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The Daily Tar Heel

Carrboro celebrates pollinator populations

A Bee City USA affiliate since 2014, Carrboro is hosting its own pollinator week as a celebration of National Pollinator Week, which aims to raise awareness about the benefits of pollinators like bees, yellow jackets and butterflies and the struggles pollinator populations face.

According to a proclamation from the town, the benefits of protecting pollinators include healthy ecosystems, increased crop yields, decreased populations of pests that damage crops and increased demand for local, pollinator-friendly plant materials.

The proclamation encouraged residents to visit Carrboro’s pollinator garden at the corner of West Main Street and Hillsborough Road. The town also held a showing of Queen of the Sun, a documentary about the disappearance of bees around the world, on Sunday.

According to Bee Informed, a national research partnership funded by the USDA, beekeepers lost 44 percent of their honeybee colonies between April 2015 and April 2016.

Randall Austin, a master beekeeper, said it’s important for people to know how pollinators fit into our way of life and the food we eat.

“There are common sense things to do, but you have to be aware of the consequences of your actions,” he said.

A few simple ways to keep pollinators in mind, Austin said, include applying pesticides in the evening when bees are not flying, using pesticides that aren’t powdered and can’t drift and following instructions on pesticide labels to the letter.

Plants that bloom in the summer and fall, he said, provide much-needed nectar for bees in the area, since the majority of native flowers bloom in spring.

“You’re gonna plant pretty flowers anyway, so go ahead and plant things that are bee-friendly,” he said.

“For example, honeysuckles are very pretty plants, but the honeybees cannot benefit from them because the flowers are too tubular for the honeybees to access. Flowers that are open like a daisy are the ones that the bees can access.”

Matthew Willey, a mural artist from Asheville, has planned a honeybee mural that he will begin painting in early July at Fire Station 1 in Carrboro.

Willey has created a national project called The Good of the Hive, which he designed to raise awareness about the decline of bee populations by painting a total of 50,000 honeybees in murals across the country. Most recently, Willey completed a honeybee mural at Estes Hill Elementary School in Chapel Hill.

“The underlying artistic mission is about connection, and the bees symbolize that with the hive,” he said. “I don’t think any one person or one president or one artist can solve this — it’s about us connecting around these bigger environmental issues.”

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