Happy World Bee Day!

As a beekeeper and avid gardener, it is my goal to spread awareness about the significance of bees and other pollinators. Did you know that these amazing creatures pollinate 1/3 of the food we eat? Think about it…that’s one in three bites! Can you imagine life without avocados, asparagus, broccoli, peaches, berries and almonds to name a few?! If we all help just a little, think about the HUGE impact we can make together!

Here are some easy ways you can help your local pollinators thrive in your backyard…

  • There are many native flowers, grasses, shrubs, and trees that will make safe havens for your local pollinators. Attracting pollinators to your garden is simple. By providing the right plants and trees, soon your backyard will be bursting with hummingbirds, bees and butterflies. By selecting flowers that will provide blooms throughout the changing seasons, you are assisting your local pollinators to flourish year round. Remember, even if you have a small space, potted plants work well, too. And, don’t forget to use organic methods when growing your plants. 
  • Please allow the dandelions to flourish! The dandelion is the perfect flower. No purchase required! All you have to do is let this little wildflower grow. Dandelions are one of the first spring food sources for the bees. Please, let them live…
  • Provide a shallow water source. The saucers used under garden pots work well for this. Submerge rocks half-way underwater to act as a landing pad, thus keeping your local pollinators happy and hydrated.
  • Avoid the use of pesticides. These harmful chemicals kill our beneficial insect population.
  • Buy local! Support pollinator friendly farmers and beekeepers buy purchasing organic produce and raw honey.
  • Leave dead stumps and tree trunks for wood nesting insects.
  • Allow an area of your backyard to go WILD! This natural space will provide a safe haven for many pollinators.

Just think of the amazing impact we would have if each person took one little step towards pollinator protection…

What will you do in 2020 to help your local pollinators?

Happy World Bee Day!

Our motto is simple….Plant a Flower, Save a Bee!

💚 Roda

Visit Indigo Acres Apiary to learn more about our products and educational services.

The Old-Fashioned Lungwort

Today’s Feature Flower is the old-fashioned lungwort (Pulmonaria).

This early spring perennial is the first to bloom in our gardens. Lungworts are loaded with tiny, bell-shaped flowers, surrounded by mounds of hairy green leaves, spotted with white. These delicate beauties are perfect for mass planting and are loved by the bees. We have noticed our honeybees and numerous bumble bees visiting our lungwort boarder this season!
Height: 6”-12”tall
Bloom Color: blue, purple, red, pink and white
Bloom Time: early spring
Light: part sun- shade
Moisture: moist, rich in humus
Hardiness: zone 4-8 depending on the variety.
Variety Shown: “Raspberry Splash”
Bonus: deer & rabbit resistant!

As you are preparing for planting your garden, I hope you will find a little extra space to grow for your local pollinators. They work so hard for us daily… The least we can do for them is to provide chemical free forage.

Remember, when we help our local pollinators, they keep our food supply plentiful!
Bee Well,

Our motto is simple…
“Plant a Flower, Save a Bee”!

For more information about Indigo Acres Apiary, visit our About Us page…

Bee Bread, Anyone?

This little worker bee is busy making bee bread!

The Process: Pollen is collected by the forager bees and returned to the hive. Once it is placed into cells, the worker bees use their heads to firmly pack it in place. Honey, nectar or glandular secretions are added to the pollen. This layering process continues until the cell is 3/4 of the way full.

The cell is then topped off with a layer of sweet honey and left to ferment into bee bread. Bee bread is a high-protein food source for growing larvae and the bees. Bon appétit!

For more information about Indigo Acres Apiary, visit our About Us page.

The Whimsical Cosmos

This week’s Feature Flower is the whimsical cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus). This annual is loved by not only our honey bees, but our native bees, hummingbirds, moths and butterflies. Due to its ease to grow from seed and ability to thrive in poor soil, this simple beauty will flourish with minimal water and lots of sunshine!

Height: 3’-6’ tall
Bloom Color: pink and white with yellow centers
Bloom Time: summer- fall
Light: full sun
Hardiness: annual

Cosmos is available in numerous varieties. Over the years, I have found that the basic pink and white, flat- petaled flowers are most loved by our honey bees and local pollinators.

