Many jewelry makers would describe their collections as “playful yet sophisticated and timeless.” Nancy Nelson happens to be one of them, but she isn’t referring to a new line of fall fashion must-haves; in her world, it’s the inspiration for her work: the honeycomb. Each of her bee-based designs is a sweet but serious tribute to the awe-inspiring insects that build their own hexagonal homes, produce healthy honey, and pollinate the crops we depend on every day. Her Bee Love Necklace and Earrings were shaped by the geometry of a heart-shaped piece of honeycomb given to her by her beekeeping friend Katie, but also by the vital environmental role played by bees and the alarming threat of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
There are many theories about what causes CCD, including fungicides, viruses, mites, and the commercial beekeeping process itself, in which colonies are stressed by being trucked all over the country to seasonally pollinate crops. But entomologists, apiary advocates, and artists alike are working hard to diagnose and respond to the crisis. “After learning about the epidemic of the bees vanishing from their hives and knowing that they pollinate a third of our diets, I realized I needed to do my part to help save the bees,” said Nancy. In response, she donates a portion of sales from her honeycomb jewelry collection to Bee Informed Partnership, a nonprofit organization addressing the decline of the honeybee population in the United States.
Recently, we asked Nancy to reflect on the connections between bees’ industrious design work, their role in a healthy ecosystem, and her own tribute to their creations.
Have bees inspired any of your other work?
Nature has always been my muse but the honeybees have stirred up my curiosity recently. I find the honeybees fascinating in their dedication and craftsmanship of creating the honeycomb. A few pieces from my honeycomb collection are more delicate and repeat the geometric pattern in a more linear design, whereas the Bee Love Necklace and Earrings merge the geometry of hexagon shapes with the romantic and organic shape of the heart.
Have you been interested in bees and their role in our environment for a long time? What do you find most interesting about bees?
I’ve always been drawn to protecting the environment. The inspiration and motivation behind my jewelry collection inspired by the honeycomb began as I was admiring the exquisite details created by the honeybee—each comb is so naturally perfect and functional. I wanted to re-create the natural details through the lost wax technique where I could then capture them in metal. It took a lot of trial and error before I was able to create the perfect mold for the Bee Love Necklace.
Is there a particular, unique quality of honeycomb that intrigues you?
The hexagonal design and how beautiful it is – I feel it is playful yet sophisticated and timeless.
I want to evoke a sense of love with this necklace. I want it to speak to the wearer, whether it be through the love of a beekeeper, a sense of wonder, or a genuine love for how we are all connected.
Nancy’s love of bees and concern for the CCD crisis parallels our own focus on people and the planet, so we’re proud to have her Bee Love necklace and earrings in our collection—along with many other bee-friendly and bee-inspired designs like our Bee Feeder and Bee Oasis. Join us—and Nancy—in supporting the precious pollinators that bring so much to the table.
(Love bees like we do? Want them in your garden? Check out our pretty new Bee Oasis, which attracts these helpful pollinators.)