An artist from Surbiton is constructing a giant beehive with the aim of bringing communities together.  

The Beehive Project (pictured) was created by Surbiton’s Debbie Chessell, who won sponsorship for the project from a host of partners including the Mayor of London and Tolworth’s environmental group ShedX.

Speaking to the Surrey Comet ahead of the crowd-funding launch this Saturday (June 1), Ms Chessell said the beehive was about bringing people together.

“It’s completely ridiculous but it covered all the things I wanted to achieve with a public art project — it allows people to collaborate and meet each other and run workshops and bring people together in lots of different ways.

“Everyone can bring their own uniqueness, individuality and skills to it,” she said.

The beehive project will be built in stages through the work of Ms Chessell and various communities she plans to visit and work with in the coming weeks in Kingston, Tolworth, Long Ditton and elsewhere.  

According to its creator, there are several main ways residents in the area can get involved:

  • Make a bee: Budding artists can hand-make a bee, under 7cms long, to be featured inside the hive.
  • Donate clothes: “Anything that’s yellow, brown, orange or light colours…” will be used to create the hive, and donors can submit them with a memory about the item of clothing that will be featured a book to accompany the hive.   
  • Join in a local workshop: Care home residents, hospital patients and others can take part in one of the workshops Ms Chessell is touring in the area, and learn some knitting and crochet techniques that will be used for linings inside the hive.
  • Donate to the crowd-funding website (details below).

Surrey Comet:

Though it may appear a bizarre choice at first, the beehive theme was inspired for several reasons.

Not only are the communal animals a great example of the kind of teamwork the project aims to inspire. They are also under serious threat from pesticides and habitat loss at the moment in the UK and elsewhere.

Ms Chessell said: “Having the theme of a beehive lets me work with local companies and organizations that work with bees.

“In the crowd-funding campaign one of the rewards are handmade seed packets with  with seeds and plants specifically for bees. And we’re working with the ShedX beehives in the area too; we’re really hoping to raise awareness about bees!”

Once the hive itself is constructed through the efforts of communities in the area, it will go on tour of Greater London and this corner of Surrey between August and October.

The community engagement promoted in the first half of the project to construct the hive will hopefully follow, Ms Chessell said:  

“We’re going to put it up in public spaces, museums, galleries and places like that. It’s going to be a free exhibition venue too so that any local company, artist, create, anyone really, can write a proposal and use the hive as a space to run workshops or that kind of thing…”

 To find out more about the Beehive Project and information on how to get involved and donate, visit: