Picture Snob


July 29, 2011

The Backyard Beekeepers Handbook for beginners


If you would like to start with bee keeping, this is a good beginners guide which should help you understand what's necessary and fun about keeping bees. The Backyard Beekeeper is now revised and expanded and makes the time-honored and complex tradition of beekeeping an enjoyable and accessible pastime that will appeal to gardeners, crafters, and cooks everywhere.

This expanded edition gives you plenty of information on "greening" your beekeeping with sustainable practices, pesticide-resistant bees, and urban and suburban beekeeping. It is also a handbook for harvesting the products of a beehive and a honey cookbook. The book contains general information on bees; a how-to guide to the art of bee keeping and how to set up, care for, and harvest honey from your own colonies; as well as tons of bee-related facts and projects.

You'll learn the best place to locate your new bee colonies for their safety and yours, and you'll study the best organic and nontoxic ways to care for your bees, from providing fresh water and protection from the elements to keeping them healthy, happy, and productive. Recipes of delicious treats, and instructions on how to use honey and beeswax to make candles and beauty treatments are also included.

At Backyard Beekeeper's Guide

Marilyn Renaker at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

July 27, 2010

A bee house to help out the pollinators


I have noticed a lot of honeybees around the yard and garden which makes me very happy since only a few months ago, the word was that they were in trouble and dying out. That still may be true, but these wild bees seem to be doing fine. While the locust trees were in bloom the Mason bees just were crazy for the pollen. They were all over the tree, their buzzing making the whole tree him.

If you want to help the bees who keep your vegetables and flowers pollinated, here is a Mason bee house. There are many different designs, but this one looks like a bird house and is inexpensive. Mason bees are prolific pollinators and this can help attract them to your garden. These bees generally nest in holes created by woodpeckers and beetles so this will keep them out of the outside walls of your house and give them their own dwelling.

At Esschert Design Bee House

Marilyn Renaker at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

March 15, 2010

Garden's Alive has organic solutions for gardening problems


I got my Garden's Alive catalog today and it has a $25 coupon which is good even if you spend that amount or less, so it's tempting to order something. Garden's Alive specializes in organic pest, disease and insect control and have many trademarked products that are enviromentally safe. The first 8 pages are concerned with lawn care.

For example they have a weed and feed lawn amendment which stops weed germination. One of the main ingredients is corn gluten which smothers seedlings. This corn gluten is a by product of corn starch or corn syrup and there are no restrictions on entering and using the lawn after application. I am not a fan of turf lawns; having a one specie lawn is hard to maintain; it's not natures way to just have one plant in a area. I like to let whatever wants to grow in my yard have a chance. Dandelions are some of my favorite spring flowers and when they go to seed, the goldfinches love them. But that's just me. If you are one of the people who love the soft turf of bluegrass for example in every corner of the yard, this WOW!® SupremeTM Pre-Emergent Weed Control And Lawn Fertilizer may be the answer.

One item that does interest me is the Enz-RotTM Blossom End Rot Concentrate Spray. Many of my tomatoes and some peppers get blossom end rot and this is a disorder caused by a deficiency of calcium in the soil. It typically occurs after rapid growth followed by a prolonged dry spell, or extended periods of heavy rain. They recommend spraying during periods of rapid growth or after excessive rainfall to restore calcium and prevent blossom-end rot. So this could be a good solution to a problem that has plagued me for years.

They sell fertilizers for particular crops, strawberries, vegetables, corn, root crops and herbs, all trademarked. They have soil activaters and fertilizers for trees, shrubs and flowers. it's really an amazing variety. They sell composters and compost starters and worms and beneficial insects. There are safe insecticides for both indoors and out and flea control for pets.

The Garden's Alive catalog is only 50 pages or so, but it certainly covers myriad garden problems and solutions. Their phone ordering system is outsourced to India which some people found to be a communication problem, but most of the reviews of service were positive. I'm thinking of a bat house to my grandchildren along with a mushroom its which should be fun for them to watch grow.


At Garden's Alive

Marilyn Renaker at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

July 14, 2009

Esschert Design Bee House--for the pollinators in your garden

If you want to help the bees who keep your vegetables and flowers pollinated, here is a Mason bee house. There are many different designs, but this one looks like a bird house and is inexpensive. Mason bees are prolific pollinators and this can help attract them to your garden. These bees generally nest in holes created by woodpeckers and beetles,

At Esschert Design Bee House

Marilyn Renaker at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

July 7, 2009

Wishing Well Hummingbird Feeder, 16 oz


Hummingbird feeders have many interesting designs. This one is a wishing well crafted in wood and features four feeding blossoms, a handcrafted brass roof and holds 16 ounces of nectar in a shatter-proof bottle. Attract those lovely and helpful hummingbirds into your patio and garden.

