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The Umwelt of the Forager: 
on bees, pheromones and bacteria

The workshop -the Umwelt of the Forager- will be studying the biosemiotics of the beehive & its ecosystem. The workshop will be organized as a DYI BioLab: the starting point is the role of pheromones and the important task these signifiers play for the communication in the beehive and for the relation of the bees to their ecosystem.
The focus of the workshop-lab will be on learning & sharing knowledge by asking questions & discussions. Participants will be sensing the ecology of the beehive and interprete the emergence of symbols. They will be detecting the granularity of waves formed between bacterial signals and the signs emitted through invisible (bio)technologies. In several hands-on sessions the microbial sphere in and around the beehive will be studied under the microscope. Participants will prepare agar plates to culture bacteria and spores that they collect at the intersection of places, called the Umwelt of the Forager (bee). They will ‘design’ with bacteria and reflect upon shared habitats for bees and other micro-organisms.

Day 1:

- introduction to the Intelligent Guerrilla Beehive project, introduction to the functioning of a bee colony and the relation of the honeybees to their Umwelt.

- prepare agar plates and introduction to DIY swabbing kit
- we will make swabs of the ecosystem and put the results to culture in the petridishes, to study them later under the microscope.

- we will collect plant samples from the local ecosystem to study under the microscope, to understand the relation of the flowers and the bees.
Day 2:

- introduction to samples of biomaterials (microbial cellulose, bioplastic, bacterial designs).

- inoculation of cotton fabric with bacteria (Janthinobacterium lividum) to make a personal bacterial design; make the agar plates and make the LB-food for the bacteria

- microscopic study of local plant samples.

- drawing blueprints for Shared Habitats and fix them with bioplastic in a petridish

- Jacob von Uexküll: the Umwelt, the personal ecosystem
- Karl von Frish: bee dance, communication
- Barth: flowers and bees
- dyeing with bacteria
- possible futures, speculative stories
- grow your own beehive

Bee Agency Album

introduction to the Intelligent Guerrilla Beehive Project
photodocumentation of the experiments executed through the Intelligent Guerrilla Beehive project

building knowledge: constructed ecosystems

The developments in biotechnology and their impact on society. The ultimate surveillance is DNA, which is in itself a form of encrypted archive. Not only can it be used as a storage medium for information, but it also implies ethical questions as in the age of synthetic biology the boundaries between natural and artificial life are increasingly dissolving. Lynn Hershman reminds us that technology is never neutral, so everybody should have the instruments to understand it and decide how to use it. antibodies, Lynn Hershman Leeson

microscope slides
dark brown brood comb:
The detritus of brood rearing:
The eggs of most bees are soft and pliable. They are covered with a membranous, translucent, and flexible material called chorion.


… Bees use a diverse community of bacteria to turn fresh pollen into a long-term food store. They need a range of bacteria to help them fight off infectious diseases, and also the bacteria can act as a preservative for bee bread within hives. Without a diverse microbiome the bee bread can be more vulnerable to mould, causing a food shortage for the hive… Honeybees are struggling to get enough good bacteria

Working with living material / transformations, metabolic actions.
Creations knowledge, bacterial quarum sensing, biofilms.
Natural processes, raising awareness about non-human p.o.v.
Aesthetical aspects of the process, political aspects (collaboration, alternatives, out of the box, …)

research on propolis
The composition of propolis varies from hive to hive, from district to district, and from season to season. Normally it is dark brown in color, but it can be found in green, red, black and white hues, depending on the sources of resin found in the particular hive area. Detailed analyses show that the chemical composition of propolis varies considerably from region to region along with the vegetation. In northern temperate climates, for example, bees collect resins from trees, such as poplars and conifers (the biological role of resin in trees is to seal wounds and defend against bacteria, fungi and insects). “Typical” northern temperate propolis has approximately 50 constituents, primarily resins and vegetable balsams (50%), waxes (30%), essential oils (10%), and pollen (5%).

list of materials

I will bring:
- agar powder with nutrients for petri plates
- LB powder for bacterial growth on fabric
- Janthinobacterium lividum, bacteria
- inoculation stick
- autoclave bags for sterilisation
- tape for sterilisation
- cotton or silk fabric for bacterial design
- swab sticks
- small portable microscopes
- biofabric samples
- dead bees for study under microscope
- smells: wax and propolis, kurkuma and ground coffee

provided by Piksel:
- lab stereoscope or microscope
- incubator (reptile eggs)
- bunsenbrander (camping)
- lab gloves (plastic)
- petridishes (diameter 9cm)
- ethanol
- distilled water
- kitchen paper roll
- pressure cooker for sterilisation
- electric stove
- kitchen bowls, measuring spoons and kitchen blender
- digital kitchen scale
- pestel and morter
- post-it's + markers
- flatscreen USB-mediaplayer
- gelatine - 1kg
- glycerine - 250 ml

piksel.txt · Last modified: 2018/11/25 08:59 by ami