The Piping of the Queen Bee

Installation at Studio 1, Culture Night, Ardgillan Castle

Queen balling, where a queen is attacked and killed by female worker bees, is an act of reclaiming power. The role of the queen is to ensure continuation of the colony. However, this act of rejection and rebellion is in response to her inability to complete her duties. Falling egg rates, an ill queen, or the production of non-contributing offspring can all be reasons for Queen balling. This video installation is a hybrid work. Taken from the childhood memory of my grandmother being stung by a bee that had flown up her skirt, the video features female workers—themselves tasked with controlling and maintaining the hive— bees committing an act of queen balling.

This work is a reaction to the history of colonialism within the context of the site – Ardgillan Castle. The house was built in 1738 by Robert Taylor and remained in his family’s ownership for over 200 years. The building is now owned by Fingal County Council and the public have become the new occupiers. As Irish citizens we are colonizing these old remnants, echoes of a history of oppression.