Honey bee film to be shown in North Carolina theater

In Charlotte Observer

by Lisa Thornton, Charlotte Observer

Do you like apples, watermelon, onions and cherries?

Thank a honeybee, because according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, they, like other pollinators, are responsible for more than 70 percent of those crops and plenty of others.

But honeybee numbers have dwindled in recent years, and although experts don’t agree why it’s happening, advocates such as Concord Wildlife Alliance are taking measures to boost the honeybee population. They’d like the community to join in, too.

The alliance will present the film “Vanishing of the Bees” Nov. 5 at Davis Theater in Concord. The free event will also feature a panel discussion with pollinator experts following the documentary.

Experts include Stan Schneider, professor and vice chairman of academic programs in the Department of Biological Sciences at UNC Charlotte, Angel Hjarding, director of pollinator and wildlife habitat programs with the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, and Bob Blackwelder of the Cabarrus County Beekeepers Association.

The screening and discussion is an attempt to educate people about the vital contribution that honeybees make to the food supply.

According to the “Vanishing of the Bees” website, commercial honeybees pollinate one out of every three bites of food we take.

But urbanization has shrunk the habitats where honeybees fuel up, and experts like Hjarding warn that the results could be disastrous.

“If we don’t supply the habitat, then we’re not going to support having wild and native bees to pollinate our crops,” said Hjarding. “It’s really going to affect our food sources.”

Hjarding will talk about the best kinds of plants needed to attract pollinators like honeybees.

In April, Hjarding began The Butterfly Highway Project, a conservation effort to restore the state’s pollinator habitats by growing native plants in areas where they were wiped out during the urbanization process.

The project was successful, especially in inner city neighborhoods surrounding uptown Charlotte, and Hjarding credits that success to the residents of those communities.

The alliance plans to plant 200 native perennials along Concord’s city pathways. The North Carolina Wildlife Federation supplied the plants.

“The pollinator highway is our focus,” said Rose Rummel-Eury, CWA’s secretary. “We are hoping to do our best to see that it happens and that we have a lot of engaged citizens helping us out.”

With the influx of private vegetable gardens and weekly farmers markets, Blackwelder said, the time is right to enlist more people as honeybee advocates.

“A lot of people in Cabarrus County have a garden, and a lot of garden vegetables are totally dependent on honeybees,” said Blackwelder. “The ones that are not totally dependent still benefit from honeybees.”

Blackwelder has noticed an increase in the number of people planting milkweed and other honeybee attracting plants in their yards.

“Every year, I get more encouraged that so many people recognize the importance of honeybees and will go out of their way not to destroy a bee,” he said. “That’s an encouraging thing.”

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