and; The third involves the process for their new configurations where they work (interact?) with other materials.

Someone said, If I use the object for what it is in a different context, it becomes a simile (relating back to its original purpose.) On the other hand, If I use it in a different way it is transformed (In my case- to a formalistic object.) A simile will equal metaphor, poetry and gesture. As I consider this even more today I see no reason why the transformed path (even in formal presentation) couldn’t also equal metaphor, poetry and gesture.

I walked away with much to digest after this critique and gained a new awareness that I would not have if not for this discussion.





Submission #5:






Submission #6:






Submission #7:

LIVING HIVE: Sculpture Pick up Date   Saturday 07/09/201617 PROTOTYPE PILOT.

By Elsabé Dixon (Artist), German Perilla (Beekeeper), Jade Garrett (Technician)


“Living Hive: Imagining A Sculptural Platform for Collective Environmental Action through Conversation and Collaboration with insects.”

A collection of drawings and sculptures created in conjunction with German Perillas Pollen Collection Project.

Perilla collects honeybee pollen to evaluate toxin sources and levels in an effort to identify the contaminants that cause disorders like CCD.


Dixon’s drawings detail the microscopic structures of pollen, while sculpture parts are built by bees. Using drawings as blueprint a 3-D printer creates a multipart sculpture covered with wax by bees. Each sculpture piece fits inside the top super [stack] of a standard beehive, in apiaries from Fairfax to Danville along the Route 29 corridor. The first prototype is an experimental sketch or blueprint to see how one might involve bees, beekeepers and the public.

Layers of industrial technology, handmade materials and public examination echo a social problem—and its potential solutions can only be found in dialogue.

“Bees are a representation of a broader issue, we have gone through a consumer period where our main objectives have been to establish markets. Now we’ve really got to backtrack and see what we have in the hand.”

Pollen is an indicator of that larger issue of pollution. “Our environment is tainted with things we have taken out of the ground, our oil products. All these plastics, we’re living with them. They’re not going to go away. So how do we deal with pesticides and pollutants? How do we separate the tainted from the less tainted – because everything is tainted now. Perhaps by looking and discussing how to construct a sculpture in a beehive?”


Interviews and recordings Conducted by Elsabé Dixon


Removed Sculptures from German Perilla’s Hives, and Angel Cabrera’s Hives. Louise Edsall dropped her sculptures off at the GMU apiary, May 2016




Louise Edsall Interview (Fairfax,VA)

ED: Louise, tell me a little about your early spring experience with your apiary and your sculpture part.

LE: I was able to bring 15 hives successfully through winter this spring and on April 1,I got the honey supers out and was ready to start splitting my hives. But then the rain started. Four weeks of continuous rain. I believe it was 21 days of continuous rain. Throughout April and May which is our “flow” season.

ED: You said at one point you had a “Bee Runway.” What happened?

LE: The bees would leave the hive to collect pollen and then get caught in a downpour. My dog discovered a massive amount of them on the grass, just clinging to the blades of grass. Bees cannot fly in rainy weather.

ED: What happened after the rain subsided? Were the bees able to get out and collect pollen and catch up?

LE: Not exactly. The rain literally washed away the pollen. There was very little pollen left for the bees to harvest. It was a difficult season for them. The flow of the Tulip poplar trees were missed completely and the Black Locus did not even flower this spring. I heard word from beekeepers along the 81 Corridor saying they saw very little that bloomed this spring. The only thing that did bloom were the Redbud in March.

ED: How did this affect the hives?

LE: After the rain the bees had to catch up and they continued feeding the queen who in turn continued to lay eggs. This created massive quantities of bees and I experienced many swarms. I caught all but one with Lemon Grass oil. One hive swarmed in the rain. This is a bad thing because when the virgin queens fly out and get caught in the rain they are not adequately mated which leads to a situation where worker bees lay eggs and these all tend to turn into drones. Too many bees in one hive cause congestion and the queen leaves and most of her worker bees follow her out. Those left behind in the hive produce virgin queens who then have to battle it out for leadership and control of the hive. I had up to 17 new virgin queen cells in one hive that was left behind.

ED: Interesting.

