Morton Arboretum's gone sweet on honey bees, starting with a weekend buzzing with activities for all ages Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 7 and 8. Among the programs are beehive tours; a honey- and bee-themed product expo with drop-in lectures by the Cook-DuPage Beekeepers Association; and a Lunch & Learn talk by one of the country’s top bee experts. A four-part “Beginning Beekeeping” course starts Tuesday, Sept. 10.
Honeybees are vital to our ecosystem and the foods we eat, according to Arboretum beekeeper Greg Fischer.
“Many don’t realize that most honeybees are friendly,” he said. “And while we enjoy the honey they produce, they do so much more for us. In fact, every third bite we eat depends on pollination by honeybees.”
• Statistics show how crucial honeybees are to our economy and crop production. Western nations rely heavily on managed honeybees – the bees that ride in trucks from farm to farm – to keep commercial agriculture productive
• About a third of our foods – nearly 100 key crops – rely on honeybees, including apples, almonds, blueberries and raspberries
• In total, honeybees contribute more than $15 billion to U.S. crop production
Explore the Honey Bee Expo, where you can shop for locally produced honey, honey- and bee-themed products including honey beer and mead, honey breads and jams, candles, lotions and beekeeper kits. The Arboretum’s honey is popular; the store has sold more than 20,000 jars in the past 10 years. Plus, check out an observation beehive and learn how to identify various pollinators. Throughout the Expo, the Arboretum will offering drop-in lectures provided by the Cook-DuPage Beekeepers Association.
Over a honey-themed buffet lunch, nationally-known entomologist and author May Berenbaum of the University of Illinois will discuss the health of honeybee populations during a Lunch & Learn talk, with advance registration required. Afterward, she will sign her books at 2 p.m. at the Honey Bee Weekend booths in Arbor Court.
Learn all about honeybees, their favorite flowers and how honey is made on a “Family Honeybee Hike.” The hike will include viewing Arboretum beehives and sampling Arboretum honey. The hikes, 45 minutes long, are available at 11:30 a.m. and 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30 and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The cost per person is $5 for members, $6 for nonmembers. The hikes are designed for families with children ages 2 and older. Register at mortonarb.org/education, in the Visitor Center or by calling 630-719-2468.
Take a Bee Hive Tour from 9 to 11 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 8, with Fischer, the beekeeper. Protective bee netting will be provided. Enjoy a sample of honey for a sweet finish to the tour. The cost is $22 for members and $30 for nonmembers. Register at mortonarb.org/education, in the Visitor Center or by calling 630-719-2468.
Wish the Children’s Garden a Happy Bee-Day at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle. Celebrate the garden’s eighth birthday by making bee masks, meeting a real beekeeper and checking out the hives in the Children’s Garden. The party will be happening from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 7 and 8, and is free with admission. The Cook-DuPage Beekeepers Association will be present with their observation beehive.
'Beginning Beekeeping' course
Interested in starting your own hive and harvesting your own honey? Already have a hive and want to learn more about managing it? Attend a “Beginning Beekeeping” class led by Fischer. Explore the history of beekeeping, bee anatomy, starting and managing a colony, equipment basics, honeybee pests and diseases and harvesting honey. Each participant will receive a hive tool to take home. The four-week class will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays, Sept. 10 to Oct. 1. Cost is $80 for members, $94 for nonmembers. Register at mortonarb.org/education, in the Visitor Center or call 630-719-2468.
Morton Arboretum is at 4100 Route 53. For its full events lineup, visit www.mortonarb.org.