From Scratch Magazine http://www.fromscratchmag.com Sustainable Lifestyle Publication Tue, 28 Jul 2015 15:01:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.3 Buy us a cup of coffee!http://www.fromscratchmag.com/buy-us-a-cup-of-coffee/ http://www.fromscratchmag.com/buy-us-a-cup-of-coffee/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 14:47:48 +0000 http://www.fromscratchmag.com/?p=4301 Find out how you can help keep From Scratch magazine free to our readers!

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So, at From Scratch magazine, we work super hard to produce a quality publication and keep it free to our readers.

Our goal, in doing that, is to provide as much information to as many people as possible.

As such, we’ve managed to provide the magazine to hundreds of thousands of people all over the world.

And we want to keep it free! Totally, undeniably free. To do that, we partner with advertisers in our magazine — all of which are carefully vetted to ensure they meet our high standards. By clicking on those ads in the magazine, you can be sure that you’re going to companies devoted to homesteading and that those companies respect and deserve your business.

But, our costs, like everyone’s, are constantly rising. As such, we’ve decided, instead of charging a subscription for the magazine, we’ll solicit micro-donations via ko-fi.com to allow our readers to buy us a cup of coffee.

If you’re interested, just hit the button below and donate as much or as little as you want. Your contribution will help ensure that all the great stories and beautiful photography in From Scratch will continue to be a part of your lives and the lives of homesteaders all over. You’ll see this button all over. So whenever you like something, and you can, please consider donating.

Buy Me A Coffee at Ko-Fi.com

In conclusion, we want to thank our readers and advertisers. Your support has humbled us through these years and we promise to work hard to earn every second of it.

Best regards,

Steven Jones

Editor/Publisher

From Scratch magazine

Email Steven at steven@fromscratchmag.com

thank you for the coffee

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Blogger profile: Farmhouse 38http://www.fromscratchmag.com/blogger-profile-farmhouse-38/ http://www.fromscratchmag.com/blogger-profile-farmhouse-38/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 14:17:55 +0000 http://www.fromscratchmag.com/?p=4298 Find out more about one of our favorite bloggers at Farmhouse 38!

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Kate Richards -- photo from Farmhouse 38

Kate Richards — photo from Farmhouse 38

Editor’s note: Regularly, From Scratch magazine tries to tell as many people as possible about the great bloggers and writers covering homesteading and sustainable living.

This is one such writer, Kate Richards, of Farmhouse 38. This piece originally appeared in the April/May 2013 issue of From Scratch. Read that issue — and more like it — here.

By Kate Richards

We have longdreamed of greener pastures (or any color pasture!), but until a move to the real, live country is actually in the cards, we are doing what we can with our postage-stamp Los Angeles homestead.

When we bought this previously abandoned 100-year-old house, with its pleasant farmy bones, it had seen better days. It was a dilapidated, lonely mess, so we put a little countrified love into renovating it back to life.

As we neared completion, we realized we needed to put the ‘farm’ in farmhouse and decided to add some chickens to our otherwise suburban menagerie of animals (two dogs, five cats, and one smarty-pants parrot).

The chickens, in all their fluffy, egg-laying glory, have really opened our eyes to the locally-sourced food movement; this spring, we are taking the next step and scrapping our useless, water-guzzling lawns to jam our 7500 square foot lot as full of sustainable garden space as we can possibly manage.

It’s all the chickens’ fault. Our little rurally-challenged farm is a non-stop adventure in the art of trial and error, but we are loving every minute of it.

Read more about Farmhouse 38 here.

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Quick, easy and cheap ways to decorate your homestead homehttp://www.fromscratchmag.com/quick-easy-and-cheap-ways-to-decorate-your-homestead-home/ http://www.fromscratchmag.com/quick-easy-and-cheap-ways-to-decorate-your-homestead-home/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 13:52:55 +0000 http://www.fromscratchmag.com/?p=4293 Use these tips from the Black Fox Homestead to make your homestead home look beautiful!

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By Jennifer Cazzola

Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the April/May 2013 issue of From Scratch. Read that issue and more here.

