All posts by Patricia

The Making of a Mural

I keep thinking how lucky I am to have people in my life that help me bring my dreams to reality. This time I’m particularly grateful for Megan Stevens and Tara Nejma who’s creative energy manifested this mural into a reality beyond what I had imagined. Huge thanks also to Cesar Moran who wrote and then carefully painted his “Pollinator Pilgrimage” poem on the wall and to Rob Bell for sharing his space and allowing me to express myself. Thank you to Ryan Stevens and Todd Hanson for cleaning, fixing and prepping the space. Thank you Natalie Martell for your patience thought this and for helping us paint.

The pollinator portal mural had been a dream for a long time, years… finally this year we did it! It is the next best thing to an actual garden view filled with flowers and pollinators. It is really inspirational and it has filled our work space with color and vibrancy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aside from the ongoing satisfaction of the view I find the creative process to be the most exciting part of the project. Tara, Megan and I meet last year to brainstorm ideas. I told them what I had in mind and they added their creative juices and started sketching. The initial sketch was a good start but needed some edits. I wanted a hexagon in the center and the flower of life as the base. Megan wanted a lotus flower in the center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slowly and after a few iterations of the sketch, the design evolved into something that we all liked.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bee-autiful collaborative process to create the overall vision. Then Megan painted all the flowers and Tara painted the pollinators. I just helped pain a little bit here and there.

The wall of the mural also needed a lot of work. It was a messy wall with different textures, colors, etc. It needed to be smooth and one color ready to receive the art.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the wall was smooth and ready to paint, a grid was set to do the circles that would create the flower of life as a base for the entire mural. Rob CNC cut us a giant protractor to do it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hexagons were painted from the intersecting points of the flower of life circles. And in the central hexagon a ring of bees around the lotus flower and the echinaceas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next came the pollinator friendly flowers -sunflower, milkweed, cosmos, lavender, borage, California poppies, phacelia, dandelion and a sun flower. And the other pollinators -Hummingbird, butterflies and a dragonfly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last touch was the poem. Cesar Moran-Cahusac wrote a bee-autiful poem for our mural “Pollination Pilgramage”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ta-da!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some pollinators are missing in the mural, we see this as a work in progress, next year we will add a bat and some cacti and more bees…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you to everyone who participated and helped us made this possible.

We are loving our new space!

It is not every day that your team receives a national award from the American Society of Landscape Architects. But, today was that day and I feel very proud and honored. I am also very contemplative and reflective. These feelings are not only for the recognition of our work and the great comradery amongst our team; they encompass a deeper sense of honor for belonging to a larger profession of extremely intelligent, dedicated, creative and committed individuals.img_8727

 

Landscape architects are a group of people that care deeply about our earth and finding ways to remediate the tremendous damage our environment has endured. Our solutions look not only at the ecological impacts but also the social factors of environmental justice and even beyond that to re-establishing our lost spiritual connection to the natural elements and the mythological creatures that represent and live in nature.

 

This year marked the 50th anniversary of the Landscape Architecture Foundation Declaration. A group of landscape architects, including Ian McHarg, originally wrote the declaration as a desperate response to the environmental atrocities of the time. Fifty years later, leaders in the field of landscape architecture gathered to update that declaration with a new 21st century vision. It is a beautifully crafted one-page call to action for landscape architects in this age of complex environmental and cultural challenges. It is a document that fully resonates with my design manifesto. Its existence reveals how much we need this to unite us, rather than separate us in competition. We are a small group of like-minded individuals with a common goal; the time is now and we must work together to make significant policy changes if we want a good life on this earth for future generations.

