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Friday, July 29, 2011

Bee City

Chicago's City Hall is one of the United States' best known green roofs.  Installed in in 2001, this green roof is actually quite similar to the Berry Prairie in concept: it was installed as an experiment, an education and outreach tool and to create a diverse mini-ecosystem.  They have over 100 species on that roof!  

Chicago City Hall's green roof

Just to add to fascination to intrigue, the Laramie Boomerang featured an AP article this morning about honey bees THRIVING on this green roof.  Over 200 pounds of surplus honey are produced each year from the City Hall Bees, which is five times the state average per hive!  Here's the story.

Now honey bees don't do very well in Laramie - and it's not entirely clear why.  The elevation and short season, combined with the constant wind and frigid winters is likely not an ideal climate for them.  Additionally, the kinds of plants that grow in the Laramie basin may not produce the amount of nectar honey bees need to survive, surmises Dr. Michael Dillon of the Univ. of Wyoming's Zoology and Physiology department.  "I suspect that our beautiful array of wildflowers, while providing a smörgåsbord for our diverse native bees, isn't the all-you-can-eat buffet that honey bees require."  However, other pollinators like mason, carpenter and leafcutter bees are all very adapted to the Laramie lifestyle.  They don't produce honey, but they help produce a diversity of plants!  

We have two little sheds set up in the Berry Prairie to make life more comfortable for our native pollinators.  Here's what the houses look like:

Hopefully some day we'll have a thriving pollinator population too!  If you see a bee on the green roof, please be respectful and tip your hat in appreciation for all they do.  

Written by Brenna Wanous, Berry Center


  1. Honey bees can do very well in the Laramie Valley. There are a number of people that keep honey bees as hobbyists with the yellow clover and alfalfa that are found in fair abundance as ample nectar and pollen sources. Although the summers are short and winters can be cold and long kept bees as well as feral colonies can successfully overwinter.

  2. Thanks for your feedback! It's great you're having success with your honey bees! While neither honey bees nor yellow clover or alfalfa are native to the Laramie basin, you're right that they can be successful if tended for properly. Do you have any tricks for helping them overwinter successfully? Are the hives located in town or the country? Do you keep any houses for native bees as well?

    -The Berry Prairie folks

  3. Guinevere Z. JonesAugust 3, 2011 at 11:14 AM

    That is absolutely right about bees. If anyone has any questions about honeybees or beekeeping in general, feel free to contact the University of Wyoming Entomology Club or the Entomology Extension department here (!


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