MY GUIDE TO BEEKEEPING 101

Beekeeping has always been a very important thing for people to do. It’s been going on for centuries because even early man understand the importance of bees when it came to the benefits of honey and the impact the bees have on the environment around them. I hope that my guide to beekeeping 101 will help people better understand bees and their importance.

 

Beekeeping is Seeing Renewed Interest

There was a decline in beekeeping after WWII, but there has been a fresh renewed interest in it beginning around 2009. There is a growing amount of people in the US who have started their own beekeeping in their backyards and as a bigger business. Many people like preppers, backyard farmers, and organic farmers are learning more and more about beekeeping, building hives, and maintaining them. Even those called “urban farmers” are starting to take advantage of small spaces such as rooftops to make their own honey. My guide to beekeeping 101 is something that can help you see whether or not you may want to get in on this renewed love for bees and their honey.

Some Reasons for Population Decline

Well, according to reports published by the USDA, there were two major studies that has helped us to determine some of the causes of “Colony Collapse Disorder”. One of the causes is said to be varroa mites. These mites are not just a problem in the US, but, tend to be a problem worldwide. Ways to combat this plight of the honeybee and the decline in their population is something that is ongoing.

Rick Austin a best-selling author and a top notch survivalist gardener belongs to a huge group of beekeepers and growers that believe it could be GMO crops and other agricultural chemicals that are also playing a huge part in the big decline in honeybee populations. There is a continued battle going on with beekeepers and growers to try and pressure companies to stop producing these products that could be killing off the honeybees.

Know Your Bees Before Purchasing

My guide to beekeeping 101 likes to stress how important it is to know your bees before you buy them if you are planning to start your own hives. This is even true if you are just doing it for a hobby to make your own personal supply of honey.

When buying bees which includes queen bees, it’s important to know that it’s easy to buy them because you can even buy them online from commercial sellers or from garden stores and farms. You just need to make sure these sellers are reputable, so my guide to beekeeping 101 encourages anyone interested in beekeeping to do their homework first, before buying bees.

Bees are most generally sold in three-pound packages including the queen. If you want to pay a few extra dollars you can have the queen bee marked. My guide to beekeeping 101 advice is to pay those few extra dollars because this can definitely be helpful.

The bees that you order are almost always going to be shipped via the mail if you buy them from a commercial supplier. Advice from my guide to beekeepng 101 would be to be very diligent about monitoring the tracking information on your shipment making sure that they’re not left out in the old too long or they’re being left in some warehouse or the post office too long and end up dying.

My Guide to Beekeeping 101 – Know the Types of Bees

Before you order your bees and set up your hives it’s important that you are familiar with the different bees and what their functions are within the colony.

Queen Bees – The sole purpose or function of the queen bees are to lay eggs. They are treated just like royalty inside the hive and they don’t even have to feed themselves. The worker bees of the hive will do this chore for the queens. These dutiful workers even go as far as to remove the queen bees waste. During the peak season for laying eggs, healthy queen bees can be seen laying around 1,000 eggs each day.

Worker Bees – Worker bees are female bees that are sterile. They don’t lay any eggs but they do spend each waking moment of their lives working to help preserve their hives and to serve the queen in every way possible.

Drone Bees – These are the males of the hive. All they need to do is simply eat and well, have sex. Their total work day is made up of trying to mate with their queen. This is not as easy of a job as one might think. In fact it’s a deadly job because those who are chosen for this job dies a very painful death after they have mated with the queen because right after mating their sexual organs are ripped out and then the queen bee can save and store a drone’s sperm for using in the future. If a drone bee doesn’t mate with the queen by winter time the worker bees will force them to leave and is no longer thought of as a viable member of the colony.

In order to have a successful hive, your hive must consist of all three of these bees.

Placement of Hive or Hives is Important

My guide to beekeeping 101 can’t express just how important the placement of the bee hives can be on the survival of your bee colony, no matter what the size is and what the reason is that you are wanting to have bees in your backyard. Here are some important pointers you should consider when it comes to the placement of a hive.

