Honey bee breeding will use Dayton hives in historic areas

Published: Friday, May 08, 2015 @ 4:32 PM
Updated: Friday, May 08, 2015 @ 4:32 PM

The breeding program to create a hardier, pest-resistant honey bee population in Ohio will use historic locations in Dayton and in areas near the city this summer.

Managed honey bee colonies are planned for Huffman Prairie, at the Dayton Aviation Heritage Museum in the Paul Laurence Dunbar Historic District in Dayton, and possibly at an historic memorial near Wilberforce University.

The hives will not be accessible to the public, but it won’t be a mystery that bees are in the area.

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The city of Dayton is offering a plot of land at Fifth and Williams streets as a “food forest” for bees and other pollinators. The Aviation Museum’s hive will have an infrared camera installed for live views inside the colony that will be broadcast online.

Backed by the Levin Family Foundation here, the Heartland Honey Bee Breeders Cooperative aims to create a Buckeye Bee, a bee that would have unique genetic traits adapted to northern climates and resistance to the varroa mite, a pest that spreads deadly viruses to bees.

Currently, much of Ohio’s bee stock comes from the state of Georgia and problems have been reported with the insects.

Working with the Levin Foundation in the “Propolis Project” are the city of Dayton, the National Park Service, Wright State University, Central State University, Antioch College, Miami University, and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The foundation unveiled the plans Friday afternoon at a meeting of the project partners.

Dwight Wells, the Miami County beekeeper who helped form the cooperative, is working with Purdue University entomologists. Early examples of specially-bred Ohio bees should be available for sale in June, he said.

About 150 hives have been established in Belle Center, in Logan County, to produce breeder queen bees. Genetic stock from Europe will be incorporated into the program, Wells said.

Brittney Mitchell, a natural resource technician at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, said she’s looking forward to having hives installed at Huffman Prairie.

“I’m personally excited about it,” she said.

The city of Dayton is encouraging reuse of vacant lots around the city for urban agriculture, said Verletta Jackson, Community Coordinator. Helping the bee project fits that objective. “We’re excited about it and ready to make it happen,” Jackson said.

The Levin Family Foundation is seeking community volunteers to get involved in the project. Those interested should telephone the foundation at: (937)223-1669.