LE: Yes, bees are interesting and we have used them as a social model for centuries. I am reading a great book at the moment addressing the social implications of beekeeping. It is called “ Bees Across America” and talks about how the bees beat the expansion settlers to the West coast. Interesting tales of how the native Americans knew the white settlers were coming because they were always preceded by their “White Man’s Stinging Fly”. The Jamestown settlement in Virginia documented how they applied the honeybee social model to their communities: “He who does not work does not eat.

ED: How do you think the rainy spring affected the building of the sculpture in the beehive?

LE: Well, the nectar flow affected how the bees built “out” their wax. My bees hardly built at all and the area that they did clear they propolized toward the left hand side. My suggestion for next year would be to start earlier and give them a wider time frame for pulling wax.

ED: Louise, could you talk about the SEEDS OF GOLD program in Zambia that you are interested in near Livingston, Zambia?

LE: This is an effort to reforest the depleted lands near Livingston Zambia through the use of Honeybees. By using bees as pollinators, trees get pollinated and multiply to create biodiversity and economic development for communities. There is a wonderful book that talks about the importance of trees written by Meg Coates Palgrave called “ Learning Our Leaves.”

ED: So it is safe to say that trees and bees go hand in hand and both are needed to create biodiversity and a strong eco environment.

LE: Absolutely.

(Louise Edsall has personal conversations about the plight of the honeybee with individual students studying apiculture. 9000 young students have passed through her classes)


LIVING HIVE: Sculpture Pick up Date   Monday 07/11/2016


Removed Sculptures from Stephanie Lessard Pilon Hives; Roger Williams Hive; Mark and Sue Bennett’s Hive; Mike Roger’s Hive and Lance Hardcastle’s Hives.


Stephanie Lessard Pilon Interview (SMSC, Front Royal, VA)

ED: Stephanie, tell me about your early spring experience with your apiary and your sculpture part.

SLP: I did not feel I was much affected in Front Royal by the rain and felt the spring flow of Tulip Polar, Red buds, and

wild Flowers, was stronger than ever and enough for the bees. Usually they are fed in the early spring but I refrained from doing this because they seemed to have an adequate amount of food. I had to travel unexpectedly so was forced to leave my hives alone more this spring than what I would normally do. But I was not worried about the sculpture because I had the Queen Excluder in place and knew that no brood would be laid on the sculpture because of it.

ED: How many hives did you bring through winter?

SLP: I had five hives but my fifth hive was very weak and did not make it. I should have killed the queen and combined the hive with another but I could not bring myself to do it. I split the others and created three more in May. I experienced a lot of swarming.

ED: Swarming is when the hive gets too crowded and the queen leaves, taking half the colony with her. Those left in the hive create “Swarm Queens” and these Virgin Queens depart on a mating flight and then return to lay worker brood and build the hive back up again.

SLP: Yes, the rain did not impact the Flow so much this spring out in Front Royal but it did impact the ability for the Virgin Queens or Swarm Queens, to be mated well. It rained all day, every day. I removed the plastic cover from the sculpture fairly early on because the condensation worried me. It is very bad for a hive to be damp. In fact, it is perhaps the single most problematic scenario that can affect a hive that is weak.

ED: So, apart from removing the plastic mold from the sculpture piece, are there any other suggestions on changing the format of the present sculpture prototype for the spring of 2017?

SLP: Yes, I have been thinking a lot about it. I believe if I participated next year I would start splitting my hives much earlier to promote and accelerate the numbers of the worker bees in the hive. And possibly feed them a solution of one part water and another part sugar. I would prefer that the sculpture forms be hollow and light. Perhaps 3D printed forms would be better suited than the plaster forms. The plaster forms seemed difficult for the bees to keep cool. They just wasted so much energy just to cool it down. I would also like the space around the sculpture in the super to be eliminated. Too much space accelerates swarming but it also makes it difficult for the bees to kill the wax moths that try to enter the hive later in the summer. There is too much for the bees to combat.


Ángel Cabrera (Interview Not Conducted but dialogue constructed from websites and promotion materials)

George Mason President Angel Cabrera’s residence has a research site with hives, and the bees reside on the property of the provost’s residence, as well. Students enrolled in the program manage these hives and collect research data. In 2014 Ángel, Beth Cabrera, including their children, made room for nearly 60,000 honeybees and 4 hives at their home the Mathy House. It has a wooded area and a nearby stream, which provides a nice spot for bees to buzz around on their two-mile food foraging.