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img_8709img_8675img_8635This year, the ASLA conference was in New Orleans, Louisiana. Unlike previous conference locations, I felt very connected to New Orleans. Perhaps the power of being in such a magical place played a big role; the majestic Mississippi, incredible architecture, fantastic music, amazing food, warm and welcoming locals make it easy to feel connected and fall in love with the Crescent City. Mysticism is all around; it evaporates from the bayou and hangs out in the inescapable humidity, there is no option but to embrace and celebrate it. People mob and vandalize cemetery tombs to get the blessings of the voodoo priestess; play music in the streets that move you to unknown depths, celebrate Halloween with a very unique parade filled with dancing sirens, monsters and Elvis’; and create the most elaborate Halloween home displays I have ever seen. Spirit is so alive in New Orleans.

fullsizerender-1I knew New Orleans was a good place for contemplation, on my dreams that have come true, when I found a pearl in my oyster. The dream of having a landscape architecture firm with some of my best friends where we get to play and be creative and design gardens for children and bees together; the dream of presenting my ideas about places for grievance in the public right away and celebrating and honoring death, bringing spirit to our every day life; the dream of being recognized by our colleagues with an award for the work we are doing to take the parks and nature to under represented communities that need it most.

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The BASE team converged at New Orleans for the conference, where we stayed at a wonderful and super funky crooked house in the Garden District. The house had the feeling of our beloved Pink House in West Berkeley (where BASE operated for over three years) bringing an element of comfort and nostalgia. Almost a year ago, Andreas left the Bay Area and moved to Portland. I miss him a lot and being able to spend this time with him in New Orleans was a beautiful gift. Together, we attended a presentation by Peter Walker and William Johnson. Pete was our neighbor at the Pink House; he was also the man who inspired and encouraged me to become a landscape architect. Fifteen years ago, when I first met Pete, I knew nothing about landscape architecture or who he was. He was incredibly generous with his time and took me out for lunch, he was also kind and extremely patient with me, and gave me great advice: become a landscape architect!. By example, he taught me a great lesson, always make time to people interested in the profession, teach and be a mentor. I will never forget that.

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The key note presentation was a conversation between Pete and Bill sharing stories of how they met at Harvard School of Design, how they worked together throughout the years even as they lived in different states, how they always called each other for projects and creative advice. Pete ended the presentation with the dedication of his book “Peter Walker and Partners: Landscape Architecture-Defining the Craft” to Bill, his classmate, teacher, friend, and partner. I could not help but get teary-eyed and feel my heart sing with joy sitting next to Andreas, my classmate, teacher, friend, and partner. I know this is only the beginning of a long journey. I feel inspired by our profession and committed to always do the best work I can do, to stay involved and connected with other landscape architects, to keep learning, especially from the plants, and to share what I know and inspire the next generation. I feel honored to be a landscape architect and to have mother earth as my boss, like my dear professor Chip Sullivan says.

Life is beautiful and full of magic!

 

 

by Julia Prince

Since its inception, the activists behind The Dolores Street Pollinator Boulevard have had to demonstrate the popularity of and acclaim for their vision among the sf-beautiful-logo-300
community in order to gain permitting, funds, and support– a process typical of any public project. Last night, however, at SF Beautiful’s 45th Annual Beautification Awards, the community spoke for itself to honor the achievements of the first median’s garden on Dolores Street; the inaugural segment of the Pollinator Boulevard to come to fruition. With the second median already underway, the project aims to transform the entire street in following years from a corridor of thirsty turf to one of
captivating gardens and teeming pollinator habitat, a challenging but attainable goal that will require the continuous engagement of the community.

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45th SF Beautification Awards at the Marines Memorial Club

SF Beautiful is the humble and tireless group behind numerous, critical milestones that have both preserved the character of and promoted propitious development within our beloved city. As said in their mission statement, for over 60 years, SF Beautiful, “…has been instrumental in creating and delivering community-centered design and public benefits.” Some of their successes include, “Saving San Francisco’s cable car system…Launching the first citywide tree planting program…Capping the number of billboards in the city…Legalizing sidewalk seating…[and] Creating developer and business tax set asides to fund public art & greening.” Every year, SF Beautiful, “honors San Francisco’s stewards and placemakers” that contribute to keeping the city beautiful, inviting the public to both take part in nominations and attend the event.

