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Asheville’s Pollination Celebration! Aims to Get You Buzzed

June 7, 2015


Asheville’s Pollination Celebration! Aims to Get You Buzzed Bee City USA Logo

Asheville, NC–Most of us have heard that honeybees and monarchs are in trouble, but did you know that almost all pollinators need our help? Every third bite we eat is thanks to bees, contributing about $15 billion to American agriculture annually. An astounding 85% of the world’s flowering plant species need pollinators to reproduce!

To raise pollinator consciousness, every certified Bee City USA® community commits to holding at least one educational event each year, usually during National Pollinator Week in June. Being the inaugural Bee City USA, Asheville goes a little crazy and hosts Pollination Celebration! for the whole week, Ingles Markets is the lead sponsor for this year’s Pollination Celebration!

Whether you want to learn about pollinator friendly gardening, gasp at the site of flowers and their pollinators interacting thanks to time lapsed photography, taste honey from around the world, touch a monarch caterpillar, or hear from national experts on pollinators, there’s sure to be something you would enjoy this year. The fun kicks off this year on June 11, 4:00 – 7:00, at the Renaissance Asheville Hotel with a sampling of the week’s activities along with libations, music and finger food. For full details on each Pollination Celebration! event, visit Bee City USA.

Keynote Speaker: Author & Apiculturist Dr. Mark Winston

Highly sought after author and apiculturist, Dr. Mark Winston is the keynote speaker. On Tuesday evening, June 16, he will speak at the Mountain Horticultural Research Station to beekeepers, and Pack Library will host a free public presentation on Wednesday, June 17 in their Lord Auditorium. While teaching and researching in British Columbia, Winston wrote The Biology of the Honey Bee; Killer Bees: The Africanized Honey Bee in the Americas; Nature Wars: People vs. Pests; Travels in the Genetically Modified Zone; From Where I Sit; and most recently, Bee Time: Lessons From the Hive. Winston recounts his experiences over 30 years of walking into apiaries, and the lessons learned from a life spent among the bees–powerful lessons about how we humans can better understand our place in nature, engage the people and events surrounding us with greater focus and clarity, interact more effectively in our relationships and communities, and open ourselves to a deeper understanding of who we are as individuals, communities and a species.

“Being among bees is a full-body experience,” says Mark Winston, “from the low hum of tens of thousands of insects and the pungent smell of honey and beeswax, to the sight of workers flying back and forth between flowers and the hive. The experience of an apiary slows our sense of time, heightens our awareness, and inspires awe.” Winston explains, “Like us, honeybees represent a pinnacle of animal sociality; how they submerge individual needs into the colony collective provides a lens through which to ponder human societies. Winston explains how bees process information, structure work, and communicate; and shows how corporate boardrooms are using bee societies as a model to improve collaboration. He examines how bees have altered our understanding of agricultural ecosystems, and how urban planners are looking to bees in designing more nature-friendly cities. Dandelion Flower as great pollinator! The relationship between bees and people has not always been benign. Bee populations are diminishing due to human impact; we can’t afford to ignore what the demise of bees tells us about our own tenuous affiliation with nature. Toxic interactions between pesticides and bee diseases have been particularly harmful, foreshadowing similar harmful effects of pesticides on our health. There is much to learn from bees in how they respond to these challenges. In sustaining their societies, bees teach us ways to sustain our own.”

On Sunday evening, June 14, nationally known, award-winning conservation and natural history photographer Clay Bolt will also keynote for Pollination Celebration! 2015. The Carolina Nature Photographers Association, Asheville Chapter, is hosting Bolt at the Reuter Center at UNC Asheville. Bolt says, “Over 99% of life on Earth is smaller than your finger! This means that no matter where you live, there is always something to discover and photograph. It is a common misconception that a photographer must travel to a distant continent to find subjects worthy of photographing, when many of the most amazing creatures you’ll ever see can be found just outside your back door.”

Bolt specializes in macro and close-up photography of Southern Appalachian biodiversity with an emphasis on invertebrates (bugs), reptiles and amphibians. He regularly works with organizations and publications such as National Geographic, The Nature Conservancy, Outdoor Photographer, BBC Wildlife and the International League of Conservation Photographers. This year Bolt is focusing (literally!) on bees across North America in a partnership with the Xerces Society. In addition to sharing his stunning photographs of pollinators, Bolt will discuss how to use the on-white, Field Studio Technique that has been popularized by the international Meet Your Neighbors project that he co-founded in 2009.

