Living installation:
Beehives, flower garden and gazebo, and the artists who take care of them/are taken care of by them
Tullisaari Park, Helsinki, Finland

Collaboration with Ina Niemelä

Sanctuary is an ongoing project and living installation, situated in Tullisaari Park on the island and south-eastern suburb of Laajasalo in Helsinki. Tullisaari is a public park, and the installation is open for anyone to see and experience from the gazebo. Our aim is to create a sanctuary for bees, humans and other animals in the midst of a fast growing part of our city.

The work started in autumn 2020, by clearing up some space for a garden in the yard of our friend and colleague Catharina Kajander, who lives in the park. In spring and summer 2021 several peonies, other perennials and annual flowers were planted and tended to. The flowers were chosen not only for their beauty, but also for their usefulness to the bees and other pollinators of Tullisaari. In autumn 2020 an existing beehive (started and tended to by Niemelä) was also moved from another side of the park to the more sunny, dry location of Sanctuary. The setup proved successful, and in 2021 the expanded hive was divided in two. In the autumn of 2021 the garden was expanded, and several new flowers were planted in 2022. Since 2021 we have arranged several events and happenings in Tullisaari, some of which have taken place at Sanctuary. We’re doing our best to help the bees keep buzzing and the garden growing, changing and flourishing in the coming years.

Bee Company at PQ23

We were in  Prague Quadrennial last June. Thanks for your visit! Here now or there then.

If you didn’t have a chance to lie on our bed in Prague, you can listen to the audio play Resting home for working women by Aino Aksenja on Soundcloud.

Works at PQ23   Bee Company

Hexagon, 2021-
Tent, Bee Company’s studio, sculpture: repurposed sails, metal frame, turned midpole

Ina Niemelä


Resting home for working women, 2022
Installation: sound piece, 15:15 min; old iron frame bed; quilt, pillowcase and eye pillow made from old kitchen towels embroidered with initials; fragrant herbs collected from Sanctuary inside the eye pillow
Aino Aksenja
Made in collaboration with the artist’s mother Liisu Vartija

Sanctuary, 2020-
Video documentation, 33:39 min &

47 documentation images, 11x15cm (can be leafed through) of
Living installation: beehives, flower garden and gazebo, and the artists who take care of them / are taken care of by them

Tullisaari Park, Helsinki

Aino Aksenja & Ina Niemelä 

Love first, 2022-
Sculpture: wooden box, beeswax of Tullisaari bees from 2020-2022, pieces of porcelain and glass found in the soil of Tullisaari

Ina Niemelä

Andrena Humilis, 2020
Terracotta vessel, Finnish red clay

Part of the collaborative project Critically Endangered Species

Catharina Kajander

Working outfits of Bee Company, stained and dyed with plants, minerals, soil etc. from Tullisaari park

Ingvill Fossheim

Instax photographs of Bee Company’s journey from Helsinki to Prague by land and sea
Aino Aksenja

Herbs and flowers from the Sanctuary garden, the journey and Prague, including:

  • Nepeta × faassenii / catmint / mirrinminttu
  • Agastache foeniculum / anise hyssop / anisiiso
  • Melissa officinalis / lemon balm / sitruunamelissa
  • Origanum vulgare / oregano / mäkimeirami
  • Salvia officinalis / sage / salvia
  • Salvia nemorosa / woodland sage / lehtosalvia
  • Lavandula / lavender / laventeli
  • Knautia arvensis / field scabious / ruusuruoho
  • Centaurea cyanus / cornflower / ruiskukka
  • Trifolium pratense / red clover / puna-apila
  • Leucanthemum vulgare / ox-eye daisy, dog daisy, etc / päivänkakkara
  • Quercus robur / oak / tammi

Rag rugs on the floor, some from previous spaces of work and of importance to Ina, some made by Aino’s mother Liisu Vartija


Gardener’s quilt, 2022
Quilt: recycled cotton fabrics, plant dyed wool
Ina Niemelä


  • market table from the happening series Laajasalo Grassroots Market (2020-)
  • organza with propolis from the hives
  • skep hat made of Kentucky bluegrass and rattan
  • tent weights of shungite and volcanic rock
  • bunches of oregano from Sanctuary garden
  • Aino’s and Ina’s gardening bags
  • vase gifted to Ina from Aino with a changing arrangement of flowers picked in Prague

Letter for the festival visitor

Laajasalo, East Helsinki, 18 March 2023

Dear reader,

We’re writing to thank you for all the support you’ve given us. It’s a good time, too, to consider how important the support and sheer existence of friends is to humans and other species. Through the ages and everywhere. 

