Learning that over 100 different native bee species reside in Descanso’s 165 acres, I created a series of site specific works to illuminate the life of these tiny creatures including Bee Hotels, the bronze Bee Nest and vinyl display of Bee Windows.
Bee Hotels, 2019
Jessica Rath and Robert Hoehn
My collaborator Robert Hoehn and I created The Bee Hotels, wooden homes for the solitary-dwelling bees for Descanso Gardens with variable holes depths and entrance widths to encourage one of the native bees to take nest. After testing six sites throughout the garden, we found leafcutter bees lining their new homes for babies.
Bee Nest, 2019
Jessica Rath and Scott Katano
Bee Nest is a coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia), sourced at Descanso Gardens and embedded with bronze portraits of native bee nests. The profile of leafcutter and carpenter bee nests shows how many native bees place their young in small holes tunneled into logs and hollow reeds.
Bee Windows, 2019
Drawings by Jessica Rath
Illustration by Val Echavarria, Casa Marengo Studios
Vinyl by David Johnson, Leafcutter Studio
This irresdescent vinyl installation of five of the 400 different species of bees native to California was based on drawings from bee specimens at UC Riverside’s Entomology Museum.
Comb Cycle, 2019
Jessica Rath and Akemi Ki
Bronze and wallpaper
With Comb Cycle, we consider how the life of a honeybee – a migratory worker for American industrial agriculture – is inextricably linked to ours.
Every February, two-thirds of U.S. commercial honeybees are driven to California for the simultaneous bloom of almond orchards, the plant featured in Comb Cycle’s wallpaper. Honeybees pollinate 80 percent of the world’s crops, from apples and blueberries to melons and broccoli.*
Boxed and fed pollen substitute patties,** each year bees are shipped continuously from Idaho to Florida, North Dakota to Texas, to meet American pollination needs. Planting the same crops year after year for thousands of acres depletes soil, plants and bees. Added herbicides and pesticides produce a poisonous food desert for insects and other plants and creates the conditions for “colony collapse disorder.”
Information about beneficial year-round habitat for working agricultural bees can be found at Pollinator Partnership (www.pollinator.org) and in Farming for Beesat Xerces Society at (www.xerces.org).
*American Beekeeper Federation, abfgnet.org
**Mann Lake Beekeeping Supplies