Nutrient Dense Foods

Urban Farm Lifestyle

  Healthy Regenerative Lifestyle 

Nutrient Dense Foods

We all want to eat healthily… how do you determine which unprocessed foods are the most nutrient dense?

David Proctor

 

 
  
 
 
 
From Seed To Fork, Egg To Plate.

    We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.

 

 

 

 


Nutrient Dense Foods

by David Proctor


 April 18, 2019

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine    Published Weekly


Our farmers are rewarded for growing the most, not necessarily the best, crops on the lowest budget.  This allows for cheap food but not always the most nutritious food.
 
There are numerous charts that show what foods we should try to eat each day.  But is a tomato from the grocery store the same as a tomato from the local farmer’s market?  Is organic food more nutrient dense than what is grown elsewhere and imported?
 
To answer these questions, a method has to exist to measure the difference between food besides uniformity and looks.
 
One of the best ways to tell the difference between vegetables and fruit is by taste.  Our taste buds are pretty refined to help us select the best food.  Also, the smell is another indicator.  Touch and feel of the food can also help, but this still may not always give the best results.

Have you ever tried to pick out the best watermelon?  You thump it and listen.  A high pitched thump is not ripe, a hollow thump is ripe.  How do you tell if other foods are at their peak?

Watermelon “thump” test   0:24

The Brix movement has evolved as a method for measuring the nutrient density of fruits and vegetables.
 
Brix is a scale based on the amount that light bends when it passes through a liquid or the refraction. This is done with a refractometer. 
 
How to use an optical refractometer:

  • Squeeze sap out of a plant.
  • Put two drops on the prism.
  • Close the prism cover.
  • Point to a light source.
  • Focus the eyepiece.
  • Read the measurement.
  • Where light and dark fields intersect is the brix number.

 

Brix Refractometer

Brix Refractometer

This can be done for whatever part of the plant that you want to eat.  This will help to measure the solution density.

Wine growers have been using refractometer as a standardized piece of equipment for many years to test the quality of grapes.

The USDA is using the refractometer to test the quality of oranges.  And recently the brix test is being used to test cranberry juice.  The ones with the highest brix are paid a premium price.

“One of the most important nutrients that increases with a high brix level is calcium.  In addition to increased calcium levels, high brix foods also supply more trace minerals such as copper, iron, and manganese.

Minerals in food are in a naturally chelated form. Naturally chelated minerals are bound to amino acids that have a left-hand spin.  Amino acids with a left-hand spin are referred to as L-Amino acids.  L-Amino acids are biologically active.

This translates into easy assimilation into the body compared to inorganic minerals taken in pill form.” 
https://highbrixgardens.com/what-is-brix.html

Monticello

Monticello

 High brix foods taste better and are more insect and disease resistant.

Taste is built upon the carbohydrate and mineral levels in the produce.  When they decline, so does the taste.
 
The greatest drawback to using just the brix scale is that it doesn’t distinguish between the various dissolved solids that will affect the refractive index of the liquid.

The best way to get around this drawback is through proper nutrient management. The brix can be used to measure how crops are doing and the proper adjustment made while they are growing instead of waiting until harvest to see how the crop has turned out.
https://www.agriculturesolutions.com/resources/86-the-brix-movement-growing-for-quality

Using the Brix Chart and a refractometer may not be the most scientific way to measure nutrient density in foods. Yet, beyond sending food in for a lab test, the refractometer may be a relatively inexpensive tool to test food and crops for consumption.


Check It Out!

 

Refractive Index Chart

Refractive Index Chart


Quick Tip

 

The 11 Most Nutrient Dense Foods on The Planet

  1. Salmon
  2. Kale
  3. Seaweed
  4. Garlic
  5. Shellfish
  6. Potatoes
  7. Liver
  8. Sardines
  9. Blueberries
  10. Egg Yolks
  11. Dark Chocolate (Cocoa)

https://authoritynutrition.com/11-most-nutrient-dense-foods-on-the-planet/


Bibliography:

“Brix.” Bionutrient Food Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2017.

Capewellmj. “The Brix Movement – Growing For Quality.” The Brix Movement – Growing For Quality. N.p., 04 Apr. 2017. Web. 04 Apr. 2017.

