At Warriors’ Path State Park, rangers keep the park’s three beehives secluded and away from visitors.
“The park most likely has hundreds of thousands of bees just in those three hives,” said park ranger Jane Switzer.
But pollinators like honeybees are about to become much more visible. Up to an acre and a half of Warriors’ Path land is being transformed into a pollination garden in spring 2020. The new garden is coming as bee populations decline.
“We do know that there’s a major problem,” said Switzer. “Last year, the winter, that was one big issue. The cold weather killed many, many beehives in the area that belonged to beekeepers in the Tri-Cities region.”
Last month, the Tennessee Departments of Transportation, Agriculture, and Environment and Conservation announced they would be assisting nine state parks in giving pollination a boost. The Pollinator Habitat program is planting these new meadows to help birds, butterflies, bees, and the environment all flourish.
Much of Warriors’ Path’s nearly 1,000 acres of land is devoted to recreational activities like boating and camping. Switzer said it was important for the park to find a location for the garden away from most human activity.
“It will be safe. It’s not an area where pedestrians are usually in,” said Switzer. “It’s going to be at the corner of Colonial Heights Road and Hemlock Road right beside the park.”
Warriors’ Path plans to completely replant the section of land with native flowers. The park hopes that after the garden is in place, they can offer new educational programs about pollination and beekeeping. These new initiatives may allow for more visitors try a park-exclusive delicacy –Warriors’ Path honey.
As for the one risk that comes with attracting more bees, Switzer says they’re gentle creatures.
“I’ve never been stung,” she said. “I’ve been working with them for two years in their hive, and I’ve really had no problems. Hopefully, that trend will continue.”