Alternative “Garden Hives” for the Gardener Seeking Honeybee Pollination
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Alternative “Garden Hives” for the Gardener Seeking Honeybee Pollination - Garden & Greenhouse
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Many gardeners realize honeybee population is on the decline, and that pollination from these bees can greatly boost many of their garden crop yields. The U. But just in the home garden, honeybees may visit upwards of flowers in a single collection trip. They can increase yields of many garden vegetables including peppers, watermelon, cucumbers, cantaloupe, squash, pumpkins, gourds, various beans, and many others, even seed crops such as flax seed, sunflowers, and buckwheat.
Gardeners interested in using honeybees for pollination may want to consider using one of the two smaller alternative backyard garden beehives described here, which are based on ancient designs. Both are far less work than the conventional beehive used to harvest large quantities of honey or beeswax for commercial sale. Used by commercial apiaries, its true name is the Langstroth hive. While it has some advantages that commercial users appreciate, it provides living conditions that can be stressful for the bees.
Also, the queen is sometimes unnaturally restricted from certain locations and worker bees are forced to build honeycombs in unnatural shapes. Both of the alternative hives covered in this article, however, are considered healthier for honeybees by those who use them, and the choice of a growing number of gardeners. Will bees move into an empty hive?
It is extremely simple to build and bees seem to love it. The bees start building their combs from the underside of the bars. Usually, something is added underneath each bar which gives the bees a gripping starter point to start building their combs. Some people add grooves underneath each bar for this purpose; others add a v-shaped addition under each bar to help bees begin the process.
The top-bar hive allows bees to build combs in natural shapes rather than forcing them into the unnatural squares of conventional hives. The top-bar hive is believed to be thousands of years old and most likely invented in Africa.
There is a Kenyan version and a Tanzanian version, explaining why top-bar hives are also sometimes called African hives or Kenyan hives. In the earliest versions, beekeepers gathered or cut appropriately sized sticks to use as the bars to lay over open-topped woven baskets.
Modern beekeepers who use the top-bar hive in temperate climates find ways to better help the hive remain dry and safe from temperate weather. Very severe weather, however, could be an issue when using these hives without added protection. There are numerous top-bar hive building plans available online.
Bees do best with natural, old or weathered wood as what might be found in nature, vs. Wood that may have been treated, such as pallets, may contain chemicals that would be harmful to the bees. There are favored types of wood to use for hives, and these include Western red cedar, cypress, other cedars and Douglas fir.
Some people feel the Warre hive is almost as simple, or even more so, than the top-bar hive. It allows bees to huddle closer during cold winters.
Also, because it is modular, if mold, mildew or other unwanted pathogens develop, only the box containing the problem needs to be replaced, rather than the whole hive itself as what could happen with the horizontal top-bar hive. Though from a distance it can somewhat resemble a Langstroth hive to the untrained eye, it is actually smaller and lighter than conventional hives.
Warre hives are kept fresh and clean by adding new boxes to the bottom, usually in spring, and removing honey-filled boxes each fall. Like the horizontal top-bar hive described above, Warre hives are easy to build with simple materials and plans available online.
Even though an active hive is in the garden, the bees may wander further than what the gardener would prefer. Of course, the gardener wants them to stay around enough to pollinate their own crops, but they also may not want them to fly into pesticide strewn areas that could compromise the hive, or bring back cross pollination from unwanted species such as genetically modified crops. Bees will fly for miles to get what they need, so here are a few pointers. First, maintain pollen plants near the hive from the moment the bees emerge in spring to when they retreat for winter.
If the crops already grown by the gardener provide this for the bees, then nothing extra needs to be done. But when growers maintain bees for a few specific crops, such as cucumbers, not enough cuke flowers may open in spring and may diminish or be purposely pinched off near the end of the season. An answer to this could be as simple as letting dandelions surround your growing area which blossom early spring to late fall, or growing a border of all-season honeybee herbs.
Second, make sure there is a proper supply of water for the honeybees. Honeybees drink water like any creature and also use it to regulate the temperature of their hives.
Even if there are plenty of flowers to collect nectar, if there is no water nearby, they may travel further than you want them to in search of it, which could include upsetting the neighbors with a swimming pool. Honeybees are believed to sense a water supply by the moisture in the air above it.
One simple suggestion for honeybee water is a saucer 10 or so inches in diameter filled with small stones and water. Always place this water source in the sun. The stones allow the bees support and climbing material to avoid drowning.