“I love Mason’s Honey Bee Initiative,” says Beth Cabrera. “I was very concerned a few years ago when I read that honey bees were disappearing. So personally, I am thrilled to be involved in a project that promotes their preservation.”


“I think the initiative is wonderful for Mason because it makes a positive contribution in so many areas, educating students about not just beekeeping, but sustainability and entrepreneurship, and raising awareness in the community,” Beth Cabrera says.


“Our son loves honey,” says Beth Cabrera. “He could eat a jar a week! So he thinks having an endless supply of honey in the backyard is pretty cool.”


German Perilla Interview (GMU Fairfax, VA)

Every two years in Bogotá, Columbia, the AGROEXPO fair brings together national and international agricultural industry leaders. Beekeeping experts attend in order to promote their brands, sell products, learn more about the newest beekeeping technology, and network. German Perilla is especially interested in learning about stingless bees.

New Century College faculty member German Perilla travels through Peru, Colombia and El Salvador meeting with local indigenous communities as they explore different methods for bee keeping. In many cultures, bee keeping can be an important contributor to the local economy, providing valuable incomes and encouraging local residents to protect natural areas where bees live. German works with community members to develop bee-keeping practices in line with local resources.

One of these communities is the El Bosque coffee plantation residence located in El Socorro, northern Colombia. The goal of this training is to provide community members with the knowledge and skills needed to develop and manage their own honeybee hives, providing additional sources of nutrition and income to the community.

German developed a training program with the hopes that the information could be shared in neighboring communities using a train-the-trainer approach. The initial work began with 18 women from 18 different families, assigned to different working groups based on their home’s proximity to others. Mentors and community leaders were identified and assigned specific tasks. German distributed ten sets of bee handling equipment among participants, and after individual instruction and mentoring, achieved the goal of leaving ten installed hives in the community.

Future plans in the El Bosque community include more advanced training for keepers of Meliponas and Apis bees, the development and implementation of socially responsible bee-related industries, training in environmental sustainability, decision-making and program administration. Ultimately community leaders and mentors will share this information and training with other households and communities, so that others have additional sources of income that are environmentally sound.

German noted that specifically training women to keep bees and manage any bee-related products offers them additional educational and income generating opportunities that they may not otherwise have. German will leave Colombia and travel to Santa Clara, El Salvador where he will work with other communities interested in beekeeping.


Louise Edsall Interview (Fairfax, VA)

Louise Edsall said she had a “Bee Runway,” this spring (2016). The bees would leave the hive to collect pollen and then get caught in a downpour.


“My dog discovered a massive amount of them on the grass, just clinging to the blades of grass. Bees cannot fly in rainy weather. We had a very wet spring… almost 21 days of solid rain.”


“Bees are interesting and we have used them as a social model for centuries. I am reading a great book at the moment addressing the social implications of beekeeping. It is called “ Bees Across America” and talks about how the bees beat the expansion settlers to the West coast. Interesting tales of how the native Americans knew the settlers were coming because they were always preceded by their ‘White Man’s Stinging Fly’. The Jamestown settlement in Virginia documented how they applied the honey bee social model to their communities: ‘He who does not work does not eat. Conversations about this set of ethics and discussing the plight of honey bees with individual students studying apiculture drives my practice.”

(Edsall is proud of the fact that about 10 000 young bee students have passed through her classes)



Stepanie Lessard-Pilon Interview (Front Royal, Va.)

Dr. Stephanie Lessard-Pilon, Assistant Professor of Conservation Studies at the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation has broad interests in human impacts on ecological communities and biodiversity loss, combined with a drive to improve science literacy and education. This has led to a passion for conservation education and a strong interest in citizen-based science.  She is an avid beekeeper and manages the SMSC/SCBI apiary.  She is interested in the connection between land management strategies and pollinator distribution, abundance and diversity, and enjoys engaging with diverse audiences about wildlife conservation issues.

