Why is a muralist from New York painting bees around the globe?

An artist from New York, Matthew Willey found his muse in a bee that buzzed into his apartment. Now, he's on a mission to paint 50,000 bees on buildings around the world. Take a look at why he's doing this

A global mission

The bee that buzzed into his room in late spring, 2008 so entranced the New York-based muralist that he embarked on a mission to highlight growing threats to pollinators by hand-painting 50,000 individual bees on buildings around the world.

(Photograph:Reuters)

5,500 paintings already done!

Having rendered more than 5,500 of the insects in 30 murals and installations over the past five years, Willey says the shared experience of the coronavirus pandemic has made people more receptive to the sense of interdependence he aims to evoke.

(Photograph:Reuters)

First mural in 2015

Once focused primarily on painting high-end murals in nightclubs, sports venues or luxury homes, Willey painted his first bee mural on a 1920s-style stucco building in LaBelle, Florida in 2015. Passers-by began to donate money, food and coffee to support the 10-week project.

(Photograph:Reuters)

Bees sprawled across the US

Since then, Willey has sent bees dancing across schools, museums and municipal buildings from San Diego to Washington DC. In October, he completed his first international project at a school in southern England after a 15-year-old pupil wrote to him after discovering his Good of the Hive project's website.

(Photograph:Reuters)

Artist wants people to rethink relationship with nature

With bees and other insects facing pressures from pesticide use to habitat loss and climate change, Willey hopes planned projects from Italy to India will prompt more people to rethink their relationship with nature - and each other. "I am not painting bees," Willey said. "I am painting us."

(Photograph:Reuters)

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