Today we celebrate National Quilting Day, and in town people are marching for nature. Yesterday the sun shone, melting the dirty heaps of snow. I saw the first snowdrops of the year when I went to remove the mouse guards from the hives and to see if the bees were alive. I peeked into the hives carefully, lifting their roofs slightly. There was a lot of food left, and not many wax scraps on the bottom of the hive yet. From this I gathered that the egg laying has not properly started yet, which is probably a good thing. Last year one of the hives perished when the winter storage ran out during a cold April.

The garden is still asleep under the snow, but a few brave bees dared to peek out from the doorway of the hive, called out by the sun. The situation is dangerous though, as the great tits are on the prowl for unsuspecting bees. I cannot wait for the snow to melt and the tulips we rescued last summer from the park’s rubbish to sprout in the Sanctuary garden. This week felt like the first of spring, and I immediately went and bought some new flower seeds and started dreaming of sowing. One can luckily start that inside already, pregrowing seedlings for summer.

My theme for 2023 is warm, and through that I wish to do everything this Year of the Rabbit. Warmth is intrinsic to our work. Handicrafts and gardening share the same ardor: slowness and being hands on with life warm the maker, and at best this warmth is conveyed to the viewer, too. I find quilts fascinating because they are so enigmatic, layered and misunderstood. They are tolerant and abundant in their aesthetics and full of stories. Quilts are heavy and awaken strong emotions for the blankets that they are. 

This past year, feelings and relationships have often been tangled in the Bee Company. These tangles are of no interest to you and I do not wish to say more about them here, but what I will say is that all those feelings and sorrows are also present in the works. They have been sewn into the seams of the tent, and painted and sanded and repainted, dug into the earth and grown into flowers. This exhibition, however, is not about conflict and difficulty but desire, joy and unity. There’s warmth in collaboration and gathering, especially if you can gather in a garden, or in a tent if it rains. Perhaps the most important thing is working, and being, together. Or what do you think?

A few weeks ago we were planning our trip to Prague. It feels meaningful to be going to a city we visited together twenty years ago, on our first trip together, an Interrail at sixteen. A part of the work we present in the Quadrennial will be made, collected and thought about during our long trip by land and sea from Laajasalo to Praha 7 in June. The work continues during the whole PQ23, where our exhibition is slowly forming and changing before your eyes. The beginning and end of this journey are the same as the Interrail in 2003, but in the opposite direction. Something is about to come full circle, though we are not certain what it is yet. This is how we approach art making too – the route is clear, intuition carries you and you know before you know. 

I have been thinking about where to get two comfy and lightweight chairs to sit on for you and me. Is it too risky to try and find them along the way or should I scout them beforehand? I’ve also been thinking about how to pack Catharina’s huge pot and how to prepare the hives for my absence during the buzziest time of the year. I need to ask someone to check in on them and also to water the flower bed when it is dry. An exhibition is an awful responsibility and so is a garden.

But perhaps, after all, it is not what you get out of a garden, but what you put into it that is the most rewarding. And forgive me for my self-conscious ending to this letter, but let me ask one silly and egoistic question: What is my place in the world? A question frequently asked, and never, so far as I know, satisfactorily answered to me. We commonly spend our years, as long as they are given to us, getting ready to enjoy ourselves. How many hours, how many minutes do I get of that which is happiness? I do not mean laziness, which is always discontent; but that enjoyment, in which the natural senses have easy play, and the cynic thoughts and hopelessness have a holiday. There is probably nothing that has such a tranquilizing effect, and leads into such content as gardening. By gardening, I do not mean that insane desire to raise gigantic vegetables which some have; but the philosophical occupation of contact with the earth, and companionship with gently growing things and patient processes; that exercise which soothes the spirit and develops the muscles. 

I hope Prague will be good for us and that we make many new friends for the future.

