Dan Short

“My focus for Artfulways was to track a honeybee’s route from hive to food source. Although non-native, the benefits honeybees bring to the British landscape is arguably positive. As a layman, the behaviour that got me hooked on learning more about honeybee behaviour is something called the Waggle Dance

Essentially this is how a honeybee would communicate to their fellow bees, where a food source lies geographically. It will do a vibrating dance within the hive. The dance relates to the angle from the sun on the horizon from the hive and also the distance. So if a honeybee dances at 65 degrees and for say, 0.5 of a centimetre, there is a good food source at that angle from the hive and approx 400 metres from the hive. That in itself is brilliant. But, the dance will also take in to account wind speed, whether it be a headwind, tailwind etc. The honeybee can also compensate for the changing hour, so as the sun moves across the sky, the bee can alter the angle in its brain. My attempt to ‘follow’ a bee was the walk that I tracked for Artful Ways.

The day was hot, very close to 30 degrees C. I settled in a rectangular, steeply sloped field overlooking the River Kent and estuary, with hawthorn, bramble, and hazel hedging all around, lime, beech and oak, and the open field being managed for wildflowers. I could almost hear the yellow rattle. There were hoverflies, bumblebees, honeybees and butterflies everywhere. I was very hot – but managed a handful of sketches, took some snaps, talked to some insects, and recorded my track. My final piece has developed from all of these.

Answering the three Artful questions


Creating for me is a little like physical exercise. In some similar way, because I am challenging my body, but this time my melon (Brain), not my muscles, I get an endorphin high. This is addictive. And any results tend to be beneficial, visually and intellectually. Creating gives me time to think, perhaps like meditation, and this opens up more and more rooms in my melon. 

I will always learn something about my own skill and learn about a subject I knew less about before. I’ll meet people, react to people, learn from them (and this doesn’t mean purely academic information), teach them something. I will like people I meet, find some people challenging, go to worlds that I wouldn’t ordinarily visit, and develop from all those experiences. That to me is Culture.


I’ve missed freedom. Freedom to roam with few rules and restrictions. Funnily enough, considering my choice of subject, we have been asked to act as drones, in as much as we have been asked to act in a very specific way for the common good of all. I do think that it’s made this phase of life more tolerant. I’m a more patient, slightly less judgy person in public. Beyond being more comfortable conversing via screens of all shapes and sizes, devices and apps, I’d much prefer to get back to the freedom to choose to connect in person.


HUGE question. Change the way we see profit. Factor not only financial profit, but how will the environment profit from our ventures? Express that message in our own creative activities and know that consistency and being as prolific as life allows will often pay dividends. And when it doesn’t, be strong and drop the ego. 

The 2 images are a honeybee on a bramble. And the most amazing little device to view the underworld. It’s called a currency detector. It’s a pocket microscope with both a UV light and white light. With the UV you will be able to see a flower as a bee would see it, and it is wonderful.”

I have loved doing this piece, learning about bees, and really taking time to get stuck into this painting. I would really like to thank:

  • Julia Pigott – Cofounder of Brigsteer Bee Reserve
  • Carol Rutherford – Local friendly Beekeeper and provider to my family of golden jars of wonder
  • Rob and Harriet Fraser – Instigators, Creators, and general good eggs

And for further information please go along to:


Cumbriawildlifetrust.org.uk #getcumbriabuzzing

buglife.org.uk #Blines @buzz_dont_tweet

To see more of Dan’s work, head to his website: ambitiousmelon.co.uk

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