Bees Around Town
Bees have long been featured in the visual arts as symbols of industry and creativity. Bees work together, depend on the hive to create their honey, and are social beings that live together in a fundamentally cooperative society. What better creature to both inspire the arts community and represent Greenfield, Massachusetts?
Downtown Bee Sculptures
In 2017, artist and owner of The Greenfield Gallery, Rachael Katz, was brainstorming on branding ideas with fellow members of the Progress Partnership, a downtown revitalization group. They knew about the annual spring Bee Fest that offered a variety of children’s activities and educational sessions. They knew the story of Lorenzo Langstroth, father of modern beekeeping, who had been a resident of Greenfield and pastor of the Second Congregational Church in the mid-1800s. And they regularly crossed the bee crosswalk at the corner of Main Street and Court Square. Bees were already buzzing in Greenfield and the surrounding farmlands, and as far as they were concerned, the brand was a natural.
Linda McInerny, theater director, actress, events-planner, and chair of Greenfield’s Crossroads Cultural District Committee, was at that meeting. The next day, she showed up at Rachael’s gallery with a fully written grant proposal in hand, naming her as the artist who would create the prototype for giant bee sculptures which would soon become to Greenfield as cows are to Chicago and bears are to Berlin.
“Though I originally trained as a mechanical engineer, I had wanted to be a sculptor for a long time,” said Rachael. “I knew how to work with squares and rectangles, but not as much with the flowing shapes of the natural world, so to do this project, I needed to learn an entirely new software – and soon.” Using this tool, she printed out a small bee sculpture prototype using 3D technology, which the grantors approved. She then proceeded to create a 3D mold for “Beatrice the Bee” and used foam and fiberglass as her virtual clay.
The bee project caught on, capturing the attention and imagination of other local businesses and organizations, which agreed to sponsor production of the bees, while the Crossroads Cultural District Committee commissioned local artists to paint them. Greenfield Savings Bank president, John Howland, drove the original bee out to Chicago in the back of a GSB minivan to the company that would cast a mold for six heavy fiberglass copies of the sculpture.
While the first six bees are located near Greenfield’s crossroads at the downtown Common, Rachael’s fervent hope is that more bees will join the hive over time, additional artists will become involved, and the bees will spread out all over town.
“My Name is Life” Bee
Painted by Mary Chicoine
Sponsored by the Weeks Family/
Painted by Robert Markey
Sponsored by Greenfield Savings Bank
Painted by Andrew Easton
Sponsored by Baystate Franklin Medical Center
“Bee Assured” Bee
Painted by Colleen Seamon
Sponsored by Massachusetts Bee Association
Painted by Lahri Bond
Sponsored by Greening Greenfield – Planting for Pollinators
Honey Glow Bee
Painted by Sarah Adam
Sponsored by Greenfield Cooperative Bank
The Greenfield Bee Fest Promenade, an audio-guided tour of the bee sculptures and other bee- sights around town, is accessible via your mobile phone. Please download the Eggtooth Productions app to begin:
You will then have immediate access to this promenade, and we encourage you to download the walk prior to your arrival to minimize any potential disruptions. Sights and sounds along the way include:
“My Name is Life” Bee Sculpture on the front lawn of Second Congregational Church, Court Square.
Rev. Lorenzo Langstroth Granite Memorial on the front lawn of Second Congregational Church, beside the bench.
Parking Garage Pocket Park across the street from church, along Bank Row.
Butterfly Bee Sculpture at Greenfield Savings Bank, corner of Main and Federal Streets at the traffic light.
Steampunk Bee Sculpture on the Main Street side of the Franklin County Courthouse.
“Bee Assured” Bee Sculpture in front of the former Wilson’s Department Store on Main Street.
The Greenfield Gallery across from Wilson’s.
Celtic Bee Sculpture at the top of Miles Street, at the junction with Main.
Greenfield Energy Park, down the hill at the end of Miles Street – a public park featuring numerous pollinator plants.
Honey Glow Bee Sculpture in front of the Mohawk Mall on the western end of Main Street.
Promenades are site-specific, audio-guided theater works by John Bechtold, designed to be experienced on site at various outdoor public spaces in the Pioneer Valley.
For each Promenade, participants download an app-based "walk" that can only be activated on site. Once at a Promenade location, begin the walk with your headphones on for the duration of the production.
