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Cincinnati Zoo Creating a Safe Haven for Bees

May 10, 2015

Bee Colony Collapse, Honey Bees

Pollen Nation Helps Educate Local Community, Builds Sanctuary for Honeybees

Staff members at the Cincinnati Zoo are all buzzing about a new honeybee conservation project that they recently began. The hype started when the zoo’s vice president of facilities and sustainability, Mark Fisher, sent an email to the staff of the zoo expressing his interest in setting up a beehive in the backyard of his home and looking for advice and support. Fisher’s message prompted a huge response from his fellow staff members – many of them also showed interest in bee keeping themselves.

This positive response to a single backyard beehive has led to the beginning of a new group at the zoo dedicated to strengthening local bee swarms. An article on Cincinnati.com explains that this new group calls themselves “Pollen Nation” and the group shares information about honeybees both on the zoo’s website and on the group’s Facebook page. The group has begun supporting additional efforts including a new beehive exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo in their World of Insect House. Pollen Nation also plans to offer beekeeping classes to the local community at its property in Warren County.

"We wanted to take what we're doing out here a little closer to home and allow people to realize that honeybees can be harmless to people, are more beneficial than anything and that you can do this in your own backyard," said a member of the zoo’s horticulture department, Adam Martinez. "We rely on honeybees to pollinate a lot of the crops. It's imperative that we keep these creatures around.”

Members of Pollen Nation have been working on honing their honeybee knowledge and beekeeping skills at the Cincinnati Zoo’s Bowyer Farm property, which is located in Turtlecreek Township, north of Mason’s downtown area. Three years ago, work began to transform the 30 acres of the property from true farmland back to a more natural, native wetland environment. This more native landscape is perfect for sustaining the 225,000 honeybees Pollen Nation introduced to the area earlier this month.

These new honeybees will help to pollinate the crops being grown by EcOhio Farm, an organization that leases about 50 acres of farmland Bowyer Farm to provide organic produce for local consumers as well as the zoo’s animals. "EcOhio Farm is the perfect setting for it," said the zoo's sustainability communities advocate Fia Cifuentes. "Adding the bee yard will only increase the richness of this ecosystem and mutually benefit from all that is present there already."

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