Bee Mortality and Habitat Loss Case Study

Overview:

To address the problem of bee mortality resulting from habitat loss, Dylan McLernon participated in a Campus as a Learning Lab project by creating a series of public sculptures that serve as nesting sites for both solitary bees and bumble bees as part of a Master of Fine Arts thesis project. Dylan worked in partnership with The Office of Sustainability to research how the campus grounds can better support Alberta’s native bee populations. His concern for bees began when the artist started working with beeswax to coat wooden sculptures during his undergraduate studies.

One of Dylan’s pieces, Bank for Bees, was donated to UCalgary’s Community Garden in 2018. In the same year a second artwork, Sunflowers, was donated to Grow Calgary, Canada’s largest urban farm. These sculptures help bolster Calgary’s solitary bee populations; increasing community garden pollination and providing a basis for collaborative research with Dr. Ralph Carter, associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. This research occurred summer 2018 and focused on the effectiveness of teapot-sized ceramic bumblebee pods or “domiciles” created by Dylan.

Outcomes:

  • Field tests documented a 40 per cent occupancy rate for ceramic bumblebee pods placed in trees.
  • Dylan’s thesis project, Beehabilitation on Spaceship Earth, was exhibited at the Nickle Galleries as part of the 2018 MFA Thesis Exhibition, Interstitial. During this exhibit, he gave away 25 free bumblebee pods to unknown gallery patrons as part of a Calgary-wide community-based field research project. These unknown community based researchers have been asked to test the bumblebee pods during the summer of 2019, with results expected in fall 2019.
  • Dylan presented his research internationally at the World Health Organization: Healthy Cities Conference in Belfast in October 2018.
  • Dylan was one of five assistant researchers for the BeeASmartCity initiative based at UCalgary.

Next Steps:

  • Potential exhibition and artist talk with the William Roland Gallery of Fine Art near Los Angeles, California.
  • Dylan is laying the groundwork for an entrepreneurial endeavour called Beeship, where he aims to create a new model of bumblebee pod and other native bee-related products.

Media Coverage: