Effort to increase bee population launched in Dayton

The Propolis Project, a honey bee restoration effort sponsored by the Levin Family Foundation, kicked off a local project in Dayton on Monday.

Workers from Home Depot installed raised bed garden boxes for what’s being called a “Food Forest” on a half-acre of city of Dayton-owned property in the Wright-Dunbar neighborhood.

The plan is to install a managed honey bee hive on a site nearby that’s used by the National Parks Service as a maintenance yard for the Aviation Heritage historic park. The hive isn’t installed yet, but should be later this summer. Earlier this summer, the project installed hives at Huffman Prairie.

Karen Levin of the Foundation said the Food Forest at the corner of West Fifth and South Williams streets will feed pollinating insects like butterflies and honeybees and people, when vegetables are ready for harvest. She’s looking for an organization that could help distribute the vegetables to the needy.

Besides the 20 garden boxes, Levin said volunteers will plant a 10,000-square foot wildflower garden. The remainder of land will be planted with various types of sunflowers.

The project is also supporting the Heartland Honey Bee Breeders Cooperative, which is attempting to breed a pest-resistant honey bee that has unique genetic traits adapted to northern climates.

Dwight Wells, the Miami County beekeeper who helped form the cooperative, is working with Purdue University entomologists and has established 125 hives in Belle Center, in Logan County, to produce breeder queen bees. The objective is to breed a bee that attacks a primary, virus-spreading pest, the varroa mite, and is tailored to ride out Ohio’s extreme temperature and weather swings.

Organizations and businesses that have signed on to the effort include Home Depot, Whole Foods, Five Rivers Metro Parks, The Ohio State Extension, Brubaker Grain & Chemical, Homefull Solutions, a nonprofit that helps the homeless, Mountain Top Ministries, the Miami Valley School, North Dayton Garden Center and others.

Volunteers who would like to help are asked to telephone Karen Levin, executive director, Levin Family Foundation at (937) 672-2569.

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