Letter from Tracey Daniels, Foundation Development Director
Friends of The Park at Flat Rock | A New Initiative
What’s the Buzz? | Bee Keeper Update
Bird Watch The Park at Flat Rock
A Letter From Tracey Daniels Park Foundation Development Director
The Park at Flat Rock is even more important to our community during challenging times. Medical experts say fresh air and exercise are important for physical and mental health. We encourage families to utilize the outdoors as an opportunity for social distancing. If you are currently sick or are considered at higher risk for illness, we encourage you to postpone your visit.
As of March 25, The Park at Flat Rock’s walking paths and trails remain open, however the pavilions and both playgrounds are temporarily closed. Changes in hours and policy will always be announced on the Village of Flat Rock’s and The Park’s Facebook pages. Please also look for updates on posted signs at The Park. Medical experts recommend only doing outdoor activities with the people in your household and staying 6 feet away from neighbors or others in public areas.
With the rapidly changing updates on the Novel Coronavirus COVID-19, The Flat Rock Park and Recreation Foundation has decided the most sensible and responsible course of action to protect the health of our community is to postpone all Foundation-sponsored events scheduled now through May.
Nature Walk programming is also canceled at this time. Our staff and programming partners are working diligently to reschedule each of our events to a safer time in the future. We look forward to hosting Pardee in the Park: FREE Yoga classes and Hands-On Museum nature programs for children.
As more families start the process of distance learning and homeschooling, The Park’s Maybank Nature Center provides a perfect outdoor classroom. Nature education panels deliver information on the animals and fauna that make their home in our Park. Of course, please use your best judgement and best social distancing practices.
Our website is now updated with an expanded resource section with several self-guided activities aimed at engaging children in the safety of their own backyard and/or here at The Park. We plan to include educational resource links to local community resources and virtual field trips to national parks.
In an announcement below, please read more about the upcoming launch of THE FRIENDS OF THE PARK AT FLAT ROCK. The Foundation’s work is far from being done. We hope you will continue to contribute and make this special Park even more special. During these unprecedented times and when we are on the “other-side” of this health crisis, The Park at Flat Rock will stand strong as a beacon in our community for health and wellness.
Please stay safe and healthy.
I look forward to Meeting You at The Park….6 -feet apart, of course!
Officially launching at the end of April, THE FRIENDS OF THE PARK AT FLAT ROCK initiative will help raise funds for sustainability, trail improvements, wellness programs and nature education. Join as a member and:
JOIN our inner circle of donors, whose support give us the ability to take the lead in preserving The Park at Flat Rock as a community asset.
PROVIDE official dollars and work to keep our programs and conservation efforts moving
CONTRIBUTE – 100% of your donations goes directly to The Park at Flat Rock
As a member of THE FRIENDS OF THE PARK AT FLAT ROCK you will play a major part in preserving and enhancing the beauty of our 66 acre park. 100% of your contribution goes directly towards maintaining our 2.8 miles of walking trails, planting trees and native shrubs, preserving our river banks, and providing free educational programs to park patrons and guests of all ages. As a friend, your support ensures that our community can continue to enjoy The Park for many years to come.
SWARM! (source: Merriam Webster)
What is a swarm? It is a large number of bees that leave a hive together to form a new colony elsewhere. This time of year those of us who “keep” honey bees listen out for the sound of thousands of bees swirling into the air around our hives – a swarm! The swarming procession is usually heard well before it is seen and once experienced, the sound is stuck in your mind forever; it’s like a neighbor has started a thousand window fans. For the beekeeper, a swarm can mean a substantial loss … or not.
Swarming is a natural process that allows honey bees to reproduce at the colony level. When a honey bee colony swarms, the existing queen and over half of the colony’s worker bees, leave the hive in search of a new home. Left behind are the remaining worker bees along with maturing brood and eggs the exiting queen has previously laid. Once the swarm has left, it appears as nothing has happened as the remaining foragers go about their business collecting pollen and nectar. In fact, many beekeepers never know their colony has swarmed. The loss of bees to the home colony however, certainly diminishes the number of foragers able to collect nectar in the near term.
In the meantime, the swarm will have gathered in a football sized/shaped clump usually on a nearby tree limb. A small group of about a hundred “scout” bees search up to five miles away for a new home. Based on a variety of factors including size and safety, most likely candidates for a new hive are standing trees that are hollow inside and have an opening perhaps created by a woodpecker. The inside of the trunk is watertight and well insulated and the opening is high enough off the ground that predators such as skunks and bears, will have a difficult time reaching the hive opening. The search for a suitable home can take hours or days but once a suitable site is found and agreed upon by all, the swarm takes flight to the new hive.
For the beekeeper, a swarm is an opportunity to collect a “new” colony. If the initial swarm lands on a limb low enough to reach, the beekeeper can place an unoccupied hive box with frames of old honey comb inside under the swarm and shake or brush the bees into the hive box. Generally those bees will stay. Some beekeepers also set out trap boxes that mimic the characteristics of a desirable home. A suitable trap box may become occupied by a swarm from “domestic” colonies or “wild” colonies that currently may live in a hollow tree or perhaps the walls of an old home. Either way, colonies captured this way are a welcome addition to the beekeepers colonies.
If you see a honey bee swarm, do not spray it with insecticide or otherwise disturb it. The bees will soon leave on their own and are generally not aggressive during this time anyway. You can also contact one of the local beekeepers club members to let them know about the swarm and allow them to try to capture it. They would appreciate the opportunity! A list of local beekeepers willing to capture swarms can be found at Beekeepers.org.
Bird Watch at The Park at Flat Rock
A special thank you to Cathy Cousins Veal and Becky Bishop for photos from The Park.