  • Make sure to position your hive in a spot that is dry and sunny. If you keep bees in shady spots they will tend to get too cold and then will tend to often get a tad fussy about the temperature. Having angry bees really aren’t too much fun to work with.
  • The entrance of your hives need to face trees, tall plants or a wall/fence. The reason why my guide to beekeeping 101 suggests this is because most bees tend to like flying up and over things and it encourages healthy flight patterns for your bees.
  • Beehives need to be placed by some sort of crops, shrubs, or flowering plants that need to be pollinated. For some reason, bees tend to be really attracted to purple so lavender is always a nice flowering shrub to have nearby. They also really seem to love buckwheat as one of their menu items too.
  • The hive or hives also need to have a nearby water source. This is almost a no-brainer when it comes to raising bees. They most generally prefer standing water as opposed to running or flowing water. It’s important to note that bees can’t swim, not even a tiny bit and they can very easily drown especially if they are forced to strain in any way to reach their water for drinking. One of the best items to use for their water source is a shallow bird bath that has rocks in it. The rocks are a source for them to land on for safety.

My Guide to Beekeeping 101 – Key Beekeeping Tools

Not only do you need to place their hives in a good position, you are also going to need the proper tools in order to be a successful beekeeper. Here is a list of my guide to beekeeping 101 tools that you need to make sure that you have before you purchase your bees.

  • Bee Hive/Hives – It is essential that you have the right kind of hive boxes to be successful at beekeping. It’s also advisable to have an extra one on hand just in case you need it for new living quarters. If you are new at this, it’s best to get the advice from an experienced beekeeper when it comes to the proper kind of hive.
  • Hive Tool – This is a flat bar that you will need to open the top of the hive up with. It’s also used for a variety of other tasks. Actually almost any kind of flat bar will work but if you want to go the cheapest route then just use a flat head screwdriver, this works just fine.
  • Bottom Board – This is a wooden stand/board and it should be put on a base that is made of either bricks or concrete in order to keep the board from rotting on the ground. You don’t want moisture to destroy this board.
  • Smoker – You will find smokers in different sizes and you just find the size that best suits the hive you’ve built. If you are a novice at beekeeping then my guide to beekeeping 101 highly suggest that you use a large smoker because they are a lot easier to keep lit than smaller ones.
  • Queen Catcher – You don’t want to get the queen angry because it won’t be a pleasant experience. This is why you need a queen catcher. It makes it faster to get her and the experience will be less dramatic for all involved.
  • Queen Muff – Once the queen is captured, she’ll need to be carefully put inside this muff to keep her safe and also to keep her from flying away.
  • Top Feeder – You can just use a regular gallon jar, jug, or can and drill holes into the cap. Then you drill a whole into the cover of the hive where you fit this container over this hole. Inside of this container you will need to mix two parts water and one part sugar. This is what the bees will eat for extra energy and they need this to help them build their wax honeycomb you find in the beehive box.
  • Bee Brush – This is a brush needed for scrubbing off the trays from the hive when they need to be cleaned.
  • Extractor – This is a tool that will help you safely and quickly get the honey you want out of the hive. This is probably the most expensive of all the tools, but is mandatory and well worth the money.
  • Protective Gear – To protect yourself you should buy a suit, gloves, and a veil. These are needed to protect yourself from stings. This gear comes in very handy if your colony decides to swarm. Swarms don’t happen often but it can be deadly for some to be attacked by a large number of bees.

Hive Maintenance

My guide to beekeeping 101 can’t express how important it is that your hive is well maintained. You will need to do periodic inspections in the late spring and summer months to make sure eggs are being laid by the queen. You will also want to make sure there is plenty of room for the colony to expand and that the workers are building up stores of their honey.

During early spring, fall, and winter you will need to make sure that the clusters inside the colony are eating their stored honey and only leave the hive when the temperature is above 32° F to get rid of their waste. You should only open your hive during colder month only when it is deemed necessary. You want avoid letting needed heat escape from the hive.

Final Note

Before buying bees and the equipment you need, always make sure that you check with your local authorities to see if beekeeping is allowed and if there are any permits needed. You also might want to check with your closest neighbors if they oppose having a beehive nearby.

 

 

 

DRY WEATHER GARDENING IS A FUTURE PRACTICE BUT THE BEES WILL BE ALRIGHT

Just as long as there is a garden, the bees will always be alright.

