Spring Lawn Care Tips

Spring lawn chores aren’t difficult, but they do play a vital role in getting your grass on track for a healthy, productive growing season.

Tackling spring lawn care provides a just-right dose of fresh air, sunshine, and exercise—and sets your lawn on its way to season-long glory. Spring lawn chores aren’t difficult, but they do play a vital role in getting your grass on track for a healthy, productive growing season.

Here are our top spring lawn care tips:

Early Spring

  • Tune up your mower. Change the oil, air filter and spark plug. Clean the top and undercarriage, removing dirt and grass clippings-just be sure to detach the spark plug wire before working around the cutting blade. Don’t flip a gas mower over to clean underneath; simply lift one side and brush away dried grass. If dried grass has hardened, loosen with a hand trowel or putty knife. Sharpen the mower blade, and replace it if it has large nicks or gouges. It’s a good idea to keep an extra blade on hand so you always cut with a sharp edge. Last but not least, fill the fuel tank. If you prefer a hands-off approach, take your mower to the shop, though you will want to do it in late fall or winter to avoid spring crowds. Note, too, that a cold mower can be hard to start in early spring. Warm it up by placing it in the sun for an hour or two prior to starting. Enhance warming by placing a dark trash bag over the engine while it’s soaking up some rays. (Remove the bag before you start the mower, though!)
  • Clean up. Walk over your lawn and gather any twigs, branches or other debris that has appeared over winter. Dispose of trash, and add small twigs and leaves to your compost pile. Then, rake out dead grass. It can also go on the compost pile unless it contains weeds.
  • Repair bare spots in Northern lawns. Fix bare patches in cool-season turf using Scotts® EZ Seed®. Water newly seeded areas daily for at least a week, but ideally until grass reaches mow-able height. Avoid mowing until grass is at least 2 inches tall or the same height as surrounding lawn. (Wait until late spring for Southern lawns.)
  • Prevent weeds in the North. For Northern lawns where crabgrass has been a problem in the past, apply Scotts® Turf Builder® Halts Crabgrass Preventer with Lawn Food in early spring. Follow label directions, and only use this product if no spring seeding projects are planned.
  • Kill weeds in the South. For weedy Southern lawns, fertilize with Scotts® Turf Builder® Bonus® S Southern Weed & Feed, which kills dollarweed and clover, plus many other weeds commonly found in the South. Be sure to read and follow the directions on the label.
  • Feed the grass. If crabgrass wasn’t a problem, apply Scotts® Turf Builder® Lawn Food to Northern lawns around the time of the first mowing. This will give nourishment to plant roots for strong growth. If weeds weren’t an issue last year on your Southern lawn, feed grass with Scotts® Turf Builder® Southern Lawn Food to help protect your lawn against heat and drought. With all lawn fertilizers, follow label directions carefully for best results.
  • Mow high. Adjust the mower deck to cut grass at the highest possible setting for your lawn’s type of grass. Tall grass sinks deeper roots (which can seek out moisture) and crowds out weeds. Most turf types thrive with a 3- to 4-inch blade height, which usually corresponds to a mower’s highest setting. Choose a middle setting for Zoysia grass and Centipede grass, and the lowest setting for Bermuda grass and creeping bentgrass. The rule of thumb for mowing is to remove only one-third of the total grass blade length at a time.
  • Edge beds. In early spring, soft soil makes edging beds a cinch. Using a sharp garden spade or half-moon edger, cut a 2- to 3-inch deep, V-shaped trench along beds to keep grass out. Maintain this edge with a string trimmer throughout the growing season, recutting only as needed. If you’re refreshing existing trench edges in spring by digging out soil or mulch that has filled the trench, toss weed-free material onto planting beds as mulch or add it to your compost pile.
  • Apply mulch. Wait until soil has warmed to refresh mulch for the growing season. Shredded mulch provides a polished finish to planting beds, which you’ll get when you use any variety of Scotts mulch. Scotts mulches provide vibrant year-long color and help prevent weed growth by blocking access to the sun. Add a 2- to 3-inch layer around (but not on top of) your plants.

