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Montpelier distillery calls attention to plight of pollinators

Published: Sep. 30, 2021 at 5:22 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 30, 2021 at 6:30 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Caledonia Spirits and other eateries, shops, and bars are encouraging you to catch a buzz this week for a good cause.

Bees Knees Week kicked off last weekend and continues through Sunday. Organizers say the annual event is a chance to try out the classic ‘20s cocktail that includes honey as an ingredient, while at the same time helping out bees and other pollinators.

“Our goal is to create an acre of habitat in each of Vermont’s 251 cities and towns. We’re in about 10 percent of them at this point,” said Mike Kiernan, with the Weybridge-based nonprofit ‘Bee the Change.’

Their teeny, tiny team works to create pollinator habitats to offset infrastructure footprints. It’s not just a love of beautiful flowers motivating the organization. Kiernan says it helps to diversify the species in spaces we occupy.

25 years ago, Vermont had 17 species of bumblebees. Now, we have 10, with seven endangered, and four completely extinct. “We believe everywhere you see turf grass, you should be asking ‘why?’” Kiernan said.

To help fund the mission, Bee the Change benefits from Barr Hill Gin’s ‘Bees Knees Week.’ With every photo posted on social media of a Bees Knees Cocktail, Bee the Change gets funding to plant 10 square feet of pollinator space.

But you don’t need a boozy bees week to reap the benefits of Bee the Change. Kiernan says they’re willing to help anyone with interest in creating a healthy ecosystem for pollinators -- all you have to do is ask for help. “We’ve installed in all kinds of areas -- brownfields, sandpits -- but if you’ve got an acre of lawn that you’re mowing every year that you might be tired of mowing, we can take that and make a pollinator habitat out of it very easily,” he said.

If you can supply the space, they’ll supply the seed and the know-how. And one of the best spots to install these habitats, they say, are solar fields. “We have about 30 solar fields now around the region. We created habitat equal to every Vermont household doing an eight by eight pollinator garden,” Kiernan said.

Elissa Borden spoke with Caledonia Spirits’ Sam Nelis to learn more about the cocktail and the week’s events.

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