ASHEBORO-The buzz on the street is that the North Carolina Zoo's newest exhibit will be a honey of a treat for zoo visitors.

On Friday, June 19, the zoo has invited a number of special guests and staff to join 1 p.m. ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the new "Honey Bee Garden" located near the Sonora Desert Exhibit in the park's North America region. The garden will open to the public the following day, June 20.

The exhibit is the result of a joint effort involving the zoo, N.C. Zoo Society, N.C. Bee Keepers Association, N.C. Farm Bureau and Syngenta, the agricultural research and technology company. The idea for the zoo's latest attraction grew out of live bee demonstrations that the bee keepers association has been conducting at the zoo for several years. It includes gardens featuring plants that bees help pollinate and use to create honey as well as interactive interpretive graphics and a beehive pavilion aimed at educating visitors about the importance of the honey bee to both the economy and the dinner table.

The honey bee is credited with pollinating one-third of all the food eaten in the United States-worth about $15 billion nationally and $70 million in North Carolina alone. The Honey Bee Garden will enable visitors to experience the fascinating world of bees. Children can interact with a giant honey bee sculpture and view bees at work in a hive-often guided by a volunteer beekeeper.

Visitors can also walk into a giant "skep"-modeled after a traditional beehive in the shape of a straw basket-and watch short videos to learn about pollination, why bees swarm and how they communicate through a waggle dance.

The $242,000 Honey Bee Exhibit was made possible through contributions from the N.C. Bee Keepers Association, the N.C. Farm Bureau, Syngenta and other Zoo Society donors.

The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Dee Freeman, Secretary; Beverly Eaves Perdue, Governor.