As homesteaders we garden, we care for our livestock, we bake from scratch, we sew, cook, and can leaving us very little, if any, time and resources to focus on the inside of our home. But the home interior should not be neglected. It provides us, and those with whom we share it a safe haven from the outside world.

It should be a beautiful place: calm, peaceful, and reflective of whom we are. But beautiful does not need to be expensive, and time invested does not need to be exorbitant. Following are some quick, easy, and inexpensive ideas to beautify your home.

Bring the outdoors in

Whether it is a basket of produce from your garden, a bouquet of wildflowers, or even the pruned branches of a budding shrub, bring the outside elements of your homestead inside. A table centerpiece is the most obvious place for display, but what other areas in the home could use freshening up? How about a bedroom night stand, the kitchen windowsill, or the corner of a bookshelf? And don’t forget utilitarian areas like the laundry room. They deserve a nice touch and will make your every day chores a pleasure.

Re-purpose what you have

Before purchasing something new, is there any way to re-purpose something you may already have? We recently moved into our home, and since we built as simply and inexpensively as we could, we did not have a kitchen pantry. What we did have was an old antique bedroom dresser.

It now stands in our back hall serving double duty holding canned goods as well as a charging station for cell phones. The shabby chic look blends well with our country decor.

Other pieces that work well for storage are antique wardrobes, jelly cabinets, or wooden crates. Furniture is not the only item to be repurposed. Get out your vintage linens and put them to use. Consider using an apron for a small curtain or a tea towel for a table runner. Think outside the box and don’t be afraid to try something new.

Art need not be framed

Another way to re-purpose items is to hang them on the walls: pretty plates, baskets, quilts, and antique farm tools will provide warmth and a rustic atmosphere.

If you do choose to use framed pieces but don’t want to go to great expense try framing postcards, vintage seed packets, or handwritten recipes. Hang a small variety of items together as a grouping.

Before pounding holes in the wall however, play with your items on a flat surface such as the floor to get the arrangement you like.

Bring out your jars

Those of us who can have them in great numbers: Mason jars in every shape and size available.

Free up some of your storage space and bring out your jars. Use large ones to hold wooden clothes pins or antique buttons. Set out on a shelf or counter top, they serve their purpose while looking pretty. Fill various sizes with flowers and/or candles and group together on a tray or in a window sill.

Use them on your counter in lieu of canisters and fill with pasta, dried beans, and rice. For entertaining, add a touch of down home chic to your table. Use them as glassware or to hold the silverware at a buffet table.

Less is more

In choosing the decor of a room, keep in mind that clutter creates visual noise not to mention extra work when it comes time to dust. Consider keeping extra accessories to a minimal. Try to select items that serve a function apart from just looking pretty. If you have the time and the storage space, rotate accessories on a seasonal basis. Most of us value the homesteading lifestyle for its simplicity – allow this simplicity to carry over into your interior spaces as well.

Jennifer Cazzola writes at the Black Fox Homestead. Check it out here.

 

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An Essential Oil Primerhttp://www.fromscratchmag.com/an-essential-oil-primer/ http://www.fromscratchmag.com/an-essential-oil-primer/#comments Sun, 26 Jul 2015 02:12:34 +0000 http://www.fromscratchmag.com/?p=4290 Find out the basics of using essential oils.

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By Jill Winger

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the April/May 2013 issue of From Scratch magazine. Read that issue and more here.

I’m a skeptic by nature, so the first time I heard someone mention essential oils, I rolled my eyes and changed the subject. I mean, how helpful can a bottle of liquid from a plant really be?

Little did I know how quickly I would change my tune.

A friend gave me some oils to try, and after watching how they rapidly relieved one of my husband’s asthma attacks, I was intrigued. I went from essential oil skeptic, to devoted essential oil enthusiast in a very short amount of time.

Not only are essential oils useful for creating homemade cleaning and body care items, they can also be used for medicinal purposes as well. I’ve experienced great success using the oils for everything from a dog bite wound to various colds and flus.

