In mid-October, work is scheduled to begin on the long-anticipated, larger-than-life bee mural to be painted on the side of Hendersonville’s Hands On! Children’s Museum. The mural will be completed by artist Matthew Willey, founder and CEO of The Good of the Hive, his personal commitment to paint 50,000 honey bee murals around the world. Kim Bailey, coordinator of Bee City USA Hendersonville, was one of the early supporters of Willey’s project. “The Hendersonville mural is uniquely important to me because it was one of the first times I met with a city board and pitched the idea of painting a mural in a town,” says Willey. “From the moment I launched The Good of the Hive in 2015, Kim Bailey jumped in with such incredible optimism. I
love that Hendersonville persevered despite the fact that it took four years to manifest everything needed. From the people, to the location, to funding, to approvals and details, this project is a testament to perseverance.”
The honey bee mural is important to Hendersonville for a number of reasons, including the city’s deep roots as a farming community that is reliant on pollinators; the natural biodiversity of the area; and the community’s heritage of arts appreciation. The mural has been supported by a number of sponsors, an online crowdfunding campaign and other special events. More than $35,000 was raised over the last year. Funds will not only cover the painting of the mural, but also its future care and maintenance, as well as enhancements for the demonstration pollinator garden that will be planted alongside it. Other additional funds will be used to expand pollinator-related STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) education programs for students and community presentations by the artist during the bee mural painting period and beyond.
Bailey says that the bee mural in Hendersonville has truly been a “hive effort,” which makes it all the sweeter. “When we first began our mural fundraising efforts, I wished we had someone who could just ‘write the check,’ as was done in some of the other communities where Matt has painted murals,” says Bailey. “Now I am so grateful for all the time it took. When I see the finished mural, I won’t just see a beautiful painting on the wall. I’ll recall all the people we met, the enormous support we received and all the connections formed along the way.”
Fundraising is ongoing, with a number of events planned for October and November while Willey is painting. Visit HendersonvilleNC.gov/pollinator-events to see a list of upcoming events.