Friday, August 12, 2016

Weaving Bee Narratives and Blackberry Rope at the Bridgeport Pollinator Meadow

I was invited to spin some stories on bees while participants in the EartHand Gleaners Society project made rope for an eco-art installation. The site was the beautiful meadow at Bridgeport Industrial Park in Richmond, just west of IKEA created by the Border Free Bees project.

The meadow is almost finished for the year, but there are bumblebees and leafcutters in the bull thistle, California poppy and bits of clover still blooming.

 This mystery plant and the Rocky Mountain Bee plant are also flowering.

This looks like a giant coreopsis, but the foliage is more like a wild sunflower.

The leafcutter bees shake their fuzzy booties under blue skies and the gleaming bellies of passing jets.

We sat in a circle, and shared anecdotes about bees, but we also tackled some difficult issues, like those raised in this article on a paper about pathogen spillover from managed bees to wild bees and vice versa.

This is a popular dog-walking path, so many local folks get to see the lovely meadow change throughout the seasons.

The site has some really good signage to let people know what's going on here.

 As the sun fell, the eastern bumblebees and the Voznesensky bumblebees started to fall asleep. Someone needs to write a lullaby for a bee.

 Here's the main pollinator hotel, with lots of room for cavity nesting bees.

We snacked on blackberries growing just a few feet away, while the participants wove rope out of blackberry stems and waxed the rope with solar-harvested beeswax from Hives for Humanity.

These are going to be giant butterfly nets which will be installed at the site, high in a tree.

The butterfly net was a great image to inspire us to talk about native bee enumeration, monitoring and conservation.The bee scientist Lincoln Best has got me thinking because he advocates for saving whole ecosystems, rather than focusing on just protecting one species of bee. Both the city of Richmond and Vancouver have just implemented plans to protect sensitive ecosystems and protect biodiversity in the parks. This is a huge accomplishment and really good news for our urban bees.

I also chatted about the recent work by artists Sarah Peebles and Valerie Chartrand. It's my pleasure to introduce other artists to their inspiring work.

Many thanks to EartHand Gleaners and the Border Free Bee Project for hosting an enchanted summer evening. You are also invited to attend their event this weekend to celebrate the installation: Saturday, Aug 13.

Please join me next week at the Vines Festival and the Garlic Festival at Terra Nova.

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