Madame Dolittle: The Beespeaker Project

"Messages for the bees are passed along the subconscious pipeline, shifting them from one person's dreams to another until a memory becomes a daydream related over a cup of steaming tea at breakfast." - Yolanda Doolittle's Journals, 1916

"Through meditational exercises focussing on empathy and intuition, scientific minds can be opened to channel information that up until now has been impossible to receive and comprehend. I designed my beekeeping millinery as an amplifonic aid for this process." - Ibid.

Who Will Tell the Bees? Telling the bees is a tradition dating back to Medieval times, where a member of a community was designated as a messenger to visit the apiaries to relay to the bees significant events in the lives of the community nearby. It is still thought by some farmers that when a beekeeper dies someone must inform the hives of her death and introduce them to their new keeper. It has been observed that failure to report the beekeeper's death will cause the bees to swarm.

"Marriage, birth, or burying,
News across the seas,
All your sad or marrying,
You must tell the bees."

- Celtic Wisdom

The Beespeaker Project is a site-specific interactive performance in Victoria Park, downtown Regina. Performance-based artist Lori Weidenhammer will channel Madame Doolittle, a time-traveler who uses her scientific knowledge and extra sensory perception to communicate with honeybees. During her residency in the park I will install a tent in the shape of a bee skep. The tent will act as a physical point where messages are posted and communicated to and from the bees.

Yolanda Doolittle was a little-known Edwardian theosophist who developed a unique body of research into an area of science that continues to be a hotly researched topic: honeybee communication. As well as creating a system of notation for a language that combines human phonetics and musical notes with the buzzing and humming sounds of bees, Doolittle developed a number of inventions for communicating with honeybees, including the Auditory Hive and Beespeaker Milinery. She was a friend and contemporary of Hugh John Lofting, the author of the famous Dr. Dolittle books.

Lori Weidenhammer is a performance-based artist, originally from Cactus Lake Saskatchewan, who now makes her home in Vancouver. In her piece called The Weidenhammer Wunderkammer she traveled to disappearing prairie towns in the Artist Run Limousine. In her latest work she is creating new interfaces for humans to interact with the natural and supernatural realms.

"People who are ardent fans of avian species all called "birders." They become obsessed with identifying and observing birds, and many strive to see as many different species of birds as they can in their lifetime. I'm hoping that this project helps create a group of hobbyists who feel the same way about bees and other pollinators. If we study their behavior and monitor their health we can learn to be stewards of pollinators and protect this vital part of the preservation of wild habitat as well as our wild and domestic food crops." - Lori Weidenhammer June 23,2006

"I am of course concerned with the spiritual health of the earth. I believe that what you call "hobbyists" should be a form of a community of worship. This would be people concerned with the spiritual telegraphing of messages so that the history of folklore or so-called "vulgar intelligence" is passed on from the people who used to speak to insects and have now passed on to the spirit world. This information is not lost, it is merely waiting for us in a spiritual holding chamber until the time we are ready to receive it. The first step towards receiving this information is to believe it is there." - Madame Dolittle

Madame Dolittle would like to hear from you! Have you had a notable bee sighting today? Do you have a good bee story? Do you have any special messages for the bees? Whether you suffer from and seek relief from anxieties, ailments, sorrows, lost objects, or simply wish to share the gratitude of your recent joys, Madame Dolittle will pass your messages onto the honeybees, bumblebees, and other enlightened insects: beespeaker@gmail.com