save the rabbit

    In celebration of the Chinese Year Dragon (January 23, 2012 - February 9, 2013), the Tai Chi Center of Chicago will raise funds to support it's friend the of Honey/Bee! The Chinese Dragon is a mythological creature dating back thousands of years and symbolizes happiness, immortality, procreation, fertility and activity. We chose the bee to take the place of our fundraising efforts because bees have a huge impact on our environments and lifestyle. Honeybees pollinate 30 percent of the world's crops and native bees pollinate 90 percent of our wild plants! This year TC3 will support two great organizations, Spikenard Farm and Honeybee Sanctuary, Floyd VA and Northcenter Neighborhood Associations, Parkway Corner Initiative, Chicago IL.

    The mission is to learn more about the both ethe honeybee and the native bees, and to receive donated funds from anyone who loves and cares that he/she continues to have a place to live within its natural habitat. All donated fund will go directly to the "Honey/Bee Fund," operated by Spikenard Farm and Honeybee Sanctuary and the Parkway Corner Initiatives.

Thank you friends of the Honey/Bees, over $1,800 was donated!

    Spikenard Farm and Honeybee Sanctuary

    Save the Honeybee

    It's estimated that honeybees pollinate 25% of our food.
    Colony Collapse Disorder is not merely a bee or farming crisis, but a human crisis,
    affecting future availability of 1-in-4 bites of food worldwide.

    Gunther Hauk, Founder of Spikenard Farm and Honeybee Sanctuary, biodynamic farmer- gardener-beekeeper-educator of 35 years, is considered by many to be the "father" of the sustainable beekeeping movement; he writes and speaks publicly on the honeybee plight in America, Europe and beyond. He's traveled to 26 states over 15 years bringing the urgent message of sustainable farming through sustainable beekeeping.

    Located in Floyd, Virginia, Spikenard Farm and Honeybee Sanctuary cares for 30 hives on its 6 acres without any CCD losses! The sanctuary consists of lush, 3-season bee forage that also feed native pollinators. Gunther teaches his sustainable methods to farmers, gardeners, backyard beekeepers, in hands-on workshops. He promotes cultivation of a healthy colony of honeybees on every farm; treating soil, plants, people, pollinators as a single, living organism.

    Gunther Hauk is featured in two films, "Queen of the Sun" and "Vanishing of the Bees". His book, "Toward Saving the Honeybee" is in its 3rd printing. Gunther continues his life's work by tending to honeybee health and longevity, and therefore, to our future.

    Queen Of The Sun
    What Are The Bees Are Telling Us?

    The Vanishing Of The Bees

    Spikenard Farm and Honeybee Sanctuary

    Interesting Facts About the Honeybee

  • Honeybees are not native to the USA. They are European in origin, and were brought to North America by the early settlers.
  • Honeybees are not aggressive by nature, and will not sting unless protecting their hive from an intruder or are unduly provoked.
  • Honeybees represent a highly organized society, with various bees having very specific roles during their lifetime: e.g., nurses, guards, grocers, housekeepers, construction workers, royal attendants, undertakers, foragers, etc.
  • The queen bee can live for several years. Worker bees live for 6 weeks during the busy summer, and for 4-9 months during the winter months.
  • The practice of honey collection and beekeeping dates back to the stone-age, as evidenced by cave paintings.
  • The honeybee hive is perennial. Although quite inactive during the winter, the honeybee survives the winter months by clustering for warmth. By self-regulating the internal temperature of the cluster, the bees maintain 93 degrees Fahrenheit in the center of the winter cluster (regardless of the outside temperature).

    The Greening of Northcenter Neighborhood

    Northcenter Neighborhood Association
    Parkways, Corners and Garden Project
    Investing in Our Community One Plant at a Time

    THE PARKWAY CORNERS INITIATIVE, creating pollinator-friendly landscapes using native plant sources to create a colorful array of pesticide-free, bee, bird, butterfly and even bat-friendly landscapes. This initiative is a collaboration between the Northcenter Neighborhood Association and the North Branch Restoration Project.