With warm regards,

Ina & Aino

Mehiläisten seura: PESÄ / HIVE

Galleria Salmi, Laajasalon kirjasto / Laajasalo library


Sanctuary, 2020-
47 dokumentaatiokuvaa, 11x15cm
Elävä installaatio: mehiläispesät, kukkaispuutarha ja huvimaja, sekä taiteilijat jotka huolehtivat niistä / joista ne huolehtivat. Tullisaaren puisto, Helsinki

Sanctuary, 2020-
47 documentation images, 11x15cm
Living installation: beehives, flower garden and gazebo, and the artists who take care of them / are taken care of by them. Tullisaari Park, Helsinki

Tullisaaren retkeilykeskus, 2022
Installaatio, josta tässä esillä: Sopu-teltta ja kehystetty alkuperäinen Tullisaaren leirintäalue-postikortti

Tullisaari Camping, 2022
Installation, of which here: Sopu tent and framed original Tullisaari Camping postcard

Kesätori, 2023
Installaatio: lämpöpeitto, retkijakkara, Inan lasten Seela ja Laila Hälisen piirustukset, skep hat niittynurmikasta ja rottingista, instax-valokuva ja piirustus Sanctuaryn huvimajasta, teltanpainot shungiittia ja laavakiveä, mäkimeiramikimput Sanctuaryn puutarhasta, Ainon ja Inan puutarhakassit

Grassroots market, 2023
Installation: space blanket, camping stool, drawings by Ina’s children Seela and Laila Hälinen, skep hat made of Kentucky bluegrass and rattan, instax photograph and drawing of the Sanctuary gazebo, tent weights of shungite and volcanic rock, bunches of oregano from Sanctuary garden, Aino’s and Ina’s gardening bags

Puutarhurin peitto, 2022
Tilkkupeitto: kierrätetyt puuvillakankaat, kasvivärjätty villa

Työssäkäyvien naisten lepokoti, 2022
Osa installaatiota, josta tässä esillä: kierrätetyistä, nimikoiduista keittiöpyyhkeistä tehdyt tilkkupeitto ja silmätyyny, jonka sisällä Sanctuaryn puutarhasta kerätyt tuoksuvat yrtit, ääniteos 15:05 min.
Tehty yhteistyössä Ainon äidin Liisu Vartijan kanssa

Gardener’s quilt, 2022
Quilt: recycled cotton fabrics, plant dyed wool

Resting home for working women, 2022
Part of installation, of which here: quilt and eye pillow made from recycled kitchen towels embroidered with initials; fragrant herbs collected from Sanctuary garden inside the eye pillow, sound piece 15:05 min.
Made in collaboration with Aino’s mother Liisu Vartija

Rakkaus edellä, 2022
Veistos: puulaatikko, Tullisaaren mehiläisten vahat vuosilta 2020-2022, Tullisaaren mullasta löydetyt posliinin- ja lasinpalaset

Love first, 2022
Sculpture: wooden box, beeswax of Tullisaari bees from 2020-2022, pieces of porcelain and glass found in the soil of Tullisaari

Bee Company: HIVE

Galleria Salmi, Laajasalo library. The gallery is open according to the opening hours of the Laajasalo Library.

🌼 3-30 January 2023

Welcome to our opening on January 3, 6-8 pm.

Bee Company’s exhibition at Laajasalo library celebrates the Company’s three-year anniversary in Tullisaari park. In 2019, Tullisaari shifted from the era of trade advisor Borgström to the Age of Bees, when artists Aino Aksenja and Ina Niemelä assigned it to flowers and bees. Since then, they have served this sweet union with their art.

Aino and Ina have made the works in the exhibition in the meantime between work, studying and family life. The artworks were born of the joy and pleasure of making things with your hands, as well as the desire to be in and take care of the garden together – to cherish friendship and find time for creativity. In their work, Bee Company combines handicraft, gardening and contemporary art. For them, handicrafts reflect attitude, patience, strength and tenderness towards fellow beings, in circumstances where freedom to live a life of one’s own must be found in the midst of community and care. Life in art and gardening is passionate, pulsating, repetitive; full of disappointments and breathtaking beauty. The pleasure it gives springs from slowness, manual labor and fingers in soil. The apparent lightness and mundanity of the works is a sleight of hand.

📣Bee Company’s five-point manifesto for Laajasalo’s future:

  1. Laajasalo’s nature areas are preserved or expanded, and animal transition routes between green areas are increased.
  2. Parks are opened to city dwellers and garden enthusiasts as places where you can participate in planning, tending and harvesting. Parks become common gardens and meeting places for the citizens.
  3. More perennial urban farming areas will be established and proper water supply will be arranged for them by the city. Farming and gardening are seen as important alongside other hobby opportunities and recreational activities. Urban farming activities are developed and farmers are supported in the activity and in its self-directed organization.
  4. A service center for Laajasalo residents will be built in Tullisaari park, which will include barrier-free toilets, a water point, a break room, a garden shed and a workshop.
  5. Bee Company demands cheaper public transport in exchange for the suffering caused by the bridge construction on the island.

The Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland, Arts Promotion Centre Finland, Finnish Cultural Foundation, City of Helsinki and Finnish Oistat-centre have supported our work.

Thank you for all our supporters and friends, especially Catharina, Liisu and Henri ❤️


🕰 lördag 3.9.2022 kl 11-17 och söndag 4.9.2022 kl 11-17

📍 På Degerö, i Turholmens park, i trädgården av Trädgårdsmästarens stuga, ljust hus på backen i norra delen av parken

Birundan är ett mångsinnligt evenemang för hela familjen. Keramikkonstnär Catharina Kajander, bildkonstnär Aino Aksenja samt Turholmens biodlare och ljuskonstnär Ina Niemelä bjuder in dig i trädgården. Med oss också multikonstnär-musiker Noora Kauppila, Bins sällskap och sångare-låtskrivare Nightbird. Birundan är en del av Konstrundan-helgen, där konstnärer runtom i Finland öppnar sina ateljéer för publiken.

Vi är på plats, vår konst är på plats, kom du med!

Båda dagarna:

Turholms vilohem – Aino Aksenjas installation

Turholms campingplats – Ina Niemeläs ljusverk

Kritiskt utrotningshotade arter – del av verk Catharina Kajander är med

Sanctuary – Aksenjas och Niemeläs levande trädgårdsinstallation

Nostatus – Noora Kauppilas ljudverk

HO.5 Turholmsparken – Matt Parkers verk

Våffelkafé och honungskiosk!

Lerverkstad för barn.


Sångare-låtskrivare Nightbird (Anna-Stina Jungerstam) uppträder ca kl 15

❗️Tillgänglighet: Evenemanget är kostnadsfritt och passar alla intresserade. Parken är inte fullt tillgänglig. Det finns en gångväg i god skick till Trädgårdsmästarens stuga, men terrängen är backig och vägen i grus. Parkens parkeringsplatser finns på gångavstånd till trädgården och de är begränsade. Vi rekommenderar att komma till fots, på cykel eller med kollektivtrafik. I parken finns sommartoalett på den sydliga parkeringsplatsen. Evenemanget äger rum utomhus så klä dig enligt det.

Birundan har fått stöd från Svenska kulturfonden och Helsingfors stad.

Listening at Scale: Bee Company open residency reflections

The listening experience is not only a geographical teleportation device but a scalar one. You become reduced in size too.


June 2022

June 2022 marked the third collective gathering with Bee Company. In the summer of 2021 Bee Company initially joined together in the beautiful surroundings of the Saari Residence. In that time we explored each of our individual creative practices, methodologies and conceptual frameworks. Our second gathering took place within Tullisaari Park in the winter of 2022. During this period we considered possibilities for how we might be able to create a public tour of the park which integrated our individual practices and methodologies in an event format. The third and most recent gathering was—for me at least—an opportunity to continue an ongoing interest in exploring our individual methodologies, but also to begin to share some of our practice and interests with the public audience of Tullisaari Park.

On PQ 2023

In March 2022 we were offered to be the official representation of Finland in the forthcoming Exhibition of Countries and Regions of PQ2023 (Prague Quadrennial) festival of performance design. Since this announcement was made our collective activity has started to become shaped by the needs to produce an output corresponding to PQ2023. It has become somewhat contra to our—up to this point—iterative collective process. Our direction has started to feel in tension between imagining this concrete output of a major international festival with pavilion style exhibitions against our characteristically tempered collective gatherings and their slow collection of tributaries; ideas which branch off and reconvene with different forms. A question for the midsummer open park residency was to engage with this tension between remaining in our fluid and exploratory stage of our collective work, whilst also understanding the need to do our work –and Finland!—justice within the context of an international artistic/performance design exhibition, with pavilions, competition, prizes, pride, and artistic statements all at stake.

For the remainder of this reflective passage on my personal experience of our open residency in Tullisaari Park, I will think about my personal experience of public engagement within the project. I am interested in thinking about the possible implications of this time spent together in the park and what it might mean (if anything) for our proposal and contribution towards a festival happening 2,000km and over a year away.