The water should be refilled and flushed by overflowing it often. Clean, moving water is even better for those who may want to make a small water feature in their garden using a small recirculating pump that splashes water over stones.
Beekeepers need to make sure water never runs out and watch to see if the bees are using it. Thousands of bees really do drink their fair share of water, so be sure to refill often especially on hot sunny days. Some people are also experimenting by giving bees the option of water with a tiny pinch of sea salt or a few drops of organic apple cider vinegar, though most feel simply that pure well or spring water works the best. A gardener may want to place several containers close together and give the honeybees a choice and observe the results, then follow through which what their choice is.
The bees themselves are often the real experts. If honeybees still seem to ignore the water supply for a more distant one, a container with a larger surface area not deeper may make a difference because it makes it easier for them to detect the area above as a water source as they fly.
Honeybee colonies have been used for pollination inside very large commercial greenhouses with mixed results. With smaller greenhouses, growers have sometimes placed their hives outside but nearby the greenhouse in hope that when the door is open, some honeybees find their way inside to do some pollination. In most cases, honeybee hives are best used for outdoor gardens to help boost the garden yields sometimes many times over.
For garden hive videos, more photos, sources for plans, and further information, visit MicroEcoFarming. Frustrating, right? This is where the real journey begins—not just to transform your lawn, but to redefine your relationship with your outdoor space. Deciding between embarking on a DIY lawn care journey and hiring professionals is a pivotal choice for any homeowner.
This decision impacts not only the health and appearance of your lawn but also your personal time and finances. Budget often dictates the direction of many home improvement projects, and turf maintenance is no exception. Opt for DIY lawn care to save money, provided you have the time and willingness to learn.
On the other hand, there are many companies providing turfing services like this one, which operates in London — pigardening. They offer expertise and convenience but at a higher cost. Assess your financial flexibility to make an informed choice. Your time is valuable. Consider professional services if your schedule is tight, as consistent lawn care requires regular effort. Engage in DIY maintenance when you have time to spare and enjoy outdoor work.
This approach not only cultivates a lush lawn but also a new set of skills. The complexity of lawn care varies with the size and condition of your turf. Small, manageable lawns are often suitable for DIY care. Larger landscapes with specific issues might benefit from the precision of professional services. Having the right tools and knowledge is crucial for effective lawn maintenance.
Ensuring your lawn receives just the right amount of water is key to its health and beauty. A common rule of thumb is to water deeply and infrequently, promoting robust root growth. Aim for about an inch of water per week, either from rainfall or irrigation.
This guideline changes with the weather; increase watering during hot, dry spells and reduce it when cooler, wet conditions prevail. Use a rain gauge to measure how much water your lawn receives naturally, adjusting your watering routine accordingly.
Timing is everything when it comes to watering your lawn. Early morning is ideal, preferably before 10 AM. This timing takes advantage of the cooler temperatures and lower wind speeds, ensuring water soaks into the soil instead of evaporating.
Watering in the evening can leave the lawn damp overnight, which increases the risk of diseases. If you must water in the evening, do so early enough that the grass blades dry before nightfall.
Fertilizers are crucial for lawn health, providing essential nutrients that might not be present in your soil. Nitrogen promotes leaf growth and a vibrant green color. Phosphorus supports root development, while potassium enhances overall health, aiding in disease resistance and drought tolerance. When selecting a fertilizer, consider the benefits of organic versus synthetic options.
Organic fertilizers , derived from natural sources, release nutrients slowly, improving soil health over time. Synthetic fertilizers, on the other hand, offer immediate nutrient availability, making them ideal for lawns needing a quick boost. Applying fertilizer correctly is as important as choosing the right type. Use a spreader for even coverage, ensuring that no area receives too much or too little. The best times to fertilize are during the growing seasons—spring and fall for cool-season grasses, and late spring through summer for warm-season varieties.
Water your lawn after fertilizing to help dissolve the nutrients and carry them into the soil. Achieving a lush lawn starts with proper mowing techniques. The general rule is to never remove more than one-third of the grass blade in a single mowing session. This approach encourages roots to grow deeper, which in turn makes your lawn more drought-resistant.
The ideal mowing frequency depends on the growth rate, which varies with the season, but typically, mowing once a week during the growing season is sufficient. Adjust your mower height according to the type of grass you have; cool-season grasses thrive when cut to about 2.
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