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Berseth starts with a form made of thin wax sheets, mimicking the spacing inside a natural hive.
Photographs Courtesy of Hilary Berseth

That form hangs inside a wooden case with a color-coded stripe; turns out bees can distinguish some hues.

Berseth orders fresh colonies by mail each spring. Each has one queen and thousands of workers.

The first time he handled a crate of bees on his own was “frightening! A good beekeeper is really fluid at this.”

The assistants get to work.

Midseason inspection. Color indicates how well the queen’s laying eggs; a stinky smell means bees are dying.

A peek inside reveals some extracurricular building atop the plywood template.

At the end of the summer, when wax production tapers off, it’s time to display the finished sculpture.

The finished sculpture.
Photograph by Hannah Whitaker/New York Magazine