I was at the National Sculpture Park at West Bretton last week, walking along the trail above the upper lake. As you walk you have the opportunity to see a great piece of outside sculpture, which is functional and which is part of a global mission, to save the solitary bees.
The bee library comprises a collection of 24 bee-related books selected by artist and poet Alec Finlay. Once read, each book was made into a nest for solitary bees. The library of these books hang from branches of trees in the woodland walk around the lake. They have been there since 2012, surviving the ravages of the wind, rain and snow – and the bleaching effect of the sun.
Each nest consists of a cluster of bamboo canes, each with a roof made from a book.
The bluebells are out at the moment and it is a bit like walking in The Shire! You have the feeling that there may be hobbits watching you.
The bee library at the National Sculpture Park is part of a larger project to amass a hundred books over five locations, evolving into a global bee library.
For more about Alec Finlay and his bee-inspired poems, visit the-bee-bole.com
The Bee Poems are a collection of found and collaged texts derived from the books that make up The Bee Libraries. The books are converted into nests for solitary bees and a residue of their content is refined into poetry, much as honey is refined from nectar. The poems derive from classic studies from Virgil to Von Frisch, apiculture, scientific studies of bee behaviour and representations of bees and beekeeping in myth and art from ancient times to the present day. The project is ongoing, published as a series of short blogs.
And at the heart of this is the solitary bee, whose numbers are in sharp decline.