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For the Love of Bees

Sarah Smuts-Kennedy

· Auckland Climathon

Did you know that many of the things that work to make a city bee friendly also support nature to capture more carbon? Both of these outcomes require the protection and development of our vital tiny microorganisms, in particular mycorrhizal fungi, to increase the carbon pool in the soil and store it as stable organic matter called Humus.

For the Love of Bees is a Social Sculpture that invites people to imagine Auckland as the safest city in the world for bees. The project teaches people how to grow in harmony with microbes that help plants to build up a natural pest resistance and higher mineral content. But these microbes are also essential to developing landscapes that will capture and store carbon.

Organic biological agricultural practices are a highly effective way to begin to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and fix it as beneficial Humus in the soil. Living soil can store 35 per cent more carbon than biomass such as trees. For every 1 per cent increase in organic matter, the soil retains 132 tons of CO2 per hectare that would have otherwise been in the atmosphere. This 1 per cent also improves water holding capacity (i.e. it doesn’t run off) by 170,000 litres per hectare. By removing indiscriminate synthetic chemical sprays and embracing organic and biological gardening methods, you can immediately begin to create rapid carbon build up in your soil and offset CO2 emissions.

For the Love of Bees is on a mission to transform the culture around how we think about our inner city parks, which make up thousands of hectares across our city. For the Love of Bees holds free organic and biological gardening classes every Thursday at Griffiths Gardens in Auckland’s CBD to help you become a part of a city transformation. Here we teach you how to use biological supports that provide the best chance of growing plants without using treatments that may harm a bee. These classes are helping patchworks of Biological Bee Sanctuaries to emerge across the city.

As Aucklanders begin to transform their backyards, school grounds, and their workplaces, creating landscapes full of thriving life beneath the soil and plenty of flowers above ground that are free from sprays harmful to bees, they are also developing much needed carbon sinks. We are delighted that the historic Highwic House in Epsom has officially signed on to be the first bee sanctuary and is opting out of all chemical weed control systems by February 2018.

We invite you to become an active part of our city transformation by learning and adopting the simple skills you need to become part of the solution. Join in a Thursday Lunchtime Learning, or come along to our free Bee School sponsored by Ceracell, which happens on the first Sunday of every month at Victoria Park. By joining in or creating a project within the City Bee Collaboration, you can begin to mitigate climate change while creating safer spaces for humans and bees.

For the Love of Bees began as a simple idea that has become a highly organised enterprise involving diverse communities, a swathe of skillsets, and an unshakable determination to transform our city. Climathon Auckland is an ideal space in which to consider, collaborate and create solutions that can similarly engage and inspire people in Auckland to make our city the best it can be.

Sarah Smuts-Kennedy is an alumna of the University of Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Arts. She is a visual artist and the vision holder and instigator of For the Love of Bees. 

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