Keeping Time Is Easy With Our ‘Bee Clock’

Orange Council

By Orange Regional Gallery Director Bradley Hammond

Did you know that the new public artwork ‘Dancing with Bees’ on the side of the Civic Centre on Byng Street keeps real time?

‘Dancing with Bees’, Zanny Begg, 2024. Sugar Bag Bee/Austroplebeia Australis performed by local dancers Paityn Klaare and Lylah Maunder.

The top screen tells us the hour and the bottom screen shows the minutes.

If you look closely you will see a flashing brighter dot around the rim of the top screen indicating the current hour and a brighter dot around the rim of the bottom screen indicating the minutes. So the exact time of this photo was 11:49am.

Over a 24-hour period a different bee specimen appears in the top screen and slowly rotates for each hour.

These extraordinary images of bees include 11 native bee species and the European honeybee. There is a different bee for each hour. Each was photographed by the artist Zanny Begg from the vast Insect and Mite Collection located at the NSW DPI Biosecurity Unit in Orange. Each image is assembled from up to 200 separate photographs using macro photographic equipment.

Through this artwork the artist reminds us that bees are a vital, and fragile part of our ecosystem and crucial for food production in our region. She also highlights the diversity, variety and beauty of the bee species that surround us. Scientific research shows that bees communicate with each other through dance-like movements when they return to the hive, sharing important information such as the direction and distance to food sources.

The dancers in the lower screen present a creative response to the bee in the top screen. Different dancers perform in response to each bee every hour of the day and night.

The movements and costumes were choreographed to echo and interpret the movement, colours and pattern of that bee.

The dancers include young and emerging dancers from the Central West of NSW alongside leading dancers from across Australia. Local production team Little Image Co filmed the dancers in the Orange Civic Theatre in late 2023.

Zanny Begg professionally engaged all of the dancers as well as the local videography team. She majority-funded the project through grants that she secured from Creative Australia and Create NSW. Additional funding from a NSW Government Arts and Culture Infrastructure Grant awarded to Council for Public Art projects also ensured that the project could be realised.

/Public Release. View in full here.