The PQ 2023 theme is the RARE: art springing out of ideas, materials, artistic approaches, and design practices that connect to the human level from within your environment, with its genius loci and unique situation. Prague Quadrennial call on performance designers, scenographers, and performance practitioners to use their RARE imagination and creativity to help us envision what the world and theatre could look like in the post-pandemic future.

This was the opening of the curatorial statement for PQ 2023 in its call for applicants. I have begun to think of Bee Company as an almost nomadic collective. It is a mesh-group which forms in different configurations around the locus of Tullisaari Park where Ina cares for and maintains four honeybee hives.

The ‘roaring 1920s’ are often considered as an era of great exuberance and excess across Europe and US. Recovery from the First World War and subsequent Spanish Flu pandemic was under way and The League of Nations promised security, collaboration and prosperity amongst the member nations including Finland, who had itself become an independent republic in 1917. This boom, captured magnificently by the scenes presented in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel The Great Gatsby suggests a ‘20s of huge celebrations, parties, debauchery and entertainment. During the height of the pandemic, commentators speculated as to whether a return to a world similar to the 1920s was due. Would people be keen to ‘get out there’ and ‘party hard’, entertain and be entertained? Would the post-pandemic performance and theatre worlds resonate to a demand for exuberance, with huge shows, lights, networks, sounds, big! Bigger! Biggest!? I am also conscious that the 1920s came to a brutal climax with the 1929 Wall Street Crash. It turned out that the excess was completely unaffordable and that people had been massively over speculating based on nothing (a typical condition that recurs time and time again under capitalism).

In 2022 the global economy is on the brink and across the West inflation is nearing all-time highs in many nations, strike action is becoming increasingly frequent and the cost of living is soaring. At the same time, profits for those at the top of shareholder stakes are also at ridiculous highs. How can this be sustained? If the markets won’t crash, do workers need to revolt and force their hand?

Listening as episteme; a knowledge gatherer, structurer, codifier, and ephemerata.

The conditions of Western economics and global markets under capitalism are also imbricated within the environmental impacts it continues to contribute towards. The summer of 2022 has seen unprecedented levels of climate catastrophes, global heatwaves, droughts and fires have broken out in areas often affected, but also new areas which have not suffered before. Simultaneously a war on European land has broken out which not only has impacted the lives and wellbeing of those within the borders whose lives are threatened on a daily basis, but also the ramifications the war is having upon food and fuel supplies across the world.

It all feels incredibly heavy. It all feels like a significant weight to load upon the shoulders of six creative practitioners and four honey bee hives. Should Bee Company be responding to this global crisis? At what level can we engage with it if we do?

Our mission has always been to reflect on the precarity of the creative practitioner within the conditions of western capitalism where funding for the arts is being constantly slashed, and at risk and positions remain always temporary, precarious and subject to the goodwill of wealthy benefactors. How do we support each other? How do we support ourselves? How might we explore our practices and these conditions together, and might the world of beekeeping/the lifeworld of honeybees act as inspiration for the way ahead?

Tullisaari Park

In the park, we met each day for a four days. We would share activities together, reconnect, discuss our feelings around the presentation of Bee Company to public audiences; one audience being that of our open event in the park at the end of the week and the other an international performance art and design crowd at PQ 2023.

Each day we wore beekeeper outfits that Ingvill had bought us. They helped us assume a formal presence, a formal sense of purpose and cohesiveness as a collective. It was also really fun to be in a costume and to see the confused looks of members of the public in the park when they saw a fleet of beekeepers marching. They would look around to see if there were bees somewhere, only to be left bemused that there almost always weren’t.

My work is primarily interested in listening. I am interested in listening as an individual artistic practice, listening as a technique, method, and methodology towards approaching and understanding the world. Listening as episteme; a knowledge gatherer, structurer, codifier, and ephemerata. Spending time with conscientious thinkers, speakers and listeners is a great pleasure. We don’t just listen with our ears; through haptic tactility and proprioception, we listen with our bodies too. And on our first day, we collectively joined and explored our bodies as resonators in a movement practice set by Suvi. We each responded to the fine adjustments sensed between each other’s bodies in what became a quiet dance. No music could be heard but the bodily rhythms and pulses felt, the breathing, steps, and rustling of costumes heard.

Listening with bees

On the final day we presented some ‘experiences’ to the public park. I was a bit isolated from the rest of the group who were located in different areas of the park tending to other activities. Dressed in beekeeper suit, I was based on a path which is one of the main entrances into the park. It is also where two of Bee Company’s hives are (down a hilly bank, in a dense field).