Gunnars, Kris. “The 11 Most Nutrient Dense Foods on The Planet.” Authority Nutrition. N.p., 18 Aug. 2016. Web. 04 Apr. 2017.




 

Posted in Health, Magazine Issues, Plants Tagged with:

Top-Down Gardening

Urban Farm Lifestyle

  Healthy Regenerative Lifestyle 

Top-Down Gardening

What is top-down gardening and the benefits it provides? If you want a weedless garden then read…

David Proctor

 

 
  
 
 
 
From Seed To Fork, Egg To Plate.

    We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.

 

 

 


Weedless Gardening

by David Proctor


 April 11, 2019

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine    Published Weekly


We think of weedless gardening, is after the tiller has been run to till under the weeds and loosen the soil. But what is really happening is that you are planting weeds when you till the soil.
 
The best way is to not till or at least limit tilling by establishing permanent paths and areas for plant beds in the garden. This way the area that you have your plants in does not become compacted.
 
The next thing is to use a good organic mulch so the weeds do not see the light of day. This will also feed your plants and help maintain moisture in the garden for your plants.
 
This first type of no-till gardening will be discussed by Dr. Lee Reich, a former plant and soil researcher for the USDA and professor of horticulture, author, and longtime avid gardener.
 
“Weedless gardening! That’s an oxymoron, an impossibility, right? Well, my gardens may not be 100 percent weed-free, but they are 100 percent free of weed problems.”
 
“I’ve achieved this happy state in four ways:

To read more, Click this link>>>

Weedless Garden

Weedless Garden

The next method of no-till gardening is dubbed “Lasagna Gardening” because it is done in layers like lasagna. Start with newspapers or cardboard and place that on the ground where you would like to garden. 

Next start alternating layers of straw and manure or compost.  This will break down, giving your plants nutrients and at the same time controlling the weeds. 

Once your plants get some height to them, top the lasagna off with compost and straw. 

To read more about this article that Teri wrote… 

click here>>>

Sheet Mulching

Sheet Mulching

The third method is the well-known gardening method by Mel Bartholomew, the square foot garden. 

The concept is to lay out a weed barrier, build a frame that is 4×4 and place a grid on top that has1 foot squares.  This is a very efficient method of gardening, as developed by an engineer. 

To read more about Mel’s method

click this link>>>

Square Foot Gardening

Square Foot Gardening

These methods do not mean that you never have to pull a weed again, but the pulling of weeds will be reduced or almost eliminated.

It sure beats using a till method to turn the soil plus these methods will give the earthworms and other microorganisms a chance to do their thing.


Check It Out!

Mel Bartholomew – Introducing Square Foot Gardening 3:19


Quick Tip

 

1. Do not till the soil.
2. Set up areas in the garden for planting and walking
3. Cover planting area with compost, minimum of 1″ depth.
4. Use drip irrigation for an accumulation of half an hour per day.
5. Do not use hay for bedding unless it has been tested for persistent herbicide.

 


Bibliography:

“No-Till & Compost, and Still Problems.” Lee Reich. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2016.

“Maintain a Weedless Organic Garden.” Mother Earth News. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2016.

“Create an Instant Garden with Sheet Mulching or Lasagna Gardening.” N.p., 03 Apr. 2013. Web. 05 Apr. 2016.

“What Is Square Foot Gardening?” Mel Bartholomew. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2016.

Spates, Cheryl, et al. “Weedless Gardening – Growing A Greener World.” Growing A Greener World®, 7 Mar. 2017, www.growingagreenerworld.com/weedless-gardening/.​




 

Posted in Magazine Issues, Plants Tagged with: , ,

Install Bee Packages

Urban Farm Lifestyle

  Healthy Regenerative Lifestyle 

Install Bee Packages

I have scaled back this year. I installed two bee packages into two horizontal hives. I decided to not use the top bar hives…

David Proctor

 

 
  
 
 
 
From Seed To Fork, Egg To Plate.

    We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.

 

 

 

 


Two Bee Packages In Two Hives

by David Proctor


 April 4, 2019

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine    Published Weekly


I have had to cut back on some of the things that I really enjoyed doing; the vermiculture and Mason bees. I decided to concentrate on the honey bee again this year and to also stick with just one style of hive, the horizontal hive.

 

Me

Me

I put in an order for two packages of bees and picked them up last Saturday, March 30th. I was lucky, in that it turned out to be a really nice day for installing the bee packages.

