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Beekeeping, Composting and Adult Programs


The Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance offers a myriad of programs designed to help you get closer to nature in the city. We partner with the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners and Master Composters programs to provide many
of our gardening and composting demonstrations and workshops.


The Conservatory is also the proud home of multiple bee hives and an active beekeeping program - enjoy the fruits of their labor by purchasing Conservatory made honey in our Gift Shop! Upcoming special events:



Beekeeping Events and Classes


Build Your Own Beehive Class

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Hours: 9:30 am – 12:30 pm

Where: Jensen Room

Cost: $325 / $260 GPCA Members or Active Volunteers


The world of beekeeping can seem overwhelming and expensive. Our new “Build your own beehive” class will give you the skills to build and stock your own beehive. The class, taught by our Head Beekeeper Naaman Gambill, is designed for the budding hobbyist beekeeper. In a comprehensive 3-hour class, students will build their own Langstroth hive (a $250 value). Students will also learn how to make and install wax foundations. Just add bees for a working hive! Build your hive alone or in a team (families, neighbors, etc.). With proper care, each hive should last 6-10 years. “Build your own beehive” is ideal for those who have already completed our “Beginning Beekeeping” class and are looking to start on their way to becoming a self-sufficient beekeeper. Come eager to learn and leave with a fully constructed hive prepped and ready for this year’s season!

Note: In Chicago, it is legal to keep up to 5 hives, provided each hive is registered with the Department of Agriculture. For apartment owners interested in keeping a hive on their roof, please check with your homeowners association or bylaws. For renters, please check your lease agreement. For those living outside of Chicago, please check your local ordinance before registering for the class.

Cost for the class is per hive. You may bring multiple people for each hive purchased. Please note the names of the people attending the class in the “Special Order Instructions” box during checkout.

Please note: We have a 2-week cancellation policy for this class. If you need to cancel less than 2 weeks before the class, we can transfer your registration to another date, but will not be able to provide a refund. If you purchase a spot in this workshop after 5pm on the Friday before the class, please either bring a printed copy of your email receipt, or show it on your smart phone at the door of the workshop.   




Naaman Gambill Beekeeper   

Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance Beekeeper
The Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance Beekeeper, Naaman Gambill, was interviewed for "The Chicagoans," an ongoing video project that captures the stories of everyday people who live in and around the Windy City. It is based on "Chicagoans," a series of print interviews by Anne Ford that has appeared in the Chicago Reader since 2010. The Chicagoans is a collaboration between Charlie Simokaitis, Jason Creps and Anne Ford. Watch his story here:

  Growing & Composting Classes

Composting 101 - "Sorry Class is Full"

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Hours: 9:00 am - 2:00 pm

Where: Jensen Room

Cost: Free, thanks to United!


Spend the day with us exploring different methods of composting that can happen right here in the city: thermophilic (active) composting in your backyard or schoolyard, mesophilic (passive) composting on your patio or balcony, and vermicomposting (worm composting) right in your kitchen! We’ll go over the importance and role of various decomposers in composting and how you can manage their compost ecosystem to encourage healthy, nutrient-rich compost for your plants. This interactive class includes hands-on demonstrations and an in-depth look at various compost systems currently in use on our grounds. This class is a requirement for all Garfield Park Conservatory composting volunteers, but is also open to the general public. All proceeds go to funding our composting education program.


United is proud to sponsor this course and the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance through our Eco-Skies Community Grants. To learn more about United’s commitment to the environment, please visit United’s Eco-Skies page.


Composters at Work

Saturdays, June 7 through September 27

Hours: 10:30 am – Noon

Where: Urban Demonstration Garden

Cost: Free


Drop in any time during the program hours for free tips, techniques, and useful information about composting at home. Our trained volunteer composters will be on hand to answer your questions about getting started, troubleshooting, maintenance, harvesting compost, and a lot more. In case of bad weather, a composting information cart will be stationed inside the Conservatory.




Composting informationnb>


Composting Information Booklet  

Composting Information Booklet

The University of Illinois Extension Master Composters
Cost: Free PDF Download


Interested in composting at home?  The University of Illinois Extension Master Composters are the experts. Find their composting information booklet in PDF format here:


Composting Information Booklet 9MB*


*Please note: the Composting Information Booklet PDF is 9MB in size. Right click the above link and select save to download to your computer for printing. Load time for opening the PDF in a browser window will vary according to the speed of your Internet connection, not recommended for dial-up connections.

  other Growing and Green Living Programs
Chicago Bonsai Club Meeting  

Chicago Bonsai Club Meeting

Third Wednesday of the Month, March through October

Hours: 6:30 pm - 8 pm

Where: Classroom

Cost: Free


Come join us to learn about the ancient art of growing bonsai from the Chicago Bonsai Club, a chapter of the Midwest Bonsai Society. Bring your bonsai trees to work on or just come to watch. Potting soil and wire will be provided, and some plant materials and pots will be available at a nominal cost. There is no fee to attend.


For more information, please contact Susan Babyk at 773-235-9479 or 

Tree ID Walks  

Tree ID Walks

Fridays, February 14, May 16, July 18, October 17

Hours: 10 am – Noon

Where: Meet in the Conservatory’s front lobby

Cost: Free


Spring, summer and fall - learn to identify city trees throughout the seasons with TreeKeeper Jim DeHorn of the Openlands Project. Jim will explore the trees of beautiful and historic Garfield Park. Interested children are welcome but must be accompanied by an adult. Please dress appropriately for the weather – walks take place rain or shine!