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Meet the ‘Bee Aware Science Team’ and Tour Honeybee Haven at Grandfather July 22

Local students from the “Bee Aware Science Team” will present a fascinating program at Grandfather Mountain on July 22, complete with a tour of the park’s new honeybee haven.

The new honeybee haven at Grandfather Mountain. Photo by Kellen Short/Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.

The Bee Aware Science Team formed in 2014 when students Claudia Button, Nathan Button, Kate Fitzpatrick and Maria Melissaris devised a plan to draw attention to the important honeybees, whose pollination is critical to global food production.

The team won a $25,000 grant from the Christopher Columbus Awards program to bring their ideas to life. When Congress cut federal funding for the program, the team was left with only about half of its expected funding to complete the project. They successfully led a campaign to create a bee-themed fundraiser license plate and are seeking additional donations to support the project.

Since the program began, the students have offered programs to more than 1,200 people about this important topic.

Also included in their plan was the creation of a honeybee haven at Grandfather Mountain. The hives were installed in late May, and already the bees are hard at work with honey production.

Honeybees explore their new habitat days after arriving at Grandfather Mountain. Photo by Kellen Short/Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.

“The bees are doing very well in their new home, and we’re already using the hives to share information about pollination with visitors to the park,” said Executive Director Jesse Pope of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.

The July 22 program begins at 5 p.m. with a tour of the Bee Haven. Meet at the Grandfather Mountain Butterfly Garden to learn about the pollination process with staff naturalists, then travel to the Bee Haven to view the hives. Although the viewing will take place from a safe distance, this tour is not recommended for people with sensitivity or allergies to bee stings.

Around 6:15 p.m., an opening reception with light refreshments will begin in the Nature Museum Lobby. Sam Storey, owner of Beech Mountain Beekeeping, who has assisted with the project, will offer local honey samples and answer questions about beekeeping.

At 7 p.m., the Bee Aware Team will begin its program in the Nature Museum Auditorium.

Admission to the event is free for Bridge Club members and $20 for the general public. To reserve your seat, email rsvp@grandfather.com by 5 p.m. July 21.