A bee hotel will be all the buzz in Hillsborough on Saturday, as it is unveiled in efforts to combat the disappearance of bees from local habitats.
“A lot of people are aware of the decline of honey bees in the United States, but fewer people understand the role of native bees,” said Stephanie Trueblood, Hillsborough public space manager.
In North Carolina, there are more than 500 species of native bees, according to an N.C. State University lab within the entomology program.
Native bees, unlike honey bees, do not live in hives. Instead, they live more solitary lives pollinating forests and fields, Trueblood said.
“Our hope is that with a focus on creating a really large-scale, beautiful, bee hotel that people can see in a very visible location in Gold Park,” Trueblood said, “that it will raise people’s awareness of the issue.”
The bee hotel will be 8 feet tall by 6 feet wide, and it is designed to not only be a functional home for bees, but also a work of art.
“I’m a landscape, design and build kind of person. I’ve been doing this sort of work for 25 years,” said David Hinkle, the bee hotel's artist.
Hinkle said his designs are inspired by natural patterns, and many of the materials used in the construction of the bee hotel are recycled or salvaged materials.
“This is the first time I’ve done a public work like this,” he said, referring to the fact that the bee hotel was sponsored by numerous organizations in Hillsborough and is in a public park. “Everything’s gone very smoothly for me, and that’s good.”
The bee hotel is set to be unveiled this Saturday, Nov. 4, at 10 a.m. in Gold Park, located right next to the pollinator garden. Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens will be making a statement, followed by a series of informational and fun activities.
“We’re going to have materials and volunteers available to help people make their own smaller-version bee houses,” Trueblood said. “They can either take home once they complete them, or give to the town, and we’ll put them along the river walk and in parks.”
Hillsborough voted to become a bee city in November 2016 and is a partner with the Bee City USA nonprofit organization. The bee hotel that will be unveiled this weekend perfectly compliments the community-run pollinator garden in Gold Park.
Hillsborough Planning Director Margaret Hauth said she is aware of the problem facing most bees, which is primarily the loss of land and viable habitats.
“By creating pollinator gardens, that creates a pocket of food source for these animals so that they can continue to do what they’re supposed to do,” Hauth said.
The bee hotel installation will be maintained by Hinkle for three years to ensure it remains sturdy and flexible, Trueblood said.
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