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Museum of Science and Industry Smart Home Garden: Beekeeping Day

Posted by Ron Wolford -

It's not everyday you get an up-close look at another side of agriculture - the one that deals with insects, pest management, and pollinators. Honeybees are an essential requirement for many of our favorite food crops. These tiny fliers have been threatened in the past with the use of pesticides and extreme weather, and more recently, Colony Collapse Disorder. Today, we were able to see the inner workings of the hives at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Scientists studying Colony Collapse Disorder believe it is a combination of things making the bees sick, including pesticides, parasites, inadequate food supply, and an immune system-attacking virus. Without these honeybees to pollinate our fields and gardens, orchards and vineyards, the agriculture industry could potentially lose $15 billion in crops pollinated by bees, including your favorite fruits and vegetables like apples, citrus, peaches, pumpkins, and peanuts.

Luckily, homeowners and agriculturalists all over the state are being encouraged to start their own hives, and the craft is taking off. Master Gardeners all over the state are doing something to try to rebuild the honeybee population. At the Museum of Science and Industry, we were able to see the preparation and maintenance process that occurs in any one of the four hives built in the Smart Home Garden. The bees at the Smart Home Garden will work all summer to pollinate tomatoes, peppers, and flowering bushes, and they will use the pollen to make honey as well.

The Master Gardeners at the MSI are passionate about their bees and honeybee health, and they show it by taking beekeeping classes to supplement their Master Gardener training. I am still in awe of the sacrifice and hard work these volunteers contribute to better the city of Chicago and the surrounding areas. Chicago is more bee-utiful because of Master Gardeners!

Ilana and Shelby

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