Book of the Week: “Inside the Hive”

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The beehive, as any art historian can tell you, is a traditional symbol of industry and productivity. But might it also symbolize something darker? Or more profound? For Ed Swinden, an award-winning photographer based in Manchester, England, the hive is both a metaphor for the stifling of the individual and a beacon for those seeking self-sufficiency and fulfillment.

Swinden’s Inside the Hive is a thought-provoking book that uses the worker-bee concept to address a weighty question: “Is a life of duty and service both our burden and our salvation?”

The book consists of two parts: in the first section, Swinden’s powerful street photography depicts average people as they walk to or from work. But these are lonely figures, all anonymous and most of them faceless, caught in shafts of light but otherwise swallowed up by a cavernous, depopulated world of shadow and concrete.

In the second part of the book, the perspective changes dramatically. Here, portraits of real-life beekeepers, people of all ages and from walks of life, present a sense of optimism for the future. In their own words, these individuals speak of a mission: forging a new relationship with nature, not only to sustain the declining bee population, but, perhaps, to ensure the future of our own species as well.

You can see more of Swinden’s work at

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