Late Spring:

  • Repair bare spots in Southern lawns. Use Scotts® EZ Seed® to seed bare patches in warm-season turf. Until it becomes high enough to mow (at least 2 inches tall), water newly seeded areas daily. Begin to mow when the new grass reaches the height of the surrounding lawn.
  • Overseed. Thicken a thin lawn by overseeding. If you have a cool-season grass type (Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, fine fescue, or tall fescue) use Scotts® Turf Builder® Thick’R Lawn™  which combines grass seed, fertilizer, and a soil improver into an easy-to-use product you apply with a spreader. If you have a warm-season grass type (bermuda, zoysia, centipede, or bahia) use the appropriate Scotts® Turf Builder® Grass Seed product for your grass type, and get your grass off to its best start by using Scotts® Turf Builder® Starter® Food for New Grass. Water newly seeded areas daily for at least the first 2 weeks.
  • Wipe out dandelions. Kill these pesky weeds with Scotts® Spot Weed Control For Lawns, which attacks weeds without harming grass. It’s a good way to kill dandelions because it avoids the pitfalls of hand-digging, which include disturbing grass roots and unearthing dormant weed seeds.
  • Go after grubs. Late spring is the time that hibernating grubs in the lawn begin to crawl toward the surface to chew grass roots, before turning into beetles and flying off to find mates. Apply Scotts® GrubEx®to deal with awakening grubs and new grubs that will hatch in coming weeks. Definitely, treat for grubs if you had a problem last year or know that a neighbor is having a problem with grubs.

Fresh Herbs Win – Every Thyme! How to Care for Potted Herbs

From Oregano in October, to Mint in March, Indoor Herb Gardening Is Every Cook’s Secret Ingredient

 

Rosemary, cilantro, dill, lemongrass, chives, basil, parsley. Don’t you agree, these magnificent herbs make any dish better? And picking a fresh sprig is way better than opening a jar? So do we! Here some tips for how to care for potted herbs.

 

Good Ideas Going to Pot

Different herbs may require slightly different care, so it helps to plant each herb in its own pot, or group herbs with similar needs together. Use a quality potting mix, be sure there’s good drainage and yes to plant food twice a year. You can buy most herbs at the garden center, but definitely check for pests before you plant them at home.

 

Rules of (Green) Thumb

Good news. Taking care of herbs is uncomplicated, leaving you more time to decide between making veal parmigiana or rosemary chicken.

  • Find a Sunny Spot Natural light, and lots of it, grows herbs the best. Four hours of sun is optimum and can usually be found near windows that face south or southwest. East- or west-facing spots are nice, too. But if you don’t want your herbs to go south, avoid the north.
  • Is It Cold In Here? Herbs are like people. They feel best when the room is about 65-70 degrees. But no need to coddle them. They’re resilient, and can thrive at night, even on a windowsill. (But keep their leaves from touching the glass.)
  • The Dreaded Droop Ovens can get hot. Heated homes in winter – even air-conditioned rooms – can get dry. Herbs in distress will let you know they need attention by the simple act of wilting. Resuscitate by watering and they’ll perk up fast. You may even consider a weekly shower.
  • Avoid Soggy Feet If your herbs are planted in pots – especially terra cotta ones – there will be drainage. You should protect the surfaces under pots with saucers that you keep an eye on. Herbs don’t like sitting in water while their roots rot.

Interior Design, Not Inferior Design

Keeping herbs at hand means they’ll be “on display” in the kitchen. So if traditional terra cotta doesn’t reflect your inner decorator, think out of the pot. Cover tin cans with beautiful printed paper from the craft store. Hang an arrangement of clear drinking glasses from the ceiling. Group mason jars in a wicker basket. Be creative, but match your kitchen’s décor, so the herb containers blend in seamlessly. Just like the flavors in a good stew.

weeds pulled out by their roots

War on Garden Weeds

weeds pulled out by their roots

You step outside to breathe in the fresh air and admire your garden but then you see it: Weeds everywhere! Plants versus weeds – it’s a constant battle, fighting for territory over your garden but who will come out on top? Read these tips to win the war on weeds!

Keep Your Garden Weed Free

If your garden is already weed free, this is a good time to prevent an invasion! Weeds grow like… well… weeds. Once one or two weeds sprout, your garden is already under attack. Why spend your day hunched over in the hot sun digging for roots all day when you could be relaxing in the sun on a lounge chair amidst a beautiful garden? Preen® Weed Preventer prevents weeds from growing for 3 months. Simply spread it over your weed-free garden and give it a little, soft shower with the hose for it to take effect. Taking preventative measures to ensure that your garden stays healthy will save you a lot of time and effort when weeds do try to grow in your garden.

