Listening to Bees: Permaculture Educators Milkwood Turn to Sound Art

Australian permaculture educators Milkwood have turned to sound art in Listening to Bees.

We know bees are fascinating creatures, and they have long caught the eye and imaginations of artists too. Many artists have then turned their hand to educating and sharing their love for these essential creatures
Two Australian permaculture educators who have long kept beehives have now turned to sound art. In Hepburn,  Victoria, Kirsten Bradley and Nick Ratar (aka Milkwoodhave been undertaking a sonic investigation of their beehives
The work is their contribution to the Liquid Architecture sound art project Why Listen to Bees? Milkwood received a $15,000 grant from The Australian Government’s Regional Arts Fund to go towards their work. The Hepburn Advocate spoke to Bradley after they received the highly competitive grant in August:
“The project will be a bit like sound art meets science in a collaboration across worlds,” she said.
“We practice natural beekeeping which strives to be a lot more bee-centric and puts the health of the bees and bee colonies before the harvest of honey
“We still harvest honey but the thing we are trying to do most of all is steward healthy bees for healthy landscapes and healthy crops,” she said.
“The honeybees we are keeping in Victoria are an introduced species, European honeybees, but their resilience and adaption to crazy, dry summers and how they interact with all the plants around here is amazing.”
Last week Milkwood co-presented a workshop called Undiluted Flow State – Hosting a hive-minding as part of the program. Bradley also spoke to The Hepburn Advocate again to share their recent experiences:
“You can learn a lot from observing entrance behaviour. Through this observation I’ve learned that every season is different for the bees,” she said. “There are different roles in the hive – foraging bees, nurse bees, cleaner bees and heater bees. Bees change roles throughout their lives – it’s like an apprenticeship.”
Next week, they present the outcomes of their work along side other bee-loving artists. They’ll be guiding participants on a group-hive listening experience at permaculture farm Melliodora – read more at



Listening to Bees. Sound Artists Loving Life With Honeybees. Photo by Massimiliano Latella on Unsplash



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