“The Bee’s Knees” at the Garfield Park Conservatory


Will Long

The pond inside the Garfield Park Conservatory on Friday, May 7. The greenhouse attracts visitors from across the city with its exotic plant life all year round.

The Garfield Park Conservatory kicked off its 2023 spring season with its spring flower show, “The Bee’s Knees,” which explores the connection between bees and the city’s favorite blooming spring flowers.

“The Bee’s Knees” will be on display at the conservatory until May 14. It offers endless stunning insights into blooming tulip bulbs, daffodils and hydrangeas. 

A reminder that spring is truly here, “The Bee’s Knees” lends a break from Chicago’s persistent gloom to escape into nature, whilst including vital education on the importance of bees for the environment. 

Erin Albers, a sophomore at DePaul, took the trip to the conservatory last weekend and was enamored by the show’s display. 

“On a rainy spring morning I couldn’t think of anything better to do than go to an indoor flower garden,” Albers said. “It made for a really fun date.”

This exhibit is an opportunity to not only view the impressive collection of the Conservatory, but also to receive salient education about bees. 

Caldy Calwell, an employee at the conservatory explains the purpose of the exorbitant amount of vibrant flowers which make up the spring show.

“Every single one of those flowers is going to be producing some kind of scent, or at the very least some kind of pollen that will attract not just bees, but they will attract other pollinators as well,” Calwell said. 

In recent years, the existence of bees has faced true threats, with one in four species facing extinction, according to the Bee Conservancy nonprofit organization. 

“This exhibit is also just very important with the state bees are currently in,” Calwell said. “It’s not the best for all kinds of bees.”

“The Bee’s Knees,” is an exhibit at the Conservatory on the importance of pollinators. (Will Long)


Human intervention with nature, such as deforestation and development tactics can be attributed for bees’ endangerment and is a point on the long list of the consequences of the climate crisis. 

Rana Chau, an employee at the conservatory, added, “We mow the lawns in [Chicago’s] park districts pretty early, and it’s actually a huge detriment to our pollinators and their population.” 

Conservatory goers shouldn’t expect any actual bees buzzing around the exhibit, but can ensure both a beautiful and educational experience about the insect’s importance. 

Bees play an integral role in the ecosystem, not only by pollinating the radiant blooms at the conservatory, but also by accounting for the existence of some of the nation’s most prized produce, with the Bee Conservancy concluding that bees pollinate one-third of the food we eat.

“The Bee’s Knees exhibit featured so many colorful flowers,” Albers said. “They had educational signs posted around that talked about how bees pollinate.”

Pops of color stand out from the green foliage, as the blooming flowers radiate their lavish scent, which greets visitors as soon as they step into the flower lined greenhouse.

Intertwined between the vibrant violet hydrangeas and lively yellow daffodils, rest signs explaining bees and their intricate pollination process.

Conservatory attendees are permitted to roam the extensive spring show flower garden, whilst getting a prime view of the yellow honeycomb sculptures strung throughout the bright room.

“It has been one of the more fun themes of our shows,” Calwell said. “I really enjoy the honeycomb structure on the ceiling.”

The exhibit even features silhouettes of beekeepers, highlighting those who seek to conserve and uplift bees and their environment. 

“It was my first time at the Garfield Park Conservatory, and it was a great experience,” Albers said. “I think more DePaul students should make it a priority to visit.”

Opening its doors in 1908, the Garfield Park Conservatory has been serving Chicago’s West Side for over a century, and remains one of Chicago’s most significant landmarks. 

With entry being free with a suggested donation, a trip to the conservatory is an accessible activity perfect for any time of the year. 

The Garfield Park Conservatory is a 35-minute train ride from the Fullerton CTA stop, with a quick transfer to the Green Line at Clark/Lake. 

Once off the train at the Conservatory-Central Park Drive stop, the conservatory and all it has to offer is seconds away on foot.