Stephanie Trueblood, the Town of Hillsborough’s public space manager, works with local volunteers and other groups to help keep it's title.
“We became the 35th Bee City in the nation in 2017, and in order for us to keep that status, we have to undertake a certain amount of projects and education and outreach opportunities,” she said.
The Bee Hotel is the largest project the town has done so far, and was installed this past November in Gold Park — but the hotel is just one part of Hillsborough’s plans to keep it's title as a Bee City.
“We’re looking at providing additional pollinator habitats — which is something we try to do every year — to widen the available habitat for local pollinators,” Trueblood said.
Local pollinators refers to any animal that is native to the region and helps spread pollen around the ecosystem. Bees are local pollinators, and in North Carolina there are over 500 different species of native bees, 90 of which are present in Hillsborough.
Sarah Meadows, a member of the Hillsborough garden club, said the Bee City title is not just for people who keep bees — like honey bees — but is also for native, wild bees. Wild bees typically don’t live in hives or produce honey but are vital parts of the ecosystem.
“People don’t know that honey bees are introduced from Europe and not native,” Meadows said.
Meadows helped formulate the idea for Bee City and encouraged Hillsborough to apply for the title. She, along with the rest of the Gardening Club will be working to raise awareness for these local pollinators.
“We’re doing lots of programs on how to teach people how to make pollinator habitats in their own backyards or gardens,” Meadows said.
The pollinator garden in Gold Park serves as a demonstration to the public on what a pollinator garden is and how to maintain one.
Frances Harris, a Hillsborough Master Gardener and head coordinator of the pollinator garden, is responsible for its maintenance as well as organizing all volunteers and public events for the garden.
Harris is adamant about the need and value of pollinator gardens.
“Native pollinators have actually been declining which is why there’s this big push to create all these habitats for them," she said. "What we do is we try to provide the food and the nectar they need and put it into the pollinator garden.”
On the first Thursday of every month, volunteers are encouraged to come help prepare the pollinator garden for the coming summer.
Harris is confident that Hillsborough will become a welcoming place for native pollinators with the combination of the river walk, the bee hotel and the pollinator garden.
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