Petal to the Metal

Today was filled with little projects for Beezus. First, we sanded down his rusty bits and gave them a new coat of paint (he needed it!). 3 cans of black rust-proofing paint later and he’s looking pretty lovely. After that, we took apart all of the petals, which ended up being more of a chore than it sounded. Fabric is difficult to remove when it rusts onto something! But we did it! Afterwards, we measured out a lovely little template for the new petals we’ll be making. Take a peek!


Now to order 12 yards of pink and purple spandex. Stay tuned.


Heart Transplant #1

So as it turns out, even benevolent bee saviors can have health issues. A few weeks ago, Beezus suddenly stopped running. What to do?!

Our first thought was that maybe his poor little batteries were tired. So we let him charge up for a while. No dice.

Next thought was an issue with some of the original wiring as some of it was fairly corroded. After a lot of fiddling around with the multimeter, we decided that wasn’t it either. Which left one last thing…

The motor. We set to work taking it apart, and determined that the brushes had burnt out and broke, and that the commutator was past being salvageable.


Fortunately the space where Beezus lives (NIMBY) can be a great place to find old parts, and SuperDave happened to have an old motor from another utility vehicle lying around. We just had to detach it from the axle. This actually ended up being more of an adventure than we had originally anticipated, but after a lot of tinkering and a lot of motor oil getting on basically everything, we managed to make it happen. Ta-Da!
Then came the process of putting the new(er) motor in Beezus. The replacement was slightly bigger, so making it fit was a bit of a challenge. Then came the process of trying to fit the chain back on. We had hoped to do this without taking everything apart, but no such luck. So off came the brake drum and the casing around the chain. Lots more tinkering. Lots more oil. Lots more fun tools.

Tinker time

Tinker time

Eventually, we got the motor in and connected! Then it was time to actually try to run the bee again. SO I pushed down on the gas pedal and… nothing. Wires were connected wrong. Oops! Tried again. AND IT WORKED! Sort of? We managed to get the motor running and wheels turning, but we ran into a slight issue. The new(er) motor had a bad bearing. Siiiiiigh. Well at least we’ll be ready for the next one!

More updates on heart transplant number 2 here soon!

Steampunk Masquerade Ball

Tonight we’ll bee back in action at one of our favorite events- the Steampunk Masquerade Ball at NIMBY! We’ll get to test out our new lights in the company of some of the best art cars, djs, and installations in the Bay Area. Even the Flaming Lotus Girls’ Serpent Mother will be there! We can’t wait to serve some honey up and get silly with all of you! Come say hi!11076275_673194376120073_7974816524177871038_n

Let There Bee Lights! (Again!)

We’re back to it! Beezus is out of hibernation and we’re buzzing along getting him gussied up for another year on the playa. Our first goal this year was to outfit him with new fancy lights. The past 2 years we’ve had simple rope light strands, so we figured it was upgrade time. We decided to go with RGB LED lights. We ended up going against individually addressable ones (they were a little excessive for what we were looking for), but they’re still programmable and will be doing some lovely color fades! The stripes, flower petals, and grass will all have lights that will add a whole new dimension to our lovely little bee. Here’s some shots of the process!

Oh, and stay tuned for lots more! We’ll be ramping up a new fundraising campaign here soon!

Jumper and Levity doing some team soldering

Jumper and Levity doing some team soldering

Smallfry fixing some wires up top

Smallfry fixing some wires up top

Jumper looking super fancy

Jumper looking super fancy

Let There Bee Light!

Another successful work weekend under our belts for the season. We got the lights working again!

Initially the plan had been to get new LED strips (RGB color change waterproof 12v). However, we decided it was smarter to try and get last year’s lights functional if at all possible. After investing in some new wire, clamps, and a soldering iron, we managed to get everything back online. We’ll be running the lights (and eventual sound) to a switch panel on the dash so that all of the controls are in one place. That should be arriving next week. So much excitement! Pics of it lit up at night coming soon!Image

Beezus 2: The Resurrection

Aaaaaaaaaaand we’re back!

