The bee is the symbol of ERSTE Foundation as it has been the symbol of 'Erste Österreichische Spar-Casse for centuries.
The 'slogan' in combination with the bee icon of the first Austrian savings bank was "arbeite, sammle, vermehre" - "work, collect, proliferate". Saving with interests was compared to the collection of honey. The positive impact on developing societies that results from individual financial provisions for the future had its allusion in the prosperous beehive and the role played by bees in pollinating flowering plants.
The busy insect was the ‘heraldic animal’ of the savings banks in general. Most of the European savings banks had the bee on their stationary or as decoration on the facades of their headquarters and branches.
In April 2012, ERSTE Foundation joined the growing community of urban beekeepers with its own beehive, located beneath the Secession’s golden cupola in the immediate vicinity of the ERSTE Foundation offices in Vienna. This beehive does not just bring the logo’s symbolism to life, but the emblematic insect itself. The city is a good habitat for the bees, the quality of honey produced by urban bees is in no way inferior to the honey of their rural counterparts, as these diligent insects are usually less at risk from pesticides and lethal toxins in urban areas than in the countryside where monocultures are often heavily treated with chemicals and bees are able to filter out the particulate matter and heavy metals found in urban environments. Four months after the installation of the beehive, the colony consisted of 60,000 bees.
BEE POP – The acoustic world of the honeybees
In autumn 2012, these bees were even featured in the CD production “BEE POP”. The two Viennese artists Paul Divjak and Wolfgang Schlögl, also known as “Team Tool Time”, had the idea of exploring the world of honeybees and developed an acoustic project with the sound of bees. In an extensive research process they accompanied both the operations of the beekeeper and the entire life cycle of the bees and collected their sounds directly at the beehive. The buzz and hum and noise of the equipment from the apiary, for example a honey extractor, were recorded with the help of highly sensitive microphones and condensed into an orchestral snapshot.