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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