In our earlier introduction to beekeeping, we deliberately raised the alarm bells. We wanted to show just how precarious the state of our earth’s natural resources and climate conditions are at this point in time. There are those scientists who are already suggesting that we have already reached that point of no return. They suggest that it is no longer feasible – it always still is, by the way – to endeavor to reduce global pollution levels and to do everything as sustainably as possible to help all our natural habitats replenish and grow once more, but rather to prepare for the inevitable.

It is a harsh statement to be making at this point in time. But let us face the facts, because that is what scientists rely upon before telling us what we need to know, things are not getting any easier. We, as humans, may not notice this too much, but the bees are, quite literally, fighting for survival. One inevitable fact we need to get used to is that of drier conditions and warmer temperatures. Fortunately – we are not scientists, but we are optimists – there is still much we can do. If you are that keen on getting your organic garden on the go, why don’t you look into dry weather gardening.

The scientific, or horticultural, term given to this practice is xeriscaping. In layman’s terms it simply means that we need to acquire a lot more resourcefulness in terms of utilizing minimal amounts of scarce water resources to successfully carry out our organic gardening and landscaping initiatives. Xeriscaping is not landscaping per se. What it also means is that by putting this specialist, and yet still basic, form of gardening practice into place, you are being water wise. This labeled practice comes from the Greek word of xeros, meaning ‘dry’. Do not be alarmed. This does not mean that you need to ready yourself for planting orchards of cacti.

There are numerous plant species that remain bee-friendly owing to its colorful array of flowers and rich store of pollen and nectar, that have the never say die ability to cope and thrive in dry weather conditions. But do not for a moment think that you will have your work cut in half as a result. Just because your dry weather perennials do not need vast quantities of water to survive does not mean that owing to not having to water the plants as often as usual, you will not be applying the needed horticultural TLC (tender love and care).

There is still much work that needs to be done to ensure that your organic garden thrives in dry weather conditions and it remains a haven for those much-needed bees. Let us leave you then with just a few xeriscaping principles for you to apply, if needs be.

The organic angle

Xeriscaping means that you will also be eliminating the use of chemical pesticides for once and for all. Dry or wet weather conditions, it really makes little difference, your garden will always thrive if you dutifully and diligently use little to no pesticides and fertilizers. There are other alternatives, such as mulching which will compensate you and your garden quite nicely. And natural fertilizing techniques, if you will, will also see to the effective use and conservation of water resources, if this becomes necessary.

The plants that will thrive

Careful selection of the correct and most suitable plants for your dry weather garden is going to be crucial. To ensure that you plant well, some extra spade work as it were is required on your part. You need to research your area’s unique climatic conditions and source those particular plants that will do well on scarce resources and natural fertilizing. And let us not forget the important role your bees will be playing in ensuring that plants continue to be cross-fertilized every year that goes by. It is pleasing to note that even if online research proves to be a challenge for you, you are still going to find numerous plant varieties that will be xeric as the term goes.

A natural process that aids nourishment

The process of regularly mulching your garden is as organic as can be. The good thing about mulching is that little effort in allowing this is required on your part. Just to emphasize, mulching, if allowed, is a natural fertilizing and moisturizing process. About the most you really need to do here is to not rake up all those dead leaves. Allow them to coat your soil and allow them to decay. Forget about aesthetics. But in any case, isn’t a natural look more pleasing to look at.

Being water efficient

No matter how you approach this necessary task, some form of watering will still be required in order for everything to come up roses as it were, year in and year out. The work is being carried out by you as always and all that is required is some innovation and rolled up sleeves application to ensure that you are always being water efficient, and never wasting a drop of those precious resources. If needs be, you can install your own water reticulation system that allows you to control the amount of water needed.

Gardeners will always need to work

Give the bees a break. They are always working and if your garden is properly prepared, they will continue to do so, long into the future. But in order to keep your garden in prime condition and bee friendly, you still need to regularly maintain your garden. And let it be said that it is more fun than sheer hard work that is to say that you are really going to be enjoying your organic gardening in the future.  And what is more fun than regular pruning, shearing and trimming and digging.

ORGANIC GARDENING FOR BEGINNERS TIES IN WITH PRESERVING THE BEES

We hope you all enjoyed our lengthy introduction to beekeeping in its most natural form. If you have been just a little bit as resourceful as all bees are, then you may have already justified your curiosity about bees and their natural universe by conducting extensive searches on the internet to give you further introductions on beekeeping and the ways and means that you could possibly start up your own hive. We do not mind that you do this and, in fact, we wholeheartedly encourage this. Continue to build up those vast resources of knowledge.

