Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Bee Trail Project

Bee Trail Project within the Northcenter Neighborhood

Join the Bee Trail Project
In 2009, Elizabeth Wenscott and Lisa Hish from the Tai Chi Center of Chicago joined the growing movement of backyard beekeepers by keeping hives. The goal of the Bee Trail Project is to have as many interested households and gardens  within the 3 mile radius from the hives make changes that support the health of the honey bee.

Actions promoting bee health:
• Join the Bee Trail Project by choosing one or more of the below suggestions. Send us an email stating your commitment level, and we will put a corresponding triangle on the 3 Mile Bee Trail Map (see above). Get a RED triangle for 1 committed change, YELLOW triangle for 2 committed changes and a GREEN triangle for 3 or more committed changes! Maintain your own hive and and we will give you a star! This is a fun way to see how both you and the neighborhood are impacting the Queen's Domain.

• Plant bee-friendly plants and trees in your yard. Consider plants that bloom not only in the summer flowers and late flowers but but also consider bee-friendly spring blooms: the bees need the spring pollen to make food for their young.

• Bees love dandelions, clover and plantain. Consider changing from a perfectly manicured chemically-laden lawn to a bee and bird friendly lawn.

• Bees need water just like any other creature. Water helps to maintain the hive temperature and humidity level. Water is needed for thirsty growing bees. Some honeybees' main task in life is carting water. Each bee may make typically 50 trips a day, each time collecting about 25 mg of water. When the colony is very short of water other foraging bees are diverted from collecting nectar and pollen to join in the effort. Consider providing a clean source of water such as a fountain. Once honeybees have located a good source of water they tend to continue using it, even when other sources become available.

• Buy raw, local, honey. If available, buy honey from bees raised organically or biodynamically. Honey is the only food that has no expiration date: it doesn't spoil.

• Eliminate the use of pesticides and herbicides in your garden. Bees need food without poison for themselves and their hive just like we do!

• Eliminate the use of dryer sheets. The chemicals on those sheets are released into the air when heated in the dryer, potentially interfering in the bees ability to "smell" pollen flows. The same is true for other strong scented laundry detergents etc.

• Sign up to host a hive on your property, when swarms are caught and additional hives become available.

• Become a beekeeper yourself. For the real enthusiasts, start your beekeeping career with a topbar hive, which is healthier for the bees.

• Support local and national beekeepers. Example: Join the bee guardian movement run by our hero, Corwin Bell, Bee Guardian.

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