Winnsboro Artists Support Endangered Bees
One of the painted beehives entered into the contest.
Winnsboro Farmers’ Market is hosting its annual Save the Bees Art Contest, now in its fifth year, and the artists are buzzing with excitement. Ten artists each year take on the challenge to paint beehive boxes for a chance to win cash prizes and most importantly to raise awareness of the plight of the pollinators.
This year the contest is also helping to create bee awareness in young students by providing a Youth Beekeeping Scholarship program to two lucky students. Kids aged 12-17 are each provided all the necessary equipment, materials, and bees to start their own beekeeping journey. Also included is one year of mentoring to help grow the population of both beekeepers and bees.
Bees are responsible for helping to pollinate plants, which is a vital step in plant reproduction. Crops, flowers, vegetables, fruits — all of which feed both humans and livestock — benefit from bee pollination. Beekeeper Bill Zimmer says bees are responsible for pollinating nearly 85 percent of all food crops for humans, as well as numerous crops that grow the food fed to cattle. Without the honeybee, options for nourishment would certainly be reduced and there has been research conducted that predicts environmental collapse should the honeybee no longer exist, he added.
Last year 50 percent of bees in Texas died from something called colony collapse disorder, Zimmer says. The main causes he says are pests (varroa mite), pesticides, and lack of bee forage/farming practices.
Zimmer says 65 percent of beekeepers are over the age of 50. By providing the scholarship and creating an education for young students, the group is looking to instill a desire for the younger generation to bring back this fading tradition. Beekeeping can be a hobby, or even a career, and it benefits everyone — humans and bees included.
For those that can’t do beekeeping, there are other ways to help. Planting bee-friendly flowers, switching to organic pesticides, and donating to beekeeper associations are a few ideas.
The 10 hives selected for the Save the Bees Art Contest are first displayed at the Winnsboro Farmers’ Market from 8 a.m. to noon May 11. Voting and display continues in the Winnsboro Center for the Arts on non-market days and on May 18 and 25 at the market. The winner is announced May 25.