“I did not feel I was much affected in Front Royal by the rain and felt the spring flow of Tulip Polar, Red buds, and wild Flowers, was stronger than ever and enough for the bees. Usually they are fed in the early spring but I refrained from doing this because they seemed to have an adequate amount of food. I had to travel unexpectedly so was forced to leave my hives alone more this spring than what I would normally do. But I was not worried about the sculpture because I had the Queen Excluder in place and knew that no brood would be laid on the sculpture because of it.”



Roger Williams Interview (Culpeper, Va.)

Former President, Roger Williams of the Central Maryland Beekeeping Association

Advocated to get a MD bill passed in 2016 labeling a class of pesticides, neonicotinoids, as harmful to bees and to restrict sales of the chemicals to commercial and agricultural applicators.

The Maryland Pesticide Network pushed for the Pollinator Protection Act in 2015 after nearly a decade of concern about bee deaths as reported here last year. Many beekeepers and scientists believe that the use of neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides now common in both agriculture and home gardening, is killing bee populations in Maryland and elsewhere.

Neonicotinoids are not as toxic to humans and other mammals and birds as some other classes of pesticides, but they are lethal to pests such as aphids, which prey on garden plants. Bees ingest the neonicotinoids as they seek pollen from crops and flowers and the poisons enter their cells. The bees can’t break them down and soon die. Without worker bees, the queen can’t maintain the hive, and the colony collapses. (Rona Kobell, Bay Journal, Dec, 7,2015

Wayne Esaias, a NASA scientist who was past president of the Maryland Beekeepers Association, said neonicotinoids is only part of the problem. But, he said, if the state passed the Pollinator Protection Act, it should also add more provisions for better enforcement. Beekeepers, he said, need to know what chemicals are being sprayed, and where. “Right now, we have no idea how much is being sprayed, when it’s being sprayed and how it’s being sprayed,” said Roger Clark Williams. “Nobody’s required to turn those records in.”

Esaias and Williams said they have both lost large percentages of bees in recent years. In addition to pesticides, they blame the change in landscape that has meant more crops grown in a monoculture, and a society that is in general less tolerant of weeds, wildflowers and anything that is not perfectly manicured.

Beyond Pesticides, May 27, 2016) – Thanks to the hard work and efforts of beekeepers, environmental groups, scientists, legislators and activists, Maryland is the first state to pass legislation through its General Assembly that restricts consumers from using neonicotinoids, a pollinator-toxic pesticide. Earlier this month, the state of Connecticut also passed far-reaching legislation aimed at protecting pollinator populations from these toxic chemicals.

The Maryland Pollinator Protection Act (Senate Bill 198/House Bill 211) will become law without the Governor’s signature. Supporters had feared a veto from the executive office, but as a result of overwhelming pressure from beekeepers and activists, Governor Larry Hogan (R) allowed the bill to come into law. Under the Act, consumers will not be permitted to buy pesticides that contain neonicotinoids starting in 2018. Certified pesticide applicators, farmers and veterinarians will be still be allowed to use neonicotinoids.


Mike Rogers Interview (Ringgold, Va.)

Natural things grow around my hives and this makes them a little more excluded from the neighbor’s yards. There is lots of Queen Anne’s Lace and wild flowers but the rain impacted the growth of everything and most things bloomed early. The cold snaps did not help either and I had issues with a hostile hive so I drove 20 miles South of Danville, near Yanceyville to pick up new Queen cells. But then those queen cells started hatching on route and about three emerged but I got at least five virgin queens placed successfully in the hives after they hatched. Normally putting cells in works better. We get our bees from South Carolina or Georgia normally but the Queens are not the best because there is too much stress being placed on the bees by those that raise them for the market. It’s a shame really.


I belong to the VPI Stuart Sutton Master Gardener group. We are trained volunteer educators and work within our local communities to encourage and promote environmentally sound horticulture practices through sustainable landscape management education and training. Plantings for bees are crucial. As an educational outreach component of Virginia Cooperative Extension, the program brings the resources of Virginia’s land-grant universities – Virginia Tech and Virginia State University – to the people of the commonwealth.

I also bribe neighbors with honey to get them to stop using pesticides.


June/ July I extracted honey that crystalized real fast. I got to extract some honey and let the bees clean the supers. Honeydew, Sumac, and Goldenrod produce honey that crystalize quickly.


