Hivecubator is a hive-based incubator designed to care for living tissues grown in-vitro, specifically for a human-honeybee chimeric cell.
Inspired by research that suggests the conditions inside a beehive are similar to those inside a research-laboratory incubator (Seeley, 1974),Hivecubator utilises a beehive’s ability to produce heat and self-regulate CO2in order to double as a surrogate body of care. However, a beehive is a dynamic superorganism, and the necessary conditions for caring are always in flux, a situation that underscores the precarity of life and conditions of hospitality broadly.
The form of the Hivecubator is inspired by the Ancient Egyptian Temple of the Sun, the site of the first known representation of beekeeping. For the Ancient Egyptians, bees were a divine species and an interlocutor between the sun god Re and all forms of life on earth.
Ultimately, by looking deep into both our collective past and collective future, Hivecubator seeks to explore more extreme forms of interspecies-hospitality in response to the current global honeybee crisis.
Special thanks to IAS, Perth City Farm, SymbioticA, Katherine Wilkinson, Rod Hughes, Dean Wood, Mark Thompson, Rob Cameron, Sarah Brooke, and Tiff Bates.
Hivecubator 1.0 was largely inspired by the DIY incubator work of Andrew Pelling during his residency at SymbioticA, and attempts to extend the DIY incubator concept by exploiting a beehive’s ability to self-regulate CO2 (Seeley, 1974) and Heat (Stabentheiner, Kovac, and Brodschneider, 2010) to analogous conditions needed to grow mammalian tissue in-vitro.
Hivecubator was commissioned by the Kenpoku Arts Festival, and was created in dialogue with Tissue Culture and Art (Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr), and their project Compostcubator. Both incubators were installed together as part of the collaborative installation Vessels of Care and Control. During the Kenpoku Festival, the beehive was regularly inspected, and at one point attacked by native bee-killing wasps (Vespa mandarinia japonica), underscoring the inherent complexities of care, control, hospitality, and hostility when dealing with living systems.
Special thanks to Watanabe Apiary Co., Ltd., Satoyama Yado Tokiwaji, Suwa Pottery Studio, Devon Ward, Yukiko Shikata, Hirofumi Nakamoto, and Aruma Toyama.
Incubator prototypes Hivecubator (left) and Compustcubator (right) .