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Edgeworth Garden Club events aim to draw attention to bee colonies' devastation

| Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 6:10 p.m.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Edgeworth Garden Club member Rita Kowallis of Edgeworth adds color to a hat made out of recycled materials during a work meeting in Sewickley Heights on Wednesday, March 19, 2014. The Edwardian-style hat is being constructed for an annual 'Trash to Treasure' contest sponsored by the National Garden Club. This year's theme is 'Put A Bee in Your Bonnet' to raise awareness of the plight of devastated pollinators. The hat will be judged during the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania's state convention next month in Monroeville.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Edgeworth Garden Club member Kathy Kruse of Edgeworth makes a bee out of pecan shells, beeswax and maple tree spinners during a work meeting in Sewickley Heights on Wednesday, March 19, 2014. The bees will be part of an Edwardian-style hat for an annual 'Trash to Treasure' contest sponsored by the National Garden Club. This year's theme is 'Put A Bee in Your Bonnet' to raise awareness of the plight of devastated pollinators. The hat will be judged during the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania's state convention next month in Monroeville.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Edgeworth Garden Club members Kathy Kruse (front) and Kathy Seaman, both of Edgeworth, work on a piece of a hat made of recycled materials during a work meeting in Sewickley Heights on Wednesday, March 19, 2014. The Edwardian-style hat is being constructed for an annual 'Trash to Treasure' contest sponsored by the National Garden Club. This year's theme is 'Put A Bee in Your Bonnet' to raise awareness of the plight of devastated pollinators. The hat will be judged during the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania's state convention next month in Monroeville.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Edgeworth Garden Club members Rita Kowallis of Edgeworth (front) and Pat Happe of Sewickley work on a hat made of recycled materials during a work meeting in Sewickley Heights on Wednesday, March 19, 2014. The Edwardian-style hat is being constructed for an annual 'Trash to Treasure' contest sponsored by the National Garden Club. This year's theme is 'Put A Bee in Your Bonnet' to raise awareness of the plight of devastated pollinators. The hat will be judged during the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania's state convention next month in Monroeville.

The Edgeworth Garden Club in Edgeworth — and its president, Pat Happe — have been busy raising awareness about the rising global bee colony collapse.

From 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Friday, the Edgeworth Garden Club will host an open meeting in the Sewickley Public Library to educate people about the devastation of their pollinators, the honeybees. Light refreshments will be served.

“We want people to learn that a small effort can make a big difference in helping with the colony collapse of our honey bees and the importance of alternative pollinators, such as the Mason bee,” Happe said.

Joy Nix of the nonprofit Burgh Bees will be the keynote speaker at the meeting. She will explain how honeybees are important environmentally and economically.

“We hope this will tie in to the National Garden Clubs and Garden Federation of Pennsylvania's huge effort to educate the public that a very small effort by each of us can help with the devastation of our pollinators,” Happe said.

“We are all becoming aware of the colony collapse of our honeybees, but we know very little about the importance of alternative bee pollinators, such as the Mason bee.”

The National Garden Clubs' program, BeeGAP, or Bee Gardeners Adding Pollinators, is partnering with Crown Bees, an education and pollination company in Washington state.

Crown Bees is providing more than 6,000 garden clubs across the globe with information and resources to help end the bee crisis. For example, they suggest “adding Mason bees and establishing native bee habitats to close the ‘bee gap' created by the dying honeybees.”

According to the Crown Bees website, the nation's food supply is threatened by the colony crisis, and more pollinators are needed to make up the loss.

“The BeeGAP solution is a long-reaching program that enlists urban and suburban gardeners to raise Mason bees (gentle, rarely stinging bees) for their food gardens.

Gardeners will benefit with healthy garden production, and the food supply benefits by increasing the population of efficient bee pollinators,” according to the company's website.

The site suggests sharing excess bees with commercial fields and orchards and offers gardeners an outlet to purchase Mason bees.

One project the Edgeworth Garden Club is working on to raise awareness is a hat contest sponsored by the National Garden Clubs, with this year's theme, “Put a Bee in Your Bonnet.” Edgeworth club members are constructing a hat from recycled materials, such as wicker flower baskets, Japanese lanterns, melted wax and cones, to submit as their entry.

“The flowers are a secret,” Happe said. “This may seem frivolous, but it is fun for us and it educates us about what each if us can do, like not using pesticides.”

“We also hope to bring awareness to schools and other organizations,” Happe said.

“Whether you live in a city or a rural area, there is always something you can to do help with the collapse of our honey bees.”

The hat is being designed in an Edwardian-style to fit with the theme of the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania's annual convention, set for April 6 to 8 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Monroeville. This year's theme is “Pittsburgh: My Fair Lady.”

Last year, the club got involved in making fairy houses and gardens out of natural materials to support an upcoming event called “Fairy Houses Fun,” set for next month at Mary Roberts Rinehart Nature Park in Glen Osborne. The fairy houses were donated and placed throughout the park.

Chasity Capasso is a freelance writer.

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