Essential oils are very simple to use, although it is important to use a measure of common sense when applying them. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Only use high-quality oils that are specifically labeled as safe for therapeutic use

Essential oils come in a variety of grades, and if you plan to use your oils for medicinal purposes, you must make sure they are free of contaminates and adulteration. Unfortunately, many cheaper oils are often not pure, and labels don’t always tell the full story. I recommend taking a bit of time to research a company before purchasing any of their oils.

Understand how and when to dilute oils

Some oils, such as cinnamon or oregano are quite hot and they can burn the skin if they are applied neat (undiluted). It is important to use a quality carrier oil, such as coconut oil, sweet almond oil, or avocado oil if you are planning on using them on your skin. Dilution is also important if you plan to use the oils on children, or someone with particularly sensitive skin. A good dilution rate to begin with would be one teaspoon of carrier per 2-5 drops of essential oil.

Don’t place oils in your eyes or inner ear

For the most part, high-quality oils can be used anywhere on your body. However, you should always avoid putting oils in your eyes or inside of your ear. (Oils may be applied around the outside of the ear, just don’t place them in the ear canal.)

Catch issues early

I have personally had the best results in treating maladies when I have caught the issue early on. When my husband was bit by a dog last year, we washed the wound and immediately treated it with oils. We repeated this protocol continually for the next several days with great success. It’s much easier to be proactive than to try and play catch up later on.

Follow Jill Winger of the Prairie Homestead as she inspires others to return to their roots.

Find out more about essential oils here.

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Homeschooling on the Homesteadhttp://www.fromscratchmag.com/homeschooling-on-the-homestead/ http://www.fromscratchmag.com/homeschooling-on-the-homestead/#comments Sat, 25 Jul 2015 02:03:46 +0000 http://www.fromscratchmag.com/?p=4287 Carol J. Alexander answers a question from our reader about homeschooling.

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colored pencils

By Carol J. Alexander

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the April/May 2013 issue of From Scratch magazine. Read this issue and more here.

If anyone knows what hard work is, the homesteader does.

Raising your own food on the family farm is back-breaking, timeconsuming work. No doubt about it.

So is homeschooling your kids. (Well, maybe not back-breaking, but it is time-consuming.)

Do you count yourself among the ranks of those trying to get all your farm chores done, and the schoolwork too? Ever go out to milk and collect eggs before starting your homeschool day and the next thing you know it’s time for lunch? Welcome to the crowd.

I’m here to tell you that living the homesteading/homeschooling lifestyle can be done. All it takes is a little planning, ingenuity, creativity, and help from your friends; and I am one of those friends.

So if you have any questions regarding homeschooling, send them to me at the email address below and I will answer them in this column.

For this month’s question, Sheila asked:

What is a good way to measure the work we’ve been doing in first grade; he reads well, his writing is great, his math skills are ever-improving, and we have lots of “reallife” lessons on and off the farm – but how shall I definitively “prove” this? Do I need to?

Sheila, proof of progress is important to some folks.

In fact, most states require parents to prove educational progress each year in order to continue exercising their right to homeschool. The most obvious way to prove progress is with testing. However, testing is stressful (especially for a young child) and, I believe, not the most accurate way to gauge what a child has learned. You’ve heard the saying the “proof is in the pudding.” Well, if I were to tell you about my mouth-watering chocolate pudding, would my writing an essay describing it satisfy you? I doubt it. How about if I answered a list of multiple-choice questions about my pudding? No.

In light of this example, Sheila, I think you answered your own question with: “he reads well, his writing is great, his math skills are ever-improving.” In other words, your son’s pudding has already been proven.

In all fairness, I have to say that testing is the most convenient way for a school to evaluate its students. But homeschoolers are not in a school and you only have one first grader that you want to evaluate.

I would be remiss if I did not address the legalities of what I am saying. If your state requires testing, so be it. But most states have options. In both of the states I have homeschooled in we had the options of standardized testing, evaluation by a certified teacher or psychologist, or keeping a portfolio.

I have done all three, depending on the age of the child and abilities of the child.

For a first grader, keeping a notebook with copies of his work throughout the year as a portfolio, in my opinion, is plenty. I am not here to advocate lawlessness; but I like to tell parents that there are many creative options for compliance.