Blooms

Blooms

I left a few frames out of each hive so I could leave the syrup can inside, along with a peppermint cane, and some pollen that I had from the bee club.

As a footnote to last years bee release, none of the hives made it through the winter.  I had six hives that became infested with hive beetles.  Out of multiple hives, I lost them all.

I decided to not use the Warre hives and the Kenyan style top bar hive.  I like these hives but found them too difficult to inspect.

The bees would cross build cone from one top bar to another, then build to the lower bar or floor of the hive. Then they would attach to the sides of the hive.

This is not a problem if you do not inspect, but that is why I lost my hives, I did not get control over the hive beetle until it was too late.

Horizontal Hive Frame

Horizontal Hive Frame

When I did try to inspect, I was tearing cone apart.

I thought that I had it made with the horizontal hive, and I did, except I did not keep up with the bees and how healthy they wear.  Soon I noticed the larva of the hive beetle and before I knew it the damage was done.

To make matters worse, wax moths moved in.

So that is why I ordered another horizontal hive and decided to concentrate on just two hives and inspect more often.

Horizontal Hives

Horizontal Hives With Bee Packages To Be Installed

I plan on using the ideas that I have learned about controlling the hive beetle. 

The material that is used for signs, like political signs, or sale signs that you see hanging on wires stuck into the ground.  This material has small corrugated tunnels in the material.  The material can be cut into 2″X4″ rectangles and slit in the center.

This allows the material to be opened and a hive beetle control injected into the corrugated material.  The bees are unable to get into the tunnels but the hive beetles are attracted into the tunnels to get at the bait and end up dying.

I hope to check on the queens before this coming weekend to be sure the bees have eaten through the candy and released the queen from the small little queen cage. I poked a small hole in the candy with an awl, so not much is needed to free the queen.

If all goes well, I hope to finally see some honey from my bees this year.  But even if I don’t, I know they will be out pollinating for miles around!


Check It Out!

 

 

Installing 8 honey bee packages in 10 minutes. 11:51

Burnley Farm Apiary, LLC


Quick Tip

 

  • Assemble bee hives during the winter to allow plenty of time for the process and for any paint or wood sealer to cure.
  • Do not paint or treat the inside of the hive where the bees will reside.
  • Order bees early.  It takes time to have the bees and packages ready for the spring. Don’t just show up and say I want to buy some bees.  This isn’t something you run to Walmart to get.
  • When you select a package, be sure the bees are formed around the queen in a “V” shape, this indicates they have accepted her.
  • Have extra food for the bees to help them get started.  It is hard for the bees to collect their food in rainy, overcast and windy weather. Feed sugar water on a 1:1 ratio.  This is what nectar will be like and will promote comb and brood production.
  • Have protective clothing for working with the bees.  Most of the time the bees are pretty docile.  But you do want your face protected.  The will go for the eyes if given enough reason.  Being poured out of a box after traveling several hundred miles is a good reason.
  • Manage your bees for healthy bees. Take note of varroa mites and any other pest and do what you feel is proper and timely.
  • Try to refrain from using herbicides and pesticides.

Bibliography: N/A




 

Posted in Apiary, Magazine Issues Tagged with: ,

Spring Chicks

Urban Farm Lifestyle

  Healthy Regenerative Lifestyle 

Spring Chicks

If you have thought about having some chickens in your backyard or keeping the baby chicks that you give to your little one for Easter, then this article will help you prepare for your new adventure.

David Proctor

 

 
  
 
 
 
From Seed To Fork, Egg To Plate.

    We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.

 

 

 


Preparation For Spring Chicks

by David Proctor


March 28, 2019

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine    Published Weekly


After deciding on a breed and who you are going to buy your chicks from, you will need to set up a brooder for your baby chick’s arrival. 

A brooder can be nothing more than a box with a cover over the top or you can get intricate with your chick’s new home.  I think it is best to keep it simple and inexpensive.

Now that you have your box ready the main thing that the chicks will need is adequate heat, water, food source and space as they grow.

 

Baby Chick

Baby Chick

You will want to be able to keep the chicks at a 95-degree temperature at about 2” off the floor of the brooder.  Be sure to have a heat lamp or heat source that is securely hung above the chicks. 

