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Matthew Willey painting bees

Matthew Willey – The Artist Committed to Hand-Paint 50,000 Honeybees

You might be asking, why would an artist commit himself to paint 50,000 honeybees? Well, that is the number which is necessary for a healthy and thriving hive. Matthew Willey wants to paint these in murals all around the world.

Who is Matthew Willey?

Matthew Willey on scissor lift while painting bee muralMatthew Willey has been in the art industry for about 25 years now. Throughout his career, he’s managed to bring beauty to walls of homes and businesses across the UK, Croatia and major cities in the U.S. He combines design, scenic art, and painting abilities to come up with fantastic honeybee murals that seem to grow with strokes and texture, a wing at a time.

Over the years, Matthew has mostly focused on mural painting, although he also creates some works on canvas. He has written four screenplays, and he’s a co-founder in an educational company that makes Homers’ Odyssey and Greek mythology, which students and teachers can easily access.

Achievements

Matthew Willey has made some major accomplishments in his work as a result of the excellent work that he is doing to try and save the bees. He created “The Good of the Hive“, which is not only a website but also a movement that he uses to showcase his work and create awareness about saving the bees.

He has managed to share stories of the Good of the Hive at the FAO in Washington DC, the United Nations, Smithsonian’s National Zoo, Burt’s Bees Global HQ, NEA’s podcast, the Planetary Health Alliance 2018 annual meeting in Scotland, among other places throughout the US.

Some of his work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Veranda Magazine, The Huffington Post, among many media channels and publications.

How it all began

In an interview by Joe Philips at Humansandnature.org, Matthew Willey describes how he started and what drove him to the extent of trying to save bees.

One day in high school, Matt and friends found about 1,000 bees dead at the base of a hive. Matt was staggered at the impact and visceral reaction, and this considerably opened his eyes. “With all the data and research that we have, at the end of the day, we are all just human, and we react to our experiences through our five senses,” says Matt.

After carefully investigating on the issue of the 1000 bees’ death, Matt was able to find out through the help of the chief apiarist in the area that the bees had died due to exposure to chemicals.

He then began researching honeybees and came across altruistic suicide, which was an idea that fascinated him. He discovered that when a bee falls ill or feels a bit sick, it will leave the hive and fly off into the abyss just for the good of the hive.

That’s where Matthew drew the name of his famous project, “The Good of the Hive.” He describes his first honeybee-themed mural painting as something that made him realize that bees symbolize connection as well as create a connection.

He says when he started painting bees, everyone would stop and tell a bee story. Matt wants to raise awareness about the plight of the honeybee. He is quite ambitious about his project to personally paint 50,000 honeybees in murals around the world.

Collaborations

During his mural site paintings, Matthew met with one Zach Ellis, who was fascinated by the work and decided to join The Good of the Hive. Zach was on a road trip at the time, and when he learned that the next mural was going to take place at about 30 minutes from his home, he was excited, and that’s where their partnership began.

Zach was much impressed by the energy Matthew portrayed from his work and the captivating visuals of the painted bees. Since their meeting, Zach has managed to offer a lot of help and service thanks to his exceptional skills. Some of the things that Zach has been able to help out with include; photography, logistics, videography, and marketing matters, among others.

Zach was born and raised in the mid-west, and he is a facilitator, speaker and coordinator who is quite accomplished in his fields. His desire is to see passionate people connected together. It is quite clear that their meeting and collaboration has been a great and successful one.

Projects

Although Matthew is popular for “The Good of the Hive” project, he has also worked on other significant projects throughout his career. Some of his murals include the Flower Child, Burning Man, Bees 1875-1892, Honey & the Hive, 2560-2606, 1893, 1817-1874, among many others.

There are also installations that Matthew has been able to work on. They include The Swarm, Bending Hives, and Colony Expanse, which can all be seen at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, DC.

Media projects include:

The Good of the Hive Film

This one is about saving the world through playfulness and art. The film shows a bit about the work of Matthew Willey on how he paints 50, 000 honeybees on murals around the globe. The main focus of the film is murals at Janney Elementary School in Washington, DC. The letter of a 7-year old girl helps to create an opportunity for the uniting of her community to help preserve pollinators.

There is also merchandise sold by Matthew Willey on The Good of the Hive website, which people can purchase to help support the cause, among other things.

The work of Matthew Willey is inspiring. His good cause has inspired many, both young and old, to try and make a change in helping save honeybees for the benefit of humankind. You can check out more information on what he is doing and planning to do in the future by logging on to his website.