Burning Man

Black Rock City, Nv

(Installation Collaboration)


Day 12: Burning the bee


“The thing about an epic adventure is that it is only an adventure if it is given the room to unfold with surprises and unexpected twists and turns. I believe it is all in there with The Good of the Hive – excitement, struggle, people, places, laughter, spirit, wonder and love. The thing about a true adventure is that you are following it, not the other way around. It unfolds. The 50,000th bee is way down the line and the shifts are in the now. This way of life changes you… and I believe it changes those it touches as well. It leaves in the wake of experience solid evidence that change is possible - I have a front row seat to it every day. Blank walls are filled with color and life while the things that no longer serve the mission must be let go. The paintings somehow turn walls into windows. New ideas are sealed in the paint like the healing propolis around the cracks in a hive. 

I have had to let many things go in order to survive on this journey with any kind of sanity. For the first four years of this adventure, I didn’t even realize I was identifying with a suicidal bee! I’ve told the story hundreds of times. When a bee feels sick, she will exit the hive and fly off into the abyss for ‘the good of the hive.’ It is where the name of the organization came from. A suicidal behavior was actually linked to the name of this organization! Bees take this action because they are hard wired to understand that their immune system is collective. The health of the individual bee is based on the health of the collective hive, not the other way around. That discovery is what changed me. Our immune system is collective as well, but we rarely act like it. The connection with that bee and that behavior launched The Good of the Hive. She sparked a vision and mission in me that 4 years, 25 murals and over 5250 bees later is poised to create real visible change. I will be grateful to her forever. I’ve even tattooed her on my body! But I realized at some point this summer that I was identifying too strongly with a suicidal bee. I was starting to lose energy and feel burnt out. Art and environment are still low on the totem pole of value in this world. I battle daily against resistance and insurmountable odds to keep this organization going while painting 8 hours a day - often in 90 degree heat. I’m not complaining, I love this work with every fiber of my being. I’m just putting in pixels that I am human and I am not just living 6 weeks like a bee. I have a marathon to run. So at Burning Man I literally and symbolically burned a bee that had been signed by all of the collaborators on the Bee Divine Hive Temple. That old idea of the bee… the suicidal one was blessed, thanked and offered to the fire for change. She served valiantly and will be my Helen, the bee that launched 1000 shifts, forever. But it is time to make room for a new bee and a new phase of this adventure. As always, I look to the hive for that inspiration.” - Matt