The two hives included one Farrar hive and one Top Bar hive. A Farrar hive is a vertically modular beehive with hung frames that bees use to build comb and store honey. They are a typical and familiar aesthetic ‘box’ design that are often what is thought of when one thinks of a beehive. They are often used in modern professional beekeeping. Within this hive lives a group of Italian bees, Apis mellifera ligustica who are a popular subspecies of honeybee.

A Top bar hive is one of the oldest and most commonly used hive style in the world and looks a bit like a wooden barbecue. In top bar hives bees build their honeycombs without waxfoundation. They are less convenient for the beekeeper to manage and take care in comparison to the modular style. Within the top bar hive, a new swarm of Carniolan honey bee (Apis mellifera carnica), a subspecies typically known in the central European region, and typical in Croatia, was collected from a woman’s garden by Ina only a few weeks prior. Typically after swarming and being brought into a new hive, honeybees are incredibly active as they bring in food and resource to build out their new home and consolidate their colony. This hive was no exception. It was incredibly active.

With the assistance and consent of our beekeeper Ina, I moved two DPA 4060 microphones in a spaced omnidirectional stereo configuration along with a Sennheiser MKH416 shotgun microphone. The microphones were aimed towards the entry door to the top bar hive at a distance that would not obstruct the entrance. We laid cabling up the bank to a listening station that we set up with two small stools and attached the cables to a Sound Devices Mix-Pre 6 Field Recorder and connected a pair of headphones.

We spent some time listening to different balances between the two microphone setups and found a blend between the two, with the DPAs having a 120Hz high pass filter set on them which allowed their stereo qualities to emerge whilst the mono Sennheiser microphone offered a closeness and clarity to overall sound. My first impressions were that the bees sounded incredibly busy, even at 6pm in the evening.

What followed for the next two hours was really quite incredible. In my beekeeper suit. I would say hello to passers-by, inform them that I was listening to the sounds from a new bee hive recently introduced to the park, and invited them to join me and take a listen. I would then tell them about Bee Company, that I had friends/colleagues wearing beekeeper overalls elsewhere in the park, and encouraged them to find them too. Collectively we aimed to engage with the public and invite them to consider bee ecologies within the park. Most of the people lived nearby, many commented on having seen the hives and wondered what was happening with them. Some of the folk who stopped and listened had also kept bees at various times in the past. One young man, perhaps in his late teens, who was running past and sweating heavily, surprisingly stopped and took a long five minutes catching his breath whilst listening with deep concentration to the hives. He asked many questions about the bees. I felt a bit of an imposter. Whilst I was in a beekeeper suit, listening to bees and inviting people to take part, I am not an apiarist and my specialist knowledge of bees feels quite limited. Over the last two years of engaging in Bee Company I have definitely developed some foundation knowledge in bees that I hope make it possible for me to give accurate information when asked on the basics though.

Another person stopped and began to ask quite directly as to whether I was selling the honey or not. After listening to the bees through the headphones for a few minutes, we then began to engage into a fascinating conversation about whether honeybees are affected by the introduction of 5G wireless electromagnetic signals. The person explained how they were a smartphone user but they were cautious about new wireless signal technologies and what they might be capable of doing to small insect species such as bees. There is a great deal of research produced in particular over the past decade about the effects of electromagnetic signals on honey bees which continue to be inconclusive.

Scale effects of amplified close listening

When I listen to close microphone amplified sounds of honey bee hives, I am often at first quite shocked and slightly disturbed. The sense of being deeply immersed inside a world or vortex of honeybees is quite worrying and arguably counter-evolutionary. However, as I spend time in the intensity, becoming accustomed to it, I begin to be quite entranced and fascinated by the activity that thousands of individuals within a single species, in a single hive, can come together with a single purpose. It is not a sound that matches a harmonic scale. It doesn’t flow with sustained rhythm and meter. But the sound, as chaotic as it is, represents a community finding its way collectively through messy interchanges but ultimately working towards one ultimate goal, flourishing survival of the colony. I think this is something that dawns on people as they listen to a bee hive too. Often they are initially shocked in their response due to the intensity. After all, from the bank you can see that there are hives at the bottom of the hill a few metres away, but you cannot hear bees in any great number. The headphone experience transports the listener down the hill and to the entrance of a huge city. The listening experience is not only a geographical teleportation device but a scalar one. You become reduced in size. Reconfigured at honeybee scale, you become immersed, shocked, terrified and equally enthralled and tranced by the industry of the colony. You can temporarily inhabit the world of those bees, eyes closed, perched upon a stool. Eyes open, you achieve embodied dissonance which allows you to be at once in the hive, part of the collective, and simultaneously a surveyor of the wider scene. It is a moment where you can become aware of being truly part of something bigger than yourself. This is a rare moment for the observer. An encounter that challenges and encourages an appreciation of scale, of energy, industry and collective endeavour that transcends the values of capitalism.

