Albuquerque, NM – 2017 Annual Report

Enhancing Pollinator Health & Habitat

“Burque Bee City”  Initially Certified August, 2016  

January:  The Open Space Visitor Center initiated the “Seeds of Diversity” project in collaboration with the Valle del Oro Wildlife Refuge, Lava Land Elementary, Sandia Base Elementary, the Kiwanis Learning Garden, and other partners. Seeds from different native plants and pollinator plants were inserted into colorful cloth pouches made by local school children and displayed in different locations around the City. In the spring, the seeds were planted at different locations around Albuquerque.

May:  Artists Rachel Zollinger and Kaitlin Bryson constructed the “Nocturne Garden” on the grounds of the OSVC. The Nocturne Garden was planted with pollinator species that attract night pollinators such as moths and bats. The project included interpretive signage to educate the public about the importance of these species.

Funds for the projects came from the Open Space Alliance, Think Like a Bee, and the McCune Foundation.

June: June 18th was the Burque Bee City and Pollination Celebration at the Open Space Visitor Center. which included the creation of a native pollinator “Bee Hotel.” Participants joined local artists to build a Bee Hotel structure for native pollinators as a permanent installation at the Open Space Visitor Center.

Policies & Practices

Albuquerque is the first Bee City USA in the Southwest and we’re excited to be a party of a community of Bee Cities throughout the country.

The Burque Bee City USA committee had their first meeting of 2017 on January 19th. Participants in the committee and associated programs include:

  • Anita Amstutz, NM Beeks and
  • Sally Vance, Albuquerque Garden Center
  • Mary Ann Brewington, Albuquerque Garden Center
  • Annette Colbert, beekeeper
  • Hanaa Benhalim, NM Beeks Association
  • Jessie Brown, NM Beeks Assocation
  • Kent Swanson, Open Space Visitor Center Manager
  • Noel Chilton, Open Space Visitor Center Education Coordinator
  • Brianda Reza, Open Space Visitor Center Assistant Education Coordinator
  • Lois Reno, NM Beek Association
  • Sue George, Wild Friends
  • Sean Ludden, Rio Grande Community Farms
  • Beth Arnold, Rio Grande Community Farms
  • Kemper Barkhurst, Rio Grande Community Farms
  • Amy Owen, Beekeeper
  • George Miller, President, Albuquerque Chapter New Mexico Native Plant Society

To start the Burque Bee City program, Think Like A Bee, with generous support of many sponsors, including the NM Beekeepers Association, worked closely with Albuquerque City Council to create a Bee City USA designation. Councilors Isaac Benton, who initiated the resolution, along with Brad Winter, co-sponsored the final resolution which unanimously passed at City Council in August, 2016.

Education & Outreach

February: The Burque Bee City committee continued to meet and plan the various spring and summer activities for 2017 and discussed signage to be used to promote the Bee City designation.

March: 516 ARTS invited the community for a special dedication celebrating the completion of the Botanical Mural Project, two new murals in downtown Albuquerque by renowned artist Francisco Díaz (a.k.a. Pastel) from Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Botanical Mural Project was part of Cross Pollination, an exhibition hosted by 516 ARTS in 2017 about bees and other pollinators and their role in the world’s food supply. Guests were able to meet the artist, mural apprentices, project organizers, building owners and supporters, and learn about the process. Díaz, who is both an architect and a muralist, has created murals all over the world, most recently in Italy, Portugal, Poland, Australia, Mexico and Miami. Using his distinct visual language and decorative style, he fills immense wall surfaces with patterns based on the local flora of the region. His botanical references address history, geography, society and politics, while exploring the relationships between urban art, architecture and city life. Díaz describes his street art as “urban acupuncture,” saying, “Modern cities are full of ‘non-places’ because of irregular and not inclusive master-planning…. Working with symbolism of local flora, the pieces begin a dialogue about the nature of human beings and our surroundings.” In consultation with Cross Pollination exhibition curator Valerie Roybal, Díaz chose to work with images of the following local, native plants that pollinators love: Arbutus, Senna, Phyla, Clematis, Cercocarpus, Artemisia, Aloysia, Amorpha and Mahonia. The Botanical Mural Project consists of two mural sites: The Tower Building and the Sanitary Tortilla Factory. (Information on the mural project provided courtesy of 516 Arts)

From March 25th through May 28th of 2017, the Open Space Visitor Center (OSVC) presented an art exhibit titled “Germination: Mosaic Artists of New Mexico.” Mosaic Artists of New Mexico and Rachel Zollinger joined forces to display their works centered on the necessity of water, oxygen, light, darkness, dormancy and pollination.

In March the Open Space Visitor Center also hosted the Certified Beekeepers Apprentice Program, which is organized through the New Mexico Beekeepers Association in cooperation with the City of Albuquerque. This comprehensive program provides quality education on backyard beekeeping in the context of responsible urban farming. Classes are taught by recognized, expert New Mexico beekeepers and include supervised, hands-on lessons, using top-bar and Langstroth honeybee hives. Students who completed the two-year curriculum and 40 hours of volunteer service were awarded a Beekeepers Certification.  The Open Space Visitor Center also hosted the ABQ Beeks Mentorship program, a public program pairing local beekeepers to mentors.

