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The Daily Tar Heel

Carrboro becomes third Bee City USA community

Marty Hanks, the creator of "Just Bee Apiary," a bee farm located on his land just outside of downtown Chapel Hill, checks on his honeybees. Hanks makes it a priority to raise his thousands of bees without the use of unnatural chemicals.
Marty Hanks, the creator of "Just Bee Apiary," a bee farm located on his land just outside of downtown Chapel Hill, checks on his honeybees. Hanks makes it a priority to raise his thousands of bees without the use of unnatural chemicals.

The Carrboro Board of Aldermen passed a resolution Tuesday to support the designation of Carrboro as a Bee City USA community, which means the town will take a series of measures to promote healthy habitats for bees and other pollinators in the area.

Bee City USA is a national program that aims to promote sustainable habitats for pollinators because honeybee populations have decreased in the U.S. in recent years.

Carrboro is the third Bee City USA community, following in the footsteps of Asheville and Talent, Ore.

Marty Hanks, who owns Just Bee Apiary in Chapel Hill and has bees across Hillsborough, Carrboro and other parts of Orange County, initiated the Bee City USA program in Carrboro.

“With decreasing pollinators, we’re having a decreasing food supply and higher stress,” he said.

“It’s going to become an issue in the near future where we have too few pollinators to pollinate all our food throughout the year.”

Hanks said Bee City USA will educate Carrboro residents so they can have a positive impact on pollinator communities.

“It engages more people in our community to understand and be aware of the issues that are going on with the pollinators and how the way they manage their land, their yard, their farm affects the pollinators in our community,” he said.

Randy Dodd, environmental planner for Carrboro’s Planning Division, worked with Hanks this summer to research Bee City USA and presented the proposal to the board at Tuesday’s meeting.

He said the planning department and the Environmental Advisory Board would work together to carry out the Bee City program, which will include creating a Bee City USA street sign in a prominent location, annually celebrating National Pollinator Week and disseminating information to the public about building pollinator-friendly habitats.

Carrboro Alderman Sammy Slade, who is a beekeeper, said Bee City USA would raise people’s awareness of how pesticides affect bees’ lives.

“I have been struggling with my bees because they are disappearing and not surviving,” he said.

“Part of this is because of pesticides that people use in town and possibly in farms near town.”

He said the program would be helpful for beekeepers like him.

“I think it’s a great way to raise awareness for the public to learn about all the ways that bees are central for our ecosystem and how we can help the ecosystem — not just in rural areas but in our small town,” Slade said.

Hanks said he hopes to kick off Bee City USA with an event to educate the public about green and healthy plants that will not endanger pollinators’ lives, such as flowers native to North Carolina.

“We will first start off with an annual event where we bring the public to the farmers market to look at plant alternatives that are not synthetically, chemically treated,” he said.

“What we are looking for is to showcase local farmers or nurseries who grow healthy, North Carolina native flowers and so people will know what to plant that is green and healthy.”

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Hanks said the program could become a model for other towns and cities.

“I see this spreading,” he said.

city@dailytarheel.com