The beehives at the heart of the Pollen Park
Visit the bees beside the skate ramps in Victoria Park, Auckland city.
See the six beehives sitting within the Pasture Painting planted in mustard and calendula in full bloom.
Visit the bees beside the skate ramps in Victoria Park, Auckland city.
See the six beehives sitting within the Pasture Painting planted in mustard and calendula in full bloom.
As spring arrives lots of flowers start to appear and so does the food for bees. However in winter food can be scarce for bees. Here are a few things you can plant in your garden to provide food for bees in winter when they really need it.
Calendula grows really well from seed. They provide lots of flowers all year round that bees love.
Borage also grow well from seed. They are blue and have a single petal arrangement, which are easy for honey bees to forage from.
Nasturtiums thrive in winter if you don’t get frosts.
Herbs like Rosemary, Thyme, Chamomile, Lemon Balm, Sage, Oregano, Lavender and Mint provide an abundance of flowers all year round.
Forage peas, Lupins and Broad beans are manure crops that will provide food for bees in winter while preparing your garden for the next spring.
The New Zealand native Hebe comes in many colours and is an excellent winter food source for bees.
Koanga Seeds produce a beneficial seed blend called Herbal Ley full of plants that produce food for bees including Alfalfa, Phacelia, Buckwheat, White Lupin, Daikon, Radish, Rape seed, Red Clover, Subterranean Clover, White clover, Yarrow, Plantain and Chicory.
King Seeds have put together several beneficial seed blends of plants that produce food for bees. One called Beneficial Insect Blend includes Buckwheat, Dill, Bishops Flower, Parsnip, Fennel, Bergamot and White Alyssum. Another called Bring on the Bees is full of Anise Hyssop, Bergamot, Bee Balm, Borage, Echium Blue Bedder and Phacelia Lacy. A blend called Wildflower Pollinator includes Rudbeckia, Thyme, Red Clover, Phacelia, Echium, Salvia, Cornflower, and European Poppy.
For more ideas of what plants to grow to provide food for bees check out this website.
If you are going to grow your plants from seed check out our post on what seeds to use as not all seeds sold in New Zealand are safe for bees.
When many Pollen Hotels join something really wonderful happens. A Pollen Park emerges.
A Pollen Hotel might be a pot plant with flowering herbs, or a fruiting lemon tree or a flower garden. When many Pollen Hotels connect they become a Pollen Hotspot. This might look like a vegetable garden surrounded by a flower garden next to pollen laden citrus tree. Or it might look like a street of roadside berms planted in rosemary lined either side with Pohutakawa’s. These sort of plantings begin to supply bees with a year round food source, rather than short intense bursts. For example a Pohutakawa flowers in summer but then produces no food at all for the rest of the year.
When many Pollen Hotspots connect a Pollen Park emerges and the bee communities can really thrive as they are able to find stable food sources all year round.
These food sources also need to be safe and not harm bees when they feed on nectar and gather the pollen from the flowers. Bees in a safe Pollen Park do not need supplementary feeding with sugar water or corn syrup and as a result they produce their human community excellent quality honey with real medical properties.
Bees will forage 6.5km for nectar and pollen. Plant a Pollen Hotel and help turn the space inside this circle into a Pollen Park.
A Pollen Hotel is a space with a high density of flowering plants that produce nectar and pollen for bees to feed on. It could be a few pot plants on a deck, hanging plants on a balcony, a vegetable garden, a planted verge, or a rose garden. The shapes and sizes of Pollen Hotels are only limited by your imagination. If everyone plants a small Pollen Hotel then suddenly a Pollen Park emerges.
Pollen Parks are spaces that provide bees with a safe year round source of food.
Help make The Park.
Check out our list of plants that you can grow to produce lots of food for bees.
Did you know that the distinctive buzzing sound of the honeybee is formed from the honeybee’s wings fluttering at 11.400 times per second.
Bees can really only see four colours – yellow, blue, blue-green and ultraviolet but they can smell really well and love the scents that come from thyme, citrus and roses.
Each honey bee will only make 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its life time.
Honey bees dance to communicate to each other where good food sources are. This is called the waggle dance. It comprises of two main parts that scientists understand. The waggle dance always involves a figure 8 movement. But this figure 8 configuration changes depending on 1. The location of the sun to the honeybee at the time the honey bee first locates the food source 2. The distance or time needed to travel to get to this food source. Scientists also think the waggle may differ depending on the quality of the food source but as this is a qualitative not quantitive quality it much more difficult to prove.