This year’s event was held at the classic and elegant Marine’s Memorial Club, where a diverse group of inspiring visionaries filled the exquisite Crystal Lounge. Tickets were
extremely affordable and well worth the poignantly moving experience that took place. The tables of refreshments were almost as impressive as the discourse among the intriguing array of attendees preceding the awards ceremony. It was truly humbling to be in a room of such golden-gate-nomineesprogressive, passionate, change-makers. There were representatives from every, unique neighborhood of San Francisco celebrating what appears to be a fabulously pervasive fabric of organizing and activism enveloping the metropolis. At a time when negativity has seemed to siege “the news” of San Francisco and criticisms of its development patterns are often more common than commendations, remembering what makes this place great and shedding light on the multitude of community-driven projects that have been materializing all across our foggy hills this year was nothing short of tear-jerking. I will admit it; I cried. Even more of a joy than winning an award was simply being in the presence of and learning about the accomplishments of this constructive, bright, effective group of people.

But, winning the award was pretty exciting too (and did I mention we got to arrive in a limousine?) SF Beautiful recognizes nominees within a number of categories, such
as placemaking, grassroots action, converting under-utilized space, bringing nature to the city, and creating neighborhood character. This year, in a pool of remarkable competition, The Dolores Street Pollinator Boulevard came out on top winning the Golden Gate Award for advancing the, “…union of nature and the built environment.” It was a powerful moment standing in front of the room, adorned in bedazzled bee brooches, accepting the award with Patricia Algara, Founder of With Honey in the Heart, Principal of BASE Landscape Architecture and leading force behind the Pollinator Boulevard, Natalie Martel, landscape architect with BASE, Andrew Sundling, cofounder of With Honey in the Heart, and Chad Beecher, resident of 38 Dolores Street and whom we refer to as “the garden angel” for all he does in stewarding the first median on a daily basis.

From left: Presenter, Patricia, Chad, Natalie, Andrew, Julia

From left: Jared Press, Interim Director of Build:Public, Patricia, Chad, Natalie, Andrew, Julia

The closing remarks made by SF Beautiful Board Member and longtime leader, Bob Friese, left the audience with a precious piece of guidance; to get young people involved in keeping San Francisco as the city we know and love. He declared the undeniable fortune many in the room had met with economic growth in the Bay Area over recent decades, but made the astute observation that the development resulting from such gains is endangering the very reasons many of us came to this city from elsewhere in the first place; because it has a charm and character that can only be found here. And as more young people populate our neighborhoods from other cities, states, and countries, in search of the very same prosperity an older generation looked for and found, it is important to remind them what San Francisco is really about and nurture this great city’s spirit in the face of impending change. The purpose of SF Beautiful is not to deny development, but embrace it, and bring different stakeholders together to guide its trajectory for the good of all San Franciscans.

Dolores Street captured by Cezar from Chad's apartment before the event. SF is beautiful!

Dolores Street captured by Cesar from Chad’s apartment before the event. SF is beautiful!

I see much the same purpose in the Dolores Street Pollinator Boulevard. As a 25 year-old, one year resident of this city, I have often felt like part of the problem. However, it is through the Pollinator Boulevard and participatory projects like those celebrated last night that people like me are welcomed, even as newcomers, to be part of the solutions that have been work-in-progresses of SF Beautiful and its community partners since 1947. I would love to see more young adults, newbies like myself, the employees of Google, Facebook, Salesforce, the engineers, designers, the tradespeople, the bartenders, artists, and activists, all populating our workdays on the Dolores Street Pollinator Boulevard and filling the Crystal Lounge at next year’s SF Beautification Awards. Because if I have learned anything in my short time in this beautiful city, it is no matter who you are, if you find yourself here, you are part of this– you are responsible for upholding a collective identity around a truly great place– and that takes all kinds.

Aside from just my own sentimental sentiments, the makers of The Dolores Street Pollinator Boulevard are beyond proud to be inducted into this extraordinary group of change-makers. We are excited for all that the many connections made last night have to bring: opportunities for collaboration, seeking and giving support, and growth toward a brighter future for San Francisco. I will leave you with what Patricia said with simple eloquence while we were around the dinner table, celebrating our success, last night– “Life is beautiful.”

