"It appears that perhaps one-third of our total diet is dependent, directly or indirectly, upon insect-pollinated plants." – S.E. McGregor (source PDF)
I'm not an economist, agriculturist, environmentalist or any other "ist" that would elevate me as an expert capable of laying out an argument about the importance of bees (and other insect pollinators) to our food supply and culture in general. I'm just a guy trying to understand where my food comes from and attempt to grow it, raise it or cultivate it as best I can, but all sources seem to be in agreement that our pollinating-insect friends contribute a lot to the environment in general and more importantly to us, our food supply.
Consider if you will a world without bees. No flowers would get pollinated, which is the beginning of the end for almost all flowers (some are wind-pollinated, think dandelions). Without flowers you have no fruit, nuts and seeds, which is a large portion of our food supply. This is the direct effect. There are indirect effects that a more intelligent person can explain, but let me just pose the following question to make my point and we'll move on.
How large of an effect would eliminating 1/3 of our diet have on us as a people?
There is a real bee epidemic
It used to be that farmers who grew things reliant on pollination would just allow the local bees, and other insect pollinators to do their thing. Ever since the 1980s many farmers have had to rent bees in order to get their crops pollinated.
Where have the bees gone?
They call it "Colony Collapse Disorder", and basically they don't really know what is causing it, but most experts recognize it as a problem. There is one theory that I think make a lot of sense.
Pesticides: Farmers put these chemicals on their crops that are meant to kill the pests to that particular plant, but it doesn't just get the bad bugs, it also kills the good ones too, including bees. Don't think everyone else is off the hook, because we all have probably put chemicals on our lawns or flower gardens that are meant to kill the weeds or the bugs that would destroy things. Nobody can say for sure that this is the cause, but it is certainly suspect. The EPA has issued warnings regarding some pesticides that have been found to kill off bees (source).
I feel like this post has been a downer so far, so now on to the positive stuff!
Who can be a beekeeper?
Anybody...really anybody. Before we started our knowledge of beekeeping was right around zero, and it's only slightly more than that now. We have a great county beekeeping association that has been a great resource to us. Find one near you and check out a meeting. Most of the people in our group are just regular folks. Some are very experienced and some are brand new to beekeeping.
But I live in a neighborhood or a big city.
Perfect! Then you are a great candidate for a fast growing group of people getting into Urban Beekeeping. Cities like Washington DC, New York and LA have established groups to help people get into beekeeping in the more densely packed areas of our country (Sources: http://honeylove.org, washingtonian.com
Beekeeping is Fun
If you look real close, the bee with a red dot is the Queen Bee. Pretty Cool, eh?
We've only had our 3 hives for a couple of weeks, but I already get enjoyment from taking a walk by them and just watching from a couple yards or feet away. There is so much activity going on and I'm sure the more we get into it, the more we will find is going on.
Aren't Bees Dangerous?
Most stings people get are not from honeybees. Wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, etc. are the biggest offenders here. A honeybee will die after stinging you, and they will only do so if they feel trapped or in danger some how. We have been stung already, but that was mainly because we weren't dressed properly and were messing with the hives.
I have frequently visited the hives, standing just a few feet away and not been stung. They will occasionally land on your arm or head, but if you keep calm, they will fly away or you can brush them off with a gentle hand.
What is the equipment necessary?
Standard Bee Hive Starter Kit
You'll want to get a starter kit, it makes it easy to not miss anything and know you have all you need to get going. Here is one for under $200. (Beekeeper Starter Kit). Here is a list of what that kit contains (when they say "some assembly required, they mean it...plan for a day to put yours together):1 – standard beehive super (9 5/8″ deep x 16 1/4″ width x 19 7/8″ length)1 – all purpose hive tool1 – reversible entrance reducer1 – bee smoker to calm bees10 – 9 1/8 inch grooved top bar frames1 – protective bee veil10 – sheets plastic based foundation (Plasticell or Duragilt)1 – sting resistant gloves1 – entrance feeder1 – book First Lessons in Beekeeping1 – assembly instructions1 – smoker fuel 1 lb.1 – telescoping metal cover1 – inner cover1 – bottom board
We also recommend buying a copy of Beekeeping for Dummies (click here to see it on Amazon). This has been the biggest resource to us besides the beekeepers group. It has step by step instructions for everything.
