I found myself strolling through downtown after a networking event, looking for a place to grab a quick bite to eat. There is no shortage of great places to eat in Asheville, but culinary reviews will have to wait for another time. What captured my attention on this day was that all of the shop windows were flaunting a new addition. Everywhere I looked bees had appeared in the store windows – let me clarify… large, white, vinyl stickers of bees had swarmed the shops of downtown Asheville. It certainly got my attention…
I did a little research and found out that June is Pollination Celebration Month – a community-wide celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats, beetles, flies, and other species that help pollinate one out of every three bites of food you eat! Wow! Who knew?
One time in Dallas, while walking through my modest, urban yard, I heard an extremely loud buzzing coming from my compost bin – my first reaction was to call the exterminator. Since I knew about the shortage of honey bees, my conscience got the better of me, and I called Mr. Beesman ( yes that was his real name he assured me). For a fee, he was happy to relocated the tens of thousands of honey bees that had mistakenly decided to become city dwellers. Apparently it is a common occurrence for hives to divide in the spring and Mr. Beesman said the honey bee scouts were getting confusing that year and coming into the city during the drought looking for water.
So now I find myself in Asheville, which I have recently learned is the nation’s inaugural Bee City USA. Not exactly sure what that means, but I bet I will know by the end of June. My very limited knowledge of bees is that they make honey and consuming local honey can help with allergies. This very simple line of reasoning led me to consult a young man at the farmer’s market named Chris, who professed to being a local expert on honey. He educated me on the various types of honey – from the very common clover to the Appalachian Sourwood honey. He dipped and twirled straws in each jar of honey to give me a taste of these amazingly different varieties of honey. How have I gone my whole life without noticing the vastly different colors of honey? Ranging from light amber to dark brown – some you can see right through and others cloudy and dense. Apparently, the kind I needed was from bees in Topton, North Carolina that feed on local wild flowers. Not sure how much it has helped my allergies, but the honey education was wonderfully sweet.
At my local health food store, I made another discovery, I can purchase my very own “bee house” to help those little pollinators – WHAT?! I don’t think I’m ready to attract and house those litter buzzers quite yet.