At the beginning of the month, Broadwindsor published a Happy Easter post with this beautiful image crediting Ernesto Murguia with how in June 2020, an artist published on Twitter saying her parents are beekeepers and they sent her this image from a fellow French bee keeper. Such a beautiful image understandably went ‘viral’ on the internet – but not for the first time. It has now come to light that the image is not a hive created entirely by bees. The story of this image, of bees, an artist, the National Trust, a folklorist, in South Africa and more… Many thanks to Steve Byrne for his research and the thread on Twitter.
A post from the UK’s National Trust back in 2015 claimed to be the original source of the photograph.
After the image had been shared thousands and thousands of times, someone on Twitter challenged the National Trust, but they confirmed it was real:
Then, as it begins to circulate again, a bee keeper named Brian Fanner replies to the National Trust:
Brian then proves this by sending his post from 2013:
The inquisitive Steve Byrne then addresses both the National Trust and Brian Fanner on Twitter – the National Trust did not respond but Brian Fanner did! He sent Steve this image –
with the following words:
“The things that come up are really funny from how bees have “artistic sensibilities” to bees creating that shape “to increase airflow”. I’ve seen companies using it in their websites and so many claiming it came out of their hive somewhere in the world.
I used this board, routed in the slots… a rush job I’ll admit… waxed in some foundation strips into the slots and screwed inside a deep langstroth hive lid and stuck it on the hive. The bees made do best they could…”
Brian continued, “The lines are slots into which a foundation wax with the comb pattern on it can be placed…secured with melted beeswax. Normally…a sheet…to guide the bees as to where to build. So they just come across this weird pattern of foundation strip and start building onto it. After that they just fill it out best they can. It’s a simple manipulation.
The bees are Capensis. The honey was most likely early season succulent type plant called a ‘vygie‘. [mesembryanthemums]. Even @Pinterest use this as the cover image for ‘bee art’“.
“I called the image ‘a sweet heart‘ dedicated to my wife…per the very first post of it on my Facebook page in 2013. We scraped all the comb off the board, strained out the wax and consumed…not a very practical artwork to keep.”
So it is possible that the National Trust‘s social media person got it wrong in 2015 – the image would appear to have been around since 2013.
Steve commented: “It seems to have travelled to many countries & the story has been told and retold. As a folklorist, the giveaway was in the “beekeeper forgot the frame” wording. It kept coming up again & again. That is classic folklore, where a memorable snippet repeats and is passed on. And that, folks, is what we call Internet Folklore, where stories spread and change quicker than ever, and involve communities of people experiencing a simple yet heartwarming tale.”
He concluded: “The thing to take away? On the internet, search behind what you see. Don’t take things at face value. Don’t let your “aww” gene get in the way of thinking, hmm, is this for real? Because there are people out there who seek to use such kindly human instincts in unkind ways.“
It’s still a delightful story. The artwork was made for his wife and they ate it together 🙂
You can download Steve’s full thread in a readable format HERE.
In 2011, Brian Fanner was profiled on social media as keeping bees and was “a smallholder in the Hopefield district of the Renosterveld” in the Western Cape province of South Africa. He was also mentioned in publications as a bee keeper.
In 2014, Brian, with his brother Mark started making their own electric Ukulele’s, based on the southern tip of Africa, and out in the countryside to boot, they became expert in-sources. They pretty much make everything themselves. They also have an office in Cape Town. To learn more about them and their rocking Ukuleles – Click HERE.