But never be overwhelmed or overawed. Yes, beekeeping is not an easy task. It cannot be mastered overnight. It requires patience and the resilience that all bees have. But if you are entirely new to everything that is natural and wonderful, we would like you to focus on organic gardening for beginners for a short while longer before even venturing into the world of beekeeping and producing your own pots of honey. The beginner’s exercise will be a lot easier in any case. And it will most certainly be a rewarding journey and learning curve for you, this early in the day.

So to this end and towards helping you attract bees to your first garden spread and thus help to preserve them, let us gift you with a few tips for starting up your first organic garden. We discovered seven well-founded keys in this regard and, of course, we do not at all mind sharing them with you. These are the sun, water, microbes, fertilizer, plant purchase, soil and size. Because it is so practically important, let us start with that last point then; what size should your first garden be. In order to be successful in your enterprise and not be overwhelmed by all the work in front of you, you really need to be mindful of right-sizing your first garden.

Start small

This first fundamental is as user-friendly as can be. It will not matter what size your home or grounds are there will always be space for a small plot. Ideally, you will want to start small as a beginner. You do not want to give yourself too much work to do at this stage and, in any case, if you are going to be planting organic vegetables, you really only need a small plot. Urban environments these, days are also challenged for space so you won’t really have much choice in any case.

Sun factors

Pretty much all plants and vegetables, on average, need anything from four to eight hours of sunlight a day. So, to this end, where your first organic garden plot is going to lie is of vital importance. You need to locate a space on your grounds that is going to receive the most sunlight throughout the day and make your preparations thereon. If you do have larger grounds to play with, at a later stage when you have gained some experience, you can start thinking of plants, such as ferns, that thrive on shade.

 

Microbes

This requires some explanation. Just for starters though, you can add in compost tea and a sugar source such as molasses. Microbes are essential just as much as all other organic ingredients and nutrients are for your new garden. The abovementioned sugar source is essential for feeding the microbes.

Plant purchase

Because you will be starting from scratch, it will be necessary for you to buy ready to plant garden goodies. Read to plant plants as it were compensates for your lack of resources at this point in time. But for many beginners, it can also be a costly enterprise. To compensate on this, in turn, you can buy seeds instead. That will also require some patience on your part because you are likely to have to wait at least three months before seeing any visible growth.

Fertilizer

Choosing the correct fertilizer is vital. Also, it can take years to create enough natural fertilizer for your garden. In the meantime, you can add liquid fertilizer, fish fertilizer and sea minerals. These all provide nutrients in abundance. They will be used all year round but usually only once a month.

Soil

By utilizing the correct fertilizer, among other things, you will be enhancing and prolonging the good health of your soil. To create the best soil conditions for your first garden, all it takes is just a few inches of premium organic compost layered across the top of your soil. You can also layer two to four inches of mulch for your first topsoil. If the organic layering has been done in accordance with the tips given to you by online experts you may also find that you will not be using or wasting too much water.

Water

And it goes without saying that you are always going to need to water your garden. Do not be too concerned about how much water you will be using at this stage. That is yet one more reason for keeping your first plot small. You will not need to use too much water even against the grain of watering your new shoots regularly at least every other day. Depending on what you plant, later on you will only need to spout your plants with water two to three days a week. And even then, not much water goes to waste.

One last point needs to be made in regard to ensuring that your first garden is going to be authentically organic and is going to act as a magnet for bees. Never, ever use chemical pesticides. These will repel the bees. Or if the hardy bees do come, you will be contributing negatively towards its downfall. You will also be destroying the natural biodiversity of the rest of your garden, eliminating all the other natural contributors that make up the truly organic garden.

INTRODUCTION TO BEEKEEPING FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO SAVE THE EARTH

Good Day Readers.

This is a short introductory series of articles for those of you who have serious concerns about the state of things on what most of you regard as your Mother Earth. In the back of most of your minds is the grim reaper’s scepter. That scepter is like a two-pronged fork. It is otherwise known as global warming and climate change. As far as most of you are concerned, there is simply no debate. Most of the blame in regard to global warming and climate change is manmade. We have deliberately not made mention of humankind in pointing the finger of blame.

