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THE VI­BRANCY OF Grif­fiths Gar­dens is in real con­trast to the sur­round­ing grey build­ings and hus­tle bus­tle of city life. Sit­ting in cen­tral Auck­land, it’s the teach­ing hub of For The Love of Bees, a so­cial sculp­ture by artist Sarah Smuts-Kennedy, who wants us to trans­form the city into the most bee-friendly in the world.

The work com­prises sev­eral sub-projects to help pro­lif­er­ate healthy bee en­vi­ron­ments across the city. It’s a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Sarah and Auck­land Coun­cil, which is fund­ing and pro­vid­ing a tem­po­rary spot for the in­ner-city gar­den on Welles­ley St.

Bee-friendly doesn’t mean dump­ing a whole lot of hives into the city, she says. It’s more about learn­ing how to grow bee-friendly flow­ers. In many ways it all comes back to food, be­cause bees are of­ten the pol­li­na­tors of the world’s food chain – this af­fects ev­ery­thing, from crop­ping to dairy.

“The big things that are af­fect­ing bees are ob­vi­ously dis­ease. But ac­tu­ally, at the top of the list is loss of habi­tat and en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tions,” ex­plains Sarah.

“There sim­ply aren’t enough flow­ers and when they find them, they’re of­ten toxic.”

For The Love of Bees’ calendar is packed with events for peo­ple want­ing to learn more about or­ganic and bi­o­log­i­cally friendly gar­den­ing, in­clud­ing weekly Thurs­day lunchtime classes at the gar­dens, as well as “cy­cling bees”, where tours are taken through the city to to show off the best en­vi­ron­ments for their health.

There are now 30,000 bees work­ing within a net­work of six hives (set to bur­geon to 150,000 over two years) in Auck­land parks. But there are cur­rently 6000 colonies in Auck­land city, and each hive needs close to a bil­lion flow­ers a sea­son to sur­vive. So there’s plenty of work be­ing done to ed­u­cate peo­ple at the gar­dens.

“There’s no point in say­ing let’s be the safest city in the world for bees with­out help­ing peo­ple to un­der­stand what that means and what they can do to help make it hap­pen,” says Sarah.

“But what hap­pens when 20 peo­ple think it’s pos­si­ble, what hap­pens when 100 peo­ple think it is? When we’re at 10,000 peo­ple think­ing it could hap­pen, then it be­comes a pos­si­bil­ity. That’s why we have Grif­fiths Gar­dens – it’s a place where we can pol­li­nate this idea.”

forth­elove­of­ / THOMAS HEATON


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