NC’s Bee Aware Team Visits White House, Oversees Bee Haven Installation at Grandfather

Published Monday, March 30, 2015 at 12:53 pm
Bee Aware team members Claudia Button, Kate Fitzpatrick and Nathan Button stand before the White House, where they were invited to exhibit their science project Monday for the White House Science Fair. Photo courtesy Jenny Fitzpatrick.

Bee Aware team members Claudia Button, Kate Fitzpatrick and Nathan Button stand before the White House, where they were invited to exhibit their science project Monday for the White House Science Fair. Photo courtesy Jenny Fitzpatrick.

By Jay Salton

North Carolina’s Bee Aware Team, which features four home-schooled students from the High Country, has been the buzz lately after exhibiting their enterprising honeybee project at the Fifth annual White House Science Fair last week. They were one of 36 teams from across the nation to present at the fair.

The team had the chance to visit the White House pollinator garden and speak with the chief gardener and head pastry chef, who were able to give them advice for their future projects.

Their project raises awareness of the the current plight of honeybees and hopes to revitalize honeybee populations, which have been steadily declining since 2006, when one quarter of the bee population died due in large part to the use of pesticides, herbicides, and weed killers. To put the importance of honeybees in perspective, 71 of the 100 crops that provide 90 of the wood of the world are bee pollinated.

The students are currently overseeing the installation of Bee Haven at Grandfather Mountain, which is to be completed by this coming May. Grandfather has over 250,000 visitors annually, so it is the perfect place to get the word out on this important issue.

Since being awarded a $25,000 grant from the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation last year for their Bee Haven project, the group has been presenting information about honeybees to businesses, schools, and people across the region. The Bee Aware Team has also been selling North Carolina “Save the Honeybees” license plates, which cost $15, $10 of which goes to the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles, with the remaining $5 being split between bee research efforts at N.C. State and the Bee Aware project at Grandfather Mountain.

The group still needs 120 commitments to purchase the tag before April 1 for state legislature to consider the specialty plate. For more information about the project and to purchase a specialty license plate, visit www.beeawarenc.org.

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