Bee farms buzzing across Chicago

August 3, 2012 (CHICAGO)

It takes a village to raise a child -- and that may also hold true for bees. Several local groups are banding together to use honeybees across the city to create opportunities in one under-served neighborhood.

Managing dozens of hives and swarms of bees requires skill and a bit of bravery. But for Michael Thompson, the result matters most. He's the farm manager for the Chicago Honey Co-op.

"It's a group of people who care about beekeeping or who are beekeepers. We have about 35 members. We're an agriculture cooperative in Chicago," Thompson said.

They make a range of honey-based products and beeswax candles, many of which are sold here at the Dill Pickle Food Co-op in Logan Square. They say it's no wonder it sells out quickly.

"This honey is harvested in Chicago. The bees are going to all of the plants and the weeds and the wildflowers in this area. So you're getting the freshest most unique honey that you possibly can," Sharon Hoyner, The Dill Pickle Food Co-op, said.

The Chicago Honey Co-Op started in 2004 and trains hard to employ people from the North Lawndale Community. It has now partnered with several other groups to turn a vacant lot in the neighborhood into a small farm. They hope it will generate more opportunities in the community.

"North Lawndale is a really wonderful place and has a bad reputation for no good reason, so North Lawndale because it was where we had friend," Thompson said.

Find the Chicago Honey Co-op's products at Green City Market on Saturdays and Logan Square Market on Sundays.

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