Do not use a heating pad because they cannot get away from the heat source.  If the chicks stay huddled together, they are too cold. 

If they are all pressed up against the walls of the brooder, they are too hot.  If they are spread out then the temperature is just right. 

Try to drop the temperature about five degrees per week till you reach ambient temperature.  This is so the chicks will start to develop feathering and can warm themselves.

Use a red bulb in your heat lamp, so they do not have to look at an intense bright light and this will help keep them from picking feathers out. 

Remember, heat lamps are made to produce heat, be sure to have them secured so the chicks are comfortable and no fires are started from the heat source being too close to the bedding.

Use an 85-watt heat lamp for warmer areas, in colder areas you may need to use a 125 or 250-watt heat lamp bulb.  There are heaters made specifically for this purpose you may want to invest in.

Next thing that you will need to plan for is adequate space.  A box that is big enough to keep the chicks warm but also gives them room to move around will make for healthier living quarters. 

The chicks will grow quickly so be prepared to move them into a larger living area as they mature. A rule of thumb is a half a square foot of space per chick for the first two weeks of growth. 

Yellow Baby Chick

Yellow Baby Chick

You may want to use a plastic tote that is large enough to accommodate your chicks and then move them to a larger plastic tote as they grow. 

Eventually, you will want to build a chicken coop.  You can get an idea for a design from my Volume 1 Issue 9 Backyard Chicken Primer.

One of the most important things to provide is a supply of food and water.  You can start your chicks on commercial chick starter or just make your own chick food from cooked eggs and food scraps. 

It is very important to have a clean water source for the chicks.  You may need to change it several times a day to keep it clean. 

Place small stones or marbles in the watering dish or even place rubber bands around it so they are able to stand on top and get to the water but not fall in.

Next is to be sure they have clean bedding so they do not get health problems from ammonia that is given off from the manure. Pine shavings can be used along with newspapers so the bedding can be kept clean.

Clean bedding, clean water, warm safe surroundings, and plenty of space will allow your chicks to grow and avoid problems with diseases and ailments that occur when conditions are not as they should be for your baby chicks.

Never use cedar shavings since cedar gives off oils that can be toxic to chickens.

Take time to just sit and watch them scratch, peck and eat. Try interacting with the chicks, slowly.  

You will find that at first, they may try to get away from you but after they know you, they will almost expect you to pick them up and hold them.  


Check It Out!

 

The Baby Chickens Are Here 5:05
Knight Family Farm


Quick Tip

 

  • Many sources say that you can’t keep a flock of mixed ages. We never had a problem with older chickens picking on younger ones or vice versa. Our hens raised their chicks happily in the flock. Most picking is the result of overcrowding. Give your chickens lots of space.
  • Young chicks need to be close to water and food at all times. Spread a 4-inch layer of pine shavings on the floor, then lay several layers of newspaper over that. Scatter lots of chick feed on the paper and also have feeding troughs filled in the pen. Remove a layer of paper every day, and by the time the last layer is gone, the chicks will have found the feeding trough.
  • Always use red bulbs; injury doesn’t show under red light. Under white light, any bloody spot immediately attracts pecking. Chicks will cheerfully and efficiently peck each other to death.
  • Block corners of the pen with cardboard to make wider angles that are harder for chicks to pack up in. (You could also make a circular pen.) This prevents suffocation.
  • Ensure that waterers are shallow and cleaned daily to avoid having chicks drown. My hatchery recommends one gallon-size waterer for every hundred chicks. I always had two or three, even for fewer chicks, so that they wouldn’t crowd.
  • With pullets, I used one waterer for every six to eight chickens and a feed trough long enough to accommodate all of them at once.

Bibliography:

The Backyard Chicken Bible: The Complete Guide to Raising Chickens: Eric Lofgren: 0035313662287: Amazon.com: Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2017.




 

Posted in Animal Husbandry, Chickens, Magazine Issues Tagged with:

Super Pollinators Part 2

Urban Farm Lifestyle

  Healthy Regenerative Lifestyle 

Super Pollinators Part 2

Today’s issue is Part 2 of a two-part interview with Dave Hunter of Crown Bees.  We will learn how we can prepare for our Bees and where we can find more information on the topic.

David Proctor

 

 
  
 
 
 
From Seed To Fork, Egg To Plate.

