Our Friends The Pollinators (2012 - 2013)

In Our Friends the Pollinators kids, youths and adults build homes for pollinators such as honey bees, wild bees and bumble bees. Honey bees are great pollinators, however recent studies have shown that wild pollinators such as solitary bees, bumble bees and butterflies often are even more important for efficient pollination. Unfortunately honey bees are having a tough time and many species of wild pollinators are endangered or already extinct. One of several contributing factors to the demise of wild pollinators are the disappearance of their habitats. In some cases their situation can be improved by constructing various housing for them. However, constructing a pollinator house can be a good idea even if it might not always be the most effective way of helping the pollinators.

"If backyard bugwatchers become engaged with the interactions they see in their gardens, they might become stronger advocates for keeping highway medians herbicide-free, for assuring that only biological control agents are used to manage pests on food crops and for establishing corridors linking protected areas." - The Forgotten Pollinators, S. L. Buchmann and G. P. Nabhan

Our Friends The Pollinators at Hästa gård. Photo: Erik Sjödin 2012

Our Friends the Pollinators began in spring 2012 at Hästa gård, a publicly accessible farm in Stockholm, at the time managed by 4H. At Hästa gård visitors at the farms spring farming day in May got to make houses for solitary bees by sawing off pieces of wood from trees that had been cut down at the farm, and then drilling holes in the pieces and attaching strings by hammering in nails. Thus both learning about pollinators and getting to try basic woodcraft. The finished houses could either be taken home or placed at the farm. The houses were built following instructions from The Swedish Museum of Natural History. All kids were accompanied by adults and the workstation was always under close supervision to avoid accidents.

Our Friends The Pollinators at Hästa gård. Photo: Erik Sjödin 2012

If you construct nests for pollinators it's important that they are done correctly. Here is a guide to building houses for pollinators (in Swedish).

Our Friends the Pollinators at Färgfabriken, Erik Sjödin 2012

In the autumn 2012 Our Friends the Pollinators continued at Färgfabriken within the exhibition Stockholm on the Move. During the Stockholm on the Move exhibition houses for solitary bees, bumble bees and butterflies were shown, as well as real conserved samples of these animals loaned from The Swedish Museum of Natural History.

Our Friends The Pollinators - Workshop at Färgfabriken, Erik Sjödin 2012

During a weekend workshop visitors to the exhibition got to make houses for solitary bees out of reed.

Our Friends The Pollinators - Seminar at Färgfabriken, Erik Sjödin 2012

There was also a seminar about pollinators and ecosystem services in cities. Participants in the seminar were Erik Sjödin (artist and researcher), Karolina Lisslö (biologist and urban beekeeper), Maria Bergström (biologist and nature guide) and Jonas Torsvall (architect).

After the exhibition the pollinator houses on display were transported to Hästa gård where they were successfully inhabited by solitary bees. The idea was to continue the project at Hästa gård and build more elaborate permanent housing for pollinators in their former kitchen garden. However, because the farm went bankrupt and changed management the project was continued at Eggeby gård, a former farm (now a cultural center) nearby Hästa gård.

Our Friends the Pollinators has been shown at Hästa gård (SE) in May 2012, at Färgfabriken (SE) in November 2012 - March 2013 and at Eggeby gård from 2014. It has been realized by Erik Sjödin with the help of Hästa gård in Stockholm (SE), the contemporary art and architecture space Färgfabriken in Stockholm (SE), The Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm (SE) and Karin Ahrné at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala (SE).