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Gloucester is Buzzing with Hives ~ Beehives
By Zachary Loesch

     Adrian Ryder-Cook and Edwin Joseph are a married couple from Gloucester who passionately support children’s art activities, so it comes as no surprise to learn that the money raised from the sponsorship of more than fifty large beehive-shaped sculptures decorated by both professional and amateur artists from around the county would ultimately be used to promote not only children’s art but other charitable causes as well. 

     A number of individuals, civic organizations, businesses and schools have taken part in this noteworthy public art project, an effort inspired by the success of the decorated cows in Chicago or the mermaids of Norfolk, similar fund raising ventures. A beehive design is featured on the Gloucester County seal so in recent years the beehive symbol has become associated with the county in the minds of many residents, much like the daffodil. The freestanding beehive models were manufactured in Gloucester under the supervision of veteran boat builder, Harry Sindle. The models in their original condition are uniformly white in color. 

     The varied results produced by the different artists is a testimony to the design skills and artistic talents of the many people, both old and young, who have participated in this effort. One of my favorite beehives honors the memory of Dr. Raymond Brown, a local physician who practiced in the community for many years. Loved and respected throughout the community, Dr. Brown participated in a number of local charitable and philanthropic enterprises, including the preservation of the historic Dr. Walter Reed birthplace at Belroi. Dr. Brown died earlier this year. However his daughter, Cecilia Brown, perseveres in his work to support this marvelous local museum and bring attention to the upcoming events this September 13th at the site which will mark the 150th anniversary of Dr. Reed’s birth. 

     Her beehive sculpture is decorated to look like a giant mosquito, reminding viewers that Dr. Reed discovered that the mosquito was the agent by means of which the micro organisms causing yellow fever were spread from one human being to another. In a similar fashion, other beehives are decorated to convey a message or theme that either expresses an individual’s inspiration or a group’s cause. 

     Two other hives may merit special attention because of their startling unexpected beauty. May Arsenovic’s beehive is decorated with numerous daffodils and is entitled, “Gloucester’s Passion.” It is a riotous and imaginative display of color. Gloucester County is of course well-known throughout the state for its annual Daffodil Show and the attendant festival that takes place each spring. A frog sits at the hive’s opening, amidst the grasses painted at the base of the piece. 

     “Bee Friends,” decorated by Sarah Matheson, makes similar use of daffodils in her beehive design but with some significant differences. Different colors are used and she has depicted a number of bees flying over the flowers with human faces, local people who might be recognized by friends and family members. A small bunny sits at the entrance to Sarah’s beehive. 

     The beehive sculptures, displayed in the village of Gloucester during the months of June and July, will return in August to their sponsors who will continue to display the pieces publicly at various locations around the county until February of 2002 when they will be auctioned off. In a time when foundations seem to proliferate as a means of creating salaries and funding office space for people who might not be able to find employment in the private sector, it is refreshing to see the work of charitable individuals who do not insist upon taking the limelight (or the credit) away from the many individuals who have worked so hard to make this a successful community effort. This will be one of the few events remembered when this year’s celebrations marking the 350th anniversary of Gloucester County’s founding are over. You can view all 56 beehive sculptures at www.beehivebonanza.com

© 2001 Zachary Loesch All Rights Reserved


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