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REVIEW – Punlished in Swansea’s Evening Post on Tuesday August 10, 2010

For the Bees: A Song of Will for the Bees

Swansea University

On the face of it, an event in which a choir offers a colony of honey bees comfort by singing to them might seem risible, and one could be forgiven for approaching it with no small degree of scepticism.

Remarkably, however, I found myself entranced at this magical act of reverence to a species which is, by all accounts, disappearing in vast numbers: truth to tell, I only became aware of the phenomenon from a throwaway line in an episode of Doctor Who(the “vanishing of the bees” later formed part of the story arc, and I was amazed to learn that bees were, in fact, vanishing in real life)and there was a sense in which this ethereal and ever-so-slightly otherworldly event came across as an act of empathy, comfort and an attempt to communicate with an alien species, much in the spirit of the Ood singing to the Tenth Doctor whilst he himself was losing his own life.

Doctor Who references aside, this project – put together by Owen Griffiths and Fern Thomas – was an emotionally charged and very moving homage to the bees, which had been installed in their hives in a secluded garden area at the rear of the Wallace Building at Swansea University.

The bees had already faced a threat earlier in the week in the form of a resident wasp colony, but happily the bees stood their ground and survived to experience the mystical musical soundscape rendered by a choir composed of people from the local community.

Not even the overcast, rain-threatening sky could detract from the magic of the occasion, and it is fair to say that those who attended were overwhelmed at the manner in which the piece was executed.

While this probably rates as one of the most bizarre events I have ever had to review, it will also stand out as one of the most memorable.

Graham Williams


Owen and Fern will be talking live on BBC Radio 4’s Material World about our project For the Bees this Thursday 29th July at 4.30. You will also be able to hear a recording of the bee choir singing to the bees as part of the Royal Entomological Society’s annual conference in Swansea.

If you would like to attend one of the live singing events at the hives there are a few spaces left on August 6th and August 9th, email your RSVP to

click here

click on image to enlarge. thanks to bingo boutique

Read about the different events relating to bees that are happening across the UK as part of the International Year of Biodiversity. For the Bees is amongst them.

available soon…

Coming soon…

click here to read an article that references For the Bees and discusses the threat to bees and the influx of new beekeepers in Wales…

Follow For the Bees as we tweet (buzz?) thoughts about bees, honey and hives… and also