I purchase all of my cosmos seeds from Botanical Interests. The following two varieties are organic heirlooms. They have both been a huge success in our pollinator gardens and meadows.

Sensation Blend Cosmos Seeds

Sea Shell Blend Cosmos Seeds

As you are preparing for planting your garden, or if you have already planted it, I hope you will find a little extra space to grow for your local pollinators. They work so hard for us daily… The least we can do for them is provide chemical free forage. Remember, when we help our local pollinators, they keep our food supply plentiful!

Bee Well,


Our motto is simple…
“Plant a Flower, Save a Bee”!

To learn more about Indigo Acres Apiary, visit our About Us page.

Glory of the Snow

As a beekeeper, I feel it is my duty to provide healthy forage for my bees. I’ve had a passion for flowers and bees for as long as I can remember. I love that my two favorite things complement one another so beautifully. This week’s Feature Flower, ‘Glory of the Snow’ (Chionodoxa) was a much needed addition to our early spring bee forage.

‘Glory of the Snow’ is a whimsical spring blooming bulb that is very cold hardy, blooming as far north as USDA hardiness zone 3. These bulbs are planted 2-3 inches deep in mid to late fall, about one month before your last frost date. They make a beautiful addition to your lawn, due to their extremely early bloom time. They naturalize beautifully, so make sure you give them a permanent home! Wait six weeks after the flowers have bloomed to cut back/mow down the foliage. These plants need time to store up energy before going dormant.

Flower Color: blue, white & pink
Pollen color: bright yellow
Height: 5-6 inches tall
Bloom Time: March-April
Light: full/part sun
Hardiness: zone 3-9

March-April can be a very challenging time for our honeybees. As the temperatures rise, the bees are ready to begin foraging, yet the nectar and pollen sources are slim. Our maple and willow trees are extremely helpful, but I wanted more. Adding hundreds of ‘Glory of the Snow’ bulbs to our lawn provided much needed nectar and pollen for not only our honey bees, but our native pollinators.

Our motto is simple…
“Plant a Flower, Save a Bee”!

Bee Well, Roda

Queen Louise II

During hive inspections, one might think that each colony would have the same feeling tone, but this is so not the case. I currently have over 30 colonies and each one has a different temperament. In my opinion, raising honey bees can be a bit like raising teenagers…their moods can change with the weather! I look forward to spending time with my little ladies on a beautiful sunny afternoon. But, you could not pay me to open a hive on a rainy day. Rain = cranky bees! But, over the years, I have discovered that some of my colonies are more predictable than others…

Queen Louise II made a royal appearance this week during hive inspections. Her colony is one of my favorites, due to the fact that they are huge, yet so docile. A strong queen bee will give off pheromones (chemical messages) that encourage the strength and stability of the colony. The assumption is often made that the queen bee is completely in charge, but this is not the case. The colony runs more like a democracy, rather than a dictatorship. But, the queen does make the decisions when it comes to laying eggs…or does she?

The queen inspects each cell to make sure it has been cleaned by the worker bees. Each polished cell is then measured with her front legs. The queen controls the sex of the egg she lays, based on the width of the cell. (Keep in mind, the cell size is created by the worker bees.) Drone (male) cells are significantly larger than worker (female) cells. Once the queen approves the cell, she lowers her abdomen and releases one egg. From this point on, her role as a mom is over. The queen is not involved in the rearing of the young, for that job is left to the female worker bees. As you can see, each member of the colony has a very important role.

Bottom left: The flat cells = female worker bees
Upper right: The cells that look like kix cereal = drone (male) bees

As for my sweet Louise, her apiary legacy lives on through two of her daughters and even a granddaughter. The colonies of these queens continue to follow in Louise’s footsteps with their calmness, massive spring buildup and even strong honey production.

We can learn so much about teamwork from these amazing creatures.

Bee well, Roda

For more information about Indigo Acres Apiary, visit our About Us page.

My Earth Day Wish…

Every dream begins with a wish…

These photos might not capture a sweet bee, but they represent the importance of the dandelion. This magical wildflower is a vital spring food source for not only our honey bees, but the local pollinators.

On this Earth Day, my wish is for the dandelions to be allowed to flourish in all backyards. The next time you see a dandelion loaded with seeds, don’t forget to make a wish and blow.

