Our Spring Summer 2022 collection, “Pollination,” explores the mutualistic relationship between humans, bees, and the environment. Pollen was a natural progression of materially, from working with regenerative materials concepts: fungi, algae, and fermentation. Pollen, as a building block of nature, felt like the meaningful next step towards a material dye concept that could be restorative and done in your own backyard.
Olderbrother, in collaboration with Eli’s Bee Company (of The Santa Monica Mountains) harvested bee pollen to use as our dying material. We selected 16 beehives located in Topanga and closely monitored their pollen collection. This season’s colors are derived from the foundational pollinators of our chaparral landscape, Ceanothus, Black Sage, Toyon, and Laurel Sumac.
+ Our landscape: 16 beehives to limit density and minimize impact on wild insects
+ System: Collecting every 3 days
+ Alternating Pollen Collection Weekly
+ Duration 3 months
+ Production Value: 6lbs per day at peak production
We monitored our hives and timed pollen collection with the Chaparral peak bloom between the months of April and May, when native species provide an abundance of nectar and pollen for pollinators.
(Black Sage)
The Santa Monica Mountains is home to a diverse ecosystem of insects, amphibians, mammals, and plant species. As residents of this urban-wildland interface, we feel it is our responsibility to make our landscapes places that encourage the health of our native flora and fauna.
The biggest threat to sensitive insect populations is human interference, pesticides, herbicides, the loss of native plant habitat from development and the introduction of invasive plants. We are losing California coastal chaparral as it transforms into weedy grassland.
Wild Cucumber (Marah Macrocarpa)
For millennia, humans have relied on bees as givers of life. Ancient civilizations embraced this symbiotic relationship and our collection was inspired by working with this relationship.
As Eli explains,
“We must create an awareness of the importance of our pollinating insect population. When people understand the essential role honey bees play in our food production systems, they are motivated to care for bees’ health and safety. This concern indirectly results in the protection of the larger community of plants and pollinators. There are definitely negative effects that beekeepers need to be aware of, such as affecting endangered species or disease transmission between domestic and wild populations (and vice versa). But the main driving force of extinction of vulnerable populations is not competition or disease, it is certainly habitat loss driven by humans - honey bees provide us with 7 one of the most direct connections with the more “wild” natural environment. Not only do they pollinate our agricultural plants for food production. Additionally, their sensitivity to the environment teaches us about the effects of changes in temperature, rainfall amounts, forage availability, and landscape development patterns on the greater ecology”
This spring we are looking in our own backyard as a starting point to create micro-habits that support nature and all its creations.
Special Thanks To,

Eli from Eli Bees

Photographer: Jack Bool

Videographer: Jarod Taber

Most Importantly, the bees :)