Bee Mural Project Launches in Downtown Hendersonville

A person being interviewed in front of a white building.

Muralist Matt Willey, who is on a mission to paint 50,000 honey bees (the number in a healthy hive) in murals around the world, began working on the Bee Mural Project in downtown Hendersonville in late October.

For the next four to five weeks, from late October into November, a larger-than-life bee mural will be meticulously hand-painted by Willey on the exterior walls at Hands On! Children’s Museum building, facing Azalea parking lot, in downtown Hendersonville (along Third Ave. between Main St. and King St.)

The expansive “canvas” wall of this historic building was recently professionally washed and prepared for the artwork to begin, thanks to community donations and generous in-kind support from Burlett Painting.

Expectations have been rising as the start-date has neared. Organizers have been working toward Willey’s arrival to paint the mural for about two years.  Fundraising events and in-kind support have involved numerous businesses, individuals, and organizations, with over 50 sponsors and countless other contributors so far.  The community has supported this project by helping raise money to pay the artist, prepare the wall where the mural will be painted, and design a pollinator demonstration garden which will soon be installed below the mural. A festival on October 17 at Bold Rock Mills River Cidery was held to celebrate the harvest season and Bold Rock’s popular hard cider, to appreciate the role of pollinators, and to kick off the Bee Mural Project in downtown Hendersonville.

The Bee Mural Project is a joint effort between Hendersonville’s Bee City USA program, Hands On! Children’s Museum, and The Good of the Hive.

Public Invited to Watch

During the weeks it will take to paint the mural – brush-stroke by brush-stroke, starting high on a boom lift and working down to ground level — Willey purposefully involves viewers, thus becoming a pollinator educator as well as a painter.  .  He founded The Good of the Hive as a personal commitment to hand-paint 50,000 honey bees in murals around the world.  Through art and imagination, his work inspires curiosity and awareness about the importance of honey bees and other pollinators while celebrating the power in human connection.  Weather permitting, Willey will be on-site almost daily.

The community is invited to stop by to meet the artist and watch him bring the mural to life … or follow the progress virtually through a series of video updates about the bee mural project to be posted regularly at www.facebook.com/beecityhendersonville.

Special Events

Interact During Love Hendo – Shop Local Saturday
Saturday, November 7, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Presented by: Historic Downtown Hendersonville, Bee City USA – Hendersonville, Hands On! Children’s Museum

On the first Saturday of November, Main Street will be closed to traffic, allowing room for pedestrians, restaurant outdoor dining, and retail shopping.  Fun events at the Bee Mural project will be happening in the Azalea parking lot along Third Ave. E. Watch muralist Matt Willey paint pollinators on the exterior wall of Hands On! Children’s Museum; check out a colony of live bees in the glass observation hive; purchase local honey, jun (a tasty honey-based beverage), and bakery items; view local artwork; purchase a souvenir T-shirt; and more.  Vendors/exhibitors include Honey Bee Bliss, Bee City USA – Hendersonville, The Good of the Hive, Hands On! Children’s Museum, Shanti Elixirs, and more.

Hive Alive Art Show
Through Sunday, November 1 at ArtMoB Studios and Marketplace, 124 Fourth Ave. E.
Gallery hours: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday, Wednesday to Saturday. 1- 4:30 p.m., Sunday. (Closed on Tuesday.)
Presented by Art MoB Studios & Marketplace

Just around the corner from where Matt Willey will be painting a larger-than-life bee mural is Art MoB Studios and Marketplace, where the work of over 80 local and regional artists and crafters is on display. Art MoB artists have donated selected artwork for sale, with 100% of proceeds going to support the Bee Mural Project. Most artwork including paintings, pottery, photography, jewelry, glasswork, woodwork, and more is priced from $25-100. One piece will be raffled off at an upcoming artist reception.  All CDC guidelines are in place.

“Art MoB and our artists believe in giving back to the community, to show our support to those that support us, and for the benefit of the bees and their hives. So much depends on this.” – Michele Sparks, owner of Art Mob.

Why Is The Mural Important?

First, this project helps extend the children’s museum’s mission of inspiring creativity and wonder through STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) to the entire community, according to Joseph Knight, executive director.  Additionally, it expands the growing art appeal of downtown Hendersonville’s ArtScape banners, colorful hand-painted bears, and the large handsome mosaic nature scene created by Ukrainian mosaic artists in the 1990s … all of which make downtown Hendersonville a family-friendly arts destination. The Bee Mural will be listed on the Appalachian Mural Trail along with five other murals on or around Main Street, as well. It is expected that the mural will inspire more pollinator-friendly plantings by homeowners in their backyards, window boxes, and plots of land, such as the recently installed 5-acre wildflower meadow along Hendersonville’s Oklawaha Greenway. Most significantly, according to many bee-mural enthusiasts, it points to the important agricultural businesses and farm-to-table movement in Henderson County, acknowledging that honey bees and other pollinators are important to the community’s economy and heritage.

Community Participation Encouraged

All fundraising events and online campaigns planned during Willey’s visit – see more at https://handsonwnc.org/hive — will help the project accomplish the following long-terms goals:

  • establish a fund for ongoing care and maintenance of the bee mural.
  • install and enhance a pollinator garden along the wall at the base of the bee mural which will serve as a demonstration plot for attracting pollinators to home and business landscapes.
  • expand pollinator-related STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) education programs for students, and support community presentations by the artist (online or in-person as may be most appropriate).
  • join the Appalachian Mural Trail and develop/promote a downtown Hendersonville mural trail.
    support future museum exhibits related to pollinators, agriculture, food systems, and ecosystems.

The Bee Mural Project is a partnership of Bee City USA Hendersonville (a program of The City of Hendersonville Tree Board and Environmental Sustainability Board), Hands On! Children’s Museum, and The Good of the Hive, in partnership with nonprofit organizations, local businesses, and community members.  The goals of this initiative are to raise awareness of the importance of pollinators; bring beauty and character to downtown Hendersonville; celebrate the power in human connection; and inspire actions to help sustain healthy ecosystems.

For more information contact [email protected] or follow the initiative’s progress at www.facebook.com/BringtheHiveAlive. Learn more about the Bee Mural Project and upcoming pollinator events at https://www.hendersonvillenc.gov/pollinator-events.