Tomáš Libertíny Makes Honeycomb Sculptures with Bees

As the world’s most important pollinator of food crops, honeybees play a role in producing one-third of the food we eat. With assigned jobs in their colony, honeybees spend their entire lives keeping a complex hive system operating. Slovakian artist Tomáš Libertíny puts this essential work on display with his collection of honeycomb sculptures titled “Made by Bees”. After months of learning from beekeepers,  Libertíny took the artistic feat of providing a colony of up to 60,000 bees with a skeleton frame to gradually occupy. This is a process that can take two years to complete. Libertíny invites new bee colonies to create the wax cells, this process was made into a live installation where audiences could observe mother nature’s artwork in real-time. 

With a background in sculpting and painting, Libertíny explores the relationship between man and nature. His honeycomb sculptures reflect his desire to create controlled randomness and replicate the imperfections of nature. His vases and busts of golden hexagons are a result of an attentive collaboration that takes patience and support. Specific temperatures are needed for honeybees to activate their wax production glands and secrete wax. Disturbance is also a factor to consider, seeing as it can disrupt the comb-making process, prolonging the progress and even causing the bees to start all over again. These are only a few elements that Libertíny had to consider in order to sustain the healthy and thriving mutual relationship needed to make his artwork. Pivotal to every sculptor’s craft is the material used. Luckily for Libertíny, beeswax is one of the most durable natural materials. With the potential to last thousands of years without deterioration, beeswax contains a protective substance called propolis that is used as an antiseptic barrier for honeybee’s hives. 

The themes of endurance and strength seen in the making of Libertíny’s art are further highlighted by the subjects he chooses to create.  Many of Libertíny’s wax figures draw from ancient Egyptian and Roman history. Most notable of his work is a wax bust of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti. Inspired by a portrait made in 1345 B.C, this bust evokes a deeper connection between the impact of strong female figures like the queen of a bee colony and a queen of Ancient Egypt. This valuable message is further driven by the fact that the relationship between bees and humans can be traced back to Ancient Egypt, where beeswax was a prominent part of everyday practices.