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Chicago’s Urban Beekeepers

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Pedro Ortiz, an urban beekeeper, extracting his bees from the hive “supers” (drawers) to check for honey.

Urban beekeeping and agriculture continue to grow, but a lack of native bees and wild pollinators pose challenges for urban agriculture and the bee population.

By Ariel Parrella-Aureli
The Columbia Chronicle
Sept 19, 2016

Excerpt:

While the number of beekeepers is growing, bee populations are declining, Thompson said. He said most people will only think of honeybees, but there are several other wild pollinators, including bumblebees and wild butterflies, that are vital to crops but are dwindling.

“Those native bees are really threatened much worse than honeybees because their culture is very localized,” he said. “Those are really essential to our world, and people don’t understand they’re even here.”

According to a 2015 study on U.S. native bee trends conducted by the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont in Burlington, the number of native bees declined between 2008 and 2013, particularly in cornfield and grassland environments. The study also found that between 2008 and 2013, bee abundance declined across 23 percent of the U.S.

Although this decline is visible among crops and wild habitats, the abundance of local native flowers in urban agriculture gardens helps native bees thrive, according to Sam Vergara, the farm coordinator for the North Lawndale farm. The farm, 3555 W. Ogden Ave., is part of Windy City Harvest, an urban farming collective managed by Chicago Botanic Gardens. Windy City Harvest has six farms in Chicago and distributes produce to cafes, farmers markets and South Side grocery stores.

Read the complete article here.