telling the bees

Role: Principal Investigator
Timeline: 1 Apr 2015 – 31 October 2016

The Telling the Bees project (AH/M009319/1 & AH/M009319/2 ) was a multi-institution, interdisciplinary Connected Communities-funded project (Apr 2015 – Oct 2016) examining the rich folklore, traditions and contemporary practices of beekeeping. This was a collaboration between universities of Edinburgh (Maxwell, PI), Sheffield (Pillatt, Co-I) and Falmouth (Downing, Co-I) and project partner Tay Landscape Partnership. We were joined by Designer Liz Edwards (Lancaster University), Artist Morvern Odling (Edinburgh), and an advisory group.

The project worked with Scottish beekeepers, primary schools, storytellers, artists, designers, scientists, interested members of the general public, and our community partner, Tay Landscape Partnership (TayLP). Inverting the concept of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), we aimed to codesign ‘Future Folklore’ that codified or repackaged scientific and environmental knowledge in new artefactual and narrative formats. Future Folklore is closely aligned with the emerging field of Design Fictions – a way to explore possible future narratives through designed objects, enabling new perspectives and conversations on present and near future issues.

Project activities revolved around two broad themes: (1) using knowledge of the past to enable new perspectives on the present and future of bees and beekeeping, and (2) exploring the roles that making and storytelling can play in bringing groups together to generate and foster ideas.

We adopted a Research through Design approach to understand and discover knowledge through the process – even our project meetings were highly participatory, using making as a way of thinking with paper-prototypes and craft materials.

Read more: www.tellingthebees.buzz/prev-work
Funded by: Arts & Humanities Research Council (£53K)