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Blackstone Heritage Corridor Celebrates Pollinator Week with New Pollinator Resolution and Events

Ken Warchol, known to many as the “Bee Whisperer,” checks on some of his hives in Uxbridge, MA. He will help kick off Pollinator Week at Herbs Make Scents in Whitinsville, MA, on Monday, June 17 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Whitinsville, MA (June 7, 2019) – Have you heard the buzz? Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor (BHC) is celebrating Pollinator Week (June 17 to 23) with several events designed to educate the Corridor communities about the role pollinators play in our ecosystem and encourage partners to take BHC’s Pollinator Pledge.

BHC is one of 33 National Heritage Areas to create a Pollinator Resolution as part of “Operation Pollination” conceived by Chris Stein, who was the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor’s first Chief Ranger from 1991 to 1994. Today, Stein is Chief of Heritage Areas and Partnerships with the National Park Service in the Midwest Region. His goal, he says, was to create small scale pollinator habitats to inspire more large scale projects. In its first year, three National Heritage Areas of the 55 across the country signed on. Today, he shares that number is now 33.

BHC announced the creation of its Pollinator Resolution in April and to date has signed pledges from 12 partners including Rhode Island College, Mass Audubon at Broad Meadow Brook Conservation Center and Wildlife Sanctuary, Metacomet Land Trust, Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy, Upton Conservation Commission, Hi-on-a-Hill Herb Farm, North Smithfield Land Trust, Blackstone Conservation Commission, Uxbridge Conservation Commission, Roots in Nature, Southwick-Daniels Farm/The Daniels Farmstead Foundation, Inc., and The Ecotarium. Pledge forms can be found on BHC’s website at BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org.

“Pledges range from maintaining pesticide-free gardens to planting pollinator-friendly plants in gardens and from maintaining apiaries on campus to providing pollinator education classes,” explains Bonnie Combs, BHC’s marketing director. “We are inspired by the awareness that Chris Stein has created and we look forward to inspiring more pollinator-friendly habits and habitats throughout the Corridor with this initiative.”

To kick off Pollinator Week, local beekeeper Ken Warchol of Northbridge, MA, will be at Herbs Make Scents (76 Church St.), Whitinsville, MA, for a special Pollinator Tea Party on Monday, June 17 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Warchol has been keeping bees for 70 years and is the apiary inspector for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Many call him the area’s “bee whisperer.” He was part of the Harvard University team studying Colony Collapse Disorder and maintains 125 hives all over Central Massachusetts. Warchol will be setting up a demonstration hive and offering samples of many different kinds of honey. He encourages area youth to come visit after school to learn about honeybees and different pollinators. Terri Michaelson, owner of Herbs Make Scents, will be featuring a special tea menu and highlighting food items in her shop that have been pollinated by honeybees. The shop is normally closed on Monday and is opening at 2:00 p.m. for this special event.

Rhode Island College was the first to sign BHC’s Pollinator Pledge and will be hosting a “Beekeeping for Veterans” workshop on Wednesday, June 19 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 at the college’s bee education center (600 Mt. Pleasant Ave., behind buildings 7 and 8) in Providence, RI. The event recognizes both Pollinator Week and PTSD Awareness Month. Jim Murphy, sustainability coordinator at RIC who oversees the beehives at the college’s bee education center, will provide an overview of beekeeping and offer a hands-on experience at the hives. There will also be a tour of the greenhouse and campus garden to learn about the role pollinators play in our food supply. The event is a collaboration between Rhode Island College, Dare to Dream Ranch, and BHC. RSVP to Jim Murphy at jmurphy2@ric.edu or 401-456-8799. To learn more about the Rhode Island College Bee Education Center, visit RIC.edu/Bee-Education.

On Thursday, June 20, cross pollination is happening at Sprout CoWorking as Providence Green Drinks and Gallery Night Providence come together for Gallery Night at the Sprout Gallery at the Rising Sun Mills (166 Valley St., Building 6M, Suite 103), Providence, RI, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The two groups each host their monthly events on the third Thursday and on June 20 they will gather at the same hive to learn about each other, and pollinators. Meg Kerr, Senior Director of Policy, at Audubon Society of Rhode Island, will speak about her policy work for pollinators and Bonnie Combs from BHC will talk about the Pollinator Resolution and efforts to engage partners in protecting pollinators throughout the Blackstone River Valley. Other guests include Normand Peloquin, of Blackstone Valley Apiaries, who will have local honey and encaustic paintings; popup artist Michele Fremont of Jacqueline Dyer Studio; and ecoRI News who will have information on the Bee Vigilant campaign created with Convergence RI. The event is free and open to the public.

Pollinator Week closes out at Mass Audubon Broad Meadow Brook Conservation Center and Wildlife Sanctuary (414 Massasoit Rd.), Worcester, MA, on Saturday, June 22 from 10 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. with a Pollinator Open House.Drop in between for pollinator scavenger hunts, games, and activities, view the butterfly gardens and bee hotel, and take home free pollinator-friendly wildflower seeds. While you’re there, explore the trails and nature play area and see how many ways to help pollinators you can find.

To learn more about BHC’s Pollinator Resolution and the Pollinator Pledge, contact Bonnie Combs at 508-234-4242 or bcombs@BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org.