The Telling of the Bees Telling is a recent, non-fiction animation based on the ancient folk belief that stresses the importance of notifying the hive about significant matters of the day.  

It may be that the custom of telling the bees of a death originated in the idea that the bees were ‘souls,’ or that they were creatures who could fly up into the heavens from whence they had come. The custom is very widely spread; we find it all over Central Europe carried it, and the first allusion to it can be traced to classical times. – Hilda M. Ransome from The Sacred Bee in Ancient Times and Folklore 

I created The Telling of the Bees Telling, a short, stop motion animation about the Telling of the Bees folk phenomenon specifically for Hive House, a community center and private residence in Echo Park, Los Angeles. The animation explores the non-phenomenal grey area between what historically has been considered a folk belief and meaningful cross species communication. The animation is composed of archival media, early slide specimens from the American Museum of Natural History, and hand-drawn elements with an original score by experimental composer, Melissa Grey. Grey includes sine waves, singing bowls, and her field recordings of honeybee hives from a friend’s farm in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. The musical material, based on 432 Hz tuning, includes frequencies the bees emit during different phases of their existence. She ordered these frequencies into hexachords, a musical scale of six notes with a half step between the third and fourth steps. This sonically alludes to the hexagonal construction of beehives.

Note: “A Telling, Singing, and Blessing of the Bees” was held at Hive House, Los Angeles on June 5th, 2015. The event premiered an animation by Nicole Antebi, a folk concert for the bees with Emily Lacy, and a blessing of the bees ceremony led by Kate Purdy.

Additional screenings of The Telling of the Bees Telling:

Silverado Film Festival, Santa Ana, CA: September 26th, 2015

College of the Redwoods, Eureka, CA: October 20th, 2015

Animation Spectacular II at GAZE Film Series via ATA, San Francisco, CA: October 30th, 2015

Vanishing Point Art House Productions, Jersey City, NJ: March 3, 2016

Official Selection Green Screen Environmental Film Festival, Trinidad and Tobago: November 1-12th, 2016 

Official Selection Factual Animation Film Fuss, Whitechapel, London: Friday 30th September – Sunday 2nd October, 2016

Official Selection Croydon International Film Festival, London UK, 2016

Official Selection New Filmmakers New York, Courthouse Theater Anthology Film Archives, New York, NY 2017

The Telling of the Bees Telling published in Joaap Issue 10- a Non-Cartography of Life and Climate Change


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