By Christine Bryant
Bees are getting a lot of buzz at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.
The creatures that play an important role in earth’s ecosystem will take center stage during a special program that will teach visitors about the life cycle of the honeybee, the part they play in food production and the different types that are found in central Ohio.
“The Buzz About Bees” program will take place at 9 a.m. Sept. 4 at the Nature Center, 1415 Darby Creek Drive. Though open to any ages, the program is geared toward those 13 and older, said Debbie Ruppersburg, the park naturalist who teaches the program.
Ruppersburg, who owns several hives of her own, said her interest in bees stems from the role bees play in the planet’s food production.
“Most of our food is pollinated by bees,” she said. “Every plant that flowers needs pollinators.”
As social insects, bees have a unique hierarchy within the hives where they live – something attendees will learn more about during the program, Ruppersburg said.
“I also will have an observation hive and some honey to taste,” she said.
Estimates of the economic value of honey bee pollination services range between $10 billion and $15 billion annually, according to the Bee Informed Partnership, a collaboration of efforts across the country from leading research labs and universities in agriculture and science.
Supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the Bee Informed Partnership works with beekeepers to better understand how humans can keep healthier bees.
A nationwide survey among beekeepers across the United States showed that honey bee colonies dwindled by 44 percent during the year spanning April 2015 to April 2016.
Researchers noted that several factors are contributing to colony losses, from varroa mite, a parasite that spreads between colonies, to pesticides and malnutrition.
“Pesticides may kill weeds and unwanted plants, but if they flower, the pollinators are also dying,” Ruppersburg said. “Insecticides are used to kill unwanted pests in gardens. Bees are insects and it kills them as well.”
According to The Nature Conservancy, honeybees are responsible for almost 80 percent of all crop pollination in the United States – an essential component in the farming industry.
Residents can help keep bee populations thriving by adding bee-friendly plants to help increase native honey bee populations, reducing the use of herbicides and pesticides in yards, and buying local honey.
For more information about “The Buzz About Bees” program at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, go to metroparks.net.