Who knows…maybe your wish will come true!

Remember, when we take care of our Earth, our pollinators thrive and keep our food supply plentiful.

What is your Earth Day wish?

Bee Well, Roda

Our motto is simple… Plant a Flower, Save a Bee…

Cutleaf Coneflower: A Gift for the Pollinators

This towering beauty is loved by not only our honey bees, due to its rich nectar and pollen, but our native pollinators as well. Commonly called the cutleaf coneflower “autumn sun” (Rudbeckia laciniata), this stunning perennial is visited by both long and short-tongued bees, wasps, butterflies, skippers, and moths.

The cutleaf coneflower is a wonderful choice if you like a large statement in your garden. (Who doesn’t?) These towering beauties reach 8’-10’ and create a beautiful summer-fall feature.

Cut leaf coneflowers are native to the majority of the U.S., except for the far west, thriving in moist, well drained soil.

These bright yellow flowers have a lime green central cone and bloom from July-September.

Height: 8’-10’ tall
Bloom Color: yellow
Bloom Time: summer- fall
Light: sun to part shade
Hardiness: zones 4-8

It is important to keep the cutleaf coneflower watered well to avoid providing support. I recommend growing along a fence if possible. This will make supporting this huge beauty much easier, if necessary. Out of all the plants we grow, the cut leaf coneflower seems to be a bumble bee favorite. Its rich nectar just keeps on giving when the other blooms are winding down in late summer.

Last year, I harvested seeds from one of our plants. This will be my first season growing this variety from seed. I will let you know how it goes!

Our motto is simple…
“Plant a Flower, Save a Bee”!

Bee Well! Roda

My Wish: Let the Dandelions Live!

As a beekeeper and avid gardener, I feel it is my duty to provide healthy forage for my bees and local pollinators. Considering the world’s current situation, purchasing spring plants is going to be nearly impossible for most. But, I have an effortless way you can help your local pollinators without spending a cent…

Let the dandelions live!

I consider this “so-called” weed a perennial wildflower, for she is a member of the aster family. This beauty is coveted as an herb, for the leaves, flowers and roots are all edible. This powerhouse plant is also rich in vitamins A, B, C and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium and zinc.

More importantly, these whimsical flowers are one of the first food sources for the bees. The pollen is moderately nutritious and the nectar is abundant!

This spring, please think twice before you spray harsh chemicals on these beauties. Allowing dandelions to thrive is a wonderful spring gift for your local bees and other beneficial insects. Remember, when we help our pollinators thrive, they keep our food supply plentiful!

Bee well! 💚Roda

Thinking About Becoming a Beekeeper?

Beekeeping is an exciting and rewarding adventure!  Beekeeping is also challenging and even heartbreaking, at times.  Before purchasing bees, take some time to prepare for a successful journey as a backyard beekeeper.  Consider these 5 recommendations:

  1. Research, research, research! There are many wonderful beekeeping books available.  Learn the basics of beekeeping, as you would before purchasing any other pet or livestock.  Focus topics, such as equipment needs, pest management, pollinator friendly plants, and cost are great places to start your research.
  1. Signup for a beginning beekeeping class in your hometown or online.  Gather a variety of knowledge from as many reputable sources as possible. Knowledge is power!
  1. Find a local mentor.  There is nothing more essential than hands-on learning from an experienced beekeeper. Beekeeping management varies, depending on where you live.  Becoming familiar with beekeeping practices in your area is very important for the survival of your colony.
  1. Learn about backyard beekeeping rules and regulations for your city, county and state. These vary significantly from one location to another.
  1. Bees need flowers! Learn about the types of flowers that will provide resources for your bees.  By planting a pollinator garden in your backyard, you will provide much needed pollen and nectar for not only your bees, but your local pollinators.  If you are committing to raising healthy bees, it is your responsibility to provide chemical free forage for them.

It is my hope that as individuals begin their backyard beekeeping adventures, they will always remember to put their bees first. Although we all enjoy the sweet taste of honey, making sure the bees are always our top priority is most important. 

Bee Well! Roda

To learn more about becoming a beekeeper, visit our Mentorship and Hive Tour Pages!