In this introduction to beekeeping we are both stubborn and resolute in not apportioning blame to the woman and children of this earth. And it goes without saying that no blame can ever be apportioned to the flora and fauna of this the only known planet in this vast universe known as planet earth. Historically, since man first walked the planet, he has been nothing but a war monger, seeking to conquer new territories and destroy everything, including fellow-human beings, in his path. Since the beginning of time, women have always been nurturers, seeking only to grow and cherish whatever and whomever is left in their care.

Children, well now, we cannot possibly blame them now can we. You could just say that they remain young and innocent until such time as their eyes and minds are opened and awakened as young adults. And should they ever step off of the path of righteousness and proper custodianship of the earth and all that is in it they would have learned something not quite right from their adult peers. As things stand now, the creatures of this earth, not humankind, are the most threatened by the abovementioned specter of global warming and climate change, mostly caused by man.

The flora is grievously threatened as well.  One of the most startling visual impressions of man’s wrongdoing lies far, far south of the earth’s globe. This is the South Pole or Antarctica. It is here that large tracts of land, ice caps to be precise, stretching for kilometers on end are melting at a phenomenal rate as the earth’s atmosphere heats up, are crumbling and crashing into the sea. And as this happens, the oceans’ levels rise and the temperature of the waters heat up. This, specifically, is what is causing us to experience unprecedented extreme weather patterns.

Tornados, hurricanes, excessive monsoons, heavy snowstorms, you name it, no matter where in the world you are, you feel it. But why talk about the importance of bees in this light?  True enough that you are not ever going to find swathes or swarms of bees down in Antarctica or even along the North Pole. Temperatures are too low and plant life is not conducive to its habitat. The same goes for the earth’s hottest hotspots, let us just say. It is too hot and dry for plant life to flourish and the bees need it for its existence.

In light of global warming and climate change, why talk about bee-friendly gardens, for instance, instead of other matters of flora and fauna which obviously require urgent attention. The answer to this question is easy to give. All forms of plant species, even those lying in the dryer regions of the earth, need vast numbers of bee species to survive. The bees contribute significantly to the cross-pollination of all forms of plant species, from your tallest oaks to your quaint herb garden, heavily infused with strong scents along with its colorful bouquet. Plants and bees have a co-operative agreement in order to ensure its survival. But why choose to talk about bees and raw honey over and above all other sources of life and food?

Simply put, if the bees go, all other forms of plant and animal life go too. Much later down the food chain, humankind, man, women and children will go too. If there are no bees and honey, there will be no food for all species to suckle on. It is well-known that bee species across the world remain defiantly hardy, self-sufficient (to a degree) and adaptable, but now is not the time to be complacent in admirably enjoying its natural wonder. Give the survival of all bee species urgent priority and you start to reverse the global pitfalls of increasing temperatures and drier than usual seasons.

Those who want to save the earth will do well in learning as much as they possibly can about all the bees of the world and the raw honey that it produces. In doing so, they will come to better appreciate the importance of growing their own natural and organic gardens in their domestic environments. Doing so, your small and modest garden, even in an urban setting – remember, we did say that bees are adaptable – becomes a magnet for bees. You do not need to start up your own bee hive – sadly, urban legislation continues to impede but need not be – all you need do is start planting your own flower and vegetable bulbs and the bees will come.

Under the guidance and leadership of the queen bee, the bees will establish its own colonies and, of course, build their own hives. That is quite possibly the most organic form of beekeeping that we can think of. Simply focus all your attention, and love and devotion – all that a good mother would typically give – towards starting up your own garden, even if it is going to be a small row of pot plants, say hardy geraniums and boxed tomatoes, on your windowsill, and the bees will come. Not a day in its ongoing mission to survive goes by when it does not pounce on an opportunity to collect pollen and nectar for its beehive.

The next article will focus on organic gardening as a means to a positive end in attracting bees to your small home.

 

YOUR FIRST ORGANIC PLANTING SEASON

Hi there everybody thanks so much for joining us. We hope you are going to have a lovely time with us. We think you will. Those of you who are really into plants, trees and vegetables should end up having a lovely time, because that’s what we are going to be talking about, gardening and planting. Today, we are going to be introducing you to a facet of gardening that had been overlooked for far too many years in the past. (more…)

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