More about Melliferopolis

The Melliferopolis project has a broad and diverse approach, combining disciplines such as life sciences, architecture, engineering, visual arts, gardening, apiculture, literature, sound, crafts, and more, inviting local and global agents with or without experience in beekeeping to collaborate. The project appreciates the intrinsic value of honeybees and other insects, reaching beyond the reductionist view of bees as ecosystem service providers and honey-producers. It experiments with new ways of understanding bees, beekeeping and other urban ecosystems of insects. Collaboration is invited on many levels, human and non-human, being a crucial aspect of the project.

Melliferopolis – Honeybees in Urban Environments 2012 ->

The Melliferopolis project was launched within the framework of Biofilia – Base for Biological Arts at Aalto University in 2012. It was initiated by Austrian artist, researcher and urban beekeeper Christina Stadlbauer. Stadlbauer and independent curator and artist Ulla Taipale began the project in Espoo and Helsinki, with the idea of bringing bees into the urban context through public, experimental apiaries; leading workshops mixing theoretical and practice-based research, hands-on activities and other cultural and academic knowledge related to Apis mellifera, the European honeybee. In 2016, a summer-long series of events Melliferopolis Fest was organised in Helsinki, inviting several artists to respond to and collaborate with the hives based in and around the city. Over the years of its existence, an international community around Melliferopolis has grown and the activities have expanded from Helsinki to other parts of the world. Our common ground is the bee and the multiple investigations and intrigue into her life and the mysteries of the hive, offering a true anti-disciplinary playground for curious minds.

The hive installations with living honeybees are the most visible element of the Melliferopolis. Their presence in urban green areas bring pollinators into the city, into public awareness and public discussion. The location of the bee hives is communicated via informative signs at their vicinity. The signs inform, rather than warn or convey fear concerning their flying inhabitants. Fear is often transmitted unnecessarily by using alarming colours and symbols around beehives, and all too often communicated orally from parents to their children. Ignorance and lack of knowledge leads to confusion with regards to identifying bees, wasps and hoverflies. In Finland, as with most of Europe, bee species are rather gentle and being near to their homes is normally risk-free. Light fences or other physical barriers positioned to avoid accidental disturbance at the entrance of the beehive, form part of the installation design, and is usually enough to stop the hive becoming agitated.
Recently, the focus of the project has increasingly included other insects and pollinators deepening systems thinking and the idea of creating the right conditions for biodiversity to thrive.

The experimental city hives of Melliferopolis can be seen as urban acupuncture*, with patches that enhance the growth of surrounding vegetation and the well-being of its citizens, as well as increasing the understanding of the importance of pollinators in ecosystems. The project does not aim for honey production, but instead intends to improve the comprehension of the interdependence of all biological life and the balance of nature, a state that should be possible to achieve in city environments, with good urban planning.

*Urban acupuncture is characterised by punctual interventions through the official surface of the city which aim to establish contact between the urban collective conscious and the life-providing systems of nature, including human nature”. (Casagrande, 2014)

Melliferopolis was first supported by Aalto University under the umbrella of Biofilia – Base for Biological Arts. The generous funding from Kone Foundation guaranteed the continuation of the project and we found a base for our operations in the heart of Helsinki city, at the Helsinki University Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden and, at Villa Eläintarha, the artist-residence formerly run by Helsinki City at Linnunlaulu.

We would especially like to thank for their support professor Helena Sederholm (Aalto ARTS), Pertti Pehkonen, the head gardener at Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden and Satu Sirén at Villa Eläintarha.

We also thank for the collaborations with:

Hunajaluotsi Oy, Harakka Luontotalo, Uniarts/MAECP, EVIRA, Mustiala Beekeeping School, Beekeeping Associations, Dodo, Helsinki Metropolia, Ministry of Environment, Pixelache, Kouvolan Poikilo-museot, Mustilan Taimitarhat Oy, Kouvolan Betoni Oy, Metsäpirtin multa – Helsingin seudun ympäristöpalvelut, Kirpilä Art House, Fundación Joan Miró Barcelona, ICUP Barcelona, Cementiris de Barcelona, Utopiana Geneva, Vuojoen kartano, ARBIS (Swedish Adult Education Centre)…

Website design: Wisa Knuuttila
Cover illustrations and animation: Andres Marin Jarque

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