If you're interested in trying something new, I would recommend looking into beekeeping. It has been a lot of fun so far and we haven't even seen any honey, which is sure to make it that much more rewarding.
My father in law brought down some old furniture for us to possibly use and we saw some potential in one dresser beneath the yellow laminate finish it currently had. Here is the process I
followed to get this dresser sanded down, painted and distressed. It is my first refinishing project and I'm really proud of it, though I'm sure my process is not up to the quality standards of more experienced people.
If you have any questions about my process or comments on what I did wrong or could have done better, I'd love to hear it below.
Vinegar is an incredibly powerful liquid. There are almost endless health benefits by using it both inside and outside your body (recipe here, here and here. ) You probably also know it can be used as a replacement for most cleaning solutions and detergents, and because it is so good for your health, it has almost no dangerous side effects. If anything, using vinegar as your
goto cleaner can only improve the health of you and your family.
Adding citrus to a vinegar cleaner not only adds a pleasant smell, but it increases the cleaning power. Like many toxic cleaners, citrus helps it cut through grease, destroy molds and bacterias that may be hiding in your house and more. There are recipes out there for mixing vinegar with essential oils to get the same thing, but there's something nice about making it yourself that we just love at our house.
Here is the recipe:1. Fill a one quart mason jar with citrus peels.
2. Cover peels with white vinegar, place lid on jar, shake and allow to sit for 2-3 weeks.
3. Strain the citrus peels out of the vinegar.
4. Mix the vinegar solution and water in a spray bottle. (You can mix it in a 1:1, 1:2 or 1:3 solution depending on how strong you want your solution)
5. If you want more recipes and how-tos for making your own cleaners, check out this great post! http://www.theyummylife.com/Natural_Citrus_V...
Commented on Feb 07, 2013
This is one of the only cleaners we use around our house. Haven't bought a store brand in over
originally posted at our blog: http://www.simplydixon.com/2013/02/04/diy-pa...
Chances are, you've already seen the idea for making bookshelves from a pallet here, here
or here. It's one of those projects that seems super easy, cheap and fun to do, and it is. The hardest part of this project is finding a good pallet to use. These plans work for a pallet that has 6 boards on the top and 4 on the back. I'm sure you can figure out how to do other pallet types, but this is what we got. DIY Pallet Bookshelves
Commented on Feb 05, 2013
they do hold a good amount of books, and since they're pretty solid you can pack them pretty
Originally Posted at simplydixon.com (Cheap, Quick and Easy Coat Rack)
I'm not much of a carpenter, so it's probably not done right, but it works and I think it
looks really nice too.
I can't tell you much about the construction since I built it 9 years ago, but i do know that It's a very simple, straightforward design, but completely build by me from a single board of pine.
Supplies:1″ x 6″ x 6′ Pine Board – (example here)1 1/2″ Wood Screws (example here)Screwhole Buttons (example here)Coat and Hat Hooks (example here)
1. Start by cutting the following lengths from the board. (24 inches, 4 inches, 18 inches)
Assemble according to the drawing below. The exact placement of the screws is not real important. Just make sure to countersink the screws by pre-drilling for the screw then predrilling just below the surface with a bit that's just larger than the screw head and about 1/8″ deep to account for the button.
2. Once assembled, I took some chains and metal brushes and "distressed" it. I also had a router with a round-over bit, but you can simply sand all the edges so they're slightly rounded.
3. Pick a stain you like and coat the entire rack with a rag. I used a honey maple stain (like this).
4. Once the coat rack is stained and dried fully, space out the hooks. From the left the first one is at 3 3/4″, then 9″ in the center and from the right 3 3/4″ for the far left one. Pre-drill by placing the hooks on the location and push a pencil or pen through the screw holes to mark.
5. To mount, you can simply find your location, drill for a stud and if there is none, use a wall anchor (like these).
Originally Posted at simplydixon.com (Cheap, Quick and Easy Coat Rack)