Bees are amazing for a number of reasons: they are key in pollination, they make honey, they greatly benefit biodiversity, and some even say that whole economies depend on them.

Well, bees just got that much more awesome, as they can now also be called artists after becoming a part of Tomáš Libertíny’s (with whom Bored Panda got in touch) latest creation—a bust of Nefertiti that was created by a whole lot of worker bees just doing their thing—creating a honeycomb.

Bees are pretty good at sculpting honeycombs, but ever wondered how’d they fare with actual busts?

Image credits: Titia Hahne / Studio Libertiny

Meet Tomáš Libertíny of Studio Libertiny, a Slovakian artist currently living and working in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, who creates art to explore the beauty and intelligence of nature, probing into the existential questions of the human mind, studying the relationship between man and nature.

For the past 2 years, Libertíny has been working on one of his latest projects—a bust of Queen Nefertiti of Egypt that he called Eternity. Except, instead of going the traditional route of using more conventional materials for sculpting, like clay or metal, he chose beeswax.

Artist Tomáš Libertíny worked together with bees to create a Nefertiti bust called Eternity

Image credits: Titia Hahne / Studio Libertiny

Well, more specifically, it wasn’t beeswax as in processed wax and that’s not all, no, he got a bunch of bees—about 60,000 of them, to be precise—to help him. Yep, what you see here is an all-natural creation made by bees, with a little structural guidance by Tomáš.

So, what happened is he designed and built a 3D frame of a Nefertiti bust, which looks cool as it is, but then he employed some bees to start building a honeycomb around it. The framework was specifically designed in a way to provide structural integrity and streamline the bees’ honeycomb design.

Image credits: Tomáš Libertíny / Studio Libertiny

“I was interested in working with beeswax because the idea of the ephemeral was very appealing to me. Everything is momentary. Some things linger on longer than others but eventually disappears (both metaphorically and physically). One of such tragic objects is a beeswax candle,” explains Libertíny the origins of the idea.

“I was intrigued by its archetypal form. It is strictly guided by the the way it works. Beeswax candle is for me the best example of pure design. Absolutely nothing is styled about it. Everything about it is a science of keeping the flame burning. The physics (and chemistry) of a candle is beautifully complex and simple at the same time.”

He created a 3D model that he later got over 60,000 bees to create a honeycomb around

Image credits: Kunsthal Rotterdam / Studio Libertiny

“The ‘Made By Bees’ project started in 2005 as an experiment in ephemerality of objects and consequently in co-cooperation with nature. I wanted to push the envelope of what is possible in terms of creating art by removing myself from the “hammer and chisel”. Artists are usually only limited by their tools and skills—not their imagination. Similarly, I was limited by my lack of understanding of bees and nature actually. I was interested in the idea of architecture harnessed directly from nature. The more you understand it the more you can guide it. It was and is a spiritual journey. Working with honeybees teaches you kindness and patience but most importantly that everything is interconnected. Having said that, I have never met an arrogant beekeeper.”

The Nefertiti bust was in progress before it was first shown in Kunsthal Rotterdam in the summer of 2019. It was set up as a live installation where visitors could see it being built by bees in real time. It wasn’t until the end of 2020 that the bust was finished and showcased in the Rademakers Gallery in Amsterdam.

The whole creation process took two years from start to finish

Image credits: Titia Hahne / Studio Libertiny

“The bust sculpture is based on the 3D model of the original portrait of the Egyptian queen which was crafted in 1345 BC and sits now on permanent display at Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. The real bust of Nefertiti is shrouded in mystery as to its originality and plenty controversies surround its rightful ownership.”

“The process of building the “new queen” took an incredible 2 years to complete. It is almost a testament to the strength and timelessness of the “mother nature”. We have a ancient story of character as a powerful female reigning against the odds. The queen and her husband Pharaoh Akhenaten were famous for abandoning the polytheism of ancient Egypt and introducing Aten, the sun god, though unsuccessfully. The beeswax sculpture is making the connection to the “mother nature” more tangible as well as transcendent. I chose Nefertiti because I wanted a materialize a symbolic queen for the colony. There are not many women in history that have both the fame and the face associated with their name.”

“It is a testament to the strength and timelessness of ‘mother nature’ as well as its ancient character as a powerful female reigning against the odds.”

Image credits: Rademakers Gallery / Studio Libertiny

As Libertíny explained, there are many challenges in creating a sculpture like that: “First, nature itself is ever changing in weather patterns and the limitations of the surrounding flora (and fauna) have to be taken into account too. It happens sometime that beeswax sculptures take several years to finish. I always work in close collaboration with professional beekeepers with whom we make adjustments to the process.”

“Also, sometimes, the objects are overbuilt in one place but not completed in another. I have to guide the building growth like you would with a bonsai, slowly string the workflow into places where you deem ideal. It is very much like that.”

“Second, the final result is always a surprise as it is not something you can completely predict like you would with traditional crafting techniques. It happens that I have to look at the finished piece for a couple of days in order to appreciate it fully. Nature itself offers you its own interpretation of your plan. It is humbling and exciting in the same time.”

Image credits: Rademakers Gallery / Studio Libertiny

Now, this is just one of many of Libertíny’s beeswax creations as there’s an entire Made By Bees series. Before this, he also built Unbearable Lightness, a full statue of a human, The Honeycomb Amphora, which is exactly what it sounds like, and a number of other honeycomb-inspired works.

The Nefertiti bust will still be on display in the Rademakers Gallery, and seeing as lockdown restrictions may apply, your best bet will be checking out Tomáš’s artwork in their virtual tour around the gallery.

Check out a video of the creation of the bust in action

We also asked Tomáš about his future plans. He had this to say:

“Regarding the portraits, it is no secret, as a matter of fact, within my inner circles that I am quite vocal about my dreams. For a long time now, I have been contemplating to approach Morgan Freeman to create a series of portrait sculptures at his bee sanctuary. I would love to make a portraits of men and women from the present rather than past.”

“I want this project to be more about the time we live in now. We all secretly wish to live forever so why not turn the attention to celebrate what we have now. History is already immortal. I would love make “made by bees” Gal Gadot just to name one.”

“In terms of the ‘made by bee’ series, I am really into architectural scale installations. I think artistic, sculptural and architectural implications are magnetizing. We are now working on a pavilion ‘designed by bees’. For some specific aspects, I think they are better at computing than some current architectural software out there.”

“We have recently started two bee farms dedicated but not exclusive to making my sculptures. One in Slovakia and one in the Netherlands in Rotterdam on the property of Lakeside Collection which will be open for public visits by appointments. Educating the public is one of the goals.”

Alternatively, you can check out more from Libertíny on his website, Facebook, and Instagram.

The Nefertiti bust isn’t his first “Made By Bees” creation as there were many other projects

Image credits: Tomáš Libertíny / Studio Libertiny

Image credits: Tomáš Libertíny / Studio Libertiny

Image credits: Tomáš Libertíny / Studio Libertiny

Image credits: Tomáš Libertíny / Studio Libertiny

Image credits: Tomáš Libertíny / Studio Libertiny

Image credits: Tomáš Libertíny / Studio Libertiny

Image credits: Tomáš Libertíny / Studio Libertiny

Image credits: Tomáš Libertíny / Studio Libertiny

What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comment section below!