And lastly, if you did not see this in our most recent blog entry, please check out the following video of the second median sheet mulching day which showcases our stellar volunteers and how the neighborhood is encouraging the continued work of the Dolores Street Pollinator Boulevard. Also, a big thanks to Peter, one of the volunteers featured in this video, for nominating the Pollinator Boulevard for the SF Beautiful Golden Gate Award. Thank you, Peter!

Come join us and help plant pollinator habitat!

We are building a new pollinator garden at Park Lab. We will be gathering Friday, June 24th from 4 to 7pm at 4th St and Mission Bay Blvd.  Stop by to throw some Seedles and help us paint a chalk sidewalk mural.

All are welcome. We hope to see you there!

What: Community Planting Day

When: Friday, June 24

Time: 4pm – 7pm

Where: 4th St and Mission Bay Blvd

What to Bring: Friends and good energy!

 

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The BUZZ ON DOLORES ST.

written by Alison Malouf

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whimh_logo_smallThe grassy islands that divide Dolores Street are one of the most visible casualties of San Francisco’s drought. Last October, Patricia noticed withered brown patches spreading through the once lush medians, the result of the city staunching their sprinklers in an effort to conserve water. The solution seemed obvious – to tear out the thirsty turf and populate the medians with plants that have evolved to thrive under drier conditions. Vivid California Poppies, Sages, spiky Spider Aloe, and other bright, drought tolerant, and pollinator friendly plants can create a much needed habitat for our bees. The pollinators, essential to the reproductive cycle of a third of our food crops, can take advantage of the continuous ribbon of Dolores Street as a pesticide-free urban garden sheltered from the heavy pesticide use on agricultural lands. As mono-culture farming and careless use of pesticides make agricultural habitats less hospitable to pollinators, cities have the potential to play a valuable role in their conservation. We believe every garden/open space in the urban environment should be a pollinator haven!

Context

When Patricia reached out to the city with this idea, she was met with an enthusiastic expression of interest and a couple of caveats. First, the city, while excited by the proposal, was unable to fund the project. Second, Patricia would need to secure the neighborhood’s support. Starting at the northern end of Dolores, she approached Prado Group, the developers and management of the new 38 Dolores building, and Whole Foods. She found them eager to contribute to a lively new median through partial funding and future maintenance. Support from the Mission Dolores Neighborhood Association (MDNA) followed only after the commitments of Prado Group and Whole Foods were enshrined in writing and the design had been approved by a historic consultant. The median is in the process of becoming a historic landmark, but it was determined that its historic character will not be compromised as long as the iconic palms remain untouched.

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MDNA also expressed concern that the gathering places featured in the original design would change the medians from stately, distant oases to congested satellites of Dolores Park, so the design was modified to fully blanket the median in flowers. Finally, Patricia set up an information booth at Whole Foods and hosted a community meeting at 38 Dolores to supply information and answer questions about the project. The community members who stopped to talk to her showed their excitement by providing signatures, letters of support and willingness to volunteer on the project. We submitted these to the San Francisco Department of Public Works, and we are thrilled to announce that the proposal has been approved and we will begin work on the pollinator garden at Market & Dolores this summer!150624 - Planting Plan_Page_1Planting Plan-2Bloom Chart

The design is done, with low water, pollinator friendly plants carefully chosen to bloom in an unbroken relay all year long. The next step is to tear up the old turf and lay down sheet mulch. Sheet mulch is a permaculture technique to build soils rich in organic matter and control extremely weedy areas. Layers of nitrogen and carbon rich materials are spread over the soil, breaking down naturally over time and creating nutritious soil without the addition of commercial fertilizers. It is also a natural way to eradicate weeds, vital at a site like this where the turf has been established for decades and filled the soil with its seeds. The sheet mulch will sit for six months to suppress any lingering grass seed and condition the soil to receive the new plants in December. Several community members have generously offered to help prepare the median for planting. Prado Group will fund the turf removal, BayView Green Waste will provide the mulch, and Whole Foods will donate cardboard for the mulching and dedicate one of their quarterly 5% days to fund the purchase of boulders, signage, and some low protection for the area.

