The Good of the Bee

Artist Matt Willey brings his brushes to Savannah Bee Co. as part of global mural project.

Rob Hessler

Savannah Morning News

There’s a buzz about the new Savannah Bee Company location opening across from the Enmarket Arena at 313 Stiles Ave., and it’s not just about the honey. Starting Nov. 6, world-renowned artist Matt Willey will be bringing his project “The Good of the Hive” to the space in the form of a new mural.

“It’s a global art project, where I’ve committed to hand paint 50,000 honey bees in murals and installations around the world,” he explained.

Over the past eight-plus years, the period during which the artist has been almost exclusively working on the project, Willey has created works for the likes of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoological Park and the global headquarters for Burt’s Bees, amongst many, many others. He’s over 10,000 bees into the estimated 21-year endeavor, and Savannah will be his 49th stop along the way.

‘Just one mural to raise awareness,’ but then…

But while the project has become massive in scale, its origins are much more humble.

“I was in my studio, it was 2008 in Manhattan in the East Village, and this little honey bee flew in and landed in the middle of the rug, like smack dab in the center,” he recounted. “And I got down on the floor and hung out with this little bee, because she was walking really slowly.

“I was fascinated with how beautiful she was,” he continued. “I got my magnifying glass out, and I was like, ‘These antennas, the giant eyes, the fuzziness’; there was a cuteness, like a puppy-type of thing, something I had never noticed before in my entire life about a bug.”

Ultimately the bee died, and after respectfully relocating it to its natural habitat outside for a final rest, Willey quickly got down to researching his new muse. That’s when he learned about colony collapse disorder, a phenomenon…..

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