The entire length of the western side of Darby Street in the heart of Wynyard Quarter is lined with wooden planter boxes full of flowers and edible plants that together comprise many square meters of food for bees. Each of these planter boxes is a Pollen Hotel.
Alongside these planter boxes, thousands of New Zealand natives have been planted that line the entire street. Canopy trees like Pohutukawa, Kowhai and lower growing plants like Harakeke( NZ flax). They are planted in such density that in spring they will suddenly provide an abundant amount of pollen and nectar for bees.
Together these edible and native plantings provide a sustainable food source for bees all year round making a sizable contribution to The Park.
Darby Street has transformed into a Pollen Hotspot.
All of the plants for this landscape project come entirely from stock grown by the nursery owned and run by local iwi Ngati Whatua 0 Orakei at Takaparawhau ( Bastion Point).
This Nursery initiative provides a real way for the local iwi to revive its traditional connections with the land.
Many common garden sprays, and pyrethrum before it has dried, can be harmful to bees. Some systemic pesticides and fungicides are even being directly linked to colony collapse.
All labels on gardening products do tell you if they are safe for bees or not and warn not to spray when bees are about. Some of these products are systemic pesticides and fungicides which means their active ingredient remains in the plant tissue well after the spray has been applied. Traces of these residual chemicals remain in the plant and the nectar and pollen it produces. When bees and other pollinators gather the nectar and pollen from these poisoned plants they are exposed. This exposure can result in paralysis and even death of the bee. The death of bees is collateral damage of these applications.
The systemic insecticide family called Neonicotinoid is designed to effect the central nervous system of insects causing paralysis before death. It is the most widely used insecticide in the world and has been directly linked to colony collapse disorder. Germany, France, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, Slovenia and the State of Oregon in the USA have banned or restricted its use but here in New Zealand its use is prevalent and alarming since bee numbers are in serious decline.
Neonicotinoid in sprays and coated onto seeds are toxic to bees in very low concentrations. It doesn’t make sense to use chemicals which kill bees when there are so many effective chemical free alternatives to deal with the grubs, aphids and other insects.
A pollen hotel can be a great food source for a bee, but when a flower has residual systemic chemicals within it, it becomes a bee death trap.
Read this recent article for more in-depth discussion on Neonicotinoids.
We will be doing more posts on products that are detrimental to bees and alternatives that are bee friendly.
Also check out the post on What seeds are safe for bees?
Vegetables fruits and herbs all produce flowers with pollen and nectar that will help you create amazing pollen hotels. Some produce more than others. Some of the best producers are stone and pip fruit like citrus and plums. Berries are good too, and strawberries are so easy to grow in a small space. From the vegetable family you can rely on beans, tomatoes, aubergines, capsicums, chillies, melons, courgettes, pumpkins, cucumbers, peas and jerusalem artichokes. If you allow sliver beet, spinach, broccoli, fennel, celery, parsley, artichokes, onions, and leeks to go to seed they will become an entire pollen hotel all on their own producing an abundant amount of food for bees before turning into seed you can use next season. Herbs that produce food for bees include thyme, rosemary, mint, lemon balm, oregano, chamomile and sage. Great flowering companion plants you can eat include calendular, sunflowers, borage. If you only have a tiny space we recommend planting thyme, rosemary, oregano you will be amazed at how much pollen these small plants provide bees.
Nectar is a sweet solution of sugars produced by the plant which is what bees collect to make honey. Flowers make this nectar to ensure bees get close enough to their male anthers which are covered in pollen, the powder you see on the bees back and legs. The flower needs the bee to transport this pollen to its female companion in order for fertilization to take place so it can produce a fruit. It is this process that ensures we get the vegetables and fruits and grains we love to eat.
Bees are part of the free engineering developed for us by nature that help make our food system work. Nearly all the fruits we eat require bees or other insects to pollinate their flowers so that they can actually produce a fruit. Much of New Zealand’s economy relies on the free pollination service provided by bees. Without bees we would find it very difficult to grow beans, plums, tomatoes and strawberries. If we want to continue to be gifted this free service then we need to provide safe and secure food sources for them.
Who is making The Park? Those who live and work in the Waitemata are encouraged to participate in plotting pollen hotels on The Park map. In doing so, The Park map will assist us in visualising the amount of food available for these bees in our urban environment, the bees’ potential flight path, and our collective action.
There are currently about 160,000 bees in the six bench beehives in Victoria Park. Collectively these hives have the capacity to produce 210 kilos of honey, however, the bees need lots of food in order to reach this target. Those who plot a pollen hotel on The Park map will be invited to collect some of the honey they supported to make at harvesting time.
