diligent observation
yorkshire sculpture park. 2011

The exhibition Diligent Observation was the outcome of a research residency based at Yorkshire Sculpture Park throughout 2010 to study the bee populations of the Bretton Estate.
I surveyed the parkland for species of bumblebees and solitary bees and all the plants they feed on.
After setting up two honey beehives on site I shadowed beekeeper Ivor Flatman to learn beekeeping skills and observe the life cycle of the honey bee at close range.


L-R: Bombus pratorum, Bombus lucorum, Bombus hypnorum
gouache on Moleskin paper 2011

chesney bees 01
During the spring, summer and autumn of 2010 I surveyed the Bretton Estate to identify bee species found around the site. In total 9 species of bumblebee and 7 species of solitary bee were found:

Bombus terrestris Buff-tailed Bumblebee
Bombus lapidarius Red-tailed Bumblebee
Bombus hypnorum Tree Bumblebee
Bombus pascuorum Common Carder-bee
Bombus lucorum White-tailed Bumblebee
Bombus bohemicus Gypsy Cuckoo-bee
Bombus pratorum Early Bumblebee
Bombus hortorum Garden Bumblebee
Bombus vestalis Vestal Cuckoo-bee

Megachile willughbiella
Andrena scotica
Anthidium manicatum
Wool Carder Bee
Andrena helvola
Andrena denticulata
Andrena subopaca
Halictus rubicundus

Honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies were introduced into hives on the site in spring. They were originally sited at the boathouse on the lake at YSP, but are now located behind the Garden Gallery.

bee map01
bee map02

bee map03
Top: YSP Map of Bees April 2010
YSP Map of Bees May 2010
YSP Map of Bees July 2010
All ink on tracing paper (AO in size) 2010
photos of maps by Jonty Wilde

All plants that bees were noted feeding on were plotted and I collected and pressed plant specimens to mount them onto paper. Each is labelled (with date, location and any notes) and stamped (with the date of mounting on to paper).
chesney POPPY

Common Poppy Papaver rhoeas
Plant specimens on paper (A3 in size) label, ink stamp.
Series of 25, 2010
Photo of specimen sheet by Jonty Wilde

I collected and examined dead bees with the help of Adam Wilcox, forensic entomologist at the University of Central Lancashire.

chesney bees 03

chesney bees 02

chesney boxes
Top: digital image of bee wing
Middle: digital image of bee wing
Inspect. Wooden boxes, LCD screen, veneer. 2011
Each box 30 x 36 x 18 cm

During the research period I read the book The Feminine Monarchie or A Treatise Concerning Bees and the Due Ordering of Them: Wherein the Truth Found out by Experience and Diligent Observation by Charles Butler published in 1609. It wasn’t until 1586 that the head bee in a hive was recognised as a female, and it was Charles Butler who was the first to publish this news in his book. I was most intrigued by his visualisations of queen bee voices in the book.

chesney sound
During the residency at YSP I spent hours in front of the bee hives recording the sound of the bees and then transcribed the noises onto paper.

bee 2
06.07.10 drawing through carbon paper onto paper

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