Fast, Ready to Go Beehive Boxes For Your Backyard

It’s daunting to think about starting your own beehive. If you’re all new to this – where on earth do you start?

It’s true that beekeeping can be complex, and professional beekeepers have extensive knowledge and tricks of the trade up their sleeves.

But what if you’re not aiming to be a full time beekeeper, but just want something relatively simple, low cost and ideally, easy to set up and “set and forget” for the most part?

We are truly lucky now because there are some fantastic ready to go products that make installing a beehive fast and simple. One of the best options is the “bee castle” style hive. There are several kits of this type available, with one branded the Bee Castle. These castle hives are basically an all you need starter kit to get your new hive up and running without fuss. They contain anywhere from 8 to 30 frames depending on the design and some come with a queen excluder; something that’s easy to overlook as a beginner but something that is vital for success if your aim is to produce honey.

And they’re affordable: under $200 for a top quality hive that will last you as long as you need it. Other kits that are more advanced and with a higher price tag will suit those with more advanced needs. This guide will cover all options, with extensive research being undertaken into discovering the pros, cons, complaints, praises, benefits, disadvantages, successes, and failures of the hundreds or thousands of people who have purchased and used these products.

How long do butterflies live?

Like most insects, butterflies have a short lifespan. But there are well over 17,000 species of butterflies worldwide, and they don’t all have the same lifespan.

When talking about how long a butterfly lives, we focus on only the butterfly stage of life here; which is the final of four stages in the butterfly life cycle.

Some species live for less than one week, some have a more generous life of one month or even several months. That is of course, if they live out their entire lifespan without having it cut short for any reason like predation or conflict with the many hazards of the human world.

Some of the most well known and loved butterflies have short lifespans: the painted lady is here and gone within two weeks, while the monarch butterfly can live up to 6 weeks but as short as 2 weeks. Migratory butterfly species like these have short lifespans for a reason – it has worked across their evolutionary history to maintain the breeding capacity and survivability of the species.

The lifestyle and location of butterfly species will play a big role in their life expectancy. Remember: it’s all about survival of the species. Some butterfly species hibernate through winter, so they will naturally have a much longer life.

Some butterfly species buck the trend of very short lifespans. One example is the Murning Cloak of North America which can live up to 11 months.

How many eyes do butterflies have?

Some insects have multiple eyes or eye formations, but butterflies just have two eyes like us humans. But these are very different eyes to the human eye (as you might expect).

Compound eyes are the name of butterfly eyes. Each of the two compound eyes has thousands of lenses. These lenses ensure that butterflies are able to see in multiple directions at once and their field of view is actually larger than humans. These lenses could almost be thought of as separate eyes.

Do butterflies see in color? Given their lifestyle of seeking out flowers, you would expect butterflies to have color vision and they do indeed see in color.

What about those fake eyes on the wings of some butterflies? Of course, these aren’t eyes at all but evolutionary adaptations to help ward off predators like birds.

Bee Friendly Mosquito Control

You want lots of bees on your property, but you don’t want the mosquitoes.

While mosquitoes have an important place in the ecosystem, most of us prefer not to have them swarming in the garden and worse, getting inside the house.

Protecting all the pollinators and other insects (and wildlife) in the garden when you want to undertake some mosquito control is really important.

A general insecticide or pest control procedure will kill off almost every insect including bees, spiders and other bugs – and that’s not what we want to be doing if we care about the environment. These chemicals are also toxic to us and our pets.

Sadly and concerningly to a lot of people is the way in which many local county authorities in certain areas maintain regular or seasonal mosquito abatement programs that involves widespread spraying of poison chemicals around entire towns in order to control mosquitoes, in the name of “public health”.

The downsides are obvious: a die off of other insects, not to mention the potential effects on human health. If you live in an area where this takes place, it can certainly bring about anxiety; especially if you love your garden bees and other insects.

The respected magazine Bee Culture states that, “in urban and suburban areas, mosquito abatement practices are causing unnecessary bee kills”, and the Pollinator Stewardship Council is dedicated to educating the public about these programs, as well as doing all they can to protect bees who are at risk from government mosquito spraying programs.

It is well worth getting in contact with them if you require specific information about where you live in the US.

So what sort of mosquito control can you do that is bee-friendly and general insect-friendly?

You’re far from the first person to want to know this and lucky for us, it’s a question that has been investigated for a long time by some of the most knowledgeable bee-people around: those who keep bee hives and need to ensure that their bees are not exposed to poisons.

We can borrow a lot from this knowledge and experience and apply it in our own gardens and homes, no matter how large or small or how many bees you might have around.

Neighbor and government

What happens if you live somewhere where the government conducts large scale insecticide mosquito control spraying? What about a neighbor who sprays pesticides and you are worried it will come on to your property? Pesticide drift is a major problem and one that, in many locations, those who plan to spray chemicals are meant to avoid happening by modifying how and where they spray, and importantly monitoring weather and wind conditions to avoid their sprays impacting on neighboring properties or natural areas. Unfortunately this often does not happen, particularly where you’re dealing with an amateur gardener who may not even know or care about chemical safety, or some of the more careless farmers who are focused on profit above health. Different laws apply between the backyard gardener who uses off the shelf chemical sprays, and the large commercial farm who sprays chemicals from the air.

