Winona State celebrates “Pollinator Week”

Allison Mueller

Kalika Valentine-Erickson/ Winonan

Last week was “Pollinator Week” at Winona State University, as part of the Sustainable Futures theme. The thought for the event sparked from a film at the Frozen River Film Festival.

Jim Armstrong, a committee member of The Sustainable Futures and a member of Winona Area Pollinators, commented on the intentions behind the event.

“We were helping to organize the Winona area pollinators, which is a group of people trying to make the city of Winona more bee friendly,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong discussed the importance of up-keeping the bee population.

“The bees are having a tremendous problem surviving, and since they pollinate 70 percent of our food crops, if they go down, we go down with them,” Armstrong said. “We need to consciously create a landscape that will feed the bees during the spring and summer and fall if we want to have viable agriculture. We need to stop poisoning them.”

Pollinator week included several different events. This included a talk from Marla Spivek, a professor from University of Minnesota, who specializes in bees’ behavior patterns. Scott Leddy of Meadowlark Restoration also spoke at Ed’s No Name Bar about the diversity of native bees, which was followed by a Beer Club meeting with local beer makers, discussing making beer with honey or dandelions.

Armstrong said, “They have a very active group of beer brewers who like a challenge.”

There was an art exhibit titled “The Great Wall of Bees: Printmaking and Beekeeping” by Ladislav Hanka, along with a talk by the artist, which is the event that the entire week was built around. The exhibit consisted of etches made by the Hanka, which are inserted into beehives, so the bees can finish the works of art.

Armstrong commented on the process of Hanka’s creative work.

“The art is a collaborative work between the artist and the bees,” Armstrong said.

Andrea Mohr, a student viewing the exhibit, spoke about what drew her to Hanka’s pieces.

“It’s amazing to see the connection that nature has to the artist, to everything, in these pieces,” Mohr said. “I especially enjoyed the ones where the bees framed the original etching by the artist.”

To finish out the week, there was a party at the Winona Arts Center that showed prints and poems written by Winona State Students, as well as pollinator-related songs, poetry and an open mic.

Armstrong commented on the show at the Winona Arts Center, as well as the intention to shed more light on the need to take better care of the bee population.

“My poetry students, and Mary Coughlan’s print making students, will displaying their work at the party,” said Armstrong. “We want everyone to be aware.”