Over the past decade, Toronto-based artist Ava Roth has been making art with some unusual helpers—bees. While it sounds unconventional, this inter-species collaboration explores the relationship between humans and nature. Wooden frames with collages and embroidery are embellished with an abundance of golden honeycomb, highlighting the beauty that can come from this partnership.
Roth relies on organic and local materials for these unique pieces, such as foraged wood, birch bark, foliage, and horsehair. “This work begins in my studio with the creation of encaustic collages which are suspended in embroidery hoops,” Roth explains. “The hoops are then fixed to custom-made Langstroth hive frames, and placed inside honeybee hives where thousands of bees embed the work in comb.”
As her project has developed over the years, the designs of these frames have become more intricate. Sometimes, the bees fill circular spaces left in the wood, while other times they are given rectangles and even more abstract shapes. The natural look of the honeycomb—which sometimes spills over into Roth's handiwork or escapes the frame—makes these works look alive, as though they are a part of the environment.