The Birds are Chirping and the Bees are Buzzing

by on March 8, 2011

Think It’s Too Cold to Compost?

Aerobin 400Composting is a great, eco-friendly way to get rid of organic waste—and transform it into rich, healthy soil for your garden. But if you live in a colder climate, keeping an active compost bin year-round hasn’t really been an option… until now.

The Aerobin 400 makes composting possible no matter what the climate. Unlike other composters that work only when the temperature is hot enough to break down waste, the Aerobin 400 keeps everything nice and toasty with its double-wall thermal design—just what you need to keep your compost cooking.

Even better is that you don’t have to turn a heavy compost pile. You can access the compost via the bottom door (no heavy lifting), and the compost “tea” is captured in a handy reservoir.

Secrets for Long-Lasting Color

Each year we’re faced with the challenge of keeping the color in our garden going strong from season to season.

Most perennials have a short bloom season, so it can be challenging to keep the color alive throughout the seasons. But there are exceptions—like these beauties that bloom all season long.

Corydalis

Corydalis

(Corydalis lutea, Zones 5 to 8) The fernlike foliage and yellow flowers do best in full sun or partial shade and bloom from late spring to early autumn.

Gaura

Gaura

(Gaura lindheimeri, Zones 6 to 9) Pink, red, or white flowers look like butterflies, and bloom in full sun from late spring to autumn.

Mallow

Mallow

(Malva sylvestris, Zones 5 to 8) The lobed foliage and pinkish or purplish flowers resemble small hollyhocks. They bloom in full sun from late spring to autumn.

The Buzz on Bees

BeeHoney bees are like free help in the garden. They bounce from flower to flower, pollinating as they go.Sweeten this love fest by providing them with a place to call home, and they’ll repay you with more honey than you’ll know what to do with. A backyard apiary can produce about 80 pounds per hive—that’s a lot of honey, honey. Get in on the action with these tips:

Check with authorities. Talk to your local government and find out if there are any restrictions on beekeeping.

Do your research. There are many books and Web sites that describe how to set up an apiary. Also, a quick search of the Internet or the phone book should reveal a beekeeping group in your area.

Find the equipment. Hive boxes, harvesting equipment, and bees are available online or through mail order catalogs.

Tools of the Trade: Before you can get started, there are some basic tools and equipment you will need:

1.  Protective Clothing to help protect you from stings while working your hives.

2.  A hive or hives, depending on your aspirations.  Betterbee offers a variety of hive setups and hive types.  Our BeeMax line of hives offers superior insulation, helping you over-winter colonies more successfully.  Our traditional wooden hives are thicker and therefore stronger and longer lasting than our competitors and are made from traditional 10 frame hive setups as well as 8 frame hive setups.

3.  Beekeeping tools – you’ll find everything you need to be a successful beekeeper on this website or in our annual catalog.

4.  And, of course, BEES!  Bees are most often sold early spring (April and May), but orders are taken at the beginning of the New Year. We sell bees for pickup only. Mail order bees often suffer undue stress as they pass through the postal service. If you are unable to pickup bees at Betterbee, contact a local association, they will be able to help you find a local source. These associations are also invaluable resources. If you are unable to find an association near you, let us know and we will do our best to help.

New vs. Used Equipment:  You can buy used hives with the bees already in them, but you may be inheriting someone else’s problems.  The comb could be infected with foulbrood disease.  The bees could be heavily infested with mites.  The bees may be, through the neglect of the previous beekeeper, genetically disposed to swarm or through lack of requeening, highly defensive.  We strongly advise the beginning beekeeper NOT TO BUY used hives, unless you have access to the advice of an experienced (and trusted) beekeeper.  We recommend starting either one or two hives of bees.  Two hives will allow for a basis of comparison should one of the hives not perform up to expectation.

The Betterbee Beginner’s Kits include everything you will need for your first season of beekeeping and the equipment for your bees to make honey.

Getting Started: Now that you have the equipment and bees, you are on your way to an exciting new hobby, or perhaps someday a business. To insure your beekeeping success, we suggest you find a beekeeping mentor (an established beekeeper) who is willing to share how he or she manages his or her own bees.  If you cannot find a mentor, you might consider attending an introductory class on beekeeping.  Classes are held at locations throughout the country, and at our learning center in Greenwich, NY (call for details).

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