Amherst Bee Friendly Week to Begin on National Arbor Day

Amherst Seeks to “Bee” Friendly!

Amherst has declared the week of April 24th – May 1st as “Amherst Bee Friendly Week.” In efforts to meet the certification requirements, community-based programs, workshops and educational opportunities are being offered!

The Town of Amherst is hoping to become the first certified “Bee Friendly” community in Massachusetts! In an effort to assist the declining honey bee population, Shelburne’s Piti Theatre Company, led by Jonathan Mirin and Godeliève Richard, are leading a campaign to raise awareness, educate and create more bee friendly habitat.

“Amherst Sustainability Coordinator Stephanie Ciccarello and Grow Food Amherst embraced the Bee Week idea last year and have incorporated it into their programming in 2015. They are pioneering the Bee Friendly Town model and it’s very exciting,” said Jonathan Mirin.

Jonathan, along with Piti Board member Whit Sanford (former director of the Connecticut River Watershed Council) have created a certification process by which communities can earn 100 points through various tasks, educational campaigns, workshops and creation of habitat. Once the community reaches 100 points they will officially be certified as a “Bee Friendly” community.

“We are seeing declining numbers of honey bees and it’s scary”, said John Gerber, founding member of Grow Food Amherst and a professor in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at UMASS. “But the great thing is we can do something to help”, he continued.

Amherst has declared the week of April 24th – May 1st as “Amherst Bee Friendly Week.” In efforts to meet the certification requirements the following programs, workshops and educational opportunities have been scheduled:

  • A bee theme art project at Judie’s Art Bar on Tuesday, April 21st from 6:30-9pm
  • Piti Theatre’s “Innocenzo” at the Amherst Sustainability Festival, Saturday, April 25th at 10am
  • Two bee themed demo workshops led by UMASS Professor and bee expert, Jarrod Fowler at the Amherst Sustainability Festival on Saturday, April 25th at 12:15pm and 2:15pm.
  • A field tour of the UMass Pollinator Garden at the Agricultural Learning Center at 1pm on Sunday, April 26th led by UMASS Professor, Jarrod Fowler
  • A free screening of Queen of the Sun on Monday, April 27th at 6pm in the Town Room of the Amherst Town Hall provided by the UMASS Beekeepers Club
  • A “bring a shovel” party to share perennial plants on Sunday, May 3rd at 1:30pm hosted by Mary Jo Maffei.
  • A campaign to request homeowners with lawns to leave “10% for the bees“
  • Spring planting of a pollinator garden at the Fort River Farm Conservation Area
  • A bee-themed educational display of books will be available at the Jones Library during Bee Week.

Upcoming Bee Weeks in the Pioneer Valley include Northampton and Greenfield during the first week of June. For more information about Amherst events, please visit the Grow Food Amherst website at For more on Bee Weeks in general, visit

– Submitted by Stephanie Ciccarello

[Photo credit: (cc) mustangjoe]

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