The Sun’s Tongue

The Sun’s Tongue, 16mm film, 2023

The Sun’s Tongue documents the relationship between beekeeper, bees and the plant life of Birmingham city centre over the beekeeping season of 2022. It aims to map the plants that the bees forage on and the biodiversity of plant life in the city using 16mm film and experimental plant-based processes. Bee keeper Tim Vivian keeps bees on roof tops cross the city centre, the Custard factory, the Bullring and Millennium Point buildings which triangulate the area of Digbeth. The area offers a surprising variety of plants for the bees to eat, despite ongoing HS2 re-development. The film becomes in itself quite bee-like, taking single frame animations with a 16mm Bolex camera mapping the plant life of the streets, canals and carparks. Through the project we also tracked the bees diet, by collecting and sampling pollen they bring back to the hive on their legs. The pollen has been scanned using electron microscopy to create digital images that are also incorporated in the film. Each plants pollen grains are unique and they come in a variety of colours and unique forms. The bees diet is made up of a variety of these plants, which changes over the flowering season. The film attempts to track through the bee’s pollen harvesting activity, a pollen colour chart unique to this locality and these particular hive of bees.