Annie Rowntree who lives in Freeman’s Bay noticed five honey bees on one flowering brassica this week. She recounts only having seen four over the past six months in her garden. Annie is letting all her vegetables go to seed as they seem to be providing lots of food for bees foraging in her garden. The flowers on her vegetables feeding the bees will also provide her with safe seeds she can trust for her next growing season.
What are you growing that is feeding bees? Check out our posts on planting suggestions for Pollen Hotels and help make The Park.
Pollen Hotels we collectively build to make The Park, that will feed the bees located in Victoria Park, may also be providing a much needed food source for other pollinators including butterflies.
The Monach Butterfly New Zealand Trust have a list of plants that provide food for butterflies up on their website. So if you want to attract butterflies to your Pollen Hotel consider using some of the following plants.
Calendula, Alyssum, Bottlebrush, Candytuft, Cape Marigold, Chrysanthemum, Cineraria, Cleome, Cockscomb, Sweet William, Gaillardia, Hebes, Kaikorua Rock Daisy, Mexican Sunflower, Osteospermum, Echium, Echinacea, Rudbeckia, Salvia, Snapdragon, Valerian, Verbena, Wallflower, Zinnia.
The MBNZT runs courses on how to develop butterfly habitats. The next one they are doing is in June. Think about doing it to learn how to make a Pollen Hotel. Then post a photo of your new Pollen Hotel on the map at makethepark.info and help make The Park.
Julian McCurdy from Beezthingz checked the hives for the first time and reported back saying “from the photo you can see all the uncapped cells are full of new “wet” honey which means that the bees are finding food. All in all, so far so good.”
Over the past couple of weeks you may have noticed patches of dead (brown) grass in geometric shapes; circles, triangles, and lines on road-side berms across the Waitemata. These shapes are being seeded in pasture plants that will grow over the coming months and provide food for the bees in Victoria Park. A form of pollen hotel, these Pasture Paintings have been designed and implemented by Auckland based artists Taarati Taiaroa, Sarah Smuts Kennedy and Richard Orjis.
The design of the pasture paintings have been developed in pairs. The image in this post shows the Curran Street site (left) and St Marks Road site (right). The watercolour (middle) is our preliminary design of the relationship of form between the two sites which are at opposite ends of the Waitemata area.
The lines of the Pasture Painting #1 at the Curran Street site (alongside the harbour bridge and the Northern Motorway) follow the true northern and western axes, and the Pasture Painting #2 on St Marks Road (alongside the Southern Motorway in Newmarket) follow the true southern and eastern axes. While, separately these shapes suggest an arrow head pointing back to the centre of The Park (the beehives) both forms reflect each other across space. Situated on the edges of the Waitemata area these axis forms reference a compass drawn in the corner of a map.
We will be posting the process and progress of all six Pasture Paintings as they grow over the following months.
There are many reasons for wanting to eat honey made by bees in the area you live.
“The benefits of eating raw honey are largely due to the fact that raw honey contains proteins and enzymes that the body uses to rebuild cells. Additionally, in its raw form honey contains pollen, which is responsible for the anti-bacterial and immune boosting properties. However, once heat treated the pollen is destroyed and the immune boosting properties are significantly reduced.
Many people who suffer from hay fever have found this can be reduced or can cease altogether once they introduce local raw honey gradually into their diet. The idea is that bees become covered in pollen spores when they travel from one flower to the next. These spores are then transferred to their honey. It is thought that eating that honey, even just a spoonful a day, can build immunity through gradual exposure and work in the body like a natural vaccine.
Be aware in some cases honey itself can trigger severe allergic reactions, including anaphylactic shock. So do not attempt to use honey if you’ve ever experienced an adverse reaction in the past. Use it sparingly until you’ve confirmed that you can tolerate it.”
Kate from Food as Medicine
Seeds that are artificially coloured; white, pink, red, blue and green, may be coated in chemicals that are harmful to bees. Seeds with a blue coating may be treated with copper which is considered “organic”, however, they are still avoided by biological farmers who believe them to be detrimental to the biological engine beneath the soil that generates long term fertility as as little as 3ppm of copper can be toxic to soil fungi.
It has been determined by a vast number of international non industry research studies that chemicals from the Neonicotinoid insecticide family and some fungicides that are coated on seeds are contributing to colony collapse.
Neonicotinoids are systemic chemicals meaning they move throughout the plants entire system, from the coating on the seed, including the nectar, at levels which are toxic to bees as with most insects. The chemical manufacturer advises that these chemicals should never be used on plants that may be visited by bees, but that doesn’t seem to have been applied when using them to coat your seeds.
