bee-havior

Walking down Comm Ave this month, you'd find it hard to miss the massive beehive in the window of BU's 808 Gallery. On display through March 30 as part of the new exhibition "System: ECOnomies," the hive is the physical focal point of Festooning the Inflatable Beehive, a conceptual art project created by local artists/activists/beekeepers Maria Molteni and Colette Aliman.

"Our perspective is trying to get people to ask more interesting questions about bees and environmentalism," says Molteni, an artist-in-residence at the South End's Samsøn Gallery who has studied with radical beekeepers across the country. In conjunction with the show, she and Aliman have organized a free Apisocial Saturdays lecture series, which kicks off on February 9 with three talks covering "everything from honeybee genetics and waggle dancing to sacred geometry and sexuality related to Apis mellifera."

An art gallery may seem like an unconventional space for discussions on insect behavior, but Molteni maintains beekeeping is as much an art as a science. "When people are trying to learn beekeeping, they often try to get the facts down like a science, but you really can't do it," she says. "Bees are very, very mysterious and unpredictable." With Valentine's Day looming and a talk called "Love Stings" on the agenda, we tapped her for a few facts on bees' sex lives.

Learn more at festooning.wordpress.com/events.

DID YOU KNOW?

MULTIPLE PARTNERS
A hive's lone queen bee mates with about 15 drones — male bees — at a time. Fertilized eggs develop into female worker bees; unfertilized eggs develop into drones.

DYING 4 LUV
Every time a queen mates, the male bee dies. "Their penises explode," Molteni explains. "She holds their sperm for three to five years. She has enough to continue laying eggs."

VIRGIN BIRTH
Making up about 90 percent of the hive, worker bees are "undeveloped female bees," says Molteni. "They can instinctively develop their ovaries if the queen's pheromones fade, and they can actually give virgin birth."

  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Art, bees, Maria Molteni
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