Colony Expanse

An installation of 193 hand-painted bees, representing 193 united nations.


Colony Expanse (2018)
Acrylic, wood, metal
Matthew Willey


Over 1000 hours of artistry went into this limited collection of original works titled Colony Expanse. Each of these 193 bees was hand-painted, then displayed outside as a collective installation and exposed to the elements for six months.

Artist Matthew Willey experiences the devastation happening to pollinators as an invitation to relate to the natural world differently. His work is a medium of connection between humans and nature with a unique focus on the beauty to be discovered in the process of repair. By simply making these pieces vulnerable to the elements, rather than resistant or defiant, the artist has allowed nature to inform the work. He has then brought them back to the studio and focused attention on the aspects where the pieces reacted, resulting in a visual dialogue between the artist and nature. Look closely and you will recognize worlds of difference between these works. Look closer still and you will see the interplay between artist and nature.

These works are a rare, collectible portion of the 50,000 bees Willey has committed to paint in murals and installations around the world through The Good of the Hive initiative.

From May 18, 2018 – August 15, 2018, these 193 bees were displayed in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in New York City as a collaboration between artist Matthew Willey (Founder – The Good of the Hive), the World Council of Peoples for the United Nations (WCPUN), New York City Parks’ Art in the Parks, Friends of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. In September 2018 Colony Expanse ‘swarmed’ to Smithsonian’s National Zoo and remained on display until November 15, 2018.

The Colony Expanse bees symbolically represent the 193 member-states of the United Nations and the critical need for unity around the issue of bee and pollinator health.

Each painting has reacted differently to the elements telling a unique and individual story of the beauty to be found in vulnerability, resilience, perseverance, and change.


Available Works










Works are categorized based on visible degrees of weathering.
The artist has intentionally mended areas of the boards in categories B, C and D.