It is very hard to tell which treated seeds do or do not have neonicotinoid insecticide or harmful fungicides on them. The chemical combinations are so varied that even experts struggle to keep abreast of what combination is what. In addition, here in New Zealand there is little public knowledge about the issues around the use of these chemical treatments and the side-effects these could have on our agricultural, horticultural industries and pollinating systems in the short and long term. New Zealand labeling laws are inadequate and many packets of seeds have little or no information about what their seeds are treated with.
It is likely that the products called Poncho and Gaucho that are produced by Bayer are being used in New Zealand to treat seeds. These include imidacloprid, which is one of the most common neonictenoids used. A seed supplier we talked to said they had noticed an increase in the use of treated seeds by well over 60 % in the last three years. This suggests treated seeds and plants grown from these seeds are now widely spread throughout the country.
So to be sure you are not planting a seed that is going to harm a bee once it has grown into a flower try to use organic seeds which will have been grown and harvested in a way that means they will be good healthy seeds in the first place, and make sure you ask for untreated seed or seed treated with Trichoderma which are beneficial fungi that help protect and feed the seed.
Of these 3 different seeds in our picture one of them is treated. Most untreated seeds look natural and have a varied surface. By placing a focus on using good healthy seed stock and creating healthy living soil you can eliminate the need for chemical support in the first place. Both industry and non industry research shows chemical applications may stop particular bugs or fungi attacking a plant, but they always compromise the overall health of the plant and the quality of the produce it grows.
Many countries overseas are banning these detrimental products as the plight of the bee becomes a serious concern.
Read this article for more information on the general state of play here in New Zealand.
Check out the posts on the processes and products we are using to help our seeds in our Pasture Paintings get the best start by building robust biology.
Yates-Confidor-Ready to use Insecticide (registered to Bayer distributed by Yates)label states-Harmful to terrestrial invertebrates. Toxic to Bees. Avoid contact with skin and inhalation of spray mist. Has a 3 day holding period when sprayed on food.
Kiwicare-Spectrum label states-Store away from foodstuffs, children. Avoid contact with skin and inhalation of spray. Wash hands and exposed skin after use. Do not use around food or animal feed producing plants. Harmful to aquatic life. Do not spray on flowers if they are likely to be visited by bees.
Yates-Natures Way-Pyrethrum Is a natural insect spray but is harmful to bees if they make contact with it when its wet.
Yates-Soil Insect Killer label states-This products may be harmful if swallowed, absorbed by the skin or inhaled. May impair human fertility and the nervous system of the unborn child if taken orally in repeated high doses. Harmful to mammals, birds, insects, earthworms, bees and aquatic life.
Yates-Natures Way-Insect and Mite Spray label states-May cause irritation to skin and eyes. May be slightly harmful to the aquatic life.
Yates-Natures Way-Fungus Spray label states-The material maybe harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. May cause eye irritation and an allergic reaction following skin contact. May harm the digestive system or liver if taken orally at repeated high doses. very toxic to aquatic life and may harm mammals and birds.
Enviro Shield-Residual insecticide stays active for weeks-Deadly to insects Kind to the environment label states-Toxic to fish. Harmful if swallowed…inhaled. May cause skin and eye irritation. Do not spray near food.
Yates-Champ DP Copper Fungicide label states-This product is corrosive and may cause sever eye irritation and eye damage. May be harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed by the skin. Harmful to the lungs through prolonged or repeated exposure at high doses. May cause skin irritation or an allergic skin reaction. Very toxic to the aquatic environment. Toxic to fish. Harmful to mammals and birds.
Yates-Copper Oxychloride label states-Harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. May cause severe eye irritation. May harm digestive system or liver if taken orally at repeated doses. Very toxic to aquatic life, mammals and birds. Do not allow drift over aquatic environment, or onto other crops. May cause harm to soft plant tissue…may russet fruit.Keep children, pets, wildlife and birds away from treated areas until spray is dry.
Yates-Blitzhem Pellets-Kills slugs and snails label states-Do not apply to edible plants. On pasture withhold stock for seven days. Maybe harmful if swallowed. Mild eye irritant. May impair human fertility or cause damage to the unborn child, liver or digestive system if taken orally at repeated high doses. Maybe slightly harmful to the aquatic environment. Keep pets off treated areas. Accidental poisoning may be fatal.
Yates-Baysol Snail and Slug Bait label states- May be harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through skin.May cause organ damage from repeated oral exposure. Toxic to aquatic life. Toxic to terrestrial vertebrates. Harmful to terrestrial invertebrates. May be harmful to soil environment.