At Perky-Pet 124 Wishing Well Hummingbird Feeder, 16 oz

Marilyn Renaker at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

July 6, 2009

National Pollinator's Week A Time to Help Our Helpers

The National Wildlife Federation has some tips for helping out pollinators, reminding us that "every third bite of food" comes from their help. They have some tips to make life a little easier for butterflies, bees, and birds.

1. Hang a hummingbird feeder32542.jpg
2. Build a bee house32543.jpg
3, Plant a butterfly garden32545.jpg

You can check out their tips for keeping our planet healthy. All things you can do in your back yard.

Marilyn Renaker at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

January 28, 2009

It's time to feed the bees!


Beekeepers usually feed their bees in the winter. Typically, it's not because the beekeeper harvested too much honey and didn't leave enough stores for the bees to get through the winter. Rather, it's usually because the bees have moved through their hive in such a way that they are too far from their food stores and they can't move to their saved honey because of the cold temperatures. When it gets cold, bees form a cluster around their brood and keep each other warm by trading places from center to outer edge just the same way the penguins do.

When there is a January "thaw", the bees leave the hive for brief cleansing flights. They will never soil their own house so the mid-winter thaw is crucial to their health and lets them relieve themselves outside. Here you can see evidence of these cleansing flights - small puddles on top of the snow. hmm they are honey colored!


Here are more bee droppings and also a few dead bees that didn't make it back inside. That's no cause for alarm - with a population of 20,000 to 60,000 depending on the time of year, bees are always dying off.


Most beekeepers feed their bees a sugar/water combo. We think sugar is bad for us and for the bees so we feed them their own honey. Sure, it is hard to give up 2-3 jars of the stuff, but they were the ones who gave it to us in the first place! We would rather have a healthy hive and a little less honey than give the bees sugar.

Here's the jar of honey with two tiny holes drilled through the cap. The bees will extract the honey from the holes as they need it.


We set the jar on the opening of the inner cover and the bees immediately crowded around it.



Time to close the hive before they start charging us! We will check the honey supply every few days by lifting up the outer cover. They should be set for 2 1/2 - 3 weeks with that jar.

Mary Ellen at Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

October 19, 2008

How sweet it is . . . the honey harvest!

oct 16 008.jpgIt is one of those annual fall surprises - what will our honey taste like this year? Three years ago, it tasted sweet yet not overly floral or cloyingly sweet like clover honey. Everyone loved it and we should have entered it into a contest. I suspect that the fantastic taste was due to the Joe Pie Weed field the bees spent so much time in that summer. Last year, our honey tasted just like maple syrup. Could it have been the potato blossoms just outside their front door? Who knows.

This year's honey is a perfect balance of sweetness, flowers and hmmm . . . vegetables? I don't know, but it is good! It's a small harvest (approx. 25 lbs) but many hobby beekeepers didn't get any this year. We feel fortunate to have the little honey we do because of all the rain, diseases, and the fact that the hive swarmed in May and had to rebuild its population over the summer.

After we spun the honey out with the extractor, we set it outside so the bees could do the final cleanup. I wish they did windows! By the end of the day, the equipment was spotless.

Thumbnail image for oct 16 010.jpgThumbnail image for oct 16 014.jpg

oct 16 011.jpgoct 16 017.jpg

We hope to add another hive or two next year so we can compare them and become more proficient in beekeeping. As one veteran beekeeper told me, "It's not how long you've kept bees, it's how many hives you have that makes you experienced."

The USDA (for what they're worth) considers bees as livestock. This strikes me as so funny because I imagine miniature corrals, fencing, trailers and such. Bees are, by far, the easiest "livestock" to care for considering time, initial investment and ongoing expenses. If you don't mind the occasional sting and aren't unnerved by the buzzing, it's a fascinating hobby that doesn't require a lot of land. In fact, it doesn't require any land. Some city dwellers keep bees on their roof decks and they don't have to worry about bears like we do.

Here's a link to a local bee supply company. We took a bee class from the owner, Rick Reault, through the Middlesex Beekeepers Association. These classes are very inexpensive and are a great way to learn about all the aspects of beekeeping. You will also meet experienced beekeepers who are usually very friendly and willing to mentor new beekeepers.

Mary Ellen at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

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