One special cost involved in preventing damage to beehives at mine sites in Southern West Virginia is the installation of solar-powered electric fence enclosures to discourage black bears from conducting honey raids.
Scott Eplin, district manager of the state Department of Transportation's District 2 in Huntington, said a seven-acre wildflower area along Interstate 64 in Cabell County is being transformed into pollinator-friendly habitat with plantings of cornflowers, red clover and other plants favored by bees.
"At some of the oddball-shaped fields along the roads, we're looking at using brush and trees beneficial to pollinators, so we don't have to mow, which will cut down on our costs," Eplin said.
Ron Smith, the DOT's deputy highway engineer in charge of maintenance, said there are about 250 acres of wildflower plots along interstate highways in West Virginia, and more than 1,500 miles of right-of-way and median terrain along interstate highways and Appalachian Corridor highways in the state.
"We have lots of room to expand," he said. Using more highway corridor land for pollinator-friendly habitat "is very doable," Smith said. Bee-friendly vegetation could also be considered to serve as ground cover on new highway construction projects.
Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelham...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5169.