Sunday, October 25, 2009

Urban Beekeeping

Name: Urban Bee-keeping

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Years: 2004-present

Founded by: Chicago Honey Co-op

The Chicago Honey Co-op is an urban apiary that was established on a deserted Sears parking lot in downtown Chicago. This co-op has between 80-100 beehives that produce honey each year; the 35 co-op members harvest the honey and then take it to sell at local shops and farmers’ markets. The co-op members also provide job training and education to local community members. In addition to honey, the co-op also creates a number of honey-related products, such as beeswax candles and beauty products. Next to the apiary, there is also a garden that members can grow any type of food in, as long as it does not harm the bees in any way. In an attempt to be more efficient, the co-op is also raising its own honeybee queens, which prevents them from having to purchase hives from the south when some of their own are inevitably lost each year.

I think that this co-op is a great example of sustainable agriculture practices. Their beehives are completely chemical-free, and they attempt to be self-sufficient and sustainable by raising their own queen honeybees to replace those that are lost. They also support local farmers’ markets and small businesses which I think is admirable. Their website provides comprehensive information about their mission, and they also have an accompanying blog which gives a nice view into the daily grind of an apiary. You can also purchase all of their products online and arrange to pick them up.

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