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Rising from Ruin is an on-going MSNBC.com special report chronicling two coastal Mississippi towns, Bay St. Louis and Waveland, as they rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

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This project is evolving. Our daily dispatches coverage has been retired. Click here to see what happened in the area between mid October and January 1, 2006.

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BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. – Leave it to an artist to come up with one of the most creative contributions to hurricane rebuilding efforts that we’ve seen in these parts.

Kat Fitzpatrick is doing her part to bring back the bees. Well aware of a current global reduction in honey bee populations, the cause of which has scientists baffled, Fitzpatrick also learned that Katrina had wiped out most hives in Hancock County.

Six months ago, when she noticed “only two” bees in a bountiful field of clover near her home in the Cedar Point area of Bay St. Louis, she decided to act. She bought three hives and had one populated with Italian bees and two with a Russian variety.

"We're all building community back here and the bees are part of the community," Fitzpatrick says of the insects, which are vital for the proper pollination of many crops and flowers.

But wait, there’s more: a clever ulterior motive that springs from her artistic work.

For eight years, Fitzpatrick has used melted beeswax in her work, adding both an exquisitely smooth finish to her paintings and a diffusive layer over the paint. Keeping bees will give her a private supply of beeswax for her work.

"My primary interest is in their wax," she says.

But Fitzpatrick says she also has enjoyed learning as much as she can about their hives, systems of organization and keeping them healthy and happy.

"I've been trying to delight them by planting things they like" from lavender to begonias, she says.

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Thank you, Kat, for this valuable contribution to our injured ecology. Save me some honey!

My first trip to NOLA took place post-Katrina, November, 2006, for a professional conference. As a tourist I found the city fascinating--friendly citizens, dazzling architecture, superb music, good eats---and some of the saddest sights and stories I've witnessed. I urge everyone to encourage your employer, professional organization, travel group, etc. to make New Orleans a destination. Have a good time, drop some money there and help folks get back on their feet. Think about returning to volunteer on a re-building effort.

You go girl,I had 27 hives when I kept bees,and miss it to this day. A lot of work but fun.Hope to get back into it ,if I can retire. The honey is also real good for you,as a natural antibiotic.

Hopefully, others will follow in your footsteps. I understand that the bee keepers who do NOT feed their bees white sugar like the big agri bee farms do, have healthy, happy bees.

SONES OF BEES.............

How would a person go about getting some hives and some bees to try and help out with expanding the bee population ?

To get started, join your local beekeeper's association. Find them with a google search. Most clubs teach hobby beekeeping classes. Read a few books from the public library. Find an experienced beekeeper near your home to be your mentor. Study, attend meetings, and read in the fall and winter. Buy your equipment over the winter. Plan to start at least 2 and no more than 5 hives in early spring.

"How would a person go about getting some hives and some bees to try and help out with expanding the bee population?"

William, go to www.beesource.com (It's a public forum, not a business) and visit the discussion forums. There are over 5,000 beekeepers registered, from brand-new hobbiests to life-long pros, who are more than willing to help new beekeepers get started. It's an invaluable resource for anyone interested in beekeeping. We can hook you up with everything you need, from local contacts to supplies. Stop by.

I established a colony of bees in my back yard this year in response to Colony Collaspe Disorder. Every little bit helps. I am happy to report, I have a very large and healthy colony.

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