Even when best practices and laws are followed, neighboring properties and those much further away can still suffer from the impacts of wayward insecticide and other chemical spraying when, for example, vapor causes settled chemicals to later raise from the ground and be carried through wind. A direct neighbor is someone you can hopefully have a one-on-one civil conversation with about the matter. Even in the smallest gardens where you know someone is spraying to try and control mosquitos with chemicals, and it is drifting into your property, the person may not be aware it’s happening. While you might have a difficult time trying to convince someone not to use chemicals to control mosquitoes, at the very least they should be able to mitigate their spraying activity to avoid any chemical drifting to your property. If negotiation isn’t possible, contacting your local environment or pollution authority is the next possible option.

Government mosquito spraying comes with its own set of challenges for people who are understandable weary about this sort of mass scale spraying. Firstly, depnding where you live it’s important to know why these spraying events are happening. For example, in the state of Massachusetts aerial spraying takes place to reduce the risk of a rare illness associated with mosquito bites called eastern equine encephalitis. When authorities detect an outbreak of this virus in mosquitoes, they might decide to undertake aerial spraying of certain areas. Many people will question whether this comparitivey low risk illness (as compared to many other risks of illness and death in the US) is worth the negative impacts of chemical spraying. Authorities themselves state that spraying does not eliminate the risk, but simply reduces it. Sumithrin and piperonyl butoxide are two chemicals which are often combined in these aerial mosquito sprays. Sumithrin is a pyrethroid chemical which is often used in anti-flea treatments for dogs. However, pyrethroids are toxic to cats and to fish. This raises a great concern about these chemicals. Needless to say, the effects on other wild insects and bees is of great concern to anyone who is a beekeeper, gardener or someone who simply cares for nature. The EPA generally says that such chemicals used in aerial mosquito sprays don’t pose an “unreasonable risk” – sadly we can take this to mean there is risk and that any collateral damage is deemed acceptable by those making the decisions. This is bad news for insects, marine life, water safety and wildlife. Authorities state that small garden ponds should be covered when you know spraying will take place. This poses obvious challenges to those property owners who might have larger water bodies to protect like dams, lakes or creeks.

Protecting a larger scale property such as acreage and farms, including water bodies, does come with greater challenges than an average backyard in this case.

Flowers That Attract Butterflies in California

Do you live in beautiful California and want to do more to attract butterflies to your garden? Then stick around here, because this guide covers not only the plants and flowers that will attract butterflies in different parts of California, but also the different species of butterflies that you might see depending where you live.

California is rich in butterfly species. Southern California alone is home to around 170 species of butterfly!

Some are commonly seen, others are very rare. Sadly, some are heading towards extinction. Providing habitat for butterflies that occur where you live means playing a small yet important role in their conservation and wellbeing – not to mention the added bonus of attracting other wildlife like birds.

Flowers & Plants That Attract Butterflies in Southern California

Insect Hotels – Should You Put One In Your Backyard? Big Guide to Insect Houses!

Insect hotels are becoming as sought after as birdhouses and bird feeders in today’s gardens. Have you got one? Should you have one (or two, or more?). Continue reading Insect Hotels – Should You Put One In Your Backyard? Big Guide to Insect Houses!

What Are The Best Hashtags for Butterflies? Instagram & Twitter – Get Your Butterfly Pics Seen

There are a lot of butterfly pictures being posted on social media. Many of them are amazing.

Even if you think you’re taking the best butterfly photos in the world, getting them seen is another matter!

Most of us know how hard it is to get noticed at places like Instagram and Twitter, which are the two biggest social media sites where hashtags can make all the difference in whether you’re being seen or if you’re virtually invisible. Continue reading What Are The Best Hashtags for Butterflies? Instagram & Twitter – Get Your Butterfly Pics Seen

Put a Butterfly House in your Garden or Yard – Habitat For Butterflies

The simple act of hanging up a butterfly house or or butterfly hotel in your yard allows you to directly contribute to the conservation of wonderful butterflies – right in your own home!

What is a butterfly house?

These boxes give your local butterflies a place to shelter during the day and during bad weather, and to rest safely for the night – allowing you to not only help them, but to enjoy them up close as you attract them into your backyard.

And a habitat for butterflies doesn’t have to stand out like a sore thumb in your yard. There are some beautiful designs out there (or you can make your own), giving a real natural look and of course allowing it to blend in to your garden which makes it much more likely that butterflies will be attracted to it and actually use it. Continue reading Put a Butterfly House in your Garden or Yard – Habitat For Butterflies

What is the Best Type of Milkweed for Monarch Butterflies?

Milkweed – it’s a generic term used to describe what can actually many different species.

Milkweeds are important for butterflies, with the highest profile species benefiting from the plants being the increasingly endangered Monarch Butterflies. It’s the most well known of all the milkweed butterflies who require these plants for laying their eggs. Their larvae then feed on the milkweed – therefore these plants are essential for Monarchs and other Nymphalidae – Danainae species of butterfly!

If you’re planting a new garden, or just adding to an existing one, including native milkweeds is one of the best things you can do for Monarch and some other butterfly species. And there are plenty of milkweed plants to choose from. As a bonus, they all have spectacular flowers and add so much life and color to a garden of any size and style. Continue reading What is the Best Type of Milkweed for Monarch Butterflies?

Best Compact Camera for Photographing Butterflies

Photographing butterflies is hugely exciting and rewarding. First of all, it involves finding butterflies and often specifically hunting out different species so you can get photos. It can turn into an amazing adventure as you create a list of species you want to get some beautiful images of.

But whether it’s just in your backyard or if you plan to travel far and wide in search for rare butterfly species, we no longer have to spend thousands of dollars on specialist photography equipment to get gorgeous macro style photos of butterflies and other insects. Continue reading Best Compact Camera for Photographing Butterflies