Temple Flowers

Collaborators Lichen Kelp + Janelle Low + Zhu Ohmu + Marion Poynter + Nic Dowse

Temple Flowers is a quick and simple survey of local botanicals the bees in Temple forage on.

On a hot autumn afternoon in March 2017, five collective members went for a one hour stroll through Carlton’s streets. Our task was to collect flowers that bees feed on and make honey with. The only criteria was that we had to see bees foraging on the flowers at the time we picked them – this guaranteed they were a genuine bee-food supply. We stopped collecting when we thought we had enough to cover the surface of Temple, and not every flower we sampled is displayed here (but all the flowers ended up in a bouquet inside the house at the end of the day : )


Even our brief stroll within a 1km radius of the hive, in autumn (a quiet flowering season compared to spring) demonstrates urban environments are abundant with diverse bee-food sources. This may sound counter-intuitive: many people assume that the city is not a bee-friendly environment. But when you compare it to the Australian bush, it sounds pretty good.


The ceramic vases were made by → zhu.ohmu on the day of the event, as a response to the flowers found. These vases have since been fired.


Images → Janelle Low


1 Corymbia citriodora (Lemon-scented Gum), 2 Euryops pectinatus (Golden Daisy Bush), 3 Melaleuca styphelioides (Prickly-leaved Paperbark), 4 Unknown, 5 Salvia guaranitica (Black and Blue Sage), 6 Unknown, 7 Lagerstroemia (Cape Myrtle), 8 Euryops pectinatus, 9 Citrus limon (Lemon Tree), 10 Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s-ear), 11 Lavandula dentata (French Lavender), 12 Unknown, 13 Unknown, 14 Pandorea jasminoides (Pandora Vine), 15 Araucaria heterophylla (Norfolk Pine), 16 Unknown, 17 Salvia nemorosa (Violet Riot Sage), 18 Sedum herbstfreude (Autumn Joy)


* There are some flowers we were not able to identify – if you know what they are please email us at hello(at)atemple(dot)com.au

There are also some plants displayed that may not appear to have a direct relationship to bees, but do contribute to the health of hives and beekeeping.


One example is Araucaria heterophylla (Norfolk Pine). Bees often use conifers as a source of tree sap to make the lesser known hive material → propolis. The flowers of the Melaleuca styphelioides (Prickly-leaved Paperbark) are a wonderful nectar source in spring but, just as importantly, the bark is used for → smoking the bees. And we selected one piece of fruit that many have been pollinated by bees: bees love citrus flowers, and pollinate fruit trees as they go about their important work.


Are urban bees happy bees?

Q Are there managed gardens with lots of exotic flowers that are regularly watered in the city?

A Yes.


Q Does this variety flower all year around?

A Yes.


Q Are there broad-acre agro-chemicals used in the city?

A Some chemicals are used, but volumes are significantly less than broadacre, conventional farming.


Q Can you leave a hive in the same position and reduce the stress of moving them to chase nectar flows – thereby reducing the chance of moving bee diseases around the country?

A Yes.


Q Are there bushfires that drastically reduce the number flowering plants for years, as well as threaten the safety of the hives?

A No.


Q Are there floods?

A Not as many, as most houses and gardens in the city are built above flood zones.


Q Are the bees reliant on just one dominant variety of flowering plant (like Redgum or Blue gum or Tea tree?).

A No.


So – urban bees are happy bees : )

Pinch Pots

zhu.ohmu looked at each blossom and made a vase in response to the shape of the stem, the weight of the flower, the size of the display board. This is the opposite to how most vases are made – usually, the vase is made first, then the flowers are picked.