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The Hive Sculpture

“The Hive” was installed this fall as the gateway to Black Hills State University’s campus. Located at a newly installed roundabout on the intersection of Jackson Boulevard and Ames Avenue, the sculpture was designed by renowned artist Dale Lamphere and offers a stunning depiction of a Yellow Jacket hive.

Dale Claude Lamphere, a Sturgis resident who attended Black Hills State University before going on to an impressive career as an artist, designed the 20-foot sculpture to honor the ongoing collaboration of the Spearfish community and Black Hills State University.

The four-ton stainless steel sculpture in the new roundabout will welcome visitors and students to the university. It pays homage to the BHSU mascot, the Yellow Jacket.
Making of The Hive Transcript
Dale Lamphere
The entire pieces started as just pipe, and flat sheet, and plate. So what you see now has been rolled and pulled into position and welded, and polished. And, you know, every but of it has been gone over by hand many cases several times. So, it's a long, very process oriented journey that we take, and they're like a major expedition in a way. I mean, you get all of your materials together and marshal all your resources and lay out your path and determine a sequence of events that you might expect, and then begin the journey. With good fortune and hard work, well, it sometimes results in something quite beautiful. And once we had kind of talked about the home of yellowjackets, well I acquired a few hives and studied their structure. Looked at the kind of texture, that papery, linear texture on the material they make the hive out of. And then the overlapping planes and entrance point on the lower end of the hive, all of those things were included in the final sculpture. And it's just a process of distillation. For me, I look at nature and derive design principles from that. So, that's exactly the method that we approached this with. It takes me, I would say, a third of the time on every project just to develop the concept, develop the studies, and then the final maquette or model for the monument. Because I use this final maquette in a very direct way. I mean, I literally place that generally out in front 50 yards away from what I'm going to create and then I'm able to sign in these larger elements and have them match up precisely with the model. It's a real interesting process for me that really requires my attention to detail. We do take measurements and all of that, but it's a very low tech process. I have one fellow here and he's been with me for more than a decade. Andy Roltgen is his name, and without him it would be impossible to do these things because he is a top-notch welder.
Andy Roltgen
Well, we first started with the center pipe and then built structure around that. We stood that up and then we had to bend some pipes that were kind of the form of the piece and had to weld those on. Kind of worked from the inside out, I guess, built a skeletal structure. And then added to that later, and I build kind of a ladder system going up on the inside of there so we could climb up and down and to help strengthen the center of the belly of the pieces as we bent them around.
Dale Lamphere
They're always a challenge, I mean, when we're working with scaffolding, there's a lot of climbing involved for one. So each one of these pieces that we lifted was around 500 pounds, so some of them 20 foot long and two foot wide. You know, it was a challenge to build We lifted up these hand-cut quarter inch plates individually and placed them at the right angles and welded everything together over a period of about eight months altogether. It was fun to do. I mean, it was a real enjoyable work to create because it moved right along and we're able to see steady progress all the way through and that's the best that one can hope for, really. The sculpture of the Hive is 20 foot tall, and 14 foot wide, weights three and a half tons. So, pretty difficult to handle. We had to bring a 40 ton crane up behind the studio. So we lift the piece straight up, and then grab the bottom of it and lay it horizontally, and then we back a specially prepared trailer underneath. When we move these sculptures, there's always a lot of work that goes into just creating a transport mechanism because we're dealing with a finished product that has some fairly delicate surfaces, and we don't want to scratch them or dent them or any of that. And the installation went as well as any of them ever do. I mean, there are always little complications and little things that have to be dealt with, but it's just a process and you keep at it. Well, I attended Black Hills State for a couple of years. I certainly enjoyed working with the university, again, and the personnel there. We had a fundraising event with 75 people I suppose here at the studio when the project was underway. Well this project was particularly good time for several reasons. One was that it was close to home. I was able to go over and see the site frequently, watch it be developed. The other thing that I really enjoyed was that this was a bold and direct piece, very abstract, yet it has a figurative element to it that everyone can recognize. But it is a beautiful object in space, you know. And that's the primary requirement of sculpture. And the scale is always fun. I mean, I like large-scale. And then too, the fact that I went to school there for several years gives me some satisfaction that I'm contributing in a sense back to the university.
Laurie Nichols
I think that Black Hills State is a somewhat hidden treasure. It is a wonderful institution. It does great, great work. The students that come here get such a quality education, and one of the things I'm most proud about is the fact that about 70% of our graduates stay in the black hills to live and work. So, we make tremendous contributions back to the region in terms of workforce and in terms of community membership and leadership. When I first saw the model, I really loved it. It was beautiful. It's the Hive, so obviously it depicts our beloved mascot, the yellowjackets. You know, the first time I saw it- it is striking. It just grabs you as you come up Jackson Boulevard. It can't help but grab your eye. I mean, your eye immediately goes to it as you're driving down the street.
Dale Lamphere
I was asked at one point how many people worked on this project. And I said, "I think about five or six." But if I count the structural engineer and the city engineers and the fundraising efforts and the various things that go on, it gets into the dozens I'm sure. So, you know, gets to be quite an extensive collection of people, but projects of a large scale always are that way.
Dana Boke
It has been over five years since the beginning of our Jackson Boulevard project. And, as Jackson Boulevard is a corridor to Black Hills State, we heard repeatedly, "Find a way to integrate BH into the design." This is definitely a statement that this is yellowjacket territory, and so for that, well done. Thank you.
Laurie Nichols
You know, probably our major partner has been the city of Spearfish, and they have been a wonderful partner in this project. They really have been involved with it from the very beginning.
Dale Lamphere
I think they have had vision about their community. I mean, they constantly are developing it and improving and enhancing it. And I get to cap it all with a piece of art, so I feel very, very fortunate.
Laurie Nichols
Such a beautiful piece. It's iconic of our university. And when students drive by the Hive, I hope they feel absolute pride. Pride in the university. Pride that they're part of this university. I hope community members also are very proud that Black Hills State is in Spearfish, and that we're part of this incredible community that we call the northern black hills.
Dale Claude





Over his 51-year career, Dale Claude Lamphere has completed 60 major public sculptures from the Basilica of the National Shrine in Washington D.C. to the City of Burbank, California. His work covers the full spectrum from classic figurative sculpture in cast bronze, as represented by the four allegorical works in the South Dakota State Capitol Rotunda, to monumental fabricated stainless steel sculpture involving design, fabrication and structural engineering disciplines. Lamphere has done commissioned portraits of Bob and Dolores Hope, Burl lves, Walter Annenberg, and George and Eleanor McGovern, and other distinguished individuals.


Visit The Hive

“The Hive” sculpture is located at the roundabout on the intersetion of Jackson Boulevard and Ames Avenue in Spearfish, SD.
Visit the Hive Map