Art in the Garden: Help Thirsty Pollinators with Bee Cups



Artist Jen Rose, known for her socially-aware large-scale projects and installations, has turned her attention to bees. Rose designed eco-friendly watering stations made from tiny hollow porcelain cones that resemble colorful flowers. Each collects a few drops of water from the sprinkler or rain and provides a bee-friendly resting station for active pollinators.


bee cups
My first batch of bee cups is in a pot near a spot in my garden that's hopping with pollinators.

Placing the bee cups together in groupings, called an “Oasis,” the installations range from a colorful whimsical arrangement of a dozen or so, to a stunning ombre gradient of over 500.


While consulting with the bee-enthusiast community, Rose started experimenting with the bee cup concept about 18 months ago, puzzling through questions like:


“Do bees have toes?” And, “how long is a bee tongue?”

“Pollinating insects are so vital to our ecosystem that I wanted to design something truly helpful, and not cause unintentional harm,” Rose said, explaining the motivation for her research and creative process.


The final design holds a maximum of 1 cc of liquid, allowing for evaporation by the evening hours, eliminating the risk of mosquito breeding.


Her care for the bees is evident in her attention to detail. Inside each bee cup, she embosses ridges.


“This gives the bees something to grip onto as they are drinking, much like a shower mat, to prevents falls,” Rose explains.

Thoughtful social practice is nothing new to Rose, who thoroughly investigates materials and process from end-to-end as part of her artistic expression. Starting with the porcelain, Rose mixes the pigments in the porcelain, and fires each hand-formed piece to over 2200 degrees Fahrenheit.


Bee Cups at Fort Worth Botanical Gardens
Mass installation at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens

Besides being very durable at these high temperatures, the porcelain will never fade in UV light, nor ever leach chemicals into the soil. The pieces are fired in a kiln using energy generated from solar panels attached to Rose’s studio.



Activate Bee-Vision!


Rose adds a special glaze that mimics the way flowers attract bees and butterflies. It looks clear to us, but glows pink to them.


FUN FACT: Bees have tongues that are about one quarter of an inch long. This helps them drink nectar from flowers and water from bee cups! In fact, if a human had a tongue like a honey bee it would be 21 inches long.


Discover more about Bee Cups and purchase yours on the Bee Cups website.


More about Jen Rose:

In addition to her studio work, Jen Rose is a Professor of Art at Richland College in Dallas, Texas.


Rose’s installations have tackled difficult social topics such as modern-day slavery, war memorials, community-building and more, through partnerships with Richland College, The City of Lewisville, and the City of Georgetown, Texas.


Her patent pending bee cups are flying off the shelves and have landed in all 50 states, even Juneau, Alaska.


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