Hybrid Art

Anerkennung - Honorary Mentions

The Intelligent Guerilla Beehive

AnneMarie Maes (BE)


The Intelligent Guerilla Beehive is a bio-art installation on the edge of art and science. It evokes issues of sustainability and biodiversity, giving viewers an artistic experience of my ongoing research related to the disappearance of the honeybee. Bees are bio-indicators. They reflect the health of their surrounding ecosystem as well as the cumulative effects of different pollutants. In many industrialized nations bee colonies are now threatened. Pesticides and parasites are among the main factors, but equally worrisome is air pollution and the compromised state of the bees' foraging fields.

The Intelligent Guerilla Beehive is a radically new beehive designed for urban environments, offering a shelter to swarming bee colonies, and thus supporting pollination by the bees and protecting the biodiversity of their foraging fields. It has also been a starting point for exploring possible futures through artistic research on materials science and biotechnology. Navigating between a blueprint and a proof of concept, the Intelligent Guerilla Beehive is an artifact for the future, a fragment of a world to come. It tackles a new challenging application domain where a collaboration between human and non-human actors is necessary to maintain the resilience of the system.

The Laboratory for Form and Matter - an Innovation Lab where I research raw materials collected and produced by the bees - is the follow-up of my former fieldwork carried out in The Bee Laboratory. With custom-made observation beehives, augmented with monitoring technology, I have collected huge datasets on bee behavior and analyzed them using deep-learning algorithms in cooperation with researchers from the Artificial Intelligence Lab of the University of Brussels (VUB). In my lab I work with a range of organic components, including propolis and chitin, and with living systems, such as fungi and bacteria, to help Nature grow fabrics. I research how these biofabrics can be supplemented through embedded electronics and how more sensorial qualities can be implemented in the membranes via living technology.

The Sensorial Skin - the outer membrane of the Intelligent Guerilla Beehive - is a smart fabric that integrates a mix of organic and electronic elements for sensing and actuating, for computation and for communication. Bacteria living in the upper cellulose skin act as biosensors. When they sense a specific degree of pollution, they change colors and make patterns that reflect the environmental threats. The double-sided skin, waxed at one side and covered with a pattern of porous stomata on the other side, also gives room to beneficial bacteria to attack the bees’ natural enemy - the Varroa destructor mite.

The Intelligent Guerilla Beehive is a speculative research project that combines in a radical way smart materials, biomimetic forms, and biotechnology. It is inspired by the intelligence, complexity, and self-organization of bee colonies as Super Organisms.


AnneMarie Maes

AnneMarie Maes (BE) is an artist and a researcher. Her work includes sculpture, photography, video, installation, and public participation. Her research practice combines art and science with a strong interest for DIY technologies. Many of her installations and long term projects (such as the Beehives Project, Urban Corridors or the Laboratory for Form and Matter) use biological, digital and traditional media, including live organisms, and they have been exhibited worldwide. She uses technological mediation to search for new forms of communication with the natural world, to make the invisible visible.

Artist, concept, research, materials research, design & fabrication: AnneMarie Maes
Supervision of bacterial experiments: Nuria Conde Pueyo
Digital modeling: Joeri Bultheel
Supervision of digital fabrication: Anastasia Pistofidou
Support received from the art laboratory OKNO (BE), Fablab Barcelona (IAAC, ES) Made@EU (EU grant via IAAC), Green Fablab (IAAC, ES), JRC-Joint Research Center EU (sections Science and Technology/citizen science and Public Health and Safety) (lspra, IT), Ministerie van Cultuur van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap (BE)