The Glyphosate based products below don’t give you much information at all on their labels. This interview however explains how it works and what effect it has. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ed9b-JIAa1Q
Monsanto-Roundup label states-Avoid contact with eyes and avoid breathing spray mist. When spraying wear suitable boots and cotton overalls. Wash exposed skin before meals and after work. Wash clothing after use. Avoid contaminating water supply with the chemical or empty container. Avoid contact with desirable plants and if accidentally sprayed hose off immediately to reduce injury.
Kiwicare-Weed Weapon Dead To The Roots Dead Quick label states-Do not use around fruit vines, avocados or sensitive plants. Avoid spray contact with foliage, new bark or near roots of desirable plants. Do not use around food or animal feed producing plants. Avoid contamination of waterways. Avoid contact with eyes and skin and inhalation of spray.
Yates-Zero Rapid 1-Hour Action Weedkiller label states-This substance may be harmful if swallowed or inhaled. May cause eye irritation or mild skin irritation…designed for biocidal action against plants. Avoid contamination of any water supply or fishponds…do not allow drift onto plants you do not want killed.
McGregors-Weedout-General Weed Control Data Sheet states-Toxic to aquatic organisms. Avoid contact with eyes and skin. Avoid inhaltion of spray mist. If swallowed may cause burning sensation in throat and chest, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea….substance may bioaccumulate http://www.mcgregors.co.nz/sites/default/files/Safety%20Sheet%20WeedOut.pdf
The Parks central point was fully activated with a powerful and heart warming karakia given by Rereata Makiha and Otene Reweti from Auckland Council’s Te Waka Angamua team, in an early morning blessing ceremony on the 3rd of May 2014. As we gathered on the western side of the hives and looked towards the first light the vibrations of Otene’s karakia energized the bees so they began to spiral high up into the air space above the hives. The intention of this blessing was to honor the historical and contemporary kaitiaiki and guardianship the local iwi have in this city and to ask them to bring this knowledge of custodianship to us all so we might also become effective protectors and caretakers of these bees.
These bees require respect within the hexagonal space in Victoria park but they also need support within the greater Waitemata. Winter is a tough time for all bees in the city. This project hopes to amplify this issue and inspire people to transform this reality by very simply planting a pollen hotel be it large or small, and to post a photo of it on the map. This will help visualise the difference this collective action makes. Leave an email contact when you add a pollen hotel and we will contact you and let you know when you can come and get some of the honey you helped nurture.
The Bee as a collector sources two elements produced by the flower, Nectar and Pollen.
The Nectar, is sought out and gathered intentionally to bring back to the hive to make honey. Using tiny hooks on its feet the bee is able to attach itself to the flower so it can use its tongue to suck out the nectar within the flower. The bee uses a small part of this nectar as food for itself but the bulk of it is returned to the hive where it is spat out and stored as what we know as honey.
The Pollen is gathered incidentally due to the bodily structure and organization of the bee. As the tiny hairs on the body and legs of the bee brush against the stamen (the male reproductive organ of the flower) pollen is unwittingly captured and brought back to the hive where it is stored away or consumed.
The Bee as a producer processes these two collected elements and uses his own body to create an entirely new substance called wax. Using this new product produced by himself the bee is able to build elongated hexagonal cells in order to store an egg or food supplies for the future.
A beehive is made up of many vessels that appear from above to be a hexagon. It reality they are many elongated hexagonal shapes which fit together perfectly so that they become one large surface cell we refer to as the honeycomb.
It is absolutely remarkable how honeybees manage to make this structure perfectly every time. Very rarely in nature do cells fit so cohesively without any spaces in between them.
Other six sided forms that occur in nature are Quartz crystals. Although these are rarely perfectly symmetrical.
Our singular hexagonal Pasture Painting has been configured on the north-south axis, starting from the northern point. In only a matter of days six bench bee hives with green roofs will be placed within this form and welcomed with an early morning Bee-Blessing.
A six sided dwelling for six hives intended to elicit a harmonic to support thousands of healthy bees.
