The Political Beekeeper's Library (2015)


The Political Beekeeper's Library is an effort to collect, organize and activate books where parallels are drawn between how bees and humans are socially and politically organized.

The Political Beekeeper's Library includes around thirty titles. Broadly the books in the library reflect a historical development in which there has been a change from the bee society being described as a kingdom to the bee society being described as a democracy. Key books in the library are: History of Animals by Aristoteles (3th century BCE), in which the bee society is described as a monarchy with a King bee; The Feminine Monarchy by the English beekeeper Charles Butler (1609), which was among the first publications where the bee society is described as a monarchy with a Queen bee and not a king; and Honeybee Democracy by the American sociobiologist Thomas D. Seeley (2010), in which the bee society is described as a democracy where worker bees make decisions together.

Here is an introduction to the library by Caroline Malström at Art Lab Gnesta.

The Political Beekeekeper's Library at Art Lab Gnesta 2015

[Above left: Presentation of the The Political Beekeeper's Library at Under tallarna in 2015. Above right: Exhibition at Art Lab Gnesta in 2015.]

The exhibition at Art Lab Gnesta included The Political Beekeeper's Library as well as a video where Cornell professor, biologist and beekeeper Thomas D. Seeley explains how honeybees use swarm intelligence to make the critical decision of which new nest site to pick. This decision-making process is explained further in Seeley's book "Honeybee Democracy" which is included in the library. The exhibition also included reproductions of scientific illustrations from books in The Political Beekeeper's Library. These illustrates aspects of bee communication, bee decision making and bee neurobiology. The library at Art Lab Gnesta was furnished with furniture made in the 1950s-70s by the furniture designer Marita Mörck-Schultz. Karl Schultz and Marita Mörck-Schultz inheritance is the foundation for Art Lab Gnesta.

Drawings at Art Lab Gnesta 2015

In the video below Erik Sjödin explains a little about the background to The Political Beekeeper's Library (in Swedish).



The Political Beekeepers Library, Screenshot
Thanks to Art Lab Gnesta, Konstfrämjandet, Under tallarna, the participants in the Humans and Bees study circle, The Department of Neurobiology and Behaviour at Cornell University, and The Library at The Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry.