Melliferopolis – Honeybees in Urban Environments 2012-2014

a project in Helsinki, Finland
For more info, please visit also
Hexa-Hives - Architecture for Bees and Man
The permanent installation of bee colonies living in Hexa-Hives can be visited at Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden during the warm season. The hexagonal boxes serve as beehives and as outdoor furniture, inviting visitors to come close and immerse in the bees' space.


Architecture for Bees with Nigel Helyer -3 days workshop at Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden of University of Helsinki, June 9 - 11, 2014
Architecture for Bees will create a series of unconventional sculptural bee hives that serve the interests of the bee, whilst of course still providing us with the benefits of pollination and perhaps a playful engagement with some of the significant historical myths and metaphors that mark our co-evolution.

Sundance Palimpsest, installation at Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden of University of Helsinki, summer 2014, ongoing
Every day, the sun's orbit melts its path into a tablet of wax embossed with honeycomb design.
The compilation of daily recordings is arranged into a heliographic pamphlet.
Made with beeswax, jute, zinc wire, glass optic lens

Understanding the essence of flowers, exploring pollen -3 days workshop on Harakka island, June 12 -14, 2013
There is an intrinsic link between bees and flowers. In evolution they arose at the same time, bees feeding on nectar and pollen; the flowers relying on the pollinators for reproduction. For bees pollen is essential as protein rich food. When harvesting pollen, the pollination of the plant species is guaranteed almost as a side effect. Bees visiting flowers and harvesting their essence is a choreography that nature performs every year again.  In these encounters, the flowers disclose their secret to the bees, who take it home in the form of scent and taste and concentrate it for cold winter days. The fermentation and concentration that bees perform in the process of making honey cannot be imitated, making this process unique and impossible to artificially produce. Honey becomes the bees' translation of this poetic dialogue containing the essence of the visited plants.

During a 3 day workshop on Harakka island, we explore the environment of the bees living on the island, with a focus on vegetation and flowers and the poetic aspects of plants and their essence.
Collect pollen from flowers and from the bees' products
Microscoping pollen and analysing soil, water and air quality
Mapping the island's vegetation
Using the data and the miniature world of insects as inspiration for drawing and storytelling

The hands-on workshop is guided by Christina Stadlbauer (scientist, beekeeper, artist), Asta Ekman (scientist, leader of the Harakka environmental laboratory and Lina Kusaite, illustrator)
Melliferopolis Workshop at Harakka Island, Luontotalo, Helsingin Ympäristökeskus.
Since the number of participants for the workshop is limited, please sign up at christina(at)


City Bee, illustration by Lina Kusaite


About Melliferopolis
Melliferopolis is a trans-disciplinary initiative at the intersection of art and bio-sciences.
The project is centered around honeybees, their role in urban eco-systems, the implications of keeping bees in the city and the function and properties of honey and bees as bio-monitors. Transmission and translation of these topics is done through artistic expressions.

The rich and inspiring world of honeybees, their behavior, sounds, smells, architecture, their foraging fields and harvest, and the interaction with their habitat are fruitful fields of observation and investigation. Honeybees are an essential link in nature and hold a key role in natural cycles.
Bees collect material and information of their foraging fields, like forests and meadows, farmlands and conservation areas, parks and private gardens. They are principal actors in the production of food as well as guardians of floral biodiversity.

Honeybee Products – the Scientific aspect
A pot of honey represents the essence and identity of the landscape, and can readily be used as environmental monitor. It provides versatile information on the habitat, quality and quantity of available food, and the impact of pollutants in a defined perimeter of the hive.
City honey is said to be less polluted by pesticides than its rural counterpart. Together with MTT Agrifood, Helsinki University and Helsinki City Environmental Centre, scientific investigation is planned. Emphasis is given to examine characteristics of urban and rural situations, and to work out differences and similarities by analysing influence from traffic, industry, and crops both conventionally and organically grown.

Urban Environments – the Social/Cultural aspect
Urban apiculture gains popularity and all over Europe cities are hosting growing numbers of bee-colonies. Bee-food is abundantly available providing a range of floral biodiversity. Insecticides, genetically modified crops or monoculture crops are not expected in the city making it a healthy and interesting habitat for Apis Mellifera.
Melliferopolis raises issues related with cities as complex ecosystems, the composition of chemical substances that surround us, food and nutrition from urban agriculture, as well as fears and attitudes towards “the natural other” in the city. Installing urban beehives to revitalize and green city spaces adds to the recreational value of the city. Nevertheless, introducing urban honeybees might provoke strong reactions and  citizens could experience fear or discomfort towards the unknown suddenly appearing in their vicinity. Melliferopolis employs environmental psychology to investigate the tension between curiosity or the longing for nature towards the alienation from it. The project also experiments with traditional bee hive architecture looking for new designs for hives in public spaces to trigger cultural debate. 

Visibility and Accessibility - the Artistic aspect
Melliferopolis aims to translate both the process and the outcome of the scientific investigation into creative expressions. Artists are asked for their interpretations, communities are invited to actively participate in hands-on workshops. Installing the project in various places offers visibility and a chance of involvement for several neighborhoods. Lectures, workshops, exhibitions and interventions in public spaces offer a platform for debate and critical discussion around the subject, and contribute to social awareness and knowledge about bees and their biological importance within the ecosystem.

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Melliferopolis is an independent project funded by Kone Foundation and supported by the City of Helsinki and Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden, University of Helsinki.