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Bee hotels lead UNG to participate in pollinator census

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University of North Georgia (UNG) student Jada Tipton helped build the bee hotels located at the Historic Vickery House on UNG's Dahlonega Campus. The idea and collaboration with UNG's Appalachian Studies Center snowballed into the school participating in Georgia's inaugural Great Pollinator Census.

University of North Georgia (UNG) student Jada Tipton never realized the impact bees had on the food supply until one photograph changed her perspective.

"I saw a picture in high school of what a grocery store shelf would look like if bees go extinct. The shelves were nearly empty," the rising junior pursuing a biology degree said.

It inspired her to help the declining bee population with a single project. The 19-year-old from Ringgold, Georgia, decided to build a man-made bee hotel for solitary bees to nest.

Tipton approached Dr. David Patterson, assistant professor of biology at UNG, about constructing a few for UNG. Having no idea what a bee hotel was, Patterson sought help from Rosann Kent, director of UNG's Appalachian Studies Center.

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Jada Tipton used logs to create a bee hotel outside the Historic Vickery House on UNG's Dahlonega Campus. Holes in the logs allow solitary bees a place to nest.

The trio's collaboration snowballed from building bee hotels to UNG's participation in Georgia's first-ever Great Pollinator Census Aug. 23-24.

"Some things just come together, and that happened with this project," Kent said.

Sponsored by the center's institutional partner University of Georgia extension service, the Great Pollinator Census aims for Georgia citizen scientists to count pollinators such as bees and butterflies during a two-day period. Individuals will choose a favorite pollinator plant blooming in a garden for counting. Insects that land on the plant during a 15-minute period will be counted, tallied and uploaded to a webpage. Researchers may use the data to see a snapshot of pollinators at work in Georgia on those dates.

UNG has an abundance of pollinator plants to choose from, thanks to Tipton's bee hotel and UNG's gardens at the Historic Vickery House. Student Amelia Arthur, who is pursuing a biology degree, used a seed mix formulated by University of Georgia to plant a small pollinator plot at the Vickery House.

Tipton, who spent two to three days building bee hotels with Patterson, is looking forward to the census and raising awareness about the decline of pollinators.

"These creatures are amazing," said Tipton, who plans to study the results and use it for her Honors Program thesis. "We don't realize how much they do."

She will not be the only UNG student participating in the count. Kent said the College of Education plans to coordinate with area schools.

"The College of Education has faculty and student teachers embedded in area schools, and area children will be back in school at that time," she said. "We hope to have counts going on at kindergarten through 12th-grade sites."

The Georgia Mountain Master Gardeners group is assisting in the census, too. The group will host an area workshop from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 10, at Lumpkin County Parks and Recreation. A session in the morning will focus on pollinators and bees to help prepare citizen scientists.

The census count at UNG will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 23 with counts held every hour at the Vickery House, home to the Appalachian Studies Center. Karrie Ann Fadroski, a lecturer of biology at UNG, will help identify the eight categories of pollinators in the census.

Great Pollinator Census

When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 23 with counts every hour

Where: Historic Vickery House, 24 Vickery Drive, Dahlonega

For more info: https://ggapc.org/ or call Rosann Kent at 706-864-1540

Georgia Mountain Master Gardeners workshop

When: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 10

Where: Lumpkin County Parks and Recreation

To register: https://www.facebook.com/events/254378968726549/

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