'Nature's Architects' on exhibit at Lincoln Park museum

June 7, 2011 (CHICAGO)

The Peggy Notebaert Museum these days is giving us a lesson in how the creatures of the animal kingdom build their kingdoms. They're not as smart as we are, we like to think, and yet they construct complicated structures that have enabled them to survive much longer than we have.

The exhibit is called "Nature's Architects."

"It's all about so people can understand how animals live. And how they live right around them in this urban environment," said Deborah Lahey, president and CEO of the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Ants, beavers, birds and termites. They are all builders and hard workers. Like ants pulling their load to make sure the colony is safe. And bees, thousands of them, with exits to the outside. They are the builders of those perfect hexagons.

"We have two functioning hives," said Lahey. "They can go inside and outside the museum, and collect the pollen on our prairies around the museum, come back in here and build their hives."

The Chicago Academy of Sciences started collecting birds' nests back in the 1800's, and now some of those nests are here for this exhibit. Are birds the best of nature's architects? Some of their nests are true works of art.

"Not only are they perfect for their design, they're perfect for their life cycle and their breeding," said Lahey.

It's a real eye opener for kids. You can even be spider man and build your own web.

Nature's architects versus us. Have you ever wondered about that? Who's better at building, the birds and the bees, or us?

"I think I'm going to have to side with nature," Lahey said. "Nature builds what they need. And we build what we want."

"Nature's Architects" runs through September 12.

Bee there.

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