You are invited to imagine your city as the safest city in the world for bees
For The Love of Bees is a living social sculpture that imagines Auckland as the safest city in the world for bees and all pollinators. Our project offers opportunities for businesses, students, individuals, schools, community gardens, brand partners and beekeepers to collaborate and produce a vision that will live on through the city of Auckland for years to come. By working in collaboration with Auckland Council and Activate Auckland, we can create an ecosystem that supports thriving beehive colonies, by introducing teaching hives and focusing on the quality and quantity of flowers throughout our city that support all our city's pollinators.
Our focus is on creating engaging learning experiences that enable people to develop holistic ecological literacies, as we teach the interrelationships between soil microbes, plants, pollinators, and us.
Our mission is to empower citizens with the knowledge and skills so they can co-create a city that is truly safe for bees and pollinators, which will consequently be a city safe for microbes, humans and the entire ecosystem. The City Bee Collaboration will inspire and educate Aucklanders by pollinating the idea that everything in nature is connected. Our seemingly small loving actions towards nature and each other are powerful - they radiate and create a ripple effect that sweeps across our city and eventually our planet.
Equipping members of the public with the essential knowledge, tools and confidence they need to be able to support bees and pollinators in their own lives
Creating a range of exciting learning adventures that deliver those teachings in a way that is memorable, meaningful and motivating
Connecting and uplifting communities to recognise the power they hold together
Exploring avenues for large scale and lasting change - transforming parks, common spaces and local food systems
For The Love of Bees has evolved out of another bee focused social sculpture called The Park 2014-2015 which was co-created with Aucklanders, and initiated by artists Sarah Smuts-Kennedy and Taarati Taiaroa.
Social sculpture is unique, in that it invites the viewer to become a creator rather than an observer of the artwork. Sarah gravitated in this direction after realising that her earlier art-making practice maintained a separateness, where the observer of the content continued to remain outside and unaffected by the field where the content was occurring. She became interested in finding new art-making languages that could function as a real agent for change.
The Park was activated, designed and materialised through public initiative across Auckland, New Zealand from May 3, 2014 to April 4, 2015. The Park's materialisation was mapped online through a collective line-drawing. The heart of The Park was located in the centre of Auckland City, in Victoria Park, which housed 6 beehives over a hexagonal Pasture Painting.
The artwork created moments of wilderness across the city and allowed people to simply see and be with bees for a whole year. It provided a form to mobilise people and gave them as individuals a way to practice caring for bees, and a means to make their empathy and care visible to others.
Andrea Reid was a participant within The Park. The experience inspired her to create Pollinator Paths, which is now written into the Unitary Plan.
Sarah was commissioned by the Auckland Design Office in 2016 to create another social sculpture to activate the inner city. A city-wide collaboration was conceived which is called For the Love of Bees, an artwork where real transformation of the city’s ecosystem will occur through community-led actions.
Why are we called ‘For the Love of Bees’ and not ‘For the Love of Pollinators’ (if we promote the protection of all pollinators?)
We find honey bees particularly useful in our project, as they can be kept and studied by humans in an intimate way, allowing us to track wider ecosystem health. Communities can crucially observe their amazing abilities up close, which allows us to deepen our connection to nature and thereby ignite our motivation to protect it.
For the Love of Bees teaches a fairly complex story about plants, microbes and the many relationships that make up the Biological Engine. It is a story that once understood by all will enable us to live in harmony with the environment. The honey bee is used as a device to tell the story simply.
We start with this species that people already have a strong affinity with and reveal its dependence on holistic ‘biology-first’ thinking, which puts a strong emphasis on cultivating microbes and applying ‘more life’ to solve problems that are usually tackled with ‘silver bullet’ thinking. This is how bees become the key to regenerating our commons.
Honey bees are also of course a wonderful example of collaboration. They show that impressive feats can be achieved when many small actions are taken together.