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The opening of Mohican Wildlife Weekend on Friday foucsed on bees and the central role they play in Ohio's ecosystem. On Saturday, the fruit of the labor was the center of attention at Pleasant Hill Lake Park, as employees and volunteers planted a pollinator garden of native Ohio plants.
The garden, one of five around Pleasant Hill State Park, took about two hours to plant after a downpour subsided early Saturday afternoon. Pollinator gardens also were planned and planted at the Ohio Bird Sanctuary and Malabar Farm State Park.
After the work at Pleasant Hill was finished, Louis Andres, park services specialist, said the gardens are actively pollinated by bees, birds and at times, plants. The five gardens at Pleasant Hill will be filled up with 800 plants -- all diverse and native to Ohio.
"The idea is to get people planting native plants versus ornamental plants," Andres said.
The plants will take about three years to establish themselves and grow in the selected gardens, he explained.
An advantage to plants native to Ohio is that they have already adapted to Ohio's weather patterns, with warm summers and cold winters.
"Most of these are drought resistant," Andres said. The gardens also are made of up perennials, meaning the plants will come back year after year.
Native plants also are healthier for Ohio's bees, Andres said.
"It's a win-win situation."
As the team was planting outside the Pleasant Hill Welcome Center, Dan Duncan, a beekeeper for more than 30 years with hives in three counties including Richland, gave an hourlong talk introducing a group of six to beekeeping. Beekeepers, he said, can measure success a number of ways -- whether they survive the winter or by the amount of honey and beeswax they produce.
"I like to look at the complete picture," Duncan said.
Duncan said he encourages beekeepers to try to raise native Ohio bees because they, like the plants they pollinate, are more used to the climate. He likened bees to people who live in Georgia. They may be shocked at the cold of an Ohio winter, he said. Packages of bees from other areas also could bring in new mites, which harm bee populations and can cause diseases.
Wildlife Weekend also had its annual visit from Jack Hanna's animals from the Columbus Zoo, which included a variety of animals for kids to see at Wolf Creek Grist Mill. A 7 p.m., a showcase on birds of prey helped close out Saturday's festivities in the Mohican State Park Resort Lobby.