"Beeism: Visualizing Bee Hive Activity" by Anjana Padmakumar

Visualising Bee Hive Activity

Functioning as a “superorganism”, a honey bee colony can contain thousands of individuals whose intricate behaviour results from a shared genetic background and sophisticated social signals conveyed through multiple communication channels. (Bozek et al. 2021: 123); Vital natural processes that affect the environment are oftentimes not visible to the naked human eye. With the catastrophic effects of climate change looming closer, it becomes essential to visualise the unique processes of the natural environment to understand the needs of this complex ecosystem. This project attempts to study the change in bee hive activity at different periods of the year by visually translating it to a format that can be universally understood. Since this data set is particularly complex and nuanced, it is important to communicate this information with both integrity and precision, without loosing the intriguing beauty of this intrinsic process. The change in Bee hive weight over a period of a year was used for this visualisation. The visualisation makes it easier to understand the differences in beehive activity with respect to different seasons through the year - with winter typically showing a decrease and spring showing an increase in activity. This project hopes to communicate the beauty and vitality of these occurrences in our environment by bringing people closer to concepts that is otherwise hard to imagine. 

Student Bio

Anjana Padmakumar graduated from Loughborough University in 2015 with a bachelor's degree (Hons) in 3D Design: New Practice.  Originally from India, she studied and worked in Singapore and London, with experience in the advertising industry. Her experience in multi-cultural environments has affirmed her belief that design is a language used to create objects that reflect the value and purposes of any society. Spanning different mediums and different forms of expression through making, her current practice lies at the flux of Data and Design. With her master's education, she uses her work as a medium to talk about current world issues with the understanding that interdisciplinary intersection creates depth in the visual communication of complex information. This project was part of the ART571 Graphic Design II Studio Course, led by Professor Huiwon Lim, in Spring 2021, and was supported by the Apes Valentes Award Program

Data sources: Bozek, Katarzyna, Laetitia Hebert, Yoann Portugal & Greg J Stephens. 2021. Markerless tracking of an entire honey bee colony. Nature communications 12(1 ). 1-13. 

Data from: Center of Pollinator Research, Penn State University [Funding by a USDA-NIFA-AFRI (#2018-67013-27538) to C.M. Grozinger.