Bees in decline, art raises alarm

From staff reports

The number of honey-producing bees in the United States has decreased by half since in the 1950s and took a precipitous plunge after the introduction of parasite mites in 1982.

On Sept. 10 the Black Mountain Center for the Arts will start its month-long bee awareness event “What’s the Buzz about Bees?” with an art exhibit in the upper gallery showcasing more than 25 artists working in a wide range of media, from watercolor to oil and glass. All the work will feature one or more of the world’s 20,000 bee species.

An artists’ reception from 6-8 p.m. Sept. 10 will include a short, dynamic presentation in the theater space by Phyllis Stiles. Stiles is founder and director of Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA and a national advocate of, protector of and educator about pollinators. The gallery show, which is free, runs through Oct. 9.

Like last year’s “Bring Back the Monarch” awareness event at the arts center, “What’s the Buzz about Bees?” will focus on the plight of this critical pollinator. The event will share the importance of bees with area third-graders who will participate in educational “swarms” later in the month.

“Bees are in crisis. We want this event to bring awareness to the decline of bees and other pollinators,” exhibition organizer Libba Tracy said. “We hope that the many people who visit the arts center gallery during the show will be inspired by the art to plant more native, flowering plants to ensure the sustainability of these vital insects.”

Tracy hopes those who attend Stiles’ presentation will come away understanding that widespread pesticide use and habitat loss are major contributors to the bee crisis. These and other stressors will be explored during the event.

For more about the event, BlackMountainArts.org or call 669-0930. The gallery is at 225 W. State St.