Deep Dive: Queen Bee by Kari Lehr

Posted by Jasen Robillard on

Queen Bee by Kari Lehr - StumpCraft Puzzle

Artist: Kari Lehr
Puzzle Design: Jasen Robillard
Dimensions: 37.5 cm x 37.5 cm
Piece Count: 529
Difficulty: 5 out of 5

After a 20-year career illustrating for various agencies, studios and corporations around North America, Kari now pursues her own vision working primarily in acrylic, often incorporating mixed media. When she's not in the studio she loves to scour the mountain countryside looking for bears and other wildlife to photograph, ponder and quietly enjoy. Her paintings and reproductions can be found in private collections all over the world. Kari is a graduate of Calgary's ACAD (now known as Alberta University of the Arts), and paints from her home studio in the beautiful Crowsnest Pass, in Alberta.

We're ecstatic to feature another of her most popular art pieces, this time in a large StumpCraft puzzle.

‘I have always found comfort in the natural world, including a fascination with wild creatures and spaces. Bears in particular have captured my imagination from childhood, where they were often present in the periphery of my dreams. I feel a connection to bears, and hope that through my paintings, the viewer too will connect to the joyful sense of respect and admiration I feel for them and all things wild.’  - Kari Lehr 


Jasen’s Puzzle Design Notes 

Kari & I rekindled our conversation about art collaboration in May 2022, around the time of her daughter’s wedding. Inspired by Mother’s Day and the wedding, my goal was to design a puzzle honoring the transformation of maidens into mothers and matriarchs. Kari provided a list of her best-selling prints to select from. From those bestsellers, Queen Bee was an easy art selection. Within our own household, we as a family often refer to Heather, my spouse and our “den mother”, as Mama Bear. As driven action-oriented individuals, Heather and I have used the bee as a meaningful symbolic reminder to do less, and just be.

Riffing off themes of matriarchal nobility, I decided to pursue an ambitious experiment: to design a regal coat of arms and to incorporate it within the puzzle by “painting with pieces”.

After some initial research into heraldry, I set to work coming up with additional ideas, themes and symbols to incorporate into a coat of arms befitting a modern matriarch. Here’s a description that outlines some of the key elements, with heraldic blazonry terms thrown in for good measure in case it comes up for you on trivia night.

The central element of a coat of arms is always the shield (or the escucheon in the language of blazonry). In this case, the elegant shield features a field strewn with Alberta wildflowers (semé, in various shades of green, or vert). It is divided yet held together by a sky-blue diagonal cross (parted per azure saltire). The junction of this X is adorned with a core of golden ore, itself charged with an Alberta wildrose - a reminder to stop and smell the roses.

Queen Bee by Kari Lehr - StumpCraft Puzzle

Four additional symbolic elements (aka charges), depicted in metallic tones, complete the shield.

  • Silver Thistle: in chief  position; with its regal and colourful crown-like up-do
  • Queen Bee: in sinister position, volant; symbol of nobility, fertility, hard work  & flourishing
  • Golden Cup or Holy Grail: in dexter position; symbol of maternal holding and life eternally abundant
  • Golden Hive: in base position; source and forge of sweetness, compassion and kindness

The shield is flanked by two supporters: sinister (left) a black bear and dexter (right) a peacock, both proud in their own beauty and majesty.

Below the shield, an appropriate latin motto is inscribed on a papyrus scroll banner. I considered a number of other mottos focussed on the act of being, but ultimately landed on this one:

Queen Bee by Kari Lehr - StumpCraft Puzzle
Esse quam videri

The motto invites us “to be, rather than to be mere appearance”. According to Wikipedia:

Television personality Stephen Colbert inverted the statement on his show The Colbert Report to Videri Quam Esse, meaning "to seem to be rather than to be." It is also engraved across the faux hearth, above the video fireplace, in his studio, under his portrait.

Complementing the coat of arms are other noble symbols of transformation, beauty, life, and motherhood, along with 3 trillium shapes in homage to my provincial Motherland - Ontario.

Queen Bee by Kari Lehr - StumpCraft Puzzle

Wishing you a Happy Mother’s Day no matter which day you happen to read this.

Whimsy List

  • 8x Crowns
  • 4x Heraldry Crosses
  • 3x Trillium shapes
  • Chameleon
  • Bear hug
  • Key
  • Book


  • Artist signature within sunflower
  • Mother & Young Baby
  • Matryoshka doll with teddy bear
  • Peacock #1
  • Queen Bee in Lotus Pose

Hidden Whimwham: The Regal Coat of Arms

  • Latin motto
  • Black bear
  • Peacock #2
  • Thistle
  • Beehive
  • Queen bee
  • Golden Chalice
  • Alberta Wildrose

We recommend solving for the hidden alternate solution described above, as part of your disassembly process as a very optional, extra challenge. If you notice some false fits while solving Queen Bee, you're likely dealing with a piece that is part of, or adjacent to, this hidden whimwham. 

If you need help beyond the images supplied above with the hidden coat of arms, send us an email via, subject line "Hint Please!"

For now, we’ll drip out the 2 hint files one at a time upon request (to avoid unnecessary spoilers).

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