The idea behind this project was conceived, and all aspects of the planning, management and delivery been overseen by environmental artists
Ann Loscombe and Wendy Campbell-Briggs. Its intention is to raise awareness of the plight of the British honey bee and what we can do to reverse their decline. Imagine a world without bees, a world where warm summer days no longer hum with the sound of buzzing; where no honey bees wander lazily from flower to flower and where the taste of honey is but a distant memory.
Environmental art is an art form that helps improve our relationship with the natural world. There is no definition set in stone and much environmental art is ephemeral, designed for a particular place, or involves collaborations between artists and others, such as scientists, educators or community groups. The philosophy is based on ecological awareness and the harmonic coexistence of human beings and nature. That is why this environmental art project with its roots in scientific research can be seen as an ideal tool for raising awareness of the importance of the honey bee within our environment.
The artists work with the support of Dr David Chandler, Entomologist and Senior Research Scientist at the Horticultural Research Institute, Warwick University.
Dr Chandler has been investigating ways of eliminating the invasive parasite Varroa Destructor (App 1 – Fungus Footbaths) and is currently working on bee nutrition. The reasons for honey bee decline are manifold, but loss of habitat, pesticides and the Varroa mite are all possible causes – most scientists and bee keepers believe it is a combination of all three.
After our first meetings with Dr Chandler, it became apparent that together we could help people better understand the hard facts of science through the softer approach of art. If we could create the opportunity for a community to come together, to embrace biodiversity, we could begin to reverse the loss of our pollinators, the British honey bee. This is not a new idea, in the past, each village would have had its own bee keeper, pollinate its own crops and produce its own honey. It is this age old approach to community togetherness that is at the heart of the Tocil Bee Habitat Meadow project. Every community can achieve this, whether it is within a city or a village – together, we can plant pollen rich meadow flowers in gardens, parks, meadows and hedgerows and ensure the survival of our bees.
The Project’s ‘community’ was to be drawn from several organisations across all age groups and as a symbol of the work done, and to inspire others, a permanent sculpture is to be placed in the meadow.
A very important part of this project was the creation of a blog which has become an integral part of the project as it: forms a diary of events; is used as an educational tool; and for sending out calls for volunteer help; a forum for debate.