 April: The OSVC offered a Varroa mite workshop and discussed the effect of the mite on local honeybee populations. The Open Space Visitor Center also installed “Burque Bee City” signage in its pollinator garden.

May: The OSVC launched the “Buzz, Flip, Flap” art project, which involved local school children coloring plexiglass pollinator images which were then used for an art display. The display also included interpretive information about a variety of pollinator species found in New Mexico. The art display was first installed at the Valle de Oro Wildlife Refuge and then at the Open Space Visitor Center.

Also in May artists Rachel Zollinger and Kaitlin Bryson constructed the “Nocturne Garden” on the grounds of the OSVC. The Nocturne Garden was planted with pollinator species that attract night pollinators such as moths and bats. The project included interpretive signage to educate the public about the importance of these species.

Funds for the projects came from the Open Space Alliance, Think Like a Bee, and the McCune Foundation.

June: The Open Space Visitor Center presented artist and educator Kelly Eckel’s exhibit of “Insects Magnified.” The exhibit ran from June 1-October 1 and featured photographs of magnified insects that are part of Kelly’s process in creating hybrid compositions. Magnified images of insect wings, hairs and eyes were the primary focus of the photographs.

The Abq Beeks (Albuquerque Beekeepers) had a public meeting on June 1, 2017 at the Bosque School in Albuquerque. This meeting gave citizens an opportunity to join members of the Abq Beeks and learn the basics of beekeeping and the roll of this organization in the community. Find out more at

On June11, 2017, the Open Space Visitor Center offered a class on the Native and Pollinator Plants of Albuquerque, presented by Dara Saville. The program was part of the City of Albuquerque Open Space Division’s Summer Series.

June 17, 2017 was the Pollinator Celebration at the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden.  Participants enjoyed learning about the fascinating jobs of bees, birds, bats, beetles, butterflies and other pollinators. Activities and discovery stations were offered under the garden tent and around the festival green.

On June 17, 2017, there was also a Pollinator Garden Tour. In celebration of Albuquerque’s Bee City USA Pollinator week, the Native Plant Society, Abq Chapter gave tours of the Rio Grande Nature Center native plant garden, Oso Grande Pollinator Garden, and the Unitarian Church garden.

June 18th was the Burque Bee City and Pollination Celebration at the Open Space Visitor Center. This event kicked off National Pollinator Week 2017 (June 19th-25th) with an all ages event. Activities included kids’ crafts, a permaculture workshop with Michael Reed of La Orilla Farm, honey sales, informational booths about bees and other pollinators, live musical performances by BéBé La La, storytellers, and more.  Other activities included storytelling with Regina Ress, winner of the 2003 & 2015 Oracle Award, National Storytelling Network, a presentation by the Wild Friends Program, an award-winning civics education program at the UNM School of Law, and recognition of Albuquerque’s designation as a “Bee City” by City Councilor Ike Benton.

July:  On July 23 there was a Sunset Talk by the River on Pollinator Patterns of Life at the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge.  516 ARTS and the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge partnered for the talk, which focused on the connections between pollinators, art and ecology, led by artist, farmer and activist Daryl Lucero of Isleta Pueblo. Topics around pollinators and the patterns of life they embody were discussed from the perspectives of science, art, mythology, philosophy and politics. Citizens participated in an open format in this outdoor exchange of ideas that honored the plight of pollinators and their profound significance for life on Earth.  Other speakers included: BRUCE MILNE, Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Environmental and Food Systems, Poressor of Biology, and founder of the UNM Sustainability Studies Program; PORTER SWENTZELL, professor, Indigenous Liberal Studies Department, Institute of American Indian Arts, Pueblo weaver and scholar (Santa Clara Pueblo): MANUEL MONTOYA, Associate Professor, UNM Anderson School of Management focusing on “global legibility,” the process whereby umans conceptualize the planet and make it a meaningful part of their realities; and DEBORAH JOJOLA (Isleta Pueblo), artist and curator. (Event description courtesy of 516 Arts).

July 2017 Council of All Beings with Regina Ress and the young farmer interns funded by Sembrando Semillas (NM Acequia Association) and Albuquerque Community Foundation, Cornelio Candelaria Organico and Think Like A Bee. Participants used the space to create an indigenous circle process of storytelling and art for the students to learn about their favorite creature and give voice to that creature’s wisdom for us as humans today.