But there is still more to do! In August, we will apply for an SF Community Challenge Grant to cover the cost of plants. Fingers crossed by October we will receive the grant to purchase all the plants that we need.

We’re starting small, with the first block of Dolores at Market Street, but we’re dreaming big!!! We imagine the barren strips that run the rest of Dolores’ length frothing with plants and pollinators, a network of gardens wriggling its way over and through the San Francisco hills to wash the streets in sweet scents and shifting colors. We want this pollinator boulevard to become San Francisco’s pollinator neighborhood, connected to the new pollinator garden at Dolores Park and to all the school and church gardens along Dolores. We’d love your help – please feel free to contact us if you would like more information, or to be a part of this project!

Work Plan

Jepson Bee Workshop

I had the great honor to be invited to the Jepson Herbarium native bee workshop hosted by the Urban bee lab at UC Berkeley. The event took place at the UC Hastings reserve nested deep in Carmel Valley. The workshop had attendance from all over the United States, and even someone from Australia and New Zealand. Most people were entomology researchers, and some museum docents. Photo Jun 07, 9 38 24 AM

The setting was not only magnificent to enjoy but it is also one of the areas with the highest diversity of native bees. About 400 different species can be found there. Keep in mind that there is an  estimated 20,000 different species of bees in the world. California has about 1600. Identifying this bees is no easy task, I learned. But it is important work to keep track of the health of the species.
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The workshop focused on learning to identify native bees and looking at which bees are attracted to which plants. This is helpful to understand what plants to use to support pollination in agriculture and healthy bee diversity. Our time there included lots of lectures about bee identification and the different research that the legendary Dr. Robbin ThorpDr. Frankie, Jamie and Sara are doing at the UCB bee lab. There was also a lecture on how to photograph bees up close by Rollin Coville. I was especially excited about that lecture because it gave me a good excuse to buy a macro lens that I have been dreaming about for years. We spend a lot of time in the lab looking at bees under the microscope but also a lot of time in the field observing and collecting bees.
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It became very apparent to me that this group of bee entomologist had low tolerance for anything non scientific. I asked about the healing properties of native bee venom compared with honey bees and got a what-are-you-talking-about-there-is-no-scientific-proof-for that response. So, for the most part, I kept my spiritual connection to the bees to myself. But I did share some of my apiteraphy success experiences and some people were interested on hearing my “non-scientific” bee stories.
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During out five day workshop, we were guided through the scientific process that they have developed to asses the population of native bees. We placed traps with with soapy water on different color plates in the field at 8′ intervals, and came back to collect the bees after 4 hours.
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We also collected bees with nets in specific plants. One of the research that they are doing is bee/plant relationship, looking at which bees are attracted to which plants.
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We then took those bees back to the lab, most of them were already dead but to be sure they were placed in jars with ethyl acetate/nail polish remover. We then placed them in a tea ball and dried them up with a hair drier to get their hair and wings all fluffy again. high tech!
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Then, the hardest part, pinning the bees. We had to careful insert a pin in the abdomen of the bees and place them with the wings, legs, antenna, etc. extended so they can dry up like that and be identified.
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We specified which bees were found at which plants and line them up so they can keep track. I gather all my bravery to do this work, in the name of science! This was hard enough for me and then one of the bees that I pinned started coming back to life and was moving on the pin. I was terrified. They took the bee away from me and put it on the freezer to make sure it died. They tried to convince me that since bees have no brains they feel no pain. Nice try! I was done pinning bees. There was no sharing circle or any other outlet to express my feelings and emotions with this group of scientist so I just went on a walk and waited outside until happy hour. I needed a drink!
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However looking at the bees under the microscope is really fascinating!!! They are so incredibly beautiful and colorful. Native bees come in all colors, amazing metallic blues and greens, bright yellows, orange, black. They have iridescent wings that go from pink to purples to oranges. They have 3 third eyes! National Geographic did an amazing story called Intimate portrait of bees that show some of this amazing bees up close. Looking at the bees under the microscope kind of reminded me of diving and being suspended in another reality seeing incredibly beautiful creatures. As I looked at them, I kept wondering how do we look to them through those big and tiny eyes.
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Photography by Sam Droege, USGS

