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Reflecting on Pollinators

During my time at BASE thus far, I’ve been given some unique opportunities – whether it be helping to build a parklet organized as a corporate team-building exercise, building some burly benches, developing marketing materials, or creating some fun designs and renderings. However, one of the most interesting opportunities has been learning about pollinators.

Patricia and Andreas capturing a swarm back in April

Patricia and Andreas capturing a swarm back in April.

Patricia’s interest in and advocacy for bees (as well as other helpful pollinators such as butterflies, moths, or hummingbirds) has opened my eyes to many different issues of which I was not previously aware. Some of these include the disappearing honey bee populations, the importance of educating people about the benefits of pollinators, the widespread use of pesticides in agriculture and ornamental planting.

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Patricia pointing out the bee larvae and checking for mite damage.

Many of these issues also affect our work as landscape architects. At BASE, we strive to incorporate plants that attract and allow pollinators to thrive. But as a discipline we can be doing more to specify plants that have been grown organically and free of pesticides.

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Busy bees.

We’re lucky enough to have our very own living laboratory, the Algarden Urban Farm, only a few blocks from the studio where we can go to test out new ideas. Having this resource so close has meant walking over on lunch breaks or in the evenings to harvest fruits, vegetables, and herbs, do some weeding, establish new planting beds, or tend to the bees. Patricia has three hives of honey bees who live at the garden and help to pollinate it so we can all enjoy the wonderful produce. Prior to joining BASE, I had no knowledge of beekeeping, but I’ve been able to accompany Patricia to the garden to help out with and learn more about her bees. I’ve been able to don the bee suit, smoker in hand, and help capture a swarm, establish a new hive, introduce a new queen, and check for mites.

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The bees feeding their larvae and working on the honey.

It’s been fun learning about the different types of bees and their role in the hive, how and when to harvest the honey, and how to establish a new hive.

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The bees in their hive.

I never would have imagined all of these different experiences would be possible in a landscape architecture firm, but am learning that they are also inherently important to the field.