    Native plants are deep-rooted plants and help to absorb rainwater deep into the soil versus short rooted plants/grasses. Native plants withstand a large range of wet-to-dry conditions making the requirements of these landscapes low maintenance.

    These corners are visually beautiful, flowering three seasons while providing pollinator forage that require no chemical additives or pesticides. There is no longer the need for mowing, further decreasing the carbon footprint.

    All plants meet the height limit of corners to allow driving views to remain unimpeded.

    These native plant corners are constructed and maintained by volunteer "land stewards" living on that block where the corner is located, trained and aided by Northcenter Neighborhood Association (NNA) volunteers, with plant material donated by Northbranch Restoration Project (NBRP) from any of their dozen land steward sites along the Chicago river in Cook County. NBRP conservation sites are considered amongst the finest natural areas in the country.

    THE FIRST PARKWAY CORNER was installed late spring of 2011.

    Though honeybees get all the credit, native pollen bees do the bulk of the pollination chores in many gardens, parks, and forests. Pollen bees are also called solitary bees; unlike the highly social honeybees, nearly all pollen bees live solitary lives.

    Native pollen bees work more efficiently than honeybees at pollinating flowers. They don't travel far, and so focus their pollination efforts on fewer plants. Native bees fly quickly, visiting more plants in a shorter amount of time. Both males and females pollinate flowers, and native bees begin earlier in spring than honeybees.

    1. Bumblebees

    Photo: © Debbie Hadley, WILD Jersey

    Bumblebees (Bombus spp.) are probably the most widely recognized of our native pollen bees. They're also among the hardest working pollinators in the garden. As generalist bees, bumblebees will forage on a wide variety of plants, pollinating everything from peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and coffee.

    Bumblebees fall within the 5% of pollen bees that are eusocial; a female queen and her daughter workers live together, communicating with and caring for one another. Their colonies survive only from spring until fall, when all but a mated queen will die.

    Bumblebees nest underground, usually in abandoned rodent nests. They love to forage on clover, which many homeowners consider a weed. Give the bumblebees a chance – leave the clover in your lawn.

    The population of bumblebees in the United States is in a kind of free fall, dropping 96 percent over the past two decades, according to a new study that has scientists alarmed.

    2. Carpenter Bees

    Carpenter bee, Xylocopa virginica

    Though often considered pests by homeowners, carpenter bees (Xylocopa spp.) do more than burrow into decks and porches. They're quite good at pollinating many of the crops in your garden. They rarely do serious structural damage to the wood in which they nest.

    Carpenter bees are quite large, usually with a metallic luster. They require warm air temperatures (70º F or higher) before they start foraging in spring. Males are stingless; females can, but rarely do, sting.

    Carpenter bees have a tendency to cheat. They sometimes tear a hole into the base of the flower to access the nectary, and so don't come into contact with any pollen. Still, these native pollen bees are worth encouraging in your garden.

    3. Sweat Bees

    Sweat bee, Agapostemon virescens
    Photo: ©Susan Ellis,

    Sweat bees (family Halictidae) also make their living off pollen and nectar. These small native bees are easy to miss, but if you take the time to look for them, you'll find they're quite common. Sweat bees are generalist feeders, foraging on a range of host plants.

    Most sweat bees are dark brown or black, but the blue-green sweat bees bear pretty, metallic colors. These usually solitary bees burrow in the soil.

    Sweat bees like to lick salt from sweaty skin, and will sometimes land on you. They're not aggressive, so don't worry about getting stung.

    4. Mason Bees

    Mason bee, Osmia lignaria
    Scott Bauer, USDA Agricultural Research Service,

    Like tiny mason workers, mason bees (Osmia spp.) build their nests using pebbles and mud. These native bees look for existing holes in wood rather than excavate their own. Mason bees will readily nest in artificial nest sites made by bundling straws or drilling holes in a block of wood.