 Out in the field we collected nectar from different flowers to measure the sucrose level, this gives us more information on why different bees are attracted to different flowers. We can also see how some flowers release all the nectar and pollen at once while others do it at intervals throughout the day or at a certain day after opening.
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The flowers get covered with a paper bag early in the day so the bees can not take the nectar. We then remove flower petals gently to reveal nectar at the base of the flowers and we collect the nectar from the flower using a microcapillary pipette. The nectar is then released onto the prismatic surface of a pocket refractometer and with that we get the sucrose results. It was not as easy as it sounds….
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Turns out pollination is not just bees going from flower, it is a lot more complicated than that. Pollination is a multifaceted, complex relationship between an enormous diversity of plants and animals. And not all bee pollination happens in the same way, some bees carry pollen on their legs, soma carry it on their bellies, and some bees vibrate as they approach the flowers to release the pollen.
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The Clarkia unguiculata  is one of such flowers. It has eight long stamens, the outer four of which have large red anthers. The stigma protrudes from the flower and can be quite large. It also moves as the days progress as you can see on the picture above. On the first day the stigma is low but by the second day the stigma curves up. A specific type of native bee is attracted to this flower, it lands on the flower and it vibrates onto the stigma, the vibration releases the pollen from the four outer anthers. Once the pollen gets released other bees, such as this bumble bee can collect it and move it around. There it was, in front of us, the oldest love affair in the planet, pollination.
IMG_8212I realized that the beauty of this phenomena, weather we see it trough a scientific or a spiritual lens, is our
ability to witness the magic of it. Life happening, transforming, unfolding in front of our eyes.
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In deep gratitude to the Berkeley bee lab team for inviting me to this exciting week filled with bees, science and magic! With honey in my heart!

“Life without wonder is not worth living.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel

Our Children Museum of Sonoma County project got published in Landscape Design Magazine in China.

Check it out:

Landscape Design - Cover

 

Landscape Design - Page 94-95

 

 

Landscape Design - Page 96-97Landscape Design - Page 98-99

 

Landscape Design - Page 100-101

 

 

Raise the Queen!

It is not every day that I meet a bee priestess at her bee sanctuary. But it just happened, in the South Point of the Big Island of Hawaii! Through a magical synchronistic set of circumstances I was able to find and meet a Melissae sister Alison Yahna.


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We connected for a few hours, and under the buzzing of her kitchen hive we entered into the “Hive zone” where time and space became ethereal. We both recognized each other from another time through the shared stories and visions that we have received from the bees, shamanic journeying and dreams.


kitchen hive

It is always a sweet reminder that I am on the right path when I find bee sisters with whom I can connect in this way. It is together that we are reconstructing the comb that holds the forgotten stories of the path and the medicine of the hive. We are the new archetypes creating the modern day mythology of the Melissae. As I sit and write this I got a very special book in the mail “The Song of Increase – Returning to Our Sacred Partnership with Honeybees” by Jacqueline Freeman. It is hard to focus and write this because I just want to finish reading this amazing book. It is, as if I’m writing and reading the same story. The book is yet another confirmation and I will include some of the bees voices from the book in this post.