No one knows your first grader better than you, Sheila. I would relax and do the least that is required. Now, what about you?

Have any other questions about homeschooling on the homestead? If you have any questions for this column, email Carol at carol@lessonsfromthehomestead.com

Find out more about Carol J. Alexander and her writing here.

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A history of homesteadinghttp://www.fromscratchmag.com/a-history-of-homesteading/ http://www.fromscratchmag.com/a-history-of-homesteading/#comments Sat, 25 Jul 2015 01:38:15 +0000 http://www.fromscratchmag.com/?p=4282 Find out when it all started!

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Log Cabin

By Steven Jones

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the April/May 2013 issue of From Scratch magazine. Read it and more here.

Homesteading, as seen through modern eyes, may appear to be a recent invention, but evidence exists that the ideas espoused through homesteading — self-sufficiency, a return to the land, a desire to live simply — have been in existence since the birth of civilization.

These ideas have continued to influence people through the dominance of the Roman empire, into the middle ages and through the birth of America.

What is homesteading?

Homesteading has been variously defined throughout history as legal, political and personal philosophies. Even today, with the weight of a modern movement propelling the idea forward, there are many different definitions of the concept.

For some, growing a modest vegetable plot in the backyard makes them homesteaders. For others, anyone not fully prepared for a doomsday scenario cannot call themselves homesteaders.

A few concepts, however, can be broadly applied to the movement: A desire to increase personal self sufficiency, at least a basic concern for the origin of the food they eat and a love of simplicity and the closeness to family this provides. It is self-evident to homesteaders that these desires should be considered universal to self-reflective people everywhere.

Pre-history

Since the advent of agriculture, homesteading concepts could almost be considered universal. At the advent of agriculture in human history, small homesteads were the norm. Commercial farming did not exist: All farms were homesteads! As farming grew, and the population grew with it, homesteaders were considered integral to civilization. Taxes, paid in the form of farm products, financed the Egyptian empire, the Greek empire and the Roman empire.

Modern Homesteading

Homesteads were romanticized as early as the beginnings of the Roman empire.

Cincinnatus, one of the first Roman dictators and a hero of the early empire, was summoned to his new position, according to the story, from the fields he plowed on his small plot of land. (Early Roman dictators were elected by the Senate to serve short terms in times of national emergencies. They were expected to give up their broad powers as soon as the crisis passed. The modern equivalent may be the establishment of martial law in times of disaster.)

Yeomen farmers — small, free landholders who farmed their own property — grew to be respected members of society through the middle ages. England eventually started using the word yeomen to refer to ranks within royal households.

From the 14th to the 18th century, some of the most important people in the world and the United States hailed from the yeoman class: Isaac Newton, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, to name a few.

For these people, and many others, the yeoman class held a path to what was then considered a higher, more gentlemanly class, which fit right in with the New World’s increasing emphasis on the “self made man.” For Jefferson, this burgeoning yeomen class in the New World was integral for the success of the newly formed republic.

These “plain folk” — or yeoman as Jefferson preferred to call them — were different from larger, plantation style farms in that they worked their own land. Jefferson considered their self-reliance to be necessary for the new country to function. The concept was so powerful it was a driving force behind the Homestead Act of 1862.

The idea behind the act was to increase the number of small farmers, or homesteaders, to increase the numbers of “virtuous yeomen.” The law required homesteaders to reside on their land for 5 years, improve the property and provide evidence of said improvements. More homestead acts followed: The Southern Homestead Act of 1866, the Timber Culture Act of 1873, the Kinkaid Amendment of 1904, the Stock-Raising Homestead Act of 1916 and the Subsistence Homestead provisions under the New Deal in 1930. Land grants under the homestead acts ended in 1976 with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.

Exceptions were made for Alaska, which allowed homestead claims until 1986. While the government was enacting Homesteading laws through the 20th Century, individuals and organizations continued to experiment with what modern eyes may view as homesteads.

While published in 1854, Walden was and is probably the go to guide for modern homesteading. The ideals written by Henry David Thoreau are as close to a modern definition of homesteading as it is possible to get:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.” — Thoreau

During the 1800s and into the early 1900s, religious organizations, private individuals and like-minded groups experimented with these ideas.

