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Bee Week takes flight this week

Jonathon and son Ezekiel Mirin prepare for Bee Week, starting Saturday at The Benson Place in Heath. Submitted photo.

Jonathon and son Ezekiel Mirin prepare for Bee Week, starting Saturday at The Benson Place in Heath. Submitted photo.

HEATH — The importance of bees to Franklin County isn’t just a matter of honey: The pollination work that bees do produces about one-third of the food crop for humans, according to Jonathan Mirin of the Piti Theater. But colony collapse disorder and other threats in recent years have dramatically reduced the number of bee colonies available to pollinate flowers, fruit and other plants.

That important pollination also applies to blueberries, which is why The Benson Place at 182 Flagg Hill Road is hosting “A Festival to Support Pollinators” on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

For those who haven’t been there, Benson Place is a scenic blueberry farm that is likely to be in full bloom this weekend. “The Bloom! Festival,” as it’s called, is a fundraiser to benefit the planting of “public pollinator gardens” in Franklin County next spring. The festival will include workshops, farm walks, a pollinator-friendly plant sale, a family contra dance, and a performance of Piti Theatre’s “To Bee or Not to Bee,” at 1:30 p.m. Suggested donations for this event are: $10 per adult, $5 per child or $20 per family.

On May 23, the bee festivities move on to the Sanderson Academy, 808 Cape St. in Ashfield, where all 107 students will give a performance with music of “To Bee or Not to Bee.” The plot is about Farmer James, who has lost his bees and has only gruel to eat. The performance includes puppetry, clowning, dance, music and audience participation.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for a Sanderson Academy bee garden begins at 6 p.m. and the play performance starts at 6:30 p.m.

More “Bee” performances and special events will be held in Greenfield from June 6 through June 15.

According to playwright/performer Jonathan Mirin, U.S. beekeepers lost 50 percent of their bees between 2006 and 2007, and beekeepers are still struggling with 30 percent to 40 percent annual losses, due to pesticide use, loss of habitat, weather extremes, and industrial beekeeping practices.

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