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RHS Chelsea Flower Show
One Year On
 
RHS Chelsea might not be physically taking place this week - however horticulture fans, you’re in for a treat, it’s gone digital! From 18 - 23 May the world’s most famous flower show is back in virtual form, with a brilliant programme of flower-filled events. We can’t help but reminisce on our bee-centric Chelsea debut in 2019 with what was one of our most ambitious installations to date...
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Per Oculus Apum - Through the Eyes of Bees
McQueens Flowers were honoured to have been commissioned to create not one but two designs for the world’s most revered botanical exhibition. The original art pieces highlighted the importance of bee conservation - Honey, I’m Home, an interactive installation that invited visitors to create a bee which contributed to the evolving hive over the course of the week. And the second installation, Per Oculus Apum (Through the Eyes of Bees) was an impressive 20m long by 7m wide tunnel which immersed visitors into the sensory world of a bee. The huge structure, planted over the course of three days with wild, organic bee-friendly flowers - included an upside-down lavender field - a project that required at some point the entirety of McQueens Flowers to be involved.
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A number of collaborators helped bring our visions to life. Central to our education and research was Dr David Lawson, bee behaviourist at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol. Dr Lawson helped to provide the oscillating soundscape of electrostatic patters that help guide bees to the flowers that played as visitors entered the tunnel. Further adding the sensory experience, acclaimed perfumers, Miller Harris provided a honey-infused fragrance to waft through the wild-flower structure. Friend of McQueens Flowers, Michelin-starred chef, Marcus Wareing a keen bee-keeper himself also championed the installations - devising a delectable five-course menu, inspired by the perfect pollinators and even featuring the honey from Marcus’ own beehives!
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Visitors creating bees at the 'Honey I'm Home' installation
It was a privilege to welcome the British Bee Keeping Association as our charity partners throughout the show. Founded in 1874, the charity supports over 25,500 hobby beekeepers throughout England and the Islands. The independent, non-political, non-governmental organisation works tirelessly, with an evidence-based approach, to raise awareness at government level to help safeguard the honeybee. Through the support of donations and funding, the BBKA are dedicated to safeguarding honeybees and do so by enabling the right people to research into disease, encouraging the replacement of lost habitat and promoting best practice in beekeeping.

Down at the treetops area of the showground, under a wonderfully dappled leafy canopy - Honey I’m Home, a wooden hive structure designed by the tutors of McQueens Flower School created a flurry of activity. The educational hub reflected that of a busy beehive as visitors were welcomed to stop and create a bee from Craspedia and dried-leaves to inhabit the installation. By the end of the show - a swarm of thousands had been created - not only that, but it was very clear there is a united passion for bee conservation.
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In the year since making our RHS Chelsea debut - we have remained committed to supporting those who are raising awareness around the plight of bees and pollinators, here has bee some of our activity:

- McQueens Flowers CEO, Richard Eagleton met with the Honeybee Conservancy in Manhattan in September connecting them with the British Bee Keeping Association via a letter exchange.
- The 'Honey I'm Home' Hive popped up at the Bees for Development Garden Party in June - where the Duchess of Cornwall created a bee with McQueens Flower School Principal.
- The hive was subsequently donated to the Cambridge University Botanic Gardens, led by Professor Beverley Glover. Thousands of children visit the gardens every year to learn about bee conservation.
- As part of the Blooming Heroes campaign McQueens Flowers have created a bee-friendly window box with all profits being donated to the National Emergencies Trust.
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McQueens Flowers Richard Eagleton meeting the Honeybee Conservancy in Manhattan
Throughout the week we'll be sharing highlights of RHS Chelsea 2019 over on Instagram stories
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