Pollinators, including bees, butterflies and other insects transfer pollen and nectar between plants and flowers, spreading seeds so they can reproduce.
In November, Health Canada proposed a ban on almost all uses of a neonicotinoid pesticide called imidacloprid, which poses a risk to aquatic wildlife. Vancouver and Montreal have already banned neonicotinoids, as evidence mounts of their contribution to bee decline.
Graeme Peterson, a beekeeper with the Ottawa Beekeeper’s Association, says the pesticides affect “anything that’s in the ground, worms, bugs, ground-nesting pollinating insects; it’s a bigger problem than just the honeybees.”
“Basically it boils down to the chemicals not breaking down in the time frame manufacturers said they would. So they’re persisting longer, getting into the environment, getting into the water table, being soaked up by feral plants,” he says. “But bees still get impacted because they come and forage on the wildflowers that are now sucking this poison up into their system.”
The seeds Hegel and Margo planted in the fall will grow at different sites to attract a variety of pollinators, while the sounds of buzzing bees at different pitches move in waves, becoming an outdoor symphony.
“You can set up chords if you wanted to,” says Hegel. “Symphony also because this is real time, morning to night, so there is a whole set of movements and story. And if it’s overcast it’ll be silent because they don’t go out when it’s cloudy.”
While they don’t really have an apidictor as part of the installation, Hegel explains it was key to their idea.
“The apidictor itself is a very sensitive instrument that Eddie Woods developed to monitor his beehives in the wintertime. So turning movement in the hive into sound to analyze if the bees were healthy and getting through the winter okay,” she says.
“So it’s based on his idea of being able to take sound as a sign of health,” Margo adds.
One of the main things the artists hope people will take away from the piece is self-awareness.
“There’s always the people who will be afraid of being stung, but when people start to understand the beauty of them, bees are totally cool. The way their societies work together, live together,” Hegel explains.
Margo agrees. “We have a great deal to learn from them.”