Global Bee Photography Project
Museum of Entomology, Gainesville, Florida
Museum specimen collections possess answers to some of the largest questions we currently face as humans, regarding how we understand our planet and the threats to its biodiversity. However, most people will never have the opportunity to peer inside these enigmatic drawers. My project opens these drawers to the public, exposing their contents in order to disseminate knowledge concerning insect pollinator identification and conservation.
Over the past decade, insect pollinator populations have been declining at an alarming rate. While the message continues to spread concerning the crisis of the European honeybee, honeybees are not the only pollinators facing detrimental decline. Several native bee populations, as well as other pollinators, face equally challenging circumstances. Insect populations are an indicative species, meaning; the status of their health denotes the health of our own eco-system at large. Degradation and loss of habitat, pesticide misuse and disease and pests all contribute to the steady decline in populations. As does the industrial scale of our agriculture, whose vast monocultures depend upon these pollinators, while offering little in the way of forage or nutrition (food deserts) to sustain any bee population throughout an entire season.
My project involves photographing the Hymenoptera Collection in the Museum of Entomology, located in Gainesville, FL. As a storehouse for some of the largest entomological collections in the world, this museum is an invaluable, untapped resource, whose contents speak to the biodiversity of our planet, including its threats.
This particular museum’s collection is unique in that it represents the archive as still evolving, as a system in flux. This project draws upon the fundamental nature of the museum as a catalyst and a hub, a place connecting resources, people and ideas. Just as the hive acts as a nucleus, a host for the super-organism and a central storehouse where valuable resources are exchanged. An accessible collection breaks down language barriers, allowing for more collaboration to take place on a global scale. As these collections become available to a wider audience, new ways of engaging the public can emerge.
As we make an effort to listen and draw closer to the natural world, I believe we can gain new perspectives. Karl von Frisch, the Austrian Ethnologist so clearly stated, “For often nature reaches her goal by another path, where man cannot see his way.”