August: On August 19 516 ARTS offered the Cross Pollination: Art + Science forum. The event brought artists, beekeepers, and natural science experts together to discuss their interest in pollinators from various perspectives, including: investigating the ramifications of living in the world without bees and other pollinators; cultivating a culture of awareness and protection; consideration of the large number of native bee species and how to protect them; and exploring the relationships between nature and technology. Panelists: JENNIFER ANGUS, exhibiting artist in Cross Pollination, professor in Design Studies at University of Wisconsin/Madison and creator of the installation In the Midnight Garden in the 2015 exhibition Wonder at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC; KELLY ECKEL, exhibiting artist in Cross Pollination focusing on the intersection of art and science in both her artwork and her work as a teacher for Albuquerque Public Schools; JESSIE BROWN, President of the New Mexico Beekeepers Association and board member for the American Beekeeping Federation and the Western Apicultural Society; and VALERIE ROYBAL, curator of Cross Pollination, artist, beekeeper and recipient of the Pollack Krasner grant. Moderated by ELSA MENENDEZ, a writer, director, producer and performer with Tricklock Company and the Director of Education at the National Hispanic Cultural Center where she works with the NHCC’s STEAM education programming, bringing together science and the arts across many disciplines. (Event description courtesy of 516 Arts)

September: September 2 the Guild Cinema in Albuquerque offered “Bee City and More: Short Films About Pollinators.” 516 ARTS and the Guild Cinema presented a visual mixtape of short films featuring pollinators from a variety of angles from educational to ethereal. Highlights included Bee City, a vintage black and white film from 1951; The Solitary Bees, a British black and white film from 1951 about wild bees and some wonderful and interesting experimental surprises including mesmerizing digital work by Dennis Hlynsky. Film commentary at the event was provided by Bryan Konefsy, UNM Professor of Cinematic Arts, and Valerie Roybal, Cross Pollination curator. (Event description courtesy of 516 Arts)

Saturday, September 9 the Open Space Visitor Center hosted artist and educator Kelly Eckel for an “Insects Magnified” Workshop. Kelly offered a workshop for kids and families. She taught about insects and their role in nature and pollination. Children had the opportunity to look at pollinator insects close up and magnified with a variety of tools in order to learn more about how insects function in their natural world.

The NM Beekeepers Association presented a talk by Dr. Dewey M. Caronon on September 23, 2017 at the South Broadway Cultural Center. Dr. Caronon is an Emeritus Professor of Entomology & Wildlife Ecology, Univ of Delaware and an Affiliate Professor, Dept Horticulture, Oregon State University. He spent 40+ years teaching, doing bee extension and bee research at Cornell (1967-70), University of MD, College Park (1970-1981) and University of DE, Newark DE (1981-2009). Dr. Dewey M. Caron’s presentation was “Good News for Honeybees,” along with other beekeeping related subjects.

September 16 there was Downtown Block Party featuring artists from the Cross Pollination exhibit. The event included educational activities with the Sanitary Tortilla Factory art gallery. The Sanitary Tortilla Factory is an artist complex with studios, a gallery, and a sculpture residency program. Its north-facing wall features one of Pastel’s murals for the Botanical Mural Project that 516 ARTS is presented for Cross Pollination. In the tradition of the Downtown Block Parties, there were interactive art projects, food, music and fun for the whole family.

 October: Local artist Valerie Roybal presented the exhibit “Bee Dreams” at 516 ARTS. The exhibit was on display from October 7-28. 516 ARTS and Exhibit 2018 presented an artist talk with Cross Pollination curator Valerie Roybal on her work on October 21st.  About the exhibit, Valerie says, “Bees, existing since the time of the dinosaurs, have developed such a symbiotic relationship with flowers that the two have adapted together throughout time. I am interested by the contrast between the seeming stillness of flowers and the energetic engagement of bees in nature… Do bees sleep? And if they do, do they dream? And if they dream, do they dream of flowers? With these questions in mind, I have discovered that bees do indeed sleep after a busy day. I have read that there is what is called ‘memory reactivation’ during sleep. What does this mean? Is there learning? Recollection? A genetic transference of memory and knowledge? Is there processing, evolution, resolution? With the series Bee Dreams, I have contemplated these ideas and created anthropomorphic imaginings of what may occur during a bees’ resting state.” (Event description courtesy of 516 Arts)

October 12 IKO-kinesis with SHIFT I DANCE offered a performance at the UNM ARTS Lab. The Cross Pollination Performance was a collaboration between 516 ARTS, SHIFT I DANCE and UNM ARTS Lab and was a multi-media performance in celebration of Cross Pollination. As an expression of the cross pollination among art forms, SHIFT featured live dance inspired by and integrated with projections of the Botanical Mural Project by artist Pastel from Argentina, commissioned by 516 ARTS. EKO-kinesis is the culmination of a fluid choreographic and collaborative process reflecting on the inter-connection of plants and pollinators, how they have evolved together, and their role in the future of life on planet Earth. SHIFT I DANCE is a contemporary dance collective based in Albuquerque, co-directed by three local, female dancers and choreographers, Jacqueline Garcia, Lisa Nevada, and Kelsey Paschich. A portion of the proceeds from EKO-kinesis benefits the SHIFT I DANCE I FESTIVAL 2017 (October 17-21). (Event description courtesy of 516 Arts)

October 7th the Bosquitos, a group of children who participate in programs organized by the Sierra Club, explored the grounds of the OSVC and learned about our smallest and busiest friends, pollinators! They toured the pollinator garden full of flowers that humming birds, bees, and beetles like.  They also visited the bee hotel and “Nocturne Garden” that treats bats and moths to nighttime sweets.  After the tour, they engaged in a variety of pollinator activities, including harvesting seeds to grow more pollinator-friendly plants in 2018.

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