Your homestead is a great place to live, and all of your projects are moving along. How about another to-do item? Add beehives to your place. In the latest edition of GRIT's Guide to Backyard Bees and Honey, you will find everything you need to make an informed decision and take the first steps toward welcoming nature's busy buzz squad to the neighborhood.
Gardeners will love what those industrious honeybees will do for their flowers and vegetables. Beekeepers will be happy to harvest the honey resulting from the hive's efforts. And your families will rave about the great produce and the yummy honey on the table.
With articles ranging from How to Attract Bees and Other Pollinators, to Building a Top-Bar Hive, to Cooking and Baking With Honey and DIY Beeswax Crafts for the Home, you are sure to find an article you just can't wait to read … and read again.
Learn the history of the Langstroth beehive and how to install a bee package; delve into the pros and cons of a top-bar hive and the facts behind the disconcerting colony collapse disorder; discover the wonders of native bees and a few of the crafts you can create with beeswax.
From hives to queen bees, our readers use their cameras to capture the fascinating world of honeybees. Check out their contributions to Your Backyard Bees in the latest edition of GRITs Guide to Backyard Bees and Honey, including the three above. Take a peek as worker bees surround their queen in a photo from Ben and Amanda Litte; consider constructing a hive like John Galanis or painting your hives in bright colors as Tarek and Diana Zaki did; or ponder a bee's existence when viewing Stephanie Kush's image of a hive at Ullman Honestead in Darien, Illinois, or Rebecca Drake's view of her in-laws' hives in Siloam Springs, Arkansas.
Visit GRIT's various online communities for more to see, and you can post your own photographs of bees and other elements of your country life: Grit.com, Facebook (www.Facebook.com/GritMagazine), Twitter (@GritMagazine) and Google+ (Grit Magazine). Post your best shots and we just might select them for a future issue.
Are you looking for ways to improve the yield from your garden plot? Hoping to help the food system, both locally and globally? Want to help the environment? Or find a way to increase your hometead's income?
Plant to attract pollinators. Yes, it's that simple. With an increase in a variety of pollinators, your garden will see a resurgence in productivity, you'll have more on the table and more for the farmers' market booth, and you'll help your neighbors as well. Honeybees are in trouble, with populations declining for a number of reasons, but we can attract other pollinators in addition to honeybees: butterflies, moths, solitary bees, native bees, flies, beetles, and even hummingbirds and bats.
Author Andrew Weidman points out that the problems facing honeybees also affect other pollinators. Remember our winged friends when planting and when considering the use of pesticides and herbicides. Gardeners can help by providing water, food, shelter and security to all pollinators. Learn more.
An experienced apiarist breaks down the pros and cons of the design for a top-bar beehive. Beekeeper Lindsay Williamson loves her top-bar hives; they are easy to inspect, the bees are calmer, and there are no heavy supers to lift. She also appreciates the flexibility of the hives as well as the fact that there is little to no equipment to store through the winter.
That being said, Lindsay has a few issues with the hives, and she's designed and implemented a few modifications to help alleviate her worry zones.
Lindsay blogs for GRIT's sister publication, Mother Earth News; check out her blog posts there.
Learn more about her beehive changes in GRIT's Guide to Backyard Bees and Honey.
Your bees are keeping you well supplied with honey and with other byproducts of the hive, so it might be time to explore methods of using that excess beeswax. Authors Leeann Coleman and Jayne Barnes wrote an entire book on the subject, Honey Crafting (F+W Media, 2013). In an excerpt from the book, GRIT's Guide to Backyard Bees and Honey provides three beeswax craft projects for your home.
Learn to create a beeswax lantern using a balloon filled with water, melted beeswax, and optional decorative touches. Once the lantern is completed, just add a tealight or a battery-powered tealight to make the lantern glow.
Beeswax candles are easy and elegant looking, and you can make any number of candles in every shape and size imaginable. Use beeswax foundation or candle-rolling sheets of beeswax and wicking for this craft project your entire family can work on together.
For a hydrating hand cream with the soothing scent of lavender, use beeswax, almond oil, coconut oil and lavender essential oil. Store in pretty jars for a lovely accent that's perfect for gifts.
Purchase Honey Crafting from the GRIT bookstore.
Cooking and Baking With Honey
Courtesy of the National Honey Board, our latest Guide to Backyard Bees and Honey contains scrumptious recipes that use honey. Looking for a new muffin recipe to serve for a weekend brunch? Try Honey Pumpkin Muffins. Have you been searching for a unique breakfast food? Look no further than Honey Yogurt Dumplings With Apples. And for those of us with gluten sensitivities or intolerance, there are Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cookies, Gluten-Free Crispy Thai Inspired Honey Chicken Wings, and Gluten-Free Honey-Kissed Berry Tartlets to enjoy.
Other recipes include Linguini With Honey-Sauced Prawns, Blazing Bronco Burgers With Smoking Chipotle Honey Sauce, and Chocolate Honey Brulees.