Shakers separated themselves to be closer to God.

The Oneida Community attempted to make themselves perfect and free of sin.

The Home Colony was founded in 1895 by anarchists.

The Twin Oaks community, started in the 60s, continues to thrive based on the values of cooperation, egalitarianism, non-violence and sustainability.

Ganas, a community in Staten Island, was built around rules against violence, freeloading, illegal actions and “non-negotiable negativity.”

While communes were and continue to be a part of the homesteading culture, the modern emphasis tends to incorporate homesteading ideals in a more mainstream form.

In the 90s and into the new millenium, the homesteading movement grew to incorporate the principles of self reliance into urban and suburban environments. An influential voice in the modern/ urban homesteading movement, author John Seymour emphasized small-scale farming and domestic arts in his definition of homesteading before his death in 2004.

Into the future Homesteading does not appear to be waning. As much a part of the human landscape as it ever was, publications (like this one) and websites are growing to help modern homesteaders navigate the perils and joys of the movement.

From raising your own chickens, to planting kitchen gardens to full-on, off-the-grid living, homesteading can be expected to grow well into the future, hopefully allowing us to “live deliberately” and raise happy, healthy families.

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We’re Hiring!http://www.fromscratchmag.com/were-hiring/ http://www.fromscratchmag.com/were-hiring/#comments Tue, 21 Jul 2015 16:48:35 +0000 http://www.fromscratchmag.com/?p=4272 Find out how you can work for From Scratch magazine.

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Want to be part of From Scratch magazine?

We’re hiring.

We are looking for several ad sales execs to be a part of our staff.

The job is strictly telecommute and it can be done part time or full time, depending on your circumstances.

It pays too! All our of ad execs are paid a 30 percent commission (no salary) on each ad they sell.

If you sell $2,000 of ads in a single issue, then your commission increases to 50 percent.

And you’ll have the pleasure of knowing that each ad you sell helps keep From Scratch free for its readers!

If you’re interested, email our editor, Steven Jones at steven@fromscratchmag.com.

Experience preferred, but not necessary.

Can’t wait to hear from you!

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Harvest Honey Without an Extractorhttp://www.fromscratchmag.com/harvest-honey-without-an-extractor/ http://www.fromscratchmag.com/harvest-honey-without-an-extractor/#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 19:06:07 +0000 http://www.fromscratchmag.com/?p=4261 Don't want to spend a lot of money on a honey extractor? Find out how to extract honey from a hive with just the gear you've got in your kitchen.

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ostella bistro1

By Ashley Hetrick

Editor’s Note: This piece originally appeared in the June/July 2015 issue of From Scratch. Read that issue — and more — here.

As a small scale beekepper, you’ve already made a sizable investment in equipment to be used throughout the growing season.

From hives and frames to bees and protective equipment your first year has already set you back a few hundred dollars. Honey extractors, used only once per year, can add several more hundred to that total.

There are other ways to enjoy the fruits of your and your bee’s labor without adding extra cost. The first option is un-extracted or cut comb honey.

Comb honey was popular around the turn of the century (1900) before commercial honey extraction equipment became widely available, and before 1906 when the Pure Food and Drug Act came into effect. Consumers worried that extracted honey would have been diluted with some other sugar syrup, and comb honey was a way to ensure that it had come direct from the source.

With adulterated honey coming in China starting in 2011, it’s clear that the Pure Food Act isn’t a one stop cure for honey tampering, and being a beekeeper or knowing your beekeeper is a better option. These days, people are confused as to what to do with cut comb honey.

Old timers will tell you it’s best eaten on toast or straight off the spoon like candy, wax and all. The wax imparts a unique flavor to the honey, absorbing and holding different flavors from the flowers in the region just like the honey itself.