The Western side of Victoria Park will become base camp for the six bench beehives that are the central focus of the public sculpture The Park. We are creating a Pasture Painting in the shape of a Hexagonal over which these six hives will be placed. We are lucky as the ground under this hexagonal form is topsoil that was recently placed here as part of the tunnel development. Our preparation for this Pasture Painting includes getting our chemical free weed control partners Biothermal to hot water spray the space inside the hexagonal. This process uses water at a consistent temperature of 98 degrees to instantly kill the plants cells in the same way that a intensive burn effects our skin. This has a sweet smell a bit like boiling spinach. The sun assists with the dehydration process that follows which transforms the green space into a brown space within hours. Microbiology within cm of the surface is effected but there is no residual chemicals left in the space at all and no flight bound creatures need worry about any chemical particles which will harm them. We will inoculate this space with microbiology as we scatter seeds using Nutri-Life Network-AMF with Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi and Trichoderma from Franko Solutions in Silverdale. We will also use BioHome Garden a microbiological liquid concentrate supplied by Bio Organic Solutions Ltd several times in the first couple of weeks to help support our seedlings.
Over several weeks in April kids from High Schools in the Waitemata worked with the The Roots-Creative Entrepreneurs inventing new and innovative ideas for vertical pollen hotels that could create more pollen space in our urban environment to support bees.
Using only recycled and natural materials such as tyres, drinking bottles and bamboo these designs worked through problems like how to capture water and maximize its retention and flow for the plants they were to hold. Taking into consideration how easy it might be for others to replicate their designs the project looked to give these kids a creative problem to solve where their solutions might inspire others to have a go.
These pollen hotels are hanging in Albert park for the last week of April and the first weekend of May under the public sculpture Walking in Trees by artist Richard Orjis. After that they will be donated to some lucky people in Waitemata where they will continue to help make The Park.
The ti kouka (cabbage tree), harakeke (flax), kanuka, manuka, hebe , karo, pohutukawa, rewarewa, kaihua (NZ jasmine), puawhananga (NZ Clematis), kumarahou, kohuhu and wharangi are all good food sources for bees. However most of these plants tend to produce an abundance of food for bees for only a small period of the year. It is useful to think about other plants you can introduce into these environments that will produce nectar in these intervals so that bees can source nectar all year round. Many bee-keepers resort to feeding their hives sugar to deal with these barren periods. It is of course better if bees can get their food supply in natural ways to remain as healthy as possible.
There is a history of artists making public artworks that address environmental issues. In 1982 German artist Joseph Beuys conceived 7000 Oaks in Kassel Germany. In the same year American artist Agnes Denes created the artwork called Wheatfield – A Confrontation in New York. This work involved her planting and cropping two acres of wheat in downtown Manhattan. Denes examined the natural cycles of growth and regeneration. Her stated purpose was to call “people’s attention to having to rethink their priorities.” She constructed the Wheatfield on a landfill near the World Trade Center, an unlikely spot for crop production.
Typically, a park is a designated space for recreation, sport, leisure; or conservation segregated from the urban living environment. A park is a defined and enclosed physical space. The Park that we are proposing you help us make is not physically located in a single space – but is made up of many private contributions, dispersed across the city. When many private contributions are connected they become a common and collective space – The Park.
The Park attempts to be an public sculpture that is not an illustration of environmental issues – but an active solution that has the potential to generate a sense of community, pride and public ownership.
The concept of social sculpture was created by German artist Joseph Beuys in the 1960’s who proposed sculpture could be the community itself – shaping their society or their environment by using language, thoughts, actions, and objects.
A famous example of his work is 7000 Oaks conceived in 1982 in which he proposed planting 7000 sapling oaks next to 7000 1.2 meter high basalt rock makers in the city of Kassel Germany. That year 7000 Basalt rocks were dumped onto a lawn outside an exhibition building in Kassel. The community of Kassel were then invited to decide where these trees would be planted in their city. After five years the 7000 rocks were finally planted next to the saplings and no longer sat outside the exhibition building. Today you can see these trees towering all over Kassel as well as New York where the project was extended by The Dia Foundation.
The Park is a conceptual space and idea that becomes real through community participation. By creating a pollen hotel and posting a photo of it on our map you can help turn the Waitemata into a pollen hotspot. This pollen hotspot will secure a food source for our six beehives placed in Victoria Park this winter. When you make a pollen hotel you also help create The Park which is the space our bees will travel to source nectar to make their honey. When the six hives are harvested the honey that has been made will be available to everyone who has helped nurture its creation.
We are testing two different ways of getting rid of competing grass and weeds as part of preparing the ground for the Pasture Paintings. One of these systems is hot water spraying. This system developed by Biothermal has been used successfully for weed control on the North Shore of Auckland for some years. It works and offers an earth friendly weed control solution that is not harmful to us or bees.
Very soon Biothermal they will have units available for sale here in New Zealand that are capable of 45 minutes of electric free hot water spraying which will allow people to have tidy and chemical free gardens.
Keep an eye on our seven Pasture Paintings as they pop up around the perimeter of the Waitemata and make up your mind for yourself.
