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Kim Pruxszynki of Ravenna came to the city's Chestnut Hills Park on Thursday, looking for a place for her three children to burn off some of their boundless energy.
She found herself helping the children do a good deed for the local bee population.
The Ravenna Parks and Recreation Department has launched a "Pollinator Program." The first step was planting a "bee garden" at the park's community gardens, said Parks and Recreation Director Kathy Hammonds. Hammonds and Bob Dennison were aided by children at the park, who helped plant seeds and later helped them spread topsoil to protect the flowers.
Hammonds said sunflowers, zinnias and other wildflower seeds were planted at the plots that are closest to the road. The flowers are designed to attract bees.
"It won't look like much at first." Hammonds said. "But later this summer, it will be stunning and a source of clean food for our flying friends."
Hammonds said bees, as well as other "pollinators" have been struggling from a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder, which she said is caused by pesticides that affect the water supply. The disorder makes the bees ill, which affects their ability to pollinate the food supply.
Bee colony collapse occurs when the majority of the worker bees disappear, she said.
In addition to bees, she said, birds, butterflies and bats also pollinate the food supply and also are affected.
The Pruxszynki family was among the group that was encouraged to "make a blanket for the seeds." Julian, 7, who was there with his brother Dax, 5, and Naomi, 3, said he enjoyed "helping the plants get fertilized."
"Now all kinds of plants are going to grow and help the bees pollinate the flowers to make the fruit grow," Kim Pruxszynki told her children.
Next week, 189 children at the city's summer day camp programs will get in on the act. Centerra Co-op, formerly known as Western Reserve Co-op on Cleveland Road in Ravenna has partnered with the department to provide bee friendly kits to the children. The participants can plant the flowers at the garden, or at their own homes to expand the number of places where bees can find food.
Hammonds said children at the day camps will be encouraged to be "bee friendly." Those whose families what to be involved in bee keeping can find information at Blue Sky Bee Supply on North Freedom Street, she said.
They also will be encouraged to plant a garden or container garden to help the bee supplies. If they see a swarm of bees, they are encouraged to contact a bee keeper who can find a new home for honeybees.
Children also will be encouraged to buy local honey, provide water for bees and become educated about pesticide and herbicide use. Most pests and weeds can be addressed without harsh chemicals, she said.
"A perfect lawn is not worth it," she said.