Beekeeping from Scratch

1960s Bohemian Beehive Bee Skep Straw Basket | Chairish

A recent purchase of an antique Bee Skep has gotten me thinking about Bees and how beneficial they are. More and more the natural colonies of bees we are accustomed to are either moving or disappearing at an alarming rate, leaving our gardens without the necessary pollinators. Alas beekeeping will need to be a gardening tool for everyone and it can be easily.

A Beginner’s Guide to Beekeeping

Written by Lauren Arcuri

 The Spruce / Autumn Wood 

If the thought of keeping your own bees appeals to you, read on. We’ll explain the basics of beekeeping for the beginner, whether you’re a backyard beekeeper, homesteader, hobby farmer, or a small farmer looking to start a business selling honey and other bee products. It’s fairly simple to learn how to keep bees.

There are some factors to consider before embarking on a beekeeping adventure, so before you dive in, consider whether keeping bees is right for

  • Study All About Bees There are lots of books on beekeeping, and learning all you can about these sweet little insects can help you start your hives off on the right foot. Read as much as you can so that when your bees arrive; you’ll be ready to go and know how to keep bees.
  • Learn How Bees Make Honey Before you jump in and start ordering supplies, let’s take a step back and understand exactly how a hive works and what bees do. Bees make nests in nature, fly to flowers and extract nectar, then bring the nectar back to the hive and comb, where it slowly becomes honey.
  • Connect With Your Local Beekeeping Organizations In beekeeping, some details can be specific to your local area. The nature of beekeeping means that you’ll be most successful if you have strong local resources to draw on: someone to come check your hive or help you find your queen if needed, for example. Reach out and find your local beekeeping association and go to meetings. Some associations offer mentors who can be invaluable in helping you during your first season.
  • Learn How to Set Up Your Beehive To keep bees, you need a beehive. In the wild, bees build their own hive, usually in a hollow tree trunk or another sheltered place, but it can be anywhere. As a backyard beekeeper, you will provide a man-made hive for your bees so you can help maintain the colony and easily harvest the honey.There are a few different choices for the backyard or larger-scale beekeeper. Langstroth and top-bar hives are the most commonly found types.
  • About Beekeeping Tasksbefore you start beekeeping What is involved in taking care of your bees? Much like gardening, beekeeping tasks are best divided by the season. The best time to start your hive is in the spring so that the colony you begin with has time to build up, lay brood (baby bees), increase in number, and store honey before the winter sets in.
  • Gather Your Beekeeping Supplies What do you need to really get started beekeeping? Learn about the essential supplies and what you can do without for now. Remember: start small, so you can make adjustments if you change your mind later. Some supplies are better purchased in person, while others can be ordered ​online.
  • Your Honey Bees Once you’ve gathered your supplies and amassed plenty of beekeeping knowledge, it’s time to order your bees! You will likely order what are called “package bees” and a queen, or a “nuc colony.” Of the two, a nuc colony is a more established set of bees with a queen who has already started laying brood. It can give your hive a head start if you’re able to get one.
collecting Bee Skeps

Collecting Bee Skeps is a great hobby as well. You can use them until they crumble or just appreciate them in a retired grouping. The set above sold for over a 1000 dollars! So buy them when you see them.

New skeps can be bought at farmers markets. And there are many videos on You Tube to show you how they are used and cleaned.

Or BUILD YOUR OWN with these tips from Modern Farmer

How to Grow and Care for Bloomerang Lilac

The Lilac That Blooms Almost Continuously From May Through Fall

Lilac lovers often feel that the bloom is just too short. Lilac bushes bloom for about two weeks in May, and before you know it, it’s already over. Gardeners who cannot get enough of the looks and fragrance of lilac have the option to plant late-blooming varieties. Or, they can add a Bloomerang lilac to their landscape or patio.

Bloomerang, first introduced in 2009, is a registered trademark hybrid, which means that its name is protected as a brand. Only the nursery that bred it is allowed to propagate the lilac and sell it under the name Bloomerang lilac.

