The secret life of Illinois's native bees

July 18, 2012 - 21:36 -- hjking

Hello everyone! My name is Hannah and I am a student at Stanford University where I study interdisciplinary environmental science. As a native to Chicagoland, it is a real treat to be back in the area working for the Chicago Botanic Garden and viewing the region through a whole new lens! The project I am working on this summer is with Becky Tonietto researching Illinois's native prairie bees and comparing their diversity to measure the effects of restoration. As essential pollinators in agriculture and prairies, bees are an important part of Illinois's ecosystem. As you may know, honey bee populations across America are declining, a phenomena known as colony collapse disorder. But amazingly native bees are not experiencing this! Thus, studying native bees is even more important as we consider the future of pollinators.

This past week, I visited three sites of which two were remnants and one was being restored. One site, Wadsworth Prairie, sits beside a railroad track. Trains pass every day and it's amazing to me that a pristine prairie full of wildlife can exist so close by! I feel incredibly lucky to be spending so much time this summer out in beautiful Illinois landscapes. Hope you enjoy the pictures!


Wadsworth Prairie


Compass Plant



Netting at Hawk Hollow Prairie


Bumble bee