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My trip to Hawaii was partly fun and relaxation and partly research and exploration both professionally and spiritually. I have been working on a plan to create a bee sanctuary, a place to honor, protect and learn from the bees. This is a vision (a task) that was given to me by the bees. Hawaii keeps coming up as a place to explore for this project.  I visited a few farms and talked to many farmers while I was there. They all reported the same, the bees are dying. Similar to the bees in the main land, the bees in Hawaii are suffering from the Varroa Mites. But the island has also been hit with two recent invaders, Nosema ceranae, and the small hive beetle, which have further exasperated the disappearance of the bees in the Big Island. Nosema is a type of fungus that can shorten the bee’s life span by about one week.  The small hive beetle has spread to hives around the island and is responsible for the loss of thousands of hives on the island. It lays its eggs in the hives and as the larvae develop, they eat everything in the hive leaving a slime, which renders the hive unlivable for the bees. This happens really fast and bee keepers have to be on a constant search for the beetles checking the hives every four days or so, which is really time consuming and hard to do.

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When I meet with Allison we talked about this issue and she reported that she has lost a lot of her hives to the beetles. She thinks the shape of the hives is a big contributor to the problem because the beetles can easily hide in the square boxes. She is working on transitioning her hives to round hives – sun hives and has a business plan to create sun hives as they are currently not available in the US. She is seeing wild hives build on the open air. Hawaii is warm enough that bees dont need the box and she thinks this helps them protect from the pests because there is no place for them in the open air hives.

We also talked about the larger complexity of why bees are dying. Yes, the systemic pesticides (Neonicotinoids) applied indiscriminately to all plants, edibles and ornamentals, are weakening the immune system of the bees. Yes, bees are unable to survive the pest that attack them. But all that, in a way, is a symptom of the larger problem. We have lost our sacred relationship with bees.

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In ancient times, humans planted a garden and bees pollinated it and made it fertile. Humans approached bees with reverence and looked at them with a certain consciousness as if they were divine gods on earth. Humans loved and honored bees. This was a common theme on all ancient civilizations. In Greece, the priestess of the oracle at Delphi were known as the Delphic Bees – The Melissae, they gathered around the Omphalo  (a hive shaped stone) for guidance and psychic knowledge.  In the bees words through Jacqueline Freeman “Pollination is much more than fertilization. The act of pollinating moves reproductive forces and, at the same time, enlivens the ether…The hive is a beacon of light where work and love go hand in hand. To the nature spirits, each hive and each bee is wrapped in light. The sound of an industrious hive is so full of life that it feeds the soul. Hives are sources of  spiritual nourishment for the kingdom of nature’s spirits and places of deep reverence. Nature spirits come here and recharge and rejuvenate themselves.”

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Today, bees are being exploited in an abusive, unsustainable and broken agricultural system. They are shipped from monoculture to monoculture, sprayed with pesticides, feed sugar water or even worse high fructose corn syrup, treaded with chemicals and they are feared by the majority of people. But mostly bees are not allowed to swarm and queens are being raped and artificially inseminated to keep certain genetic traits that make them easy to control and manage. In commercial hives queens are replaced every year and old queens are killed. However queens can live up to 6 years and it is the scent of a queen that keeps a hive together. Alison worked with the queen breeders in Kona, they are one of the largest queen breeders in the country, producing about half a million queens from a few dozen drones sperm through artificial insemination. The message Allison got from the bees while she was there was “Raise the Queen, Raise your own inner Queen!”

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In the words of the bees through Freeman “Each Queen’s scent differs from the next by her story…This scent surrounds us and speaks to us every day telling us how loved we are and, in return, we want nothing but to honor them by being in service to the queen…When beekeepers replace a Queen we grieve inconsolably in her absence and then a stranger is thrown into our midst…This new Queen who smells of foreign land, does not know our ancestors, the elements, nor the natural history of our sisters and brothers. Our true Queen is gone and without her our family line is empty.”

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Swarming is also a very important part of the hive, it has been controlled and denied in commercial bee keeping and discourage by bee keeping associations for hobbyist bee keepers. Swarming is how bees naturally reproduce and adapt to the environment and change their DNA. In Alison’s words “swarming is how bees infuse their species with vital energy from the cosmos.” New queens go out and mate with 12 to 20 drones taking all of their sperm. This gives the queens a wide diversity of genetical traits to adapt to changes.