Dennis Tindall from Biothermal Technologies Ltd used to work for a major multinational chemical manufacture selling and using sprays that harm us and bees. He admits he was one of the guys that used to get up in community meetings trying to bamboozle the antichemical activists with science insisting they were perfectly harmless. Slowly Dennis began to see things that made him feel uncomfortable. He has had cancer himself, which he considers was a result of the close proximity he had to chemicals in his work place over many years. But it was an incident about 20 years ago that really turned Dennis around for good. One day after chemically spraying out in South Auckland he got a phone call to say a young boy had almost died. Dennis insisted on meeting him. Seeing this young boy so ill, made Dennis promise the boy’s father he would never use chemical sprays again and that he would work for the rest of his life to find an alternative to this harmful practice. He kept his word. Watch our pasture paintings and see for yourself Dennis’ hard work proving we no longer need to be chemical dependent.
Julian and Oliver McCurdy are second generation bee keepers. It was their father’s love of bees that culminated in the business the two brothers now run. Beezthingz uses the latest strategies to care for bees as is demonstrated by the innovative green roofs they have produced to go on their bench hives for The Park. But after decades of trial and error they insist natural chemical free practices support healthy, happy bees that produce the best quality honey. They now run the biggest hire hive business in Auckland servicing hundreds of hives as well as teaching through their workshops. They are proud to let us know they lost almost no hives this year which is incredible as bees in New Zealand and the world are in serious decline. Come and do one of their workshops where they will share their strategies’ on how to love and nurture bees with you.
Microorganisms’ are many different types of fungi and bacteria that you want to live in your soil. They process the nutrients that are locked away in things like leaves, twigs and cow poo and turn them back into their mineral forms so that plants can eat them. One microorganism called mycorrhizal fungi does so much more than that. This fungi attaches itself to plant roots so the plant looks like it has a root hair extension. With these longer roots the plant can collect so many more minerals to eat, and store lots of water. Mycorrhizal fungi also produces enzymes to help make the plant healthy. 90% of mycorrhizal fungi have been killed by chemicals so to get them back you need to inoculate for them. Fortunately this is pretty easy to do. We are re introducing this fungi along with Trichoderma back into our soil with Nutri-Life Network AMF supplied to us by Franko Solutions in Sliverdale at the same time we sow our seeds. These microorganisms will help build humus, increase the plants roots zone, boost phosphate and zinc availability, lift the levels of calcium in the plant, help the plant be more resilient, and increase the plants nitrogen fixing capacity.
The artists Taarati Taiaroa and Sarah Smuts-Kennedy asked Richard Orjis to collaborate on the Pasture Paintings with them. The Pasture Paintings are one idea for making a Pollen Hotel to feed the bees in Victoria Park. Pasture Paintings are shapes hot steamed into roadside berms around the edge of the Waitemata that are planted in plants you might find in pastures, like clover and lupins. You can find out more about Pasture Paintings and Pollen Hotels in other posts on this blog.
Richard Orjis made another work for the Pop projects called Walking in Trees.
Underneath Richards public sculpture called Walking in Trees supported vertical Pollen Hotels made by high school students across Auckland who worked with the Roots Collective on their project Pollinate.
Pop, a Waitemata Local Board arts funded initiative offered a platform for these artists to work across content and space on individual and collaborative projects.
This invitation to make work both as individuals and in collaboration is extended to you the public. If you make a Pollen Hotel in your own space; at work or at home, add it to The Park map at makethepark.info. In doing so, you will become part of the collaboration team who helped make and shape the public sculpture The Park.
The conceptual artwork called The Park is the result of several years of collaboration between the artists Taarati Taiaroa and Sarah Smuts-Kennedy who met while completing their Masters at the University of Auckland, Elam School of Fine Art in 2011. In 2012 the artists began working on an idea for an artwork that would allow them to ask questions about the distinctions of public versus private space. They were also intrigued how they, two women living in Auckland, might discuss, critique and make Earth Works, a genre of art commonly defined by the work of American male artists who worked on large scales across vast spaces, often in the deserts of America, in the 1960′s. Over the years, the project has evolved and they became increasingly interested in how environmental work might also become an invitation to participate and a framework for change. The two artists are interested in problems inherent in the Relational art model and the potential the model Social Sculpture, developed by German artist Joseph Beuys, may offer for supporting a dynamic engagement between artists and the public to imagine, and make forms in collaboration.
The public sculpture The Park is a conceptual idea that is a framework for; thinking across space, increasing perception of relationships between nature and man, and transforming private space into a public artwork and individual actions into collective outcomes.
