Work, school, home, hobby all about the bees

A fly on a flower
Photo courtesy of Robby Wrench
Bee close-up
Photo courtesy of Robby Wrench

Robby Wrench is a gardener on the University of Washington Bothell / Cascadia College campus and a student in the UW Master of Environmental Horticulture program who is passionate about pollinators.

Wrench expresses that passion through his hobby, photographing flowers and focusing on the details of bees and other insects carrying out their vital pollen transfer. A collection of about 30 of his flower and garden photos are on exhibit through July 30 in the Miller Library at the Center for Urban Horticulture on the UW campus in Seattle. The photos for “Planted: Finding Inspiration and Pollination in Public Spaces” were taken on the campus in Bothell and in parks and other public places, including the center.

“I wanted it to be a mix of small detail things you might not see, but everyone has access to because they’re public,” he said.

Robby Wrench / Marc Studer photo

Each photo has a title and information about when and where it was taken. His favorites are close-ups of bees.

“I’m hoping to get people to think, ‘Oh, I can see that there,’ and maybe frame things in a way they haven’t seen before,” Wrench said.

Wrench started taking photos with his phone, then got a camera and “really got into it.” At his apartment building, which has community garden plots, most everyone else is growing tomatoes and vegetables. Wrench grows flowers and ornamental plants to attract bees.

For his studies, Wrench is taking a beekeeping course this summer. It’s hands-on, with students donning beekeeper suits and handling the apiary chores for about 30 hives. The honey is sold to help finance the class, as is the beeswax, which is made into candles. After completing his master’s, Wrench hopes for a career in public horticulture, perhaps at a botanical garden.

In addition to his job maintaining the campus landscaping, Wrench collaborates on the CCUWBee Research Initiative led by Amy Lambert, a lecturer in the UW Bothell School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences. Faculty, staff and students from the University and Cascadia College are monitoring bee species and creating a database they hope will become part of the digital archives at the library.

More of Wrench’s photos are on display on the Bothell campus in the lobby of Mobius Hall, with species of bees identified.

“Most people think there’s just honeybees,” he said. “These photos show a little more.”

Butterfly on flower
Photo courtesy of Robby Wrench
Photo courtesy of Robby Wrench

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