Sorry for the haitus everyone. Beezus isn’t much for the winter months. But build season is back upon us! We had our first session this past weekend and made some solid progress already! Project of the day: put the steering and pedals all back in their original places. Yes, we put in a lot of work to get the steering up top so the driver could ride Beezus around. But as it turns out riding on a bee is a pretty bumpy ride on the playa. The good news is now we can ALL be inside of Beezus together! Check out the progress shots with our busy worker bees.ImageImageImageImageI

The Trials and Tribulations of Art-car-dom

Shortly after decompression, we were invited by the East Bay Burners community to be a part of their speakers panel/meetup on mutant vehicles, so aptly titled “Mutant Vehicle Reality Check.” About 6 art car builders from the Bay Area came out to talk about their experiences- good and bad. The idea was to give the community a realistic idea of what building an art car is like. The speakers and their projects crossed a pretty wide rage. Some were veterans having had their cars on playa for years, while others (like Beezus) were new. Some were massive party cars with giant sound systems, while others were much smaller. About 70 people came out to hear the speakers that night. It was great to hear so many stories, and to know that many of the struggles that we faced during this build were ones that nearly everyone taking on this project must come to terms with. Here’s the rundown of some of the key things I talked about (advice, if you will).

  • Electric isn’t necessarily better for the environment. If you do an electric vehicle, you’re going to have to charge it. Often. Most likely that means a generator. We’re shooting for solar panels next year, but that’s a pretty major undertaking.
  • Be prepared to put yourself out there and reach out. This was especially true for me since I had no technical skills to really speak of going into this project. Get ready to ask your friends. To post on eplaya or community blogs. To reach out to other builders. People may not always be able to commit their time, but they may be able to point you in the right direction, offer advice, or connect you to others that may be able to help. NETWORK!
  • People have lives outside of your project. They may say that they can help and not be able to when it comes down to it- especially if they’re working for free. Feed your volunteers well. Be flexible. And know that most likely a lot of people will flake. It’s a part of the process.
  • Start Early. This is true for building and for fundraising. Everything will take longer and cost more than you anticipated. The earlier you start, the more time you’ll have to trouble shoot and find good deals on things you need without having to make desperate last-minute trips to Home Depot.
  • If it’s not street legal, figure out transport. Make sure you have a trailer and means of towing it or some sort of flatbed/semi to put it on. Getting an art car to the burn is pretty crucial, and sometimes a lot more complicated than it seems. And renting a Uhaul truck and trailer for a week isn’t very cost effective.
  • Stuff will break down out there. Plan to have someone accessible that knows what they’re doing, or be prepared to search someone out. Or just be okay with certain things not working. We ended up not driving Beezus at night due to lighting issues. But that didn’t make the experience any less awesome! We also had a wing break later in the week due to majorly bumpy roads. I had to hunt around for about 40 minutes for a welder, but I found one! People are pretty darn helpful if they can be.
  • Don’t lose faith. Building an art car is effing HARD. And sometimes it’ll feel impossible or like you’re wasting your time. But if your heart’s in it, it’ll happen. There were definitely a few times where I contemplated giving up, but I couldn’t be more happy that I didn’t. Just be prepared for one helluva 3

Bee-Compression 2013!

Yesterday we shook off the dust and brought Beezus back out to San Francisco for San Francisco’s Decompression. How was it? Pretty awesome. 

The day officially began around noon. Beezus was fashionably late to the party thanks to football traffic on the bridge (boo!), but setting up with the crowd beginning to arrive made things all the more entertaining! Lucky for us Paul from NIMBY was such a trooper and Super Dave (our placer) was an absolute gem. Once Beezus was fully dressed, we busted out the honey! ImageTechnically we weren’t supposed to be serving (health code. psh.), but no law will prevent us from spreading the word of our lord and savior! From then until sundown, we shared honey with the masses. Beezus made lots of new fans that day, including several little ones! ImageImageEarly on we were graced with the presence of Poppy and her parents. They hung out inside for a while, and she left us with a great big heart-melting hug! We had several other adorable kiddos hang out and bounce around on Beezus’ squishy insides. One even helped us man the honey bar for a bit! 

As the day wore on, we had all sorts of visitors. Some had heard of Beezus and came to show their support, while others were just couldn’t say no to a little honey! The local San Francisco and Hungarian forest honeys seemed to be the favorites of the day. Beezus was full of snuggles, hugs, and giggles all afternoon. He was quite the hit! We even got asked to be a part of Earth Day San Francisco in April, which we’re pretty darn excited about. Even though we mostly closed up shop by the time the sun went down, Beezus was a little sanctuary for the remainder of the event. And we wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Our day was filled with honey, hugs, and friends new and old. Thank you to everyone that came and hung out with us for a while. Thank you to everyone who helped with transport, set-up, serving, and tear down. Thank you to everyone who had some honey. You guys are the best!