Local

Can You Dig It: The Wonder Of Bees

Bee

A bee gathers nectar in the Lurie Garden in Millennium Park. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Bees are one of the most important creatures in nature; without them, flowers wouldn’t get pollinated and many plants would die out.

And as CBS 2’s Derrick Young explains, Chicago is just buzzing with bees – at the rooftop garden on top of City Hall, on the fringes of O’Hare International Airport, and at the Lurie Garden in Millennium Park.

“Bees need a large mass of certain plants,” said Jennifer Davit, head horticulturist for the Lurie Garden. “Here, we have large masses of plants that attract bees.”

The color of the vibrant cone flowers in the garden is striking. But for bees, it’s all about the food.

“They’re looking for pollen and they’re looking for nectar,” Davit said.

So they look to plants like the purple cone flowers, as well as stachys and salvia. You can grow them all in your own garden, Davit says.

“Most of the plants that attract bees are extremely hardy, drought tolerant, will do well in full sun” she said. “We water very infrequently; usually less than 10 times over the whole summer.”

Bees are some of the sweetest things around, as long as you don’t get in their way.

“When they’re out in the garden, they’re foraging and feeding, so they have no interest in us,” Davit said.

But it’s not a good idea to hang around their hive.

“The main thing is that if you’re by where their hive is, that you don’t stand in front of their entrance to the hive, because that’s their traffic pattern,” Davit said.

The importance of bees in the ecosystem has grown to be a subject of great concern, particularly because bees are dying worldwide at an alarming rate.

In April, the documentary “Vanishing of the Bees” illustrated the crisis, which is caused by colony collapse disorder. Co-director and producer Maryam Henein told WBBM Newsradio 780 the disorder stems from the recent use systemic pesticides, which are neurotoxic to bees.

Basically, Henein says the pesticides interfere with the bees’ navigational systems and cause a sort of dementia, so the honeybees can’t make their way back to the hive.

Commercial honeybee operations are responsible for pollinating crops that make up one in three bites of food on each of our tables, according to the documentary.

We want to know what’s happening in your garden, so send us a photo and let us know. And if you have any gardening question, we’ll get you the answers.

E-mail your photos and questions to photos@cbschicago.com.