Greg Corman is a Tucson-based sculptor who works primarily with reclaimed wood, steel, and found objects to create functional bee habitats, benches, tables, and vessels.  

His bee habitat sculptures don't attract the common honeybee, which by the way, is a non-native species introduced from Europe and Africa. Instead, they support solitary bees, important pollinators that are non-aggressive and nest in holes in the ground or in dead trees.  There are an estimated 1000-1200 species of native bees in Arizona alone, but many have been hit hard by habitat loss, competition from non-native species, pesticides, etc..

Photo: Green Cosmos Bee Habitat

So how does this work? Using reclaimed wood, metal, and paint from a variety of sources, Corman cuts, carves, and paints his sculptures.  He drills a series of holes into the side edge of the wood that are just wide enough to attract leafcutter bees. Inside the drilled tunnels, the females create individual cells, each with a food source (pollen and nectar) and a single egg. When the larvae hatch, they eat the food in the cell, grow and pupate, eventually emerging as adults by chewing their way out of the cell. 

Photo: Owl Bee Habitats

This photo shows one of his lizard and bee habitat bench that is currently installed at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.  The bee habitat is within the wooden elevated pieces. There are openings in the back of the bench for lizards and other critters to come and go, and the front of the bench was made solid to prevent sedentary humans from squealing loudly as they might otherwise find lizards crawling between their legs.

He is an industrious artist who transforms his scrounged materials into functional art and says that he is rapidly using up many of his scrounged materials.  

Photo: Pile of beam ends that Corman purchased from a carpenter after contacting him on Craigslist

He notes, “I'd love to help out some of the commenters on your blog who need to purge!!!”  He's good on his word. I recently off-loaded some old rebar and steel posts and now have a cleaner yard. 

You can see more of his work at the Phoenix-based gallery, Practical Art and at future Tucson Open Studio events. 

Photo: Oak vessel

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Replies to This Discussion

The idea of creating species habitats out of reclaimed wood is really great. My sister in Germany has a few traditional beehives (honey bees), I will tell her about this. She'll love it.

Also, that oak vessel you are showing is wonderful!! Could you please ask Greg what finish he used on the wood to make it food safe?

Thank you!!

PS: Sorry, I have nothing to purge, am still happily scrounging. I have the PRACTICAL ART place on my list of places to visit next month !! :-)

Thanks Brigitte. Hope she likes it.

Greg said he uses mineral oil or tung oil for his non-toxic finishes.

Thanks! Good to know. I always ask these things out of my nerdy interest in insignificant details. ;-) Appreciate your asking him.

Can't wait to meet you next month!!

BTW: That photo of the pile of beam ends is quite beautiful too. A real postcard.

Really great objects.  Thanks for featuring him.

Charity, these are really inspiring.  I have lots of drill bits, some scrap wood and a love of wild bees. Now if I could scrounge out a bit more spare time...  I look forward to learning more about this when I meet you this summer.  


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