Modern cooks get more adventurous with it. According to the Food Network article on how to use comb honey:

“Honeycomb can go places honey can’t. While drizzling honey over a salad seems odd, topping a salad with crumbled goat cheese and hunks of honeycomb is a simply heavenly way to eat more vegetables. Honeycomb also has a completely different texture than liquid honey. It’s nothing like chewing on a candle. Rather, the wax gives the honey a pleasant body, transforming it from something merely absorbed by the other ingredients into something that stands on its own to contrast and enliven the rest of the dish.” (Source: FoodNetwork)

Hands down, cut comb honey is the least labor intensive way of enjoying honey. All you’ll need is a knife to cut the comb. Keep in mind though, this can only be done with wax foundation or foundation less frames, no plastic allowed.

For those of you who are stuck on liquid honey, there is another way. Crushing and draining the comb is remarkable effective, and results in clean pure raw honey with minimal equipment.

You’ll need a large bowl, colander, fine mesh strainer, wooden spoon and large pot. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can also use cheesecloth to do a final strain, but it’s not strictly necessary.

Start by cutting the comb into chunks into the colander over a large bowl. Use the wooden spoon to crush the comb, stirring to make sure every cell is broken. At this point you’ll already see honey pouring out through the colander, and within an hour the comb will be virtually empty. The warmer the space, the better your results. Around 90 degrees is optimal to allow the honey to flow, but is not so warm as to destroy the honey enzymes. After the first strain, pour the honey through a fine mesh strainer and then optionally cheesecloth before filling honey containers (mason jars work well).

The wax that remains once you’ve extracted all your frames can be placed into a pot and slowly heated. Above 150 degrees the wax will melt and float to the top of the pot, leaving honey below. Be careful not to heat above 185 degrees, as the wax will discolor. Once the wax is melted, remove the pot from heat and allow it to cool before removing your wax brick. The honey below will have lost some of its flavor complexity and enzymes in the heating process, but is still perfectly fine for cooking.

There are downsides to extractorless extracting, both cut comb and crush and strain. While an extractor will allow you to uncap the cells and save the comb for the bees to reuse, the crush and strain method does not. You will have to clean your frames and install new foundation after extraction. This cost is minimal, however, when you compare it to the purchase cost of an extractor and the storage space a specialized piece of equipment will require 364 days per year.

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Top 5 Ways to Help Beeshttp://www.fromscratchmag.com/top-5-ways-to-help-bees/ http://www.fromscratchmag.com/top-5-ways-to-help-bees/#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 18:50:55 +0000 http://www.fromscratchmag.com/?p=4257 Find out the best ways you can help man's best friends: Bees!

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toursofthetasman.com

Bees are arguably the most important insect to humans.

One of the only two insects domesticated by humans (the other is the silkworm), bees have been part of human history since the beginning of civilization. Hieroglyphs and images from Egypt and Babylon depict beekeepers at work.

And while most of those early beekeepers raised bees primarily for honey, their help in pollinating crops was quickly realized and utilized.

As of now, bees are responsible for creating millions of tons of food for humans all over the world. But, now, with heavy pesticide use and genetic dead ends threatening bees with extinction, beekeepers and bees need our help.

Here’s the Top 5 ways anyone can pitch in and help protect these precious insects:

1-Plant a garden

Really, any kind of garden will do. Bees collect pollen and nectar from flowers to make honey and beeswax. The more diverse the better. Rodale has a great list of plants that bees will love. And considering that bees travel for miles for a good food source, even a few containers can help. And you can grow some great flowers and veggies in the process, which will help brighten your life immensely.

2- Buy food free from pesticides

By buying local, organic food, you’ll support the farmers that don’t use pesticides. Pesticides have been flagged as a killer of bees and a probable cause of colony collapse disorder. By supporting those farmers who avoid pesticides, you help reduce the chance of bees inadvertently ingesting those deadly chemicals.

3-Don’t use pesticides

While you’re at it, why not cut back on your own pesticide use as well? In your garden, in your home, wherever, look for natural ways to fight insect pests: Companion planting, essential oils, etc. Many natural remedies are just as effective, some more so, as “mainstream” solutions for pest problems in the garden and home. If you have to use pesticides, look for organic pesticides with a low risk of harming beneficial insects. And use them at dusk. By spraying your garden at dusk, you reduce the chance of bees (which bed down for the night in the late afternoon) of coming into contact with the chemicals.

