Have you heard the buzz? National Pollinator Week is June 17-23, 2019. Here’s how you can celebrate around Chicago.
Get to know pollinators around Chicago
Bees often come to mind when we think of pollinators, maybe because of their sweet honey. But hummingbirds, bats, small mammals and insects including beetles, bees, ants, wasps, butterflies, and moths also pollinate flowers. Look for a list below of what to plant to attract Chicago’s pollinators. And remember, the wind can be a pollinator, too.
National Pollinator Week in Chicago
You can learn plenty about the many pollinators at your local natures center or with a visit to one of Chicago’s well-known gardens, such as
- Chicago Botanic Garden
- Morton Arboretum
- Garfield Park Conservatory
In 2019, you can join the Pollinator Party at the Little Red Schoolhouse (free) or get (win?) free native plant seeds at Lurvey Home and Garden in Des Plaines.
*As of this writing, it’s legal for city residents to keep bees, but if you live in the suburbs, you might not be so lucky. Be sure to check your municipal laws before you invest in bees of your own.
O’Hare Airport was the first municipal airport to start keeping bees and maintains the largest on-airport apiary. You can buy the jet-setting bees’ honey at ORD or here, in partnership with Sweet Beginnings, based in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood.
Take a beekeeping class from Chicago Honey Co-op.
Support a local woman with a unique beekeeping business, Bike-a-Bee.
Build or buy a straw house for mason bees. They don’t produce honey, but they still perform an invaluable service.
Help a feathered pollinator by making a hummingbird feeder.
Watch these stunning clips of pollinators in action.
Read up on RoboBees. Might we one day rely on these mini-robot bees to not only pollinate crops, but also survey and map them, as well as aid in search and rescue efforts as well as monitor traffic–and maybe you, too? (There’s a chilling feature-length episode of Black Mirror on the topic.)
What to plant to attract pollinators
No worries if you don’t have these planted by National Pollinator’s Week. Sometimes they need to overwinter in order to germinate. Think longterm.
These native plants are suited to Chicago’s climate and attract pollinators:
Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
A perennial that does well in full sun with medium water and attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
A perennial that does well in sun with medium water and attracts bees and butterflies.
Get more suggestions from the Chicago Botanic Garden