As far as my suggestions concerning the sculpture part we worked with in the hives down in rural Virginia: “ I suggest you leave off the plastic parts around the sculpture… there was just too much condensation and then fungus will start to grow and then you are in trouble. I would switch to a metal extruder rather than a plastic one. Just easier for the bees to squeeze through and more gentle. I think it could become more integrated in the hive and the dead space around the sculpture could possibly hold more frames. Hell, I say lets give it another go. It’s a strange thing to ask a beekeeper to put a chunk of sculpture in their beehive but its kind of interesting to see what the bees make of it.


Sue Bennett (Chatham, VA.)

Down here in Pittsylvania County we always have problems with bears, pests and weather in our apiaries. Since the 80’s verroa has gotten worse and we try to manage our hives without using pesticides. But the more hives we have the more difficult it gets. But, as a retired nurse, I feel the most important thing to remember about beekeeping is to keep a wary eye on the misuse of pesticides. But because my husband Mark and I work with beekeepers and have to sometimes put in orders for pesticides to maintain a handle on bee-health, we do not want to take a political stand one way or the other. Pesticide use and when as well as how to use it is fraught with misunderstanding and miscommunication. It is important to know exactly what you are trying to accomplish and then find the best possible way of doing it.


Beekeeping, for me, is like meditation; the quiet, the land, and the bees. What other of earth’s creatures has so much to offer us – for our health, our sustenance and our enjoyment? To keep bees is a lesson in community, organization and leadership.


Patsie New (Ringgold, VA.)

Beekeeping compliments my passion for gardening. I would like to see more individuals have hives on their personal property, and local associations promote awareness, mentoring, even community involvement.

This was a difficult summer to put the sculpture in the hives and my bees were not doing very well. They did not weather the winter well.


Lance Hardcastle (Chatham, VA.)

Mike Rogers taught me how to raise bees. He is a family friend and had the patience to show me what to do being a young beekeeper. I lost my first three hives but got one through the winter and that is the one we put the sculpture part in. Two years ago I had a hive that left the queen. She was just in there wandering around without any bees around her. It was totally weird.

I have gotten stung fourteen times under my beekeeper veil. I tried to commune with the bees – tried to be a “bee whisperer” once by working the hives without a shirt…that did not go over very well and I got stung real bad. But I am getting a little more confident working with them now. Mike gave me a nuke last year.

I have always been interested in bees and was first exposed to them at elementary science fairs. When you work with bees there are always tangible results and this interests me. It is problem solving of a different kind working with live insects.

I am working for the Institute for advanced Learning and Research this summer. It’s a project on testing specific reactions of organisms to drugs. I am working with bacteria and isolating and extracting organic solvents. Testing extracted compounds. It is a bacterial and fungal test.

For me personally, I feel that beekeeping needs to be less industrial and more done on a smaller private scale to keep genetics strong. The large industrial farming stresses the bees and their offspring is often weak and deformed and useless. We need to respect the bees and not force them into extremes. We have to keep in mind that there will always be a cause and effect to what we do.

As a young beekeeper my biggest trouble is investing time in my apiary practice. Mike often fusses at me about this. It is like playing a musical instrument. You have got to practice often and you have to focus on it. I enjoyed watching the results of what the bees did in the sculpture and I liked how my bees created the most wax comb even though I only checked on them once to remove the plastic cover. They sure did have their own interpretation of that sculpture.

Betsy and Rusty East (Chatham, Va.)

On our White Oak Meadery website we state the way we feel about keeping bees. : “A love of country living has led us back to the family farm. A simple lifestyle; raising a vegetable garden; picking wild berries and plums; planting pecan and apple trees, and tending our bees keep us connected to the land.”

We are farmers and beekeeping is a business for us but we don’t use pesticides and we don’t fiddle around with our hives too much. We have too many hives and to little time to fiddle around. I don’t have to go into the hives every day to know which ones are doing well and which ones are not doing ok. You can tell by the entrance and by comparison and you learn over time what to look for.

Betsy could not participate in the sculpture project because she had hurt her arm and I was running around(Rusty)but when you put that one piece made in Lance Hardcasle’s piece near our hives after we harvested our honey they cleaned that pieces from top to bottom. Sucking up every drop of honey.