McQueens Highlights Importance of Bee Conservation At 2019 RHS Chelsea Flower Show

on Monday, 29 April 2019. Posted in News

With an Interactive Bee Hive Installation and an Immersive Tunnel
McQueens Flowers has been commissioned by the RHS to create two original art installations at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show, 21 – 25 May. Honey, I’m home! will be an interactive installation, inviting visitors to help create a swarm of giant honey bees flying home to their hive. The second will be a dramatic 20m long by 7m wide dark immersive tunnel Per Oculus Apum (Through the Eyes of Bees) complete with upside-down lavender field. Both will open visitors’ minds to how bees see the world and ultimately raise awareness of the recent decline in the bee population.

The installations educate visitors as to how bees see flowers and the crucial role that they play in producing a third of the food we eat. The aim is to emphasise the plight of bees, the importance of nurturing the bee population and indirectly invite people to join the campaign to save them.

Honey Im home

Honey making station

Honey, I’m Home!
It is estimated that both installations will involve 23 of the highly skilful McQueens team working over five days to bring these designs to life. 2,500 plants, 6,000 Craspedia stems and 6,000 leaves for the wings will arrive for making the bees alone.

School Principal and Lead Floral Designer Sophie Powell comments, “We are incredibly honoured to be at Chelsea Flower Show for the first time and to have the opportunity to craft these ground-breaking designs. These we hope will be thought-provoking and contribute to the important and highly topical debate around the survival of bees. McQueens is excited to celebrate its extraordinary talent and see our work come to life at this most prestigious event.”


Per oculus 1

Per oculus 2

McQs bee tunnel

McQueens Flowers has collaborated with Dr David Lawson, bee behaviourist at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol to help give insight into bees’ behaviour and their relationship with flowers.

Dr Lawson comments, “It’s fantastic to be part of a project that communicates the rich sensory world that bees experience as they navigate their environment. Considering the ongoing decline in bee populations, I commend McQueens for shedding light on the plight of bees and bringing attention to their hidden perceptual world.”

Gina Hardy, heading up the design work at Chelsea Flower Show enthuses, “The conservation of bees is something I have always been passionate about and was therefore an obvious choice of topic when being approached by the RHS to create these installations. As I delved deeper into my research, I was completely awestruck at the wonder of a bee’s life and the way they experience the world around us and wanted to create an artwork that would immerse guests into the consciousness of a bee – through the visual cues, scent trails and the sounds they experience. It has been an utter privilege to work with the RHS and Dave Lawson of the University of Bristol in the creation of Per Oculus Apum.”

@mcqueensflowers #savethebees #mcqueensbees

About Dr David Lawson

After completing a PhD at the University of Bristol where he investigated the complexity of floral displays and Bumblebee behaviour, Dave is now working as a Senior Teaching Associate, teaching various aspects of Biology. Dave’s research primarily relates to complex floral signals and how these display components interact in the context of pollinator behaviour. Although he has less time for research due to his teaching position, he’s still interested in all aspects of ecology, with a particular enthusiasm for social insects, floral displays and exploring ecology through computer simulations.

About McQueens
McQueens Flowers has been creating beautiful and memorable designs since 1991, building a reputation around the world for colourful and creative floral creations perfectly matched to every occasion and setting. Instilled with founder Kally Ellis’ vision for simple and stylish flowers, the company has grown to become one of the world’s most respected and admired floral design companies – setting the standard for floral quality, style and elegance. With creative studios, workshops and flower schools in London, New York and Seoul – and more international cities underway, McQueens is a truly international affair, with customers in Mexico, USA, Japan, France, Korea, Kuwait, Singapore, Hong Kong, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Spain & Australia.

McQueens has provided flowers for Vanity Fair’s Oscars After Party for the last 25 years, is the floral design partner
for the All England Lawn Tennis Club’s Wimbledon Champion’s Ball and the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards – along with hundreds of other stunning events and high-profile weddings each year. Ultimately an unrivalled passion for flowers courses through every detail of McQueens – its dedicated people, world-class suppliers and innovative designs.

About Sophie Powell
Sophie who grew up in Kent, trained as a secondary school art teacher after graduating with a degree in Fine Art and
has even worked prop design in TV. Sophie worked in her spare time as a florist for free to gain valuable experience
whilst getting into the industry. Now as Principal of McQueens Flower School, she oversees all courses and regularly flies abroad to give talks and workshops at events or schools worldwide. She has worked at McQueens for over 5 years having started out in the ‘contracts’ team creating displays for prestigious hotels such as The Connaught. Sophie loves to push the boundaries of floral design in the school especially during the installation week.

Why We Need to Protect Bees

  • Plants need bees to pollinate, making bees indispensable pollinators of most ecosystems. There are 369,000 flowering plant species, and 90% of them are dependent on insect pollination. A honeybee can usually visit 50-1000 flowers in one trip; if bee takes ten trips a day, a colony with 25,000 forager bees can pollinate 250 million flowers in a day.
  • Bees are a keystone species, with other species dependent on them to survive. Many species of animals depend on bees for their survival because their food sources, including nuts, berries, seeds, and fruits, rely on insect pollination.
  • Pollination not only makes food available for other organisms but also allows floral growth, which provides habitats for animals, including other insects and birds.
  • As pollinators disappear, the effect on the health and viability of crops and native plant communities can be disastrous. We simply cannot survive without bees.
  • Pollinators contribute billions to the world economy. The global crop production pollinated by bees is valued at $577 billion.

Threats to Bee Species

  • Widespread use of pesticides, neonicotinoids and GMOs
  • Climate change
  • Loss of habitat, including land use changes, habitat fragmentation, loss of bio-diversity
  • Bees forced into service; monoculture
  • Pests, diseases, viruses, and mould

Research articles

  • Clarke, Dominic, Heather Whitney, Gregory Sutton, and  Daniel Robert. “Detection and learning of floral electric fields by bumblebees.” Science 340, no. 6128 (2013): 66-69.
  • Harrap, M.J., Rands, S.A., de Ibarra, N.H. and Whitney, H.M., 2017. The diversity of floral temperature patterns, and their use by pollinators. eLife, 6, p.e31262.
  • Lawson, D.A., Chittka, L., Whitney, H.M. and Rands, S.A., 2018. Bumblebees distinguish floral scent patterns, and can transfer these to corresponding visual patterns.
  • Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 285(1880), p.20180661.