A moment to listen to an encounter that fosters a scalar and temporal shift is my personal rare vision for the performance of Bee Company.

Discussion on barrier tapes around the fallen Oak in Tullisaari

112 Likes, 35 Comments

October 16th @Tullisaari Park.

A writes at

Since this fallen old oak is going to be kept in place, would it be worth building around it a more beautiful fence to replace those plastic strips? The oak will rot there for decades.

B to A: Why do you even need a fence?

C to B: It’s probably to prevent kids from climbing and adults using it as a gym tree, the branches probably won’t last🤔

B to C: The children can climb over the fence, it is not holding anyone if they wanna go to the tree. And especially those strings won’t stop anyone.

C replies to B: Yeah, I haven’t seen anyone inside the strips even though I pass by it every day, parents don’t let their kids go in there.

B to C: In my opinion, those strings are but infinitely ugly. Either let that tree rot without ugly strings or lug it away. Trees fall and die, it’s just the normal cycle. What difference does it make if someone is sitting on a tree trunk or stump. That’s what I’ve been doing since I was a child. The fact that that carcass is in the park is a problem and therefore needs to be fenced, what a life!

C to B: The tree is 200 years old natural memorial, it can’t be compared to every common Spruce.

D to C: The tape doesn’t block anything and it’s ugly. Fortunately, there are still those who understand that you can’t go inside that tape. 100-year-old oak is a rarity in Finland and therefore worth protecting even when it has fallen.

E: Interested in hearing B’s view for this. Can the age of a fallen tree be calculated reasonably? When it decays, how long will the age continue to drop? And doesn’t the decaying process involve the branches breaking and breaking? So what does age matter after a fall?

F: It’s good to have something there to show that there is still a tree that is protected.

G: Would an old-fashioned fence go better than construction site strips?

H: That’s right – those stripy strips are ruining the whole area.

I: Could I grow new oaks!

J to I: There are dozens of little oaks around the oak already.

I to J. Wauu! Nature takes care!

Q: There really could be some more beautiful ribbon or fence, as the intention is to leave the old fallen oak in place to rot.

L: Message to the city park department to go…

M: That should be done.

Photo Ina Niemelä, 27.1.2022 at 9.14 a.m.

N: The lawn in the park is a wrong place for a decaying tree. The tree was protected as it grew, there is no longer a need for protection. It could be moved away from the treated area at least, i.e. somewhere nearby.

O to N: There is a story in this fallen tree. This is not about rotting.

N: I don’t think the story will end gloriously if the tree is left to rot in the middle of an otherwise well-kept park. There is no habit of leaving trees to rot in parks. It would be great if there was a carpenter in Laajasalo who could create a lot of new objects and stories from the wood.

P to N: There may be a little surprise for these protectors and keepers, when the little one is lying quietly, it will soon darken and rot and then it will be nice really nice to look at. And when it comes to carpentry, they’re so expensive guys that there might be no market for chisels or other useful item. I had a grandfather in Hålvik who was a carpenter (pictured with Hilja Matilda) but he moved to his last workshop as early as the 1960s …… [picture of a grandfather with Hilja Matilda].

Q: Crazy. Apartments should be built here because of climate change and the crowd is coming in like never before.

R to Q [GIF where handkerchiefs are handed]

S: Years ago I picked up acorns of ‘Tullisaari’s mighty’, they spent the winter in the fridge and then moved to my cottage, where they grow and become more handsome next to the ‘shelter trees’. :. :.

T: I am in favor of sawing the branches and protecting new seedlings and soon we have an oak forests on the shore – fallen birches and electric poles should be removed though.

U: I understand it’s about nurturing nature, a fallen oak provides a livelihood and a place to live for many amphibians. The human aesthetic eye has a problem; Of course, those plastic strips are ugly. Some real anchor rope, etc. to surround the deadwood?