The project has grown to include dozens of photographers representing locations around the world committed to the mission of reconnecting people with the wildlife that lives within their own communities. He’ll also share his tips for utilizing more advanced topics such as photographing insects in flight and wide-angle macro photography. Bolt will be sharing ways to use macro photography to tell the stories of subjects for conservation and editorial purposes so that anyone can become more effective champions for wildlife in their community. President Elect for the Board of Directors of the North American Nature Photography Association, Bolt is passionate about spreading the message that a connection to nature begins at home and is always seeking out new ways to promote this concept through his photography, writing, presentations and community involvement.

Other Pollination Celebration! Events: Movies, Garden Talks & Tours, Honey Tastings, Stiltwalkers, Puppet Shows

  • On June 11, the Renaissance Asheville Hotel will launch Pollination Celebration! with a sampling of the week’s line-up from 4:00 until 7:00. Monarch Rescue will lead seed bomb-making as live monarch butterflies look on; Twin Leaf Brewery will unveil its honey tea Belgian Saison beer; and the Faerie Kin Stiltwakers, dressed as giant bees, will waltz among the guests. That evening, twenty percent of the proceeds at the Hotel’s Writers Bistro will benefit Bee City USA.
  • Join naturalist, plant ecologist, and garden educator Dr. Lisa Wagner for an informal presentation focused on gardening for pollinators at the Botanical Gardens of Asheville Saturday morning, June 13.
  • The afternoon of June 13 at 1:30, Master Gardener and master beekeeper Diane Almond will lead the “Wise Beekeepers Roundtable” discussion at Living Web Farms in Mills River. Several noted pollinator experts will serve as panelists.
  • On Monday, June 15 at 5:30, the Faerie Kin Stiltwalkers will perform their newest show “Enchanted Bees” at Pritchard Park and then escort pedestrians to the Asheville Bee Charmer on Park Battery Park Avenue, where they may taste an array of honeys from around the world. After opening their first store in West Asheville, there was such interest in bee-related products, owners Jillian Kelly and Kim Allen opened the second location last fall.
  • Last year, after the Fine Arts Theater aired Wings of Life–a breathtaking documentary representing a lifetime of time-lapsed photography of flowers and their pollinators by Louie Schwartzberg–so many people asked if there would be other showings, Fine Arts Theatre and Bee City USA decided to present an encore on Thursday evening, June 18, Tickets cost $10.00.
  • West Asheville Library will present beloved Hobey Ford’s Golden Rod Puppets: Migration on Friday at 11:00, June 19. Tickets are free but should be picked up at the library after June fifth. Monarch educator Ina Warren will provide a display about monarch butterflies.
  • Monarch expert Kim Bailey will lead a free pollinator walk at the Audubon Sanctuary at Beaver Lake on Saturday morning, June 20. Children are encouraged to participate. That evening under the stars, Wedge Brewery will present a free showing of “Queen of the Sun” a documentary about the challenges faced by honeybees.
  • On Sunday June 21, Father’s Day, Asheville GreenWorks hosts a tour of private gardens in Biltmore Forest, in which Bee City USA will, showcase examples of what gardeners can do to provide healthy habitat for pollinators. Tickets are $25 or $20 in advance.
  • That same afternoon, Hop’n Blueberry Farm in Black Mountain invites families to visit the butterfly meadow and house, tag monarch butterflies, and build native bee houses. Cost is $10 per family and preregistration is required.

“If lots of individuals and communities begin planting native, pesticide-free flowering trees, shrubs and plants, it will create large-scale change for thousands of species of pollinators at risk—including bees we all depend on for our food production,” said Bee City USA director, Phyllis Stiles. “How each city celebrates pollinators is up to them, but we especially encourage educational programs for children, like school gardens. When a child falls in love with pollinators, they are friends for life.”

Bee City USA urges municipalities, individuals, organizations, corporations, and communities to promote and establish pollinator–friendly landscapes that are free of pesticides.  So far, nine cities across the nation have been certified.For more information about the application process for becoming a Bee City USA community, visit

For full details on each Pollination Celebration! event, visit Bee City USA.

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