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Alison told me that bees reflect the consciousness of humans. To them, we are the gods of this planet and our thoughts are physical and real. The situation of bees is a reflection of the situation of humanity. Bees don’t need to be cured with chemical treatments. We agree that bees should be let alone, treatment free. She thinks the most important thing we can do is send love to the bees, change the thought pattern away from fear and move into reverence and love for the bees. It is through love that we all elevate our vibration and well being. One of my teachers, Laura Bee, director of the College of the Melissae also speaks about keeping treatment free bees, let them do what they know what to do and adapt. She has taught me the power of visualization and prayer with and for the bees. We must create a new level of collective consciousness where we see bees as goddesses again. Elevating their status will help them heal and do their work which is needed for our own wellbeing. We must work together.

Alison has created a bee sanctuary in the South Point in the shape of the flower of life. This sanctuary is a place to honor the bees, portal, an energetic grid and has been created only for bees not for humans. This is a place for the bees to gather strength and carry the new restored way of thinking and caring for bees. She hopes that this sanctuary will be replicated all over the world. This sanctuaries will be anchor points from which the planetary shifts will be moving into a higher vibration.

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2015 is the year we raise the queen, build bee sanctuaries/temples and spread the love for the bees! More than ever our commitment to building healthy environments for pollinators is at the front of our work. We are working not only on the design and creation of pollinator gardens and sanctuaries but also on education and advocacy for pollinators. We are excited for all the projects that will be happening this year and for new partnerships and collaboration with many sacred sites in which we will build bee sanctuaries. Stay tuned and let us know if you want to build a bee sanctuary in your land.

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In the words of the bees through Freeman ” This is the gift we bring: Complete, sacred Unity in body and spirit. To be in the presence of spirit, to simply sit and “be” in such presence, can offer the opportunity to be transformed by it. This, we offer you. Come sit. Be with us. Drink in the Unity as you would fresh rain. We offer our gift with great joy and love!”

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BASE is excited to be designing a new Kinder Play Yard for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students at the German International School of Silicon Valley’s Mountain View Campus!

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Concept Plan

We’re having fun incorporating natural and engaging play features to keep the little ones active. Some of these features include stumps, logs, and boulders for hopping, climbing, and balancing, a sand and water play area, playhouses and play equipment for sliding, spinning, climbing, and running, a pollinator garden and vegetable garden, eating areas, and an artificial turf amphitheater for outdoor learning.

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Some of our inspirational program and concept images.

With a fire lane taking up almost half the site, we wanted to incorporate a colorful painting scheme on the existing asphalt paving in order to expand the kids play space. The painting features a colorful trike path which winds through the Kinder Yard. The flowers, bees, butterflies, ladybugs, and dragonflies are a fun element to help the kids learn more about pollinators.

The asphalt painting features a trike path, flowers, and pollinators.

The asphalt painting features a trike path, flowers, and pollinators. 

Construction is set to begin this summer and we are looking forward to seeing how the project takes shape! We hope you’ll check back soon for more updates!

We paid a visit to the Mary’s Garden at the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County since its opening early this year and spring has sprung! The garden is in full bloom. You can visit the caterpillars, play with the butterflies, fish in the Russian River, or jump across the bridge to the marsh. There’s also the organic farm, where you can sell produce at the farm stand, drive the tractor, and water the crops!

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We’re pretty happy about the wildflowers in bloom

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Find the pollinators!

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Maybe you need some quiet time? In a cocoon?

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Hanging with the caterpillars

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Or power the butterflies!

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Story time

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Gone fishing in the Russian River

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Visit the  Farm Stand

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Help grow the veggies too!

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Some shopping at the farm stand

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Water the garden

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Weigh your produce from the farm stand

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Play with the caterpillar

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Nature walk through the garden

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Enjoy the flowers!

Visit Children’s Museum of Sonoma County for more information and a calendar of events!  

And check out our pinterest page for more pictures