Both Sarah Smuts-Kennedy and Taarati Taiaroa have their own individual art practices.
The Park was invited to be a foundation project for the Waitemata Local Boards inaugural Pop projects in 2014.
While some of our favorite pasture plants produce food for bees they also fix nitrogen in the soil. By working with a bacteria present in the soil they are able to take nitrogen that is floating around in the air and store it into nodules on their roots. When these plants die and compost back into the ground this nitrogen is then released into the soil for the surrounding plants to consume in a form that they can digest. This is really useful as it is really hard to get nitrogen into the soil in a form that plants can eat and plants need lots of nitrogen. Nitrogen fixing plants you can grow include alfalfa, lupins, beans, clover, peas, peanuts, buckwheat, mustard, vetch and lucerne.
As well as producing food for bees and other insects these pasture plants help the soil become a fertile and drought resistant space. The more complex a green space is the more biodiversity it can support, the more minerals it produces, the more water it holds and the more dynamic it is. So plant as many varieties as you can.
Clover- fixes nitrogen, and produces food for bees. Lupins- fixes nitrogen and produces food for bees. Chicory- has roots that mine deep down into the ground for minerals and produces food for bees. Mustard- fixes nitrogen, gets rid of wireworm which eat potatoes and produces food for bees. Lucerne-fixes nitrogen and produces food for bees. Forage Peas -fixes nitrogen and produces food for bees. Vetch -fixes nitrogen and produces food for bees. Phacelia- produces food for bees.
The shape of Pasture Paintings #3 on Gladstone Road, Parnell was informed by the boundary of the space. We wanted to make a form that pointed back into the middle of The Park and so we chose to construct a triangle. The base line sits on the North/South Axis. The top corner points North and the arrow head of the triangle points towards the bee hives in a Western direction.
Pasture Painting #4 is located on Motions Road between Tapac and the Auckland Zoo in Western Springs. #4 was like the previous Pasture Paintings site-responsive. The pole across the tram track was used as a central point to project two lines 66 degrees apart. Their open form is designed catch and reflect the point of Pasture Painting #3 in the East.
Both sites have been seeded in yellow flowered pasture plants; mustard, dandelion and lupins, which will grow to different heights and flower at different times.
To find out more about Pasture Paintings click on the Topics tab down the bottom of this page and select Pasture Paintings.
Before scattering any seeds we need to make sure our ground is good enough to grow pasture plants.
Firstly we want to get rid of the competing grass without the using any chemicals which harm microorganisms and insects. So we will use a new hot-water spray system. Then we will focus on reintroducing microorganism communities back into the spaces we intend to create our pasture paintings on. Microorganisms will help our plants grow. We have inoculated all the ground where we have scattered seed with Nutri-Life Network- AMF. This microorganism blend reintroduces Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi, and Trichoderma back into the soil as quickly as possible to help our plants have strong healthy root systems.
The Pasture Paintings for The Park are being created following the moon cycles.
The ascending and descending moon cycle refers to the moon moving on an axis that makes it appear as if it is getting higher and lower in the sky over a 27 day cycle.
The waxing and waning moon cycle involves the moon appearing fuller to us here on earth (as in the full moon) and then looking as if it has disappeared (which we call a new moon).
The ascending and descending moon cycle effects the gravitational pull of water here on earth. As plants are almost 90% water these gravitational shifts really effect them.
On an ascending moon, the moon draws away from the earth and seems to move upwards into the sky. This creates a levitational tow on sap in the plant and makes it flow more strongly upwards.
The ascending moon effects tasks in the garden like:
Pruning trees- cutting a branch when its sap is rising means the tree is more likely to weep. It is best to avoid pruning trees on an ascending moon.
Propagation of all plants that produce things above ground- Fruit (tomatoes, plums, strawberries) Flowers and Leaf plants (leeks, spinach, parsley). The levitational pull amplifies the seed’s will to push out of its shell and up into the the world.
On a descending moon the moon draws again back towards the earth, and seems to get lower in the sky. Its effect is a more gravitational tow on the sap in the plant, drawing it down into the earth.
The descending moon effects tasks in the garden like:
Transplanting – when plants need to focus on settling their roots into the new ground.
Digging over garden beds – To make sure you lose the least amount moisture from the ground as you open up your garden bed.
48 hours before a full moon is a good time to sow seeds as well as a good time to do your organic pest control for bugs. There is always more moisture in the air around the full moon.
Some cultures refer to the new moon as a no moon suggesting that it is a good time to have rest day and do nothing in the garden at this time.