Bee goes on an adventure

Yay, guess what? It’s time for bee to go an adventure! No, I’ve not started writing children’s books, nor have I lost the plot. It’s time to tell you all about the next chapter in mine and Jenn’s (of Somerset Cool) Fifty Bees art project.

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As you all know (because you’re always glued to your phone for updates from Jenn and I, right? ;) ), we were chosen to be one of the fifty artists in the wonderful Fifty Bees III art project. As part of this, each artist is given a bee to respond to in an artistic way. Well, Jenn and I have chosen to put the paints to one side and we’re doing something a little different…

Our response is a collaborative one. Jenn will be recording a folk song with Jac Husebo, getting it pressed on to vinyl and I will be designing the record cover. We’re all very excited and even more so because we’ve been given our bee. Now hold on to your seats because our bee has quite the name. Are you sitting tight? Ok, here goes. We’ve got the White-jawed Yellow-face Bee! Now if that isn’t a name for a bee then I don’t know what is.

Having clearly never heard of it before we started to do some research. At 4.5 - 5mm it’s teeny tiny (my kinda bee) and it has a fancy pants Latin name: Hylaeus Confusus. Being a rebel (I can neither confirm nor deny this), it’s not your typical cartoon yellow and black striped bee. It looks like this…

 The female White-jawed yellow-face bee. Photo by Steven Falk

The female White-jawed yellow-face bee. Photo by Steven Falk

 The male White-jawed yellow-face bee. Photo by Steven Falk

The male White-jawed yellow-face bee. Photo by Steven Falk

Definitely not your typical looking bee, right? But I rather like the fact it isn’t.

Now, while we were digging through the books and archives (cue: Jenn and I mopping our brows as we dig through dusty old manuals in beautiful rustic library ;) ) looking for clues that might give us an angle for the song and record cover, we hit a bit of wall. There was little to be found. But like this tiny but mighty bee, we didn’t give up. I carried on researching from my hood in South-East London and Jenn continued from her home in Somerset. It was then that the phone went. I picked it up (though let’s be honest, I didn’t break my neck running to answer the phone, it was already in my hand; I’m sure I was doing something really worthy, like retweeting pictures of cute dogs). Anyway, a very, VERY excited Jenn was on the other end. She had news.

She’d decided to “just have another Google” and see if we’d missed anything, and lo and behold, a talk had just been published online. It mentioned our bee. And the news doesn’t stop there. Not only had we got more deets on ol’ Hylaeus Confusus but the article directed us to one of the bee’s locations and this was the bit that made Jenn get all shiver me timbers. Me too if I’m honest.

Miss White-jawed Yellow-face had been spotted in the Rhondda Valleys, close to where Jenn’s Dad was born but more specifically, it’s been sighted in the old Coalfields that cover the very mines that Jenn’s Grandad used to work in. Not only has Jenn never been there but she’s never seen the street nearby where her Dad, a former professional singer, grew up. Now how is that for interconnectedness (the very essence of Lydia’s Fifty Bees)? It’s like six degrees of Kevin Bacon, only it’s Hylaeus Confusus, not Kev ;) You’re shivering now, aren’t you and this time it’s not at Kevin?!

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This weekend, Jenn is heading off on an adventure into her family’s past to see the Coalfields for the very first time. She’s also meeting up with Entomolgist, Liam Olds. Now, why would she do that I hear you ask? Good question! Liam has founded the Colliery Spoil Biodiversity Initiative – a not for profit project that aims to raise awareness of the bio diversity value of colliery spoil tips, to try and change often negative perceptions of these habitats. Only recently did he give a talk about this, mentioning our bee. This weekend, he’s very kindly showing Jenn around the Coalfields and telling her more about our strong little bee.

Right now, I’m a big bundle of excitement and curiosity, while I await news and updates from Jenn. Not only because this is a crucial part in how Jenn writes the song but also how I design the record cover. Although, my brain is already a buzz with an idea, which ties this wonderful interconnected path together. I can’t wait to share more, so do pop back soon.

P.S. If you want to see pictures of Jenn’s Dad in his former musician days and find out who he sang with, check out her ace blog post :)