Honeybee mural to show struggle of bee population

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Artist Matthew Willey committed to personally paint 50,000 bees all over the country. Fire Station 1 in Carrboro will display a mural. (Courtesy of Matthew Willey)

Artist Matthew Willey created The Good of the Hive Initiative, which aims to spread awareness about the struggles honeybees face through a series of murals.

He said he decided to create this initiative after feeling a connection to a honeybee that died on the floor of his studio in New York City about six years ago.

Willey said he began to do extensive research on honeybees and became fascinated with them after this experience.

“I came across a behavior of the honeybee that fascinated me,” Willey said.

“It is called altruistic suicide. When a honeybee feels sick, it will exit the hive and fly off into the abyss in order to keep the hive from getting sick. In essence, they do this for ‘the good of the hive.’ That is where the name eventually came from.”

Willey said he first reached out to Bee City USA members for potential mural locations and got the most interest from Carrboro.

The Board of Aldermen passed a resolution declaring Carrboro a Bee City USA in October 2014.

Carrboro was the third of 15 cities across the country to be a part of Bee City USA, a designation that the town takes very seriously, Board of Aldermen member Bethany Chaney said.

The city followed in the footsteps of both Asheville, N.C. and Talent, Ore. — two other desginated Bee City USA cities.

“We are committing to being active in creating positive pollination opportunities for bees,” Chaney said.

Mayor Lydia Lavelle said in an email that the town is very supportive of the bee and the beekeeping community.

She also said it is important to assist pollinators in creating sustainable habits, since they are vital to feeding the planet.

Chaney said Firestation 1 is an ideal spot for the honeybee mural.

She said she liked the idea of it being on public property, as well as its proximity to the elementary school.

She thinks this will hopefully attract kids to the fire station.

“(Willey) worked with town staff to locate a visible, high-traffic area in town,” Lavelle said.

“With the farmer’s market located adjacent to the fire station, it seems like a good fit to help raise awareness to this important topic.”

Willey said he is not able to reveal the specifics of the mural’s design, but that it will honor the elegance and beauty of the honeybee.

He also said it highlights the connection we have with them as humans.

He said he has 19 potential murals in other areas of the country.

Carrboro’s mural should begin in the spring.

“By painting these tiny little creatures very large on walls, I am hoping to show their beauty, but also highlight and draw attention to what is going on with them,” Willey said.

“There is nothing more powerful than art for connecting people to the world around them.”

@meganroyer

city@dailytarheel.com

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