    Just a few hundred mason bees can do the same work as tens of thousands of honeybees. Mason bees are known for pollinating fruit crops, almonds, blueberries, and apples among their favorites.

    Mason bees are slightly smaller than honeybees. They're fairly fuzzy little bees with blue or green metallic coloring. Mason bees do well in urban areas.

      Mason bees seem to be resistant to many of the diseases that are threatening the honey bee population.
      Mason bees don't require medications and supplements to keep them alive.
      Mason bee houses can be built from scrapes and virtually cost nothing!

    5. Polyester Bees

    Though solitary, polyester bees (family Colletidae) sometimes nest in large aggregations of many individuals. Polyester or plasterer bees forage on a wide range of flowers. They're fairly large bees that burrow in the soil.

    Polyester bees are so called because females can produce a natural polymer from glands in their abdomens. The female polyester bee will construct a polymer bag for each egg, filling it with sweet food stores for the larva when it hatches. Her young are well-protected in their plastic bubbles as they develop in the soil.

    6. Squash Bees

    Squash bee, Peponapis pruinosa
    Jim Cane, USDA Agricultural Research Service

    If you've got squash, pumpkins, or gourds in your garden, look for squash bees (Peponapis pruinosa) to pollinate your plants and help them set fruit. These pollen bees begin foraging just after sunrise, since cucurbit flowers close in the afternoon sun. Squash bees are specialized foragers, relying only on cucurbit plants for pollen and nectar.

    Solitary squash bees nest underground, and require well-drained areas in which to burrow. Adults live just a few months, from mid to late summer when the squash plants are in flower.

    7. Dwarf Carpenter Bees

    At just 8 mm in length, dwarf carpenter bees (Ceratina spp.) are easy to overlook. Don't be fooled by their small size, though, because these native bees know how to work the flowers of raspberry, goldenrod, and other plants.

    Females chew an overwintering burrow into the stem of a pithy plant or old vine. In spring, they expand their burrows to make room for their brood. These solitary bees forage from spring to fall, but won't fly very far to find food.

    8. Leafcutter Bees

    Leafcutter bee, Megachile perihirta
    Joseph Berger,

    Like mason bees, leafcutter bees (Megachile spp.) nest in tube-shaped cavities and will use artificial nests. They line their nests with carefully sheared pieces of leaves, sometimes from specific host plants – thus the name, leafcutter bees.

    The leafcutter bees forage mostly on legumes. They're highly efficient pollinators, working flowers in mid-summer. Leafcutter bees are about the same size as honeybees. They rarely sting, and when they do, it's quite mild.

    9. Alkali Bees

    The alkali bee earned its reputation as a pollinating powerhouse when alfalfa growers started using it commercially. These small bees belong to the same family (Halictidae) as sweat bees. They're quite pretty, with yellow, green, and blue bands encircling black abdomens.

    Alkali bees nest in moist, alkaline soils (thus their name). They live in arid regions west of the Rocky Mountains. Though they prefer alfalfa when its available, alkali bees will fly up to 5 miles for pollen and nectar from onions, clover, mint, and a few other wild plants.

    10. Digger Bees

    Digger bee, Andrena spp.
    Cheryl Moorehead, individual,

    Digger bees (family Adrenidae), aka mining bees, are widespread and numerous, with over 1,200 species found in North America. These medium-sized bees begin foraging at the first signs of spring. While some species are generalists, others form close foraging associations with certain types of plants.

    Digger bees, as you might suspect by their names, dig burrows in the ground. They often camouflage the entrance to their nest with leaf litter or grass. The female secretes a waterproof substance, which she uses to line and protect her brood cells.


    • Alternative Pollinators: Native Bees, Lane Greer, NCAT Agriculture Specialist, 1999.
    • Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Eric R. Eaton and Kenn Kaufman, 2007.
    • Native Bee Benefits, joint publication of Bryn Mawr College and Rutgers University, May 2009.

TC3 Home