This is a by-invitation event to Asheville, NC – the first Bee City USA™. We will bring together teams from around the country to explore, immerse and activate what it takes to become a pollinator-friendly city because when we take care of pollinators, we take care of the planet.

Photo credits: Ashevillage Institute, Center for Honeybee Research, Kae Fleming, Dawn Nelson, Fezzo

Coming soon in Spring 2014!

Asheville, NC officially became the first Bee City USA™ in June 2012. This is no surprise given the great number of beekeepers, pollinators and biodiversity in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. We have some of the largest bee clubs and best winter and natural bee schools in the nation. To top it off, Asheville is home to The Center for Honeybee Research. The threads that connect local honey bees, from hives to farms, tailgate markets, food stores, restaurants, schools, the arts, health, scientific research, and now the city, become more interdependent and exciting with every passing year. This immersion is bringing leaders from the most active bee communities around the country together with Asheville’s leading bee gurus. The goal is to share knowledge and experience that furthers the mission and vision of the Bee City USA™ initiative, making the world safer for pollinators, one city at a time. Immersion participants will help strategize and pioneer the first of a network of sister bee cities around the country.

The goal
: To help leadership teams from other communities move toward creating their own Bee City USA™ initiatives. Becoming a Bee City USA designee requires an application process.
The group: Total group size is limited to 16 participants, with teams of two to four representatives coming from each town/city/county. This allows team members to effectively work together in their own communities following the immersion.
Participant criteria: 1) Two to four committed participating representatives will work together in their own community to help implement their Bee City project(s) following the immersion. 2) Participants need to have a proposed follow-up project that can be implemented in their own community. 3) Participants must be 21, or older, and able to walk around comfortably.Ideal participants: An ideal team would include: 1) someone involved in policy, planning and/or city politics; 2) a community organizer/people person; 3) a beekeeper/ practitioner; and/or 4) someone good with PR, social media and getting the story out.

The Bee City Immersion includes a variety of meetings and panels with local experts; visioning, strategic planning and project peer review; tours and field trips; hand-on workshops, demonstrations and knowledge sharing; and, last but not least, a chance to eat tasty bee-pollinated local cuisine!

Strategic planning, meet-the-experts, and project peer review

• The immersion will be facilitated by Debra Roberts, Vice President of the The Center for Honeybee Research, and founder of Holy Bee Press.
• Meet with, and learn about the why/what/where/when/how of Bee City USA™, as well as their challenges and lessons learned, with the goal of supporting your effectiveness with your own community: Phyl Stiles, Carl Chesick, plus a city policy maker and implementer TBA.
• Delve deeply into the connection between pollinators and plants with Master Beekeeper and Master Gardener, Diane Almond. Learn how pollinator populations can be supported by citizens and cities, how the welfare of people, food, business and all life is dependent on pollinators, especially the honeybees.
• Some evening sessions will be dedicated to strategizing with your team and fellow participants (perhaps over a hot chocolate honey truffle at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, or over a honey elixir at Dobra Tea house).

Tours and field trips

• Visit a tailgate market with local beekeeper and gardener, Joan Chesick, and connect the dots between bees, what they pollinate, and local products….All while enjoying some local good eats.
• Spend an evening preparing, cooking and eating a bee-inspired meal with a renowned bee-loving chef.
• Participate in Project Genesis, a natural bee research project that the Center for Honeybee Research is conducting at the WNC Nature Center.
• Learn how to make (and sample) delicious, local, wild mead (aka: honey wine) with Andrew Goodheart Brown.

Workshops, demonstrations, and knowledge sharing

• What does the future hold for honeybees? Learn more about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), modern food systems, and what challenges honeybees are facing in our times.
• What we can do to help? Explore and strategize with the Bee City USA™ founders in Asheville about how to get a city aligned with what is best for pollinators, honey bees, plants, citizens, and city government policy.
• Get up-close and personal while looking into a hive with an experienced natural (non-chemical) beekeeper.
• Explore the ethical use and value of hive products, ie: for cosmetics, mead making, and food
• Harvest and prepare a food-to-table, bee-pollinated garden meal.

Following the immersion

• The goal is that participating groups will become official partners of the Bee City USA™ initiative.
• Participants will follow-up through calls and shared resources to further the national Bee City USA™ initiative.
• Participant projects will be highlighted in follow-up PR through interviews and updates.


The Bee City Immersion is a program of the Ashevillage Institute, a nonprofit that hosts multiple immersions, as well as an Urban Farm School, Urban Natural Building School, educational tours and special events. Ashevillage inspires participants to walk their talk in their own backyards, neighborhoods and communities. Located at a premier one-acre, eco-urban demonstration site on the edge of downtown Asheville and 60 acres of woods, the site features:

• A 20,000 gallon rainwater catchment system with five recirculating ponds and aquaponic greenhouse
• Asheville’s first neighborhood CSA, including beautiful edible, medicinal, and flowered landscape, honeybees, shiitake logs, and various composting systems
• Natural building projects, including two naturally renovated houses, earthen and timber-framed cottages, and a recycled courtyard
• A residential community, guest house and 24/7 living-learning laboratory…that will host you (see below)

Ashevillage Sanctuary: Downtown’s EcoSweet Retreat is where you will be lodged. You will be sharing a room with one or two others in the beautiful, sunlit guest house that features earthen wall finishes with arches and niches throughout. There is a spacious common room and co-working office space. Wifi and laundry are provided. The recycled courtyard is available for meals, meetings, and hanging out. The gardens and adjoining site are a living learning laboratory, cared for by a resident team who will be there to host and eat with the immersion group. Expect a shared community living experience.

Breakfasts and dinners will be provided at the Ashevillage Sanctuary. When possible, ingredients will be local, organic, and from our own gardens. Meals will be delicious and nutritious, and may include meat, vegetarian, gluten- and dairy-free options. If you have a special need or allergy, please let us know in the survey below. Lunches will be eaten out as a group at local restaurants. Lunches are NOT included in your Immersion fee. The restaurants where you will eat (and some specially prepared lunches) offer $10-$15 options.


Kristin Peppel
Outreach Coordinator