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Rebecca Chesney: Our Future Sorrows

Open Air and Online
1 Apr–30 Sep 2021

Rebecca Chesney returns to YSP to develop a new project in response to bee populations. Our Future Sorrows invites you to be part of our #YSPBeeClub by helping us populate a digital map of bees and bee-friendly plants as you explore YSP.

Rebecca Chesney was a YSP Visiting Artist in 2010 and spent time surveying the parkland for species of bumblebees and solitary bees, and all the plants they feed on. After setting up two honey beehives on site, she shadowed the regional bee inspector to learn beekeeping skills and observe the life cycle of the honey bee at close range. These two honeybee colonies continue to thrive under the care of the bee inspector and produce honey that is sold in the YSP Shop.
This year, Chesney returns to YSP to develop a new body of work in response to current bee populations. Our Future Sorrows invites visitors to the Park to participate in the project by adding to a digital map of bees and bee-friendly plants. Chesney aims to reignite conversations about the importance of bees, the threats that they continue to be under, and what we can all do to help.
Bees are incredibly important to our planet and are essential to the health of a balanced ecosystem. They not only pollinate trees and flowers, that in turn filter our air and provide habitats for wildlife, but they also pollinate our food crops. Bees are facing many threats including habitat loss, climate change and use of toxic pesticides.
Be part of our Bee Club by helping us populate our digital bee map
Access the digital map on your phone here. If you spot any bees as you explore the Park, add a pin to the map. You can also use the map to see which parts of the Park are currently popular with bees.
Bees move around as plant species come into bloom and change throughout the year. Here’s a rough guide to the plants that bees favour in particular months:
March: crocus, dandelions, snowdrops, cowslip, willow
April: blackthorn, daffodils, bluebells, cherry, gorse
May: hawthorn, white dead nettle, laburnum, rhododendron, whitebeam
June: foxglove, birdsfoot trefoil, wild roses, ox-eye daisy
July: creeping thistle, spear thistle, knapweed, scabious, comfrey, bramble
August: lavender, lime, rosebay, meadow sweet
September: ivy, sow thistle, kidney vetch
Chesney’s work looks at our complex relationship with the natural world by engaging with issues of culture, politics and power. Her artworks, which take the form of installations, videos, drawings, maps and walks, are often created in response to specific places and underpinned by environmental research. She has exhibited her work nationally and internationally.
If you have a garden
  • Plant bee-friendly flowers including foxglove, birdsfoot trefoil, red and white clover, crocus, lavender, honeysuckle, viper’s bugloss, cherry, apple, blackthorn, and hawthorn.
  • Don’t cut lawns short. Leaving areas of grass to grow longer allows daisies, dandelions, clover, selfheal and other lawn species to thrive and are loved by bees.
  • Give bees somewhere to shelter. Buy a ready-made bee hotel, or make your own. If you have a garden, build a log pile for foraging bees to take shelter during rain, or as a nesting site for a wide range of solitary bees and bumblebees.
  • Use chemical-free, organic products in your garden.  
If you have a small or no garden
Plant herbs, such as mint, thyme and chives, or small plants in pots. Window boxes are a great way to grow plants without taking up much space.
Why not research what is going on in your local community. Other great resources can be found online.
Find out about Grow Wild, a project run by Kew Gardens, London, that enables positive action for the environment and includes supporting communities to develop their own wildlife-friendly spaces.
The Royal Horticultral Society (RHS) offers resources to support community gardens as well as schools. The Campaign for School Gardening supports schools to inspire young people to get involved and be our next generation of gardeners.