Text: Miruna Dumitraşcu Video: Irene Martinez Luna INTERVIEWS
Bees. They’ve been around for millions of years, they dance, and they have the ability to recognize faces. Apparently, they even love caffeine. The queens can select the sex of their larvae. And, they’re actually the only insects to produce something that human beings eat. That sweet viscous substance that we love in our foods and drinks or all over our bodies (talking to you, Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger!). But we often forget about all the love and care that’s behind a honey jar.
To amend some of that, we had a chat with Oliver Maxwell from Bybi, the honey factory in Copenhagen. We were curious what’s the story behind the place, why are bees important and why did they decide to open their doors to other experiences, such as Low-Fi concerts. We also filmed around at the honey factory, so you can see for yourself what kinds of things go down around Bybi.
What’s the story behind Bybi?
Oliver: Wow, I have to find the short version for this (laughs). The story behind Bybi is all about how we can create a new relationship with our environment and with each other through bees and honey production. Bees are fascinating and fantastic creatures. There's no country in the world, or time in history, where bees and people haven't had a special relationship. And, we can use the ways in which bees make honey, the ways in which they collect nectar, to bring people together to change the way in which we're together and which we can interact with our environment. That's we're trying to do in this project.
How many people are involved in this project?
Oliver: In our project we're around five people full-time, but we have people joining us for particularly busy sessions in the summer. We also have projects with social housing organizations, community organizations, and we work with thirty different businesses around the city. Our principle is that for every glass of honey that people buy, you have to plant a flower and contribute to making the next harvest. We believe that honey is something we make together, and we want to make every consumer into a co-producer of honey.
"We believe that honey is something we make together..."
How come you decided to open your doors to Low-Fi?
Oliver: When Low-fi contacted us to talk about making a concert I thought it was a fantastic idea. The idea that you can use different spaces, at different times, goes along perfectly with how bees and flowers interact. So, the idea of inviting people into our factory where you can enjoy the taste, smell, the atmosphere of the unique surroundings that we have here and at the same time enjoy music, it actually changes the way we are together and our perception of the environment.
So, how did it feel like to be a host?
Oliver: In our organization we follow the seasons. What happens in the summer it's very different from what happens in the winter. And, there are times when it's quite empty in here and it makes more sense to make those times more useful. It's really very easy to move the equipment out of the way to make room for a concert and invite the community and friends into the factory. It was really great to be a host; laid back and easy. We just used the surroundings as they were and we had a really nice time.
Do you think bees like or perceive music of any kind?
Oliver: Bees definitely perceive and understand music. They're creatures that communicate through vibrations, sounds, taste and dance. Actually, the idea of a group of people in here listening to music and having a response to it fits very well the way in which the bees work.
"Bees definitely perceive and understand music. They're creatures that communicate through vibrations, sounds, taste and dance."
What kind of music do you think they like?
Oliver: I don't know if I can answer that (laughs). For bees, music is communication but communication is also emotion for them. The vibrations, taste, feeling each other bodies, tasting the honey and nectar on each other bodies, as well as the sound of their wings and clicking noises that they make when way their feet move it's not just something they use functionally, but it's also something they use to express themselves.
Can bees be considered music-makers?
Oliver: Bees are definitely music makers and actually they sing to each other. At certain times of the year you can hear different trumpeting noises, vibrations, clicks that they use to communicate very sophisticated information within the hive. So, you can consider it a kind of language, but it’s also music.
What would happen to the world if bees disappear tomorrow?
Oliver: People quite often ask what would happen if all the bees disappear. But that's the least of the problems, honestly. Right now, we're confronting a massive environmental crisis. It's not just the bees, it’s the the coral reefs, rainforest and oceans. All of these ecosystems, all of the richness of our planet are threatened by human behavior. So, the absolute number one challenge is to find a way to enrich and enjoy and explore the benefits of our planet without destroying it, and focusing on making it richer and more diverse.
Is there anything people should know the honey factory?
Oliver: Bybi is Europe’s largest urban honey producer. We have over 250 colonies across the city. Every street, every park and every window box has its own unique taste and color. Honey is really something we make together and if you come here to experience the factory you really get the feeling of how we're all together in this city with the bees and other insects, and animals.