‘Cross-Pollination, or, Conservation is for the Bees’

Ai Hollywood 3rd Floor Student Lounge

Spring Quarter 2016

For this show, two student proposals were chosen from Holly Ann Hawk’s Environmental Science class. Cris Wicks created a series of three resin-pourings incorporating natural elements, litter, and bee carcasses. The pieces serve as a visceral illustration of our environmental footprint. Megen Bellersen created a campaign to raise awareness and money for honeybee preservation selling custom-printed t-shirts. In hte realm of haute-couture, Patrick Kevin Francisco crafted a high-fashion garment from re-purposed materials and muslin. This garment was created in Shideh Shridel’s Special Topics in Fashion Design class. The curation suggests different strategies that may brought to bear on the same issue.

Over a third of the food you eat is a direct product of honeybee pollination. Despite
not being native to the U.S, honeybees are a vital part of the economy, increasing crop
value by $15 billion annually. Bees move from flower to flower, seeking nectar but also
providing an essential service: pollination. Bees pollinate everything from apples and
oranges to cotton. According to the American Beekeeping Federation, blueberries and
cherries are 90% reliant on bees for pollination, and crops such as almonds rely
almost entirely on bee pollination.
During the World War II era, there were as many as 6 million managed bee colonies in
the United States and nearly the same amount of colonies in the wild. Today, there are
less than 2.5 million managed colonies and far fewer feral colonies. Colonies have
been declining 30% on average every year, with 2015 seeing a staggering 42% average
loss. The disappearance of colonies is occurring on a global scale, leaving some
countries, such as China to turn to hand pollination to produce some crops.
There is unfortunately no scientific consensus on any one underlying cause of honeybee
colony collapse but research suggests four primary culprits: pesticides, pathogens,
climate change, and management stress. There is evidence that all of these
variables cause harm to our honeybees but no single factor can be blamed as the sole
culprit. It is far more likely that these factors work synergistically to undermine the
health of the honeybee population. The grim outlook of the honeybee is a cautionary
tale of how even the smallest and seemingly insignificant organisms play important
ecological roles. The plight of the honeybee is a reminder of the broad sweeping and
sometimes unforeseeable impact humans can have on the natural world.
-Holly Ann Hawk, M.S.