    We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.

 

 

 


Part 2 The Little Known Super Pollinator

by David Proctor


March 21, 2019

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine    Published Weekly


David: It sounds great.  I know that you have a program going that’s trying to help our farmers.  Can you explain a little bit about if I wanted to have some mason bees, what would the process be for my contribution to help in that endeavor? 

Dave Hunter: As we’re starting to work with farmers, we’re mostly on the west coast and a little bit in New York.

As we get enough bees raised in those areas, we’re very picky with the farmer because the farmers do a lot of spraying. 

There are a couple of nuances that are important to help the farmer be successful. 
We are collecting bees from backyard gardeners.  We’ve got a thing called Bee-Mail.

Once a month, in fact, I’m writing it right now, we tell you what to do.  After a full season, you’ve got enough information there that you should have more cocoons then you started with. 

After a couple of years, you’ve got way too many. This is like fresher bread. You start passing cocoons off to your friends but after a while, they’ve got too many.

We’ve got a program called the Bee Buyback Program that you just send us your cocoons in the mail.  We’ll receive them and we’ll send you free stuff. 

You’re getting free tubes, reeds, and wood trays. We’ve got gift certificates. We’re trying to buy back as many bees as we can. 

Certificate

Certificate

Then we’re taking those bees and either moving them back to home gardeners to get them started or, once we get enough, we’re then working with farmers just to put the bees in their fields. 

David: I’m in Virginia. Are mason bees prevalent out here?  Are they prevalent across the country? 

Dave Hunter: The one species, Blue Orchard bee, is in almost every province and every continental state except for Florida, too humid, right along the gulf coast.
 
The Blue Orchard is wonderful all through there. Up around the east coast, back in the ‘80s, there was a Japanese bee, called a Horn-face bee, that was given to the U.S. 

We shot that all through Virginia, all through the Carolinas, all through the northeast. You’ll find, at the exact same time, you’ll have a Japanese bee, looks brown, and a U.S.  Bee, black, using the same wood trays, the same holes.

A lot of times, if you build then they’ll come but we’ve done a lot of damage to our yards. We’ve taken away most of the holes, all those old trees that the woodpeckers poked holes into are gone. 

We’ve just sprayed the heck out of our yards. There’s a lot of toxins out there that have nailed a lot of the bees.
 
If you’re lucky enough to have them nest, wild nests in those holes, good for you. You’re typically more of an urban area where we learn that we have to re-introduce them so you’ve got to buy the bees. 

Bee House

Bee House

Go past the spring bees, and there are other bees. The pumila is a little tiny bee that comes out around the spring.

There are a lot of other hole-nesting bees. We don’t know quite where they are but we do know what they are. We do help people find them and raise them as well. 

David: As far as trying to help the bees along, what about pesticides, herbicides and those types of things?  Are there effects on them from the use of that? 

Dave Hunter: Yeah. What you’re finding, when you see something labeled bee safe, that means whatever company we are, a chemical company, we have only tested it on the honey bee. 

Actually, that’s not saying a lot. There has been research out there done by Penn State. When you try them on different bees, all of a sudden the one that’s safest for the honey bee isn’t safe at all for bumbles or mason bees.

Or vice versa, one that’s most lethal to honey bees, the mason didn’t really mind it. That bee safe product is only for honey bees. That’s one path.

The second one we’re learning is that honey bees and bumble bees, your social insects, are chained, unfortunately, to their hives. As I’m spraying crud around that hive, the bees have to fly through it to get to their hive. 

The mason bees and the solitary bees, they’re not chained at all. In fact, they’re not very loyal.  If there are chemical smells in the air, there’s TruGreen

We’re learning very specifically that TruGreen is a great product that, when you put that down, you’ll find no mason bees in your yard or anything downwind. They all just run from that smell. Good for them that they can. 

David: Oh, boy. 

Dave Hunter: Yeah, right? A couple of different stories, out around me, very nice house. They’ve been raising bees for me for years.

I’d give them a couple hundred, get back 400 to 600.  Two years ago, gave them a couple of hundred, got back 5. 
Wow, what happened?  Well, we’re not quite sure. This year, gave them a couple hundred, got back 600.

I said, “So what happened last year?  Did you guys spray anything?” She goes, “Oh, that’s funny. We had a spray on the front of our lawn. We didn’t think they’d mind. We only did front lawns but not the back where the bees were.” All right.

I’m out in New York. I’ve got a policeman that’s been raising for a good 8 or 9 years. Every year he’s been getting more and more.
 
Last year, he had 1,000 cocoons at his house. This year, zero.

Kevin, what’s going on?  He called me up.  I said, “Did you spray the chemicals?” He said, “Oh, not at all.” I said, “Any lawn service or anything?” He said, “Well, yeah.  We did TruGreen out there.” Okay, that’s it.

Then, even just go past that. I’m in commercial orchards out here in eastern Washington. We had 2 identical cherry farms, 20 minutes apart.

Same weather, identical bees, identical cherries, we had the perfect mud in there, had perfect holes.  One place did just fine. The other place, not one bee nested.  The farmer was really upset.
 
My partner, Jim, talked with him.  “You promised me this and the bees didn’t do squat.” Jim gets back in the car and calls me up.  He says, “And man, I stink.” I said, “What do you stink like?”

 He goes, “Chemicals.” How long were you outside?  He said, “Fifteen minutes.” Well, go find out what the farmer sprayed.  He goes out there and the farmer said, “I didn’t spray anything.”

Jim said, “Well.” No one is spraying around here right now anyway.  He says, “How come I smell like chemicals?” Oh, well, I’ve got 50 acres of cherries and all around me are apple fields. They spray. 

David: Oh, boy. 

Dave Hunter: When we have zero bees nesting, had they killed them, you’d have some dead bees in the holes.

The bees just vamoosed. All that said, I think the solitary bees are probably if they’re not nesting, there’s a problem, maybe. 

David: Are the solitary bees having any trouble with the mites that I’ve heard about with the honey bees? 

Dave Hunter: There had been a lot of talk about all those things. No. Those are all honey bee things.

The honey bee, different story, I know why that’s failing. It’s a quick story, actually quite simple. To answer your question, the mason bee has its own little problems. There’s a pollen mite that just eats the pollen.

That’s really about all it does. If you don’t harvest your holes every year, the pollen mite might get left in the holes.

As the mason bees go out in the spring, as they emerge and go out to fly, they keep on reintroducing the mites out to the field and they just get more and more mites in their holes.
 
There is a mite and its job is to eat pollen. With mason bees, that’s the one thing. No other diseases really that we’re aware of, yet.

We do find that the honey bee is the dirtiest insect out there.  Out of the 65 viruses, fungi and mites, all those maladies that are hitting, diseases and stuff, I think there’s one common core.

Everyone keeps looking at the symptoms, not a common problem. If you go back 100 years ago when the honey bees didn’t have these problems, what did it look like? Honey bees got big, they split, they swarmed. 

They sent out scouts and on average, they relocated that splitting swarm half a mile away. That’s normal.

Why a half mile? I’m guessing foraging probably because they’re competing for all that food out there and probably disease control. That’s natural. 

The following year, the split swarm, they don’t go back to where they were. They keep on spreading out. They send out scouts to make sure they’re in a different location.

When you look at what we’re doing today, we’re putting, since it’s not a great pollinator, we’re putting about a hive per acre, sometimes on a cherry farm, five hives per acre.

Not a big deal, but as you zoom out you realize that in an orchard setting, the honey bee gathers all that pollen within the field within about 3 hours. Now, it’s starting to push out in a 2 plus mile range looking for more pollen nectar.
 
Now, you’re up there in Google Earth and you’re looking down and you see that hive or 5 hives per acre and you look at that 2-mile range, you’ve got 250 to 300 million honey bees all searching at the same time. 

We’re learning that those diseases, nosema, deforming virus, some of these mites, they’re left in the flower for a queen bee to get.

We’re also learning the dirty bees, the ones who are sick will also go into clean hives. They go into the wrong hive.

The analogy really is you and I have got a convention to go to and we’re going to walk into this gym. It’s a small gym and we’re going to stuff in 5,000 people, close the doors and before they close it, they’re going to push in 10 people with the flu.

Now, I wouldn’t want to be at that convention. That’s what I think is going on with the honey bee. It’s not a great pollinator so we need to get a lot of them. When we cram so many in one place, they’re just spreading diseases. 