4-Buy local honey

Buying local honey means you’re supporting local beekeepers, the very people working to keep bees alive. Local honey means you’ll have more beekeepers in more parts of the world, which reduces the impact of disease epidemics on bee populations. It helps with allergies, too!

5-Keep bees

Even a small backyard hive will add to the overall bee population. The more bees in the world, the less of a chance a disease or environmental disaster will wipe out bees. Think about it: If — God forbid — an event kills 90 percent of the world’s bees, there’s a better chance of a recovery if you kill 90 percent of a million bees, versus 90 percent of a thousand bees.

Bottom line, the more bees we have in the world, the better we’ll be able to keep them around. You’ll wind up with a great hobby with a great payoff — honey!

 

 

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Beekeeping: Ten things to know to get startedhttp://www.fromscratchmag.com/beekeeping-ten-things-to-know-to-get-started/ http://www.fromscratchmag.com/beekeeping-ten-things-to-know-to-get-started/#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 18:39:43 +0000 http://www.fromscratchmag.com/?p=4259 Thinking about keeping bees? Ask yourself these 10 questions before you get started.

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10 things

 

By Amber Bradshaw

Editor’s Note: This piece originally appeared in the June/July issue of From Scratch. Read it — and others — here.

If you are remotely interested in sustainable living or homesteading, chances are you have toyed with the idea of beekeeping. And why wouldn’t you?

You love honey, you need bees to pollinate your plants in order to grow food, and who doesn’t appreciate making a little Do-Re-Mi on the side? If you ask me, it would be silly NOT to want to be a bee keeper.

BUT (and this is a large BUT) there are, in fact, many reasons why you shouldn’t keep bees and many things to consider before you grab your butterfly net and start climbing trees to catch a swarm.

1. Is it legal in your city/town to own bees? Do you live in a HOA?

If it’s against the law, research ways you can make an appeal, educate others, start a petition, and see if you can get the law changed for your area. I see too many people that buy bees regardless of the laws then end up being forced to re-home them, fined, and even sued. Avoid this by knowing your rights beforehand.

2. Is any member in your family allergic to bees?
It is still possible to own bees if you have allergies but extra safety precautions need to be taken.

3. Does your homeowners insurance allow it?

Ask before getting bees and inquire about adding additional liability in case of accidental stings.

4. Do you have a location out of high traffic areas?

Bees like to stay high and dry with a wind break and protection from the elements; boggy, wet areas should be avoided.

5. Can you provide a water source?

A beehive can drink up to a liter of water a day.

6. How close are your neighbors?

Will the bees bother them? You always want to keep your neighbors in mind when pursuing your homesteading dreams.

7. Is there a nectar source within 3 miles?

Bees will fly up to 3-5 miles away in search of nectar but will visit thousands of nectar sources in order to make that liquid gold. Chances are, you will not be able to provide enough nectar/pollen on your property to provide the bee with what they require.

8. Will you have time?

Bees are relativity low maintenance but they do require monthly inspection & check-ups, several hours during honey extraction, regular feeding, watering and adding frames/boxes.

9. Can you afford it?

There are ways to become a frugal beekeeper, However, the average person will not have access to, or the ability to, go the frugal route and the start-up cost can be pretty hefty, so this may be something you will want to save for.

10. How Many Hives Do you Want?

I ‘thought’ I wanted one; I was informed I wanted two.

Why two? So you have something to compare your hive to. If you’ve never seen a failing hive how would you know when to recognize the warning signs unless you had a healthy hive to compare it to?

  • If your queen dies and you need to merge hives. Accidents happen and life happens, or in this case death. Ordering a queen bee is not always easy or affordable ($30.00 and up + shipping for one queen) and combining colonies may be the best choice for you at the moment to avoid losing a hive altogether
  • Weak colonies. Combining a weak colony with a strong colony is sometimes needed for the survival of your hive.
  • Double the honey. With all of the beekeepers in the beekeeping course and the hundreds of years of combined experience, not once did I ever hear “I have too much honey”, you will never have too much honey

 

 

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