While each Promenade works as a stand-alone piece, all share the themes of walking through beautiful spaces and letting your imagination weave a relationship between the audio from your headphones and the inspiring environment around you.
Designed as a response to making theater in the COVID-19 era, all walks are designed for solo walkers in open, outdoor spaces.
Promenades are produced through Eggtooth Productions, Greenfield, MA.
Become a bee crosswalk volunteer! Watch this website and our Facebook page, Greenfield Bee Fest: Celebrating Lorenzo Langstroth for dates and times of our annual re-painting.
Bees in the Pocket Park & on the Parking Garage
In 2018, a new parking garage was constructed in Greenfield, MA, at the juncture of Bank Row and Olive Street. Those who have studied Greenfield’s rich history soon realized a story needed to be told of three citizens who changed the world’s understanding of science, all of whom lived in the same, at the same time, within one block of each other!
In 2011, a grant from the Greenfield Local Cultural Council invited area artists to design special crosswalks for key downtown intersections. Greenfield artist Reba Rasbury, in acknowledgement of Lorenzo Langstroth’s contributions to the field of apiary science, created her now-renowned crosswalk entitled, “Bringin’ in the Bees.”
This cheerful pattern of vibrant yellow combs, black and white honeybees, and swirling sky-blue currents continues to embellish the busy Main Street crosswalk at Newton Place. Its location, beside the Town Common, and nearest to Second Church where Rev. Langstroth preached, attracts bee-lovers of all ages for photo ops and selfies.
Each year before Greenfield Bee Fest, the crosswalk is refurbished with marine grade paint supplied by Sherwin Williams of Arch Place. A team of volunteers sets up as Saturday morning’s Farmers Market draws to a close, and paints through the afternoon while passing drivers beep their encouragement and interested pedestrians grab a paintbrush to join in.
Reverend Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth, Sexton Dexter Marsh, and Doctor James Deane were neighbors in the mid-1800s. Curious and gifted, each of them made unique discoveries, and followed them up with careful scientific research. Their interests and passions sprang from the love of two creatures: one among the smallest on earth, and one the largest. For Langstroth, it was the honey bee; for Marsh and Deane, it was their dinosaur fossil discovery on Bank Row, then called Clay Hill.
Today a “pocket park,” created to honor the contributions of these Greenfield residents, delights and educates passers-by. Colorful banners depict realistic bees and dinosaurs. Wayside signs describe the specific achievements of each “citizen scientist.” A bee statue perches atop the steel replica of Langstroth’s hive. And more! Come visit and enjoy this exceptional mini-museum!
Reverend Lorenzo L. Langstroth 1810 - 1895
Originally from Philadelphia, Lorenzo Langstroth moved to Greenfield in the 1840’s. He served as principal of the Greenfield High School for Young Ladies (then housed in the historic building beside the church), and later as pastor at the Second Congregational Church next door. When he hired church Sexton Dexter Marsh to be his gardener, he became impressed by Marsh’s keen analytical intelligence and ethics grounded in religious piety. The Yale-educated Langstroth, and the self-taught Marsh, became good friends. Langstroth continued living with his sister and her husband in the school building for a few years after it closed. Here in 1853, he published “The Hive and the Honey Bee: A Beekeeper’s Manual,” considered the foundational tome of modern beekeeping.
Dexter Marsh 1806 -1853
Dexter Marsh earned his living as a laborer. While laying sidewalk on Bank Row, he noticed birdlike footprints impressed into a pair of flagstones. Curiosity drove him to search for more specimens. To understand what he was finding, he then studied the budding fields of geology and paleontology. Marsh sold specimens to eminent geologists, and later added a room to his house to display his collection (1847-1852), making Greenfield one of the first places in the world to exhibit what are now recognized as fossil dinosaur footprints. While others received credit for the discovery, Marsh was given honorary membership to scientific societies in Montreal, New York, and Boston.
Dr. James Deane 1801- 1858
James Deane began the scientific study of dinosaur footprints by writing his own analyses of fossils found by Dexter Marsh. Deane sent his studies to prominent geologists of his time. In subsequent years, he and Marsh sometimes collected “fossil bird tracks” together. Deane also published numerous papers about the tracks, but died before finishing his book, “Ichnographs from the Sandstone of Connecticut River.” His colleagues at the Boston Society of Natural History completed and published the book on his behalf in 1861. It is one of the first in this country to use photographs for scientific illustration. The location where Deane lived with his family is now occupied by the Franklin County Courthouse.