When you go into a 2-mile range, how many backyard gardeners that are raising these bees don’t know any better? That’s when somebody’s got 15 hives, and that’s a lot of bees that are overlapping.

You’re easily spreading diseases from one to the other.  That’s my take on it. 

 

Bee Tubes

Mason & Leafcutter Tubes

David: It sounds a lot like the problems that you have in confined feedlots. 

Dave Hunter: How could it not be the same? And in large cities, with the plague or whatever. It’s not natural.

When you put the mason bee in there, they’re flying radius is 300 feet. There’s hardly any overlap.

When you’re able to introduce honey bees and mason bees you’re able to “half”. You don’t need them but a farmer doesn’t want to go away from them just yet, you put half a hive in an acre.

Now you’ve reduced and you’ve put in a full complement of mason bees or even half mason bees, you’re able to reduce that overlap of the honey bees substantially.
 
That’s the commercial side of things. When you put the mason bees into cherry fields, you get increased yield. You get too many apples, you have to thin more. We finally put them on kiwis and pears. 

The farmers are saying, “Holy cow. I’ve never had these many pears.”

David: It sounds to me that for not getting a product of honey from them, we’re gaining a lot more food from them. 

Dave Hunter: Absolutely. Now, we’re not getting wax. There is propolis. There is some cool things a honey bee does.
 
You’re just getting pollination from the mason bee. The other part that’s nice. Go picture an orchard.

Go picture a 20-acre mono-crop. You’ve got 1,000 apple trees or whatever all in a row. Your wild bees, solitary bees and everything, they come in from the edges of the orchards and they go back to the nest. 

They don’t go that far into an orchard, maybe about 150 feet.  My orchard is 1,000 feet by 1,000 feet. The only way I get the middle of my orchard pollinated is by using honey bees because the wild bees don’t come into the orchard that far.

With mason bees, I can carry the cocoons in my hands, and put them in the middle of the orchard. It is an or-equal, you can actually move the mason bee precisely where you want to.

We also find that the mason bee flies a little better in light rain if it’s colder or windier.  It flies more because it has to pollinate. It has to get food in its six weeks or it doesn’t lay its eggs.

Whereas a honey bee, it’s kind of hot or kind of cold. I’m just going to hunker down and wait until it gets better in my hive.  It’s kind of windy, hang in my hive because I’ve got enough food, all this honey behind me.

I don’t need to go out and get into it. Whether you’re in your backyard or out in the orchard, it’s a better pollinator, but no honey and no media press. No one knows about this bee at all, David. 

David: With it being now the first of July, what would be my next step to get started? 

Dave Hunter: We were talking about the spring mason bee.  One little caveat about this bee, the bee as it does its 30 trips worth of pollen gathering, lays an egg, then seals that chamber with mud. That’s critical.

Leafcutter Bee
Leafcutter Bee
Bee Comparison
Bee Comparison

If I don’t have mud, that bee species have to have mud.  Go back to your backyard. You’ve hung this thing up and you’ve got lawn, beauty bark, and asphalt. 

That bee, it’s looking for holes, it’s looking for pollen and if it doesn’t find clay-like mud, it’s going to fly off. I can’t nest there. 

Go put down beauty bark or sand or whatever, same thing I can’t fly there. It has to be able to go into the ground.  Typically, it will go into mole holes or mouse holes.

It’ll pull off the side wall, clay mud.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it’s going to grab that clay mud and carry it in its little mandibles, those little pincer-looking things. Fly back to its house and plunk that down.

About six trips of mud gathering have me to seal that hole. If I don’t have that clay mud, I don’t have that mason bee.
 
In your orchards, a lot of orchards are along river beds and lake beds where it’s too sandy. When we’re working commercially, we actually bring in just sticky mud, one big handful or 2 per acre, putting them in the ground and putting a little drip-o-meter on them, keeping that mud moist.

Works wonderfully. For the backyard gardeners, we’ve got dried mud we can mix in their soil. Every state, maybe not Arizona, but every state’s got mud, clay mud.

Put a little hole in the ground, just a shovel hole, slap that mud on the shady side, a south wall. Now, you can raise mason bees. That’s Mason bees spring. After the summer, July 1st, there’s no mud out there natively, so you’ve got leafcutter bees out there, a really cool bee.

