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Asheville is Bee City USA!

Hooray! Hooray! Asheville is the first Bee City USA! ASAP and Asheville City Market are excited to host a Bee City Celebration marking the designation this Saturday, August 18. Click the link for event details, and keep reading for a special guest post from Phyllis Stiles; she shares just what the declaration means and what moved her and community members to push for the recognition.

Guest post by Phyllis Stiles, Bee City USA

Some of you may have heard that Asheville City Council voted unanimously to make Asheville the inaugural Bee City USA on June 26. Like so many good things that start in Asheville, this program has national ambitions—in this case, to recruit many more cities to champion pollinators.

What you may not know is what moved members of the Buncombe County Beekeeping Chapter to create the program. It’s a love story. For those of you who have trouble with cross-species romances, this would be a good time to stop reading.

The honey bee is actually a gateway species. Her furry little body, dancing habits, and propensity for making the nectar of the gods are just too tempting for many of us to resist. Then, you decide you have to learn all about her—what she likes, what she doesn’t like, where she goes…Before long you hear about the honey kiss when worker bees pass nectar around to each other, mouth to mouth, removing water and adding their enzymes in the process, until they deposit honey in the comb. She had me at buzz.

I had to know more when I learned that honey bees and other pollinators are responsible for 150 crops that comprise our diet. In fact, we can thank a honey bee for one out of every three bites we eat. Did you know even coffee beans are pollinated by bees?

The honey bee came to America with the colonists in the 1600s and quickly became a vital component of our agriculture industry. Even today, she earns much more for her pollination work than her honey production.

Loss and degradation of their habitat—the trees and plants that supply their food and nesting sites—is the leading cause of the decline of honey bee and other native pollinators (birds, bats, butterflies, etc.). Many non-native invasive plants are crowding out the natives with which the pollinators physically co-evolved over millions of years.

Misuse of pesticides is another major problem; pesticides kills all insects, beneficial or not. Add the parasites and diseases that afflict honey bees, and you understand why we have Colony Collapse Disorder.

Bee City USA encourages city leaders to join forces with backyard beekeepers to address all three threats—habitat, pesticides, and disease—to sustain honey bees and other pollinators. Some of us believe that if we can do that we can make the world better for everybody.

Come help us celebrate this Saturday! Bee and pollinator attire is welcome. We’ll have an info booth set up from 8 am until 1 pm. A proclamation will be read around 10:15, and there will be craft activities for kids, too! For more info about the event and movement, visit www.beecityusa.org.

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