In May, around the same time as the common lilac, Bloomerang blooms heavily. In June, the shrub takes a break before starting to bloom again in July until the first frost.

The spring bloom is different from the summer and fall bloom, when the panicles are smaller and darker in color than in the spring.

The beautiful color and fragrance of the re-blooming lilac are not just for humans—butterflies and hummingbirds will seek it out as well.

Botanical NameSyringa x
Common NameBloomerang lilac, reblooming lilac
Plant TypeDeciduous shrub
Mature SizeFour to five feet height and spread
Sun ExposureFull sun
Soil TypeLoamy
Soil pH6 to 8
Bloom TimeSpring and mid-summer through fall
Flower ColorLavender, pink, purple
Hardiness Zones3a-7a
Native AreaNon-native hybrid

Bloomerang Purple
Bloomerang Purple  F.D. Richards / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

How to Grow Bloomerang Lilac

Hybrids like Bloomerang lilac are bred for best performance and disease-resistance. As such, they are a low-maintenance and almost carefree shrub for borders, foundations, and privacy screens. Bloomerang can be planted as a specimen, in small groups, or as mass plantings.


Bloomerang does best in full sun. It can tolerate partial shade, but it comes at the cost of reduced bloom.


Like all lilacs, Bloomerang prefers soil that is rich in organic matter. The soil can be neutral to slightly alkaline. Good drainage is essential; lilacs do poorly in soggy, wet soil.


Mulch around the base of your lilac to retain moisture. In long dry periods, water it moderately but regularly.

Temperature and Humidity

Like most lilacs, Bloomerang needs an extended period of cold winter weather in order to bloom profusely. This makes lilacs unsuitable for hot climates. While Bloomerang lilac can be planted through zone 7, it is best grown in areas with cooler summers. In areas with hot summers, the lilac is better off in locations that provide some shelter from the strong afternoon sun.

The shrub is not affected by humidity unless the weather is very hot and humid, which will slow down the reblooming.


Fertilize Bloomerang lilacs twice, the first time in early spring right after the ground turns soft, and a second time after the spring bloom to give it a good boost for the continued summer bloom. Use a fertilizer that is high in phosphorus to encourage blooming, and avoid fertilizers that are high in nitrogen, as it will encourage only foliage growth, not blooming.


Bloomerang blooms on old and new wood and does not require pruning. For a neater appearance, you can remove the spent flowers after the spring bloom but it’s not essential.

Bloomerang Dark Purple
Bloomerang Dark Purple  F.D. Richards 

Varieties of Bloomerang Lilac

  • Bloomerang Purple ‘Penda’ is a standard-size cultivar with lavender-colored flowers.
  • Bloomerang Dark Purple ‘SMSJBP7’ is a standard-size cultivar with dark purple flowers.
  • Bloomerang ‘Pink Perfume’ is another standard-size cultivar with pink flowers.
  • Bloomerang Dwarf Pink ‘SMNJRPI’ is a compact dwarf cultivar that reaches only two to three feet in height and spread. It has pink flowers.
  • Bloomerang Dwarf Purple ‘SMNJRPU’ is another compact dwarf cultivar with purple flowers.

Growing Bloomerang Lilac in Containers

Unlike common lilac and other large varieties, Bloomerang can be grown in containers, especially the dwarf varieties. Keep in mind that lilacs, even compact varieties, have an extensive root system. The container should be large, at least 18 inches in diameter.

Before you start, check out the common container gardening mistakes, such as filling the container in the wrong place. The correct 18-inch container for a Bloomerang lilac holds about 15 gallons and moving it after you planted can be cumbersome.

Sufficient watering is crucial to keep your Bloomerang lilac alive and blooming. Follow the instructions for watering container plants.

Common Pests/Diseases

Bloomerang lilac is more resistant to powdery mildew and leaf spots than common lilac. Because powdery mildew, a fungus, thrives in humid weather, ensure good air circulation in and around your Bloomerang lilac by giving it enough space.

It is also deer-resistant.