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Honeybees in the Heartland

Honeybees in the Heartland is a county wide public art project featuring 27 unique and exquisitely painted sculptures. A combination of local businesses, organizations, and individuals sponsored a bee sculpture, each choosing the design and landing place of their bee. The sculptures were painted by a variety of artists – many who are local residents or have close ties to the community. The result was a hive of stylish and whimsical honeybee sculptures which bring joy and beauty to Nemaha County as they buzz across the landscape. In 2020, Honeybees in the Heartland was a Nebraska Passport Stop 7.

Honeybee Buzzes as Nebraska State Insect

One Friday in September 1973, Auburn, Nebraska’s Calvert Elementary School teacher, Mrs. Louise Howe and her third grade class read in their Weekly Reader that only one state, Maryland, had a state insect. The thought immediately came to mind, why not Nebraska? So began the journey toward a state Insect 

The students made suggestions, research was done, and many reports on insects were given. The students voted for their favorite insect, and the winner was actually the ladybug. The students wrote letters to the senators and responses were sent back along with other insects proposed. With Nebraska as one of the nation’s leading producers of honey, and the important function of the honeybee for Nebraska agriculture, the honeybee as a possible state insect started creating a buzz. In favor of the change, the students began campaigning to make the honeybee Nebraska’s State Insect. 

After one and a half years of insistence and perseverance, the success of the campaign came in March 1975 when Nebraska Unicameral adopted the honeybee as the state insect. 

One teacher and a group of students demonstrate that determination, fueled by “kid power” can make history in Nebraska.

How did Honeybees in the Heartland begin?

As part of a participation requirement, Nemaha County Leadership #6 was tasked to complete a class project. Ideas were many, but the class decided on a county wide public art project encompassing art, sculpture, beauty, history, culture, tourism, and community unity. As a sweet nod to our agriculture community and as Nebraska’s state insect, the honeybee would become the focus of the project. 

Today there are 27 one of a kind, beautifully painted honeybee sculptures throughout Nemaha County.

Sweet Community Life

In order to accomplish this massive project, support from the community was paramount and support it they did. The honeybee sculptures remind us that unity and working together is imperative for the good of our hive – good for the community we love.

Project Facts

2 Hive Sponsors – 62 Bee Sponsors 

27 Sculptures – 38 Artists Submitted Designs 

68 Design Submissions in Total – 20 Artists Chosen

6 Communities where bees have landed

Donate to Auburn Arts and Events

The Honeybees in the Heartland project is complete. Any donated funds will go to furthering additional art projects and that falls under AAE.