New grants support native pollinator meadow at UNC Asheville

From a press release:

New grants support native pollinator meadow at UNC Asheville

Thanks to grants from the Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation and the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership, planting has begun in UNC Asheville’s new native pollinator meadow, and campus is abuzz with plans – including a new apiary – for further integrating beekeeping and pollination into student and community education projects.

The new pollinator meadow near the main campus entrance is part of the university’s effort to help sustain imperiled bee populations. The meadow also will be used for instructional purposes, allowing students to photo-document bee activity and identify pollinators to the insect family level, if not genus level. Students are actively involved in planting, and will use the meadow to develop and conduct their own undergraduate research projects.

“Our role will be primarily to monitor the species that visit the plants over the active flowering period—summer plus early fall” said Jennifer Rhode Ward, associate professor of biology at UNC Asheville. “We hope that, by observing the insects’ behaviors and the plants’ responses, we will be able to determine which species are just visiting to rob nectar or pollen and which are actually pollinating.”

“There is a lot of detail—in order to fully understand what’s going on, you have to have supporting research,” said UNC Asheville Landscape Director Melissa Acker. “All of it matters. Each flower, each plant, has a purpose for the bees and other pollinators.”

UNC Asheville also plans to use the meadow as a showcase this fall when it hosts a workshop for colleges and other institutional campuses across the region to explore ways to use their landscapes to better sustain pollinators, including bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other species facing steep declines over recent decades.

Acker, along with Director of Foundation Relations Phyllis Stiles, worked together to develop the proposals for this project. Stiles is also founding director of Bee City USA, which began in Asheville in 2012 and now has eight cities certified.

The Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation, dedicated to sustaining charitable, grassroots initiatives that support human and honeybee health, contributed $8,000 to UNC Asheville Foundation for this project. That sum was matched by Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership, which has a mission to protect, preserve, interpret, and develop the unique natural, historical and cultural resources of Western North Carolina for the benefit of present and future generations.

For more information, contact UNC Asheville Director of Sustainability Sonia Marcus at 828.251.6627, or Melissa Acker at 828.251.6699.

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