The Bee Mural
By: Dan Gibbs
The Bee Mural in downtown Hendersonville, a project that first got off the ground in 2019, was finally completed and debuted in mid-May 2021. This is six years after Hendersonville became designated a Bee City USA affiliate. Bee City USA is based out of Asheville, NC and according to the Bee City USA website they provide “a framework for communities to come together to conserve native pollinators by providing them with healthy habitat that is rich in a variety of native plants, provides nest sites, and is protected from pesticides.” There are over 3,600 native bee species in the United States. Bee City USA now has affiliated communities in 40 states.
Bee Mural artist Matt Willey and his organization Good of the Hive was commissioned to paint the mural on the side of Hands On! Children’s Museum on the corner of 3rd Avenue and King Street in the Azalea Parking lot. His goal is to paint 50,000 bees and so far, he has painted 8,000 bees in two different countries with many more projects in the planning stages. 50,000 bees “is the necessary number for a healthy, thriving hive” he told reporter Christy Bollinger in an interview with spectrumlocalnews.com.
I have seen honey bees swarm before and it can be a little bit scary but it is also a necessary function of the hive. The bee colony splits and the old queen is replaced and she takes half of the colony with her while a new queen establishes herself in the old hive.
There are a few bee hives located in the Park at Flat Rock and there were a few beekeepers tending to them one day when I was walking the trails. They had on their protective suits and masks which is necessary but one of the keepers told me he had still gotten stung a few times while he was tending them. Bees are a vital part of our ecosystem and according to thebeeconservancy.org, bees “pollinate 1 in 3 bites of food we eat and are essential to the health and prosperity of countless ecosystems.” The bee population in North Carolina is in decline and has been for several years. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, 1 in 4 bee species are at risk of extinction. More information can be found at any of the websites I have mentioned.