DDOT’s Urban Forestry Administration (UFA) is on a new quest to help save bees in the District. Bees play a significant role as they pollinate over 80% of our vegetables and fruit plants and without them we would have a very limited food supply. With the number of honeybees continuing to decline in northern America UFA is exploring how to sustain a healthy population of bees in the District.
As part of a pilot program that was launched two years ago UFA now has nine bee hives located throughout the District.
The idea to keep and maintain these bee hives came about after UFA was tasked with removing a swarm of bees from local neighborhoods. With guidance from a local bee keeper UFA was able to successfully capture these bees and allow them to form their own colonies.
The members of UFA team assembled the hives, participated in internal staff trainings for bee keeping and have partnered with various community groups to locate and maintain the hives throughout the District. The host sites for the hives include community gardens, green rooftops and parks.
The Earth Conservation Corps, whose mission entails empowering at-risk youth to reclaim their communities and their lives, partnered with UFA to host a hive and is educating youth on the significance of bees and training them on bee keeping practices.
Now in their second year, the bee colonies have matured and for the first time UFA, in partnership with the District’s Franciscan Monastery, were able to harvest honey from the bees. About 15 cups were produced and bottled. As this initiative grows UFA hopes to be able to harvest a larger yield of honey to donate to local community food banks.