The Cherokee Nation received two native bee houses from The Bee Conservancy organization this week through the organization's Sponsor-A-Hive program.

The new houses were installed Wednesday, and will be among 16 other bee pollinator homes in the tribe's heirloom garden, which were installed in 2020 as part of an initiative by first lady January Hoskin to boost the population of pollinators.

Pollinators are crucial to the survival of Earth's ecosystems, with nearly 80 percent of the crops grown around the world requiring pollination by animals or insects. According to The Bee Conservancy, 1 in 4 species are at risk of extinction, with more than half of North America's native bee species being in decline. With the expansion of industrial agriculture and human development, habitat loss is the primary threat to pollinators.

"We know that one of the biggest threats to pollinators is habitat loss. We can all do our part to curb this threat by planting flowers or even creating pollinator gardens in our backyards," Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. "If we all do this, we have a chance to recreate a habitat for our crucial pollinators to feed on. It is often actions like this that can provide the most noticeable results, and that's why we're taking every opportunity we find to build pollinator houses like these from The Bee Conservancy. I'm proud of First Lady Hoskin and our daughter, Jazzy, for being so committed to protecting our environment, and that includes helping to save these critical pollinators."

The Cherokee Nation's heirloom garden is home to over 200 different traditional plants and 26 crops that were used by Cherokees hundreds of years ago for food, ceremonies and medicinal purposes. The heirloom crops and native plants grown each year in the garden also help replenish the Cherokee Nation Seed Bank, which provides seeds to tribal citizens who are interested in growing their own traditional Cherokees crops.

"I am so proud Cherokee Nation is commemorating Earth Day by continuing its endeavors to cultivate pollinators by installing more bee houses at the Cherokee Nation's heirloom garden," said January Hoskin. "Scientific studies have shown just how vital these types of pollinators are to strengthening the resiliency of traditional Cherokee plants. It's important to me, and to my daughter Jazzy, because supporting these conservation and stewardship efforts helps preserve Cherokee culture."

The Bee Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting bees through education, research, habitat creation, and advocacy. The bee houses provided to the Cherokee Nation are designed with sustainability and bee health in mind.

There are over 4,000 species of native bees in North America, and the tribe's new pollinator homes will provide native bees and other pollinators a safe place to live.

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