A: Couldn’t it be sold to a carpenter and it would continue its life, for example, as a table or chairs? The park is not a natural forest where fallen trees are left to fall.

X to V: Good idea. Most of the oak is hardwood that will decay for decades, of course, but is there a need for the resulting CO2 emissions?

Y to V: Maybe the carpenter could make something for the park or for Aino Acte’s villa. A sign next to the removed carcass stating where it has been taken and how it will be used. The branches could be taken across the road to the woods. There are other fallen oaks there as well.

V to Y: Good idea.

Z: Ping Anna Elina Nummi? 🤔 1

Å: It is difficult to estimate which one is less disturbing in the park landscape, the tree or the strips, when it is not a natural area. Both should co to recycling. Really potty decision-making from the Helsinki park department.

Ä: That there is like an ancient giant creature. Let it peacefully rot and refine local biodiversity with its thousands of little helpers who already inhabit it. Birds also benefit from them. Would the obsession with the man fixing, just about everything, give in at this point, and just let this tired giant and his many friends take care of themselves. Its progressive state could then be made into a fine nature documentary, even a study in biology! There could be fairy-tales told of ancient worlds for children and lectures on the hidden life of trees for adults. After all, this old giant has seen what has happened in Tullisaari 300 years ago! So it is not just any timber. Stories from ancient times were told alongside it. A good gathering place for stories. Let’s build around it a traditional wooden fence and a big hut where to gather for stuff..Could we be a little creative for once ..,

Ö: The yellow-red warning tape is collected for recycling and replaced with a new ribbon. The ceremony will be held during Midsummer Week 2022. Best wishes from Bee Company .

  1. Anna Elina Nummi is a project planner for the urban environment of the City of Helsinki.

In Awe of the Summer Market (a Saari journal)

Aino Aksenja 

Bee Company lived and worked in Saari Residence for two wonderful weeks in late July 2021. It’s impossible to summarise the residency in a short report, so I have decided to concentrate on two activities from our time at Saari, and how, to me, they’re inextricably linked.

The activities both took place on a Friday. On the 23rd, Marlon held a workshop in the afternoon. We were first guided through an intense meditation, and afterwards read and discussed an article by Summer Allen: How to experience more wow (Psyche, May 12, 2021). In short, the article is about the experience of awe in everyday life, and how it may be increased. Here is one of its key points:

Awe is a complex emotion that tends to arise when you’re in the presence of something vast that you don’t already understand. It heightens your sense of time, makes everyday concerns fall from view, shifts your perspective, and makes you feel more connected with the world and part of a greater whole.

We talked about what makes us feel awe, how common it is in our lives (consensus: more common than the average 2,5 times a week suggested by the article) and the possibilities for our work with the Company to inspire awe in ourselves and others. The discussion took place in warm yellow late-afternoon sunshine in front of Navetta, and afterwards the topic came up in other contexts and the conversation continued through our time in Saari.

The following Friday, the 30th, it was drizzling. We put on our raincoats and cycled to the local summer market in Pyhe, a short bike ride away. The weekly market was full of locally farmed and crafted products: everything from vegetables, seedlings and jams to woollen socks and birdhouses. A local choir made their first appearance since the pandemic started, and it seemed like the whole village and all the summer guests had gathered to listen, to drink coffee and to meet.

While wandering around the stalls and making purchases (spinach, kale, strawberry juice, two metres of liquorice, socks for Ina’s kids, a bee hotel from the birdhouse maker, wolf’s bane plants), Ina and I started talking about how awe-inspiring local markets are to us. I am deeply moved by the care and effort that goes into growing, making and selling all those things, as well as markets as meeting points and creators of community, both in the city (take Hakaniemi market for example) and in the countryside. Small everyday miracles take place in front of us all the time, if we just pause to look.

This experience of awe and the wish to share it was the starting point of our own Laajasalo Grassroots Market, that Ina and I started in spring 2021 as a part of Bee Company in our neighbourhood in Helsinki. We arranged four market days this summer: classic mead and doughnuts on May 1st, a seedling market on World Bee Day, a day off in the garden with the Company on Summer Solstice and a late summer’s flea market with new harvest honey from the prolific Tullisaari bees. The markets have been a great way to get to know more of our neighbours, and to share things we ourselves have grown and made. In short, they have been awesome. The next market will be a Christmas one, come visit us in Laajasalo in December!


Bee Company