Black Swamp Wildflowers dedicated to the restoration and preservation of the natural heritage of Northwest Ohio

Sustainable Use of Natural Resources

Every economy depends on a process that transforms available resources into wealth. It is our responsibility to ensure that future generations will also find access to their fair share of this. Our current use of resources is irresponsible as it extracts an unsustainable toll from the land, greatly impacts the environment, and seriously damages the opportunities future generations will find. In order to achieve responsible and sustainable development we must begin by considering long-term environmental impacts of any resource use alongside its intrinsic, short-term value. Most importantly we must find ways to reduce the impact that we inflict on our surroundings in this process.

Biological production in hardwood forests is spread across many vertical, interlocked layers, basic groundcover sprawls beneath a layer of herbaceous plants, bushes and sapplings reach up from the understory, and a lush, thick forest canopy crowns the habitat.
No agricultural practices can rival the exuberance and broad-based production of animal and plant life of our local hardwood forests.

USDA Conservation Reserve Program

The site is enrolled in the Ohio Lake Erie Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) for windbreak (4.2 acres), wetland (1.8 acres), and nesting buffer and fire break (3.3 acres). The windbreak consists of 6 rows of Thuja, Bald cypress, Swamp white oak, Ohio buckeyes, and assorted dense bushes. The nesting buffer, firebreak, and wetland section shave been seeded with prairie grasses and wildflowers. Under this contract land is enrolled for 30 years, yielding annual payments for a maximum of 15 years at $205-214 per acre depending on soil type and particular use. Such conservation lands produce tangible benefits by imcreasing crop quality and yield in adjacent fields by improving soil moisture and chemistry, promoting earlier crop flowering and maturity, enhancing polination, along with brining about a decrease in plant pests.

Landscaping contractors Maureen Yorga and Carolyn Lea plant the first part of the windbreak with buckeys, oaks, and Thuja in the spring 2006.

Apiculture

Beekeeping can add a significant income component to any sustainable use of farmland. As a practice it is compatible with land enrolled in a CRP program and thus simply adds to any revenue derived there. Although exact amounts will vary depending on weather, it is reasonable to expect an annual net weight of honey of around 50kg (110lbs) per hive at a recommended density of 1 hive per acre. With experience and favorable conditions, local beekeepers report in excess of 250lbs/hive. Recent honey prices have fluctuated around $2.40-3.30 per kg ($1.10-$1.50/lb). Thus, deploying 10 hives on 10 acres of prairie restoration should produce around 250kg of honey annually at $1200-1650. Adding apiculture may increase gross profit off this land by around $120-165 per acre. The gap to traditional agriculture for, say corn, is further widened when one considers savings in costs for fuel, fertlizer, and pesticides or increased yield via enhanced rates of pollination in surrounding fields. Beekeeping in Ohio has become significantly more difficult in recent years with the inadvertant introduction of tracheal mites in the 1980s, varroa mites and small hive beetles in the 1990s, and with recent cases of Colony Collapse

Beekeeping is a rewarding enterprise in areas setup for conservation praqctices as honey collected from wildflower meadows is highly prized for its distinct flavors. In most years honey harvest is plentiful and ranges from July until October, according to the precise timing of nectar flow. Successful management keeps the hive strong by siting the hive near good nectar, pollen and water sources, and ny ensuring that the bee colony has room to expand. Healthy hives show great resilience to most pests and diseases, and will thus require little medication, Limiting the insecticide exposure in foraging bees is critical for a healthy hive while preventing chemical contaminants to reach your table via the honey.
Disorder destroying whole operations in 2006. Combined with the added effects of urbanization, and added insecticide use, the number of hives has dwindled to less than 50% of what had been operated in 1970. The resulting disruption in bee pollination of standard agricultural crops endangers what the Ohio Department of Agriculture values at $225 million for the State of Ohio alone. It is clear that hives exposed to insecticides in traditional farming practices are generally less strong and more susceptible to disruption than those housed at untreated, wildflower restoration sites. Such hives are healthier and more productive and with its distinct flavors and colors, the honey commands a premium. Read some of our experiences in our apiculture log.

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Pages created and maintained by Robert Huber and Moira van Staaden. Contact us at if you are interested to utilize the site for educational, research, or public outreach projects. Comments, suggestions and critiques welcome blackswamp.oh@gmail.com or (419) 833-1241