Angels of Agriculture honoured

Colleen Lavender and Mark Plunkett
Colleen Lavender and Mark Plunkett

BEAUDESERT’S bright history as an internationally renowned hive of commercial bee breeding is the inspiration behind the town’s newest public art.

The new sculpture, titled Angels of Agriculture, was completed by award-winning sculptor Colleen Lavender following an initial design by artist and beekeeper Kath Groat.

The striking monument outside Beaudesert Museum features honeycomb panels of coloured glass hexagons, plasma-cut images and steel designed to rust with time.

It includes a small outline of the giant ‘Aussie Bee’ once perched outside Norman and Heather Rice’s iconic farm established in 1969 at the northern entry to Beaudesert.

Norman was the first commercial bee breeder in Australia to perfect the skill of instrumental insemination of queen bees. At the height of production, he produced 1800 queen bees a week for local and global markets.

Colleen said it was an important story to tell.

“I really wanted something bright and beautiful for Beaudesert as a growing community, and honey looks like that in the sun. I wanted people to feel like they could walk through a big honeycomb, for it to be interactive in that way,” she said.

“It honours how important bees are and how much amazing work Norman did. I don’t think people realise how pivotal he was in propping up the world’s bee population.

“Now it’s relevant but can you imagine back then when he was doing it, considering some of the poisons and sprays used in farming at that stage? Now, we’re a lot more conscious of the lasting effects. I just think at that time, what he was doing was amazing.”

Beaudesert Historical Society President Mark Plunkett said the museum was pleased to share the story of Norman Rice’s work through the sculpture, which was partly funded through the Regional Art Development Fund. 

“It’s something we wanted to highlight, partly the plight of bees because the bee population is dwindling and they really are the angels of agriculture,” Mark said.

He said there were plenty of fascinating tales to discover at the museum.

“There’s one story that apparently some young fellows were giving Norm a hard time at the gate of the property, and he apparently said, ‘you’ve got your army, I’ve got mine’ and he threw a boxload of bees on the ground. There are a few folklore stories out there,” he said.

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About Susie Cunningham 0 Articles
Journalist telling the stories of where I live. I love living and working in Beaudesert and when I'm not working you'll see me walking the dogs with my husband Zac.