The queen, the workers, the drones, the glyphosate, the human pollinators and the RoboBees... The Mother Beehive is calling. For the first issue of their new editorial project, Yana Abrasheva & Zahari Dimitrov (editors and graphic designers based in Sofia, Bulgaria) are looking for your contributions.

The shape of the flower is “an idea of what the female bee looked like to the male bee . . . as interpreted by a plant… the only memory of the bee is a painting by a dying flower.” Once embraced by living buzzing bees, the flower is a speaker for the dead.
— Donna J. Haraway, Staying With the Trouble
The open call aims to draw up on biodiversity problems within the agricultural industry as well as speculate about possible solutions. The theme for the first issue will be pollination and the global bee crisis in relation to agriculture.

Some topics that inspired this open call include: 

  • The problem of uninhibited use of pesticides and loss of biodiversity due to mass agriculture (destroying habitats in favor of huge mono-plantations) 
  • Imagining seasonal and local produce on a smaller scale, and is not intended for export. 
  • The decline of bee populations due to the contemporary lifestyle and its impact on crop development. 
  • The disappearance of old crop strains, either by natural ways, genomodication or due to pure lack of efficiency and desired flavour. 
  • Exploring the energy demands surrounding the hyper-globalized agricultural practices. (Why do we see tangerines from South Africa coming to The Netherlands, or garlic travelling all the way from China?)
Cherimoya hand-pollination demonstration, 1941, Orange County Archives
The open call concentrates on realising the first iteration of a series of publications. Each touching upon different aspects of bionomics, which is the study of organisms and their relation to the environment. In recent years the honeybee has become the favorite, darling animal of eco-capitalism, quickly taking the spotlight from the Save the Dolphin and Whale campaigns of the previous century.
Lorsch bee blessing (lorscher bienensegen) manuscript, 9th century
The growing crisis of bee health has shone a spotlight on the problems facing pollinator populations in many parts of the world, the worrying implications for agriculture and ecosystems, and some of the risks of pesticides. (In 2017, the Netherlands entered the list of the five countries with the highest use of glyphosate within Europe. Glyphosate with the common use name of roundup, produced by Monsanto co., is the most used herbicide ever. It contains chemicals that target and damage enzymes in bee guts, making them highly susceptible to deadly infections. Thus being one of the main perpetrators causing the precarious state of global bee-population.) Insect pollinators of crops and wild plants are under threat globally and their decline and eventual extinction could have extensive economic and environmental consequences. Their survival is hindered by anthropogenic pressures – including land-use intensification, climate change, and the spread of alien species and diseases.
For honeybees almost any flower with pollen or nectar will work – they are more interested in the nectar than the pollen. On the other hand, native bees are specialists that only go to particular flowers. They are the ones in danger. Due to globalization and monocrops far from their native lands, the human labourer replaces the native bee. A person can pollinate 5-10 trees a day, depending on the size of the trees. In some instances, farmers paid their human pollinators $12–19/person/day, if they paid them at all.
“My oldest ancestor was found encased in amber, while my most “ground-breaking” predecessor started its existence in a Harvard Lab. Now our colonies have increased by one species — the robobee. The robobee is a mechanical pollinator. At first we could not understand why this change was necessary, however with time I saw that my fellows started dying and dying and dying.”
Along comes the RoboBee, a high-tech drone developed by a research robotics team at Harvard University. It is a bee intended to replace overworked and poisoned biological pollinating bees as they become more and more diseased and endangered. This chain of developments shows that there is a vital need to connect escalating bee-related advocacy with struggles to confront industrial capitalist agriculture.

Open call for anyone working with related topics and formats—texts, illustrations, photography, moving image, audio, past or ongoing projects. Send to: Deadline: 12 June 2023

Robobee Harvard University, 2007

The open call is funded partially to cover the production costs of the publication. Our idea for this years editions is to be a nonprofit publication, therefore we cannot offer any monetary compensation to the participating artists. We would like to send two copies to each participant.The first edition will launch at KOOP Gallery in Sofia, Bulgaria in mid-July where it will be available for free to the public. We will also distribute it to different bookshops in Europe. The publication will be printed at Slopi Kopi, a riso studio located in Sofia which is a daughter organization of KOOP Gallery. Instagram: @slopi.kopi @ko_op_sofia

Cover Image: Image from page 78 of "Luther Burbank, his methods and discoveries and their practical application; prepared from his original field notes covering more than 100,000 experiments made during forty years devoted to plant improvement" (1914)

99-million-year-old amber excavated from a mine in Myanmar College of Science, Oregon State University, 2020