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Certified Naturally Grown

At The Bee Farm


Goodbye to Fillmore Apiary

In 2004 when we started our co-op, we had no idea how long we might be allowed to keep bees on theBeekeeping Class June 2011 property along West Fillmore St in Chicago, perhaps 2 or 3 years at best. It has been our great pleasure to have had an apiary and community farm there for 8 full years. When we started, we couldn’t have have imagined what a rich experience it would be.

An abandoned industrial remnant reverted to prairie wherever the concrete wasn’t, we found ourselves surrounded by nature in the middle of Chicago. It is easy to describe the place in terms of size and location but much harder to describe the atmosphere. What we made there was much more than honey. We made friends.

With the help of The North Lawndale Greening Committee, we made a community farm for anyone who wanted to join. We made a gathering place. We made a place for learning about bees, about nature and about ourselves.

Sadly, our time there is almost up. The property has been sold and we must move out in late Winter of 2012. We can’t hope to find another place a large as Fillmore Apiary so we are looking for 3 or so smaller locations. We have a few possibilities lined up but nothing is certain. We really want to stay in the North Lawndale community but know this may not be possible.

We will miss the apiary on Fillmore so much but can be happy that the friends we made because of it will still be with us. In looking back on this past year, I made a list of things we did in 2011.
  • Conducted tours of the apiary for school groups and the public.
  • Gave beekeeping presentations at the Power House High School, Nature Museum, College of Dupage, University of Chicago Hillel and others.
  • Continued hosting a community farm at the apiary in partnership with the North Lawndale Greening Committee & others
  • Tended 50 hives and sold honey and products at 2 Farmer markets from July to the present
  • Continued to raise Illinois Honeybee queens.
  • Continued teaching beekeeping to Master Gardeners at the Museum of Science and Industry, Smart Home Exhibit.
  • Taught beekeeping to 50 people through Winter classes at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum.
  • Employment in beekeeping skills for neighbors and volunteers over the past 8 years.
  • Gave advice on beekeeping to members of the public through our website blog and email contacts.
  • Tended 8 hives on City of Chicago Buildings and one at the Lurie Garden, Millennium Park.
  • Continued the preSERVE* partnership with Slow Food Chicago, Neighborspace and the North Lawndale Greening Committee, growing Sweet Potatoes, Black-eyed and Crowder Peas on a former vacant lot. (12th Place & Central Park Ave.)
  • Hosted 2 events at the apiary open to the public; Sweet Summer Solstice and TomatoFest

As a community based organization, we have always operated on the slimmest of shoestrings so paying for the costs of moving and relocation will be difficult to handle. Our “rent” for the past 8 years has been 12 dollars a year thanks to the generosity of the developer, Mark Ross. We have always supported our work with sales of our honey and other products but we find ourselves needing to raise money to cover moving expenses both expected and unexpected. We will probably have to pay for fencing any property without it. That could run into thousands of dollars. So we have to raise money now. Our timeline is short.

If you have an interest in helping out financially, tax-deductible contributions to their pooled fund can be made to the Crossroads Fund, online through this link: or by check to Crossroads Fund, 3411 W. Diversey, #20, Chicago, IL 60647. Just make sure to note that your gift supports the Honey Co-Op in the notes section of the webpage or on your check.

If you would like to share your memories of Fillmore Apiary, leave them in the comments section of this post.

If you have pictures to share visit and add your pictures or video.

TomatoFest Time at the Bee Farm

3 years ago our friend Damien Casten of Candid Wines thought up the idea of TomatoFest.  With Slow Food Chicago as a sponsor, heirloom tomato seedlings are sold to the public to raise money for urban agriculture projects in Chicago.  Once the tomatoes are all grown up, those who bought seedlings are invited to show off their tomatoes at Tomatofest. 

This year proceeds from TomatoFest will go to the preSERVE garden at 12th place and Central Park Ave in Chicago.  The preSERVE garden is planted with crowder peas, black eyed peas and sweet potatoes.  Chicago Honey Co-op is happy to be a partner in this effort along with the North Lawndale Greening Committee, Slow Food Chicago and NeighborSpace.

So come on out and celebrate tomatoes with us on September 24th at 5PM.  Bring along a potluck dish and a chair to sit on.  Beer, wine and soft drinks will be provided. Tickets are only $15.  To buy tickets, get more details and directions, visit Slow Food Chicago.



Record Keeping at the Bee Farm


Sweet Summer Solstice 2011

Come on out and visit us on Friday June 24th for the most affordable fundraiser in Chicago. For $15 and a potluck dish to share, you get to party outdoors on one of the longest evenings of the year at our apiary on Fillmore St.

If you have never visited our apiary, this year is the year to come out to the Solstice potluck. The food is always excellent, there is plenty of beer and wine and the apiary is pretty spectacular.

Slow Food Chicago has sponsored and coordinated this event for us for the last 3 years and everyone who comes has a great time. You can buy tickets and get details on the Slow Food Chicago website.

If you take a look at the satellite map, you can see how large the space is. Plenty of room for a big party!

We will be giving tours of the beehives and community farm and will have honey, candles and more for sale.

Hope to see you there!



Live Bees Rush!





5 Queens delivered from Southern Illinois today. Priority small flat rate boxes are perfect for this. The black cap on the end of the queen cage holds sugar candy for the bees to eat.






The Queen is on the right. She is marked with a white dot and shipped with four attendants who take care of her during the trip. The dot will make it a little easier to find her inside the hive.









Live bees attract attention.