It cuts a perfect little circle out of rose leaves and fig leaves.  Look at a rose leaf, about that thickness is the right consistency. There’s a bunch of leaves that match that requirement.

They’re doing pollen, egg, leaf bits. They’ll fly back with a curled little circle of leaf in its feet and stuffs it into the hole, chews it up a little bit, a little saliva.

When you’re actually done, you’re looking at this in the fall, it looks like a little cigar, a green, leafy cigar, really thin.  Within these leafy cocoons are pollen and eggs. The summer, July all the way through to maybe early August, you’re now putting out leafcutters.

We had an attorney, out in Long Island I think, that did an experiment last summer. He had a home garden, a really tall wall and then an office garden.
 
He said, “I had the identical garden on both sides because I wanted to do a test.” Tomatoes, zucchinis, asparagus, all those different things. On the one side of the wall, leafcutters. The other side of the wall, whatever showed up.

He says, “I’ve never had so many vegetables off this one side. Doubled my tomatoes, way more peas, and everything.  Asparagus, no difference. Zucchini was surprisingly no difference.” He ordered a whole lot of leafcutters for a summer garden. 

David: Sounds great for the backyard gardener. 

Dave Hunter: Yeah, it’s an easy one. What we’re trying to help the backyard gardeners with is to realize that, sure, you’ve been told about the watering, the sun, the soil, and everything.  You plant your plants.

But most gardeners are just hoping that there’s a bee that’s going to hit it. We’re now allowing that gardener to pollinate their garden.

Whether you’re pollinating your azalea or you rhododendron
or your rose or your dandelions, every flower our there is asking to be pollinated. 

David: That’s right. 

Dave Hunter: The mason bees and leafcutters, these are generalists. They don’t care what flower is out there. They’re grabbing pollen from heather to tulips to cherry trees.  Leafcutters are grabbing whatever they can around them as well, sunflowers, it doesn’t matter. 

David: With being kind of new to this, what would you recommend as far as getting started, gaining information, or a reference type material? 

Dave Hunter: Referencing my website is, I’m not saying anything major, my website is the most complete probably in the world. We’ve got a learn page.

It just tells you everything about both types of bees, mason bees and leafcutters. I’d float through there. Secondly, I’ve got a thing called Bee-Mailjust once a month we say hey, do this. 

If you sign up for that, every other day we just give you a little, short mini-tour. Here’s what about holes. Here’s what about mud. Here’s what about leaves.

It’s all for free. We just want to teach you to be successful.  I would at least start there. Instead of just drilling blocks of wood or getting bamboo, bamboo is just as bad, there are some really crappy things out there. You can’t really open bamboo.  It’s just too structurally sound. 

On our website, we’ve got some cool little houses. It depends upon your wallet, the beauty of your yard, whether you want to have cedar or white PVC tubes or reeds or wood trays.

Bee Kits
Bee Kits

We’ve got complete kits, all the accessories. It’s all right there. There’s some cool stuff. I think with my own wallet, I might want to spend money here and not there. You can hunt around and find exactly what you want. 

Then, if you’ve got questions, just ask us. Toss us an email. 


Check It Out!

 

 

Mason Bees building nests with mud in slow motion  0:36


Quick Tip

 

4 Keys to Successfully Raise Leafcutter Bees

Raising leafcutter bees is easy. Here is an overview of what to do. Details are covered in sections below.
 

  1. Place your house with nesting material facing the early morning sun. The warmth wakes your bees earlier to start pollinating. Follow the setup instructions.
  2. The leafcutter bee seals each egg with cut leaf bits. If she can’t find the right type of leaf (like the non-fibrous rose or lilac leaf) to cut and carry in her legs to the nest, she’ll leave your yard and set up her home elsewhere. This is the number one problem our customers face. Compare what rose leaves look like in comparison to other leaves in your yard. Not too thick, nor too thin, and with few veins.
  3. Store filled nesting holes (open ends up) in an unheated garage or shed that is dry and secure after bee activity stops. Overwinter bee larvae in the nesting holes until next summer. Leaving them outdoors exposes them to pests and weather elements.
  4. We realize you’re busy and can easily forget when or what to do. Our free monthly Bee-Mail is an easy way to ensure your success. Sign up for Bee-Mail for quick reminders and bee news.

Bibliography:

Interview with  Dave Hunter of Crown Bees




 

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