As if bees aren’t busy enough making honey, now they’re making necklaces, too.
Jewelry designer Kelvin Birk, who’s long been intrigued by the little buzzers, decided to enlist their help for his latest collection. He placed silver shapes in a live beehive and watched some 50,000 industrious insects construct honeycombs on and around the metal.
Months later, the silver and honeycomb has become jewelry that’s wearable, if breakable and potentially sticky. Some pieces drip honey, and the wax honeycomb cells gradually melt away.
“This is all part of the concept of the transience of our world,” said Birk, co-founder and director of London’s K2 Academy of Contemporary Jewelry. “Nothing lasts forever, and we have to be careful with our natural resources.” His Honeycomb jewelry spotlights one such resource, honeybees themselves. Their pollination is key to the global food supply chain, but they face threats including climate-change-related habitat loss, disabling pesticides, parasites and deadly diseases.
The Honeycomb collection includes two rings, two pendants, a necklace and a brooch, each a distinct shape-shifting wearable sculpture that resides somewhere between jewelry, fine art and performance art. Over Zoom from his London studio, Birk displayed several of the pieces, including a ring adorned with a wide honeycomb slab that stretches across four of his fingers, and the brooch, a silver rectangle with an 8-inch hunk of honeycomb hanging from it.
“This is insane,” one Instagram commenter wrote of the jewelry, with others on the platform calling it beautiful, fantastic and sensual.
Birk, who’s originally from Germany, has lived in London for 30