Honey Bee Initiative Pollinator Program

June 5, 2017
For Immediate Release

Honey Bee Initiative Pollinator Program

Honey bee hives in Virginia have declined by two-thirds since 1970 due to colony collapse disorder, invasive mites, and manmade pesticides. Bees pollinate one-third of the food we eat, so their health is tied to ours.

The Department of Public Works and Environmental Services has partnered with George Mason University's Honey Bee Initiative to create pollinator habitat at the I-95 landfill complex and build apiaries, clusters of bee hives.

GMU's program began in 2012 and now includes 40 hives located throughout Northern Virginia. The goals of GMU's program are education, collaborative research, and improving the security and sustainability of Northern Virginia's ecosystem.

Landfill complex supervisor Eric Forbes, a GMU alum, contacted former classmate and bee expert German Perilla about managing bees at the landfill. Nearly five acres of previously mowed turf at the landfill complex have been seeded to grow a native meadow for pollinating insects. The meadows will beautify the landfill, improve water quality, create pollinator habitat, and reduce mowing costs. Landfill staff have built 12 bee hives (three apiaries) and the goal is to build more to support 30,000 bees.

Dredged material removed from Lake Royal was used as topsoil. The landfill complex composts leaves on-site and that organic material was used to enrich the soil.

The Honey Bee Initiative Pollinator Program will receive $50K over the next five years ($10K/yr) from the county's Environmental Improvement Program. The program supports the county's 20-year Environmental Vision and creates educational opportunities for students and community groups. This program is one of the ways in which the landfill is transforming into a destination for environmental experimentation and education.

Watch this short 16 Around Fairfax video about the program.

Honey Bee Initiative Pollinator Program
German Perilla, director of GMU's Honey Bee Initiative, uses a tool to scrape fresh honey from a hive at the I-95 landfill complex.


Contact: Matthew Kaiser, Public Information Officer 
Department of Public Works and Environmental Services 
703-324-8455, TTY 711


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