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Get Rid of Pesky Garden Weeds

Getting rid of those pesky weeds can be annoying and time-consuming. Truper® Weed Cutter will help dig up your weeds faster and in larger quantities. Use the weed cutter to pull up surface level weeds but try not to dig deeper than a couple inches. There may be more weed seeds waiting to be brought to the surface for sunlight. Ortho® Weed B Gon® Weed Killer Concentrate For Lawns kills stubborn weeds immediately, down to the root. It is safe for lawns and easy to spread, saving you a lot of time and strain.

Don’t Cut Until You See the Green of Their Leaves

If the weeds in your garden are out of control and digging them out is simply not an option, your best answer is to start clipping! Wait until the opportune moment to strike. When pulling out weeds, the sooner the better but if they’ve grown into your plants, it’s not too late. Cutting the tips off of weeds will effectively stunt their growth.

Divide and Conquer

Strive to be strategic and ‘keep it close to the chest!’ In this case, the strategy is to block out weeds by planting close to the rest! If your plants are in close quarters with one another then there isn’t enough room for weeds to grow. Make sure to give your seedlings a couple inches (or what is suggested) from each other so that they have room to grow but take up the areas where weeds could flourish.

And Keep Them from Coming Back!

After removing surface level weeds, there are still weeds a few inches under the soil waiting to reach enough sunlight to grow. Consider adding mulch to help nourish your plants and keep moisture in, while blocking weed seedlings from sunlight. Pick up a bag of Scotts® Nature Scapes Color Enhanced Mulch and lay a generous layer on your garden or landscape! Master Gardner Company Weed Ender 10 Year Landscape Fabric effectively controls weeds, without chemicals, letting nutrients, water and air in and keeping weeds out.

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We want you to win the war on weeds! Try these helpful methods and take back your garden! Weeds grow fast and are stubborn enemies but they are no match for us. Stop by Big R and pick up your weapons against weeds.

Common Gardening Tools and Their Uses

Common Gardening Tools and Their Uses

Common Gardening Tools and Their Uses

The sun is shining and the birds are chirping! Spring has sprung and it’s time to get those flower beds cleared out and the garden ready to plant! When it comes to gardening, every tool has a purpose. The amount of actual tools associated with gardening activities can be overwhelming, especially for beginner-level gardeners who are just getting started. Determining which tools are most essential for your personal garden and lawn will ensure that your plants and vegetation are well-maintained and are as healthy as can be. Get the scoop on which tools can make your gardening life easier!

Maintaining & Fertilizing Soil

Because the soil is the foundation of each and every one of your plants, it is single-handedly one of the most important tasks in gardening to ensure that your soil is tilled, nourished, and properly prepared for planting. While the specific fertilizer mixture is up to you, it is crucial to tend to your soil, no matter the mixture. Even if you don’t have a garden, these tools are still essential for getting the job done efficiently:

  • Gloves: Essential for most, if not all, gardening tasks; protect skin on hands from drawbacks such as blisters, calluses, cuts, and sun damage; keeps pre-existing wounds from becoming contaminated or infected
  • Garden Hoe: Great for moving and digging soil as well as uprooting unwanted weeds
  • Digging Fork: Useful for loosening up soil and mixing soil amendments
  • Ground Rake: Helps smooth new and existing soil surfaces and removes clumps
  • Rotary Blender: Highly useful for blending fertilizer mixtures
  • Sprayer: Applies liquid fertilizer easily and effectively in smaller areas such as residences

Planting

Interested in expanding the range of your garden with some new plants or vegetation? Take a moment to familiarize yourself with some of the best tools for planting new fruits, vegetables and flowers:

  • Garden Hoe: Great for hilling and drilling soil in preparation for planting
  • Hose: Essential for the watering of plants; also useful for cleaning, has numerous mounts, nozzles, lengths, and adapters pertinent to your specific needs
  • Watering Can: Useful for the watering of plants on a smaller scale
  • Trowel: Facilitates the digging of holes; useful for transplanting plants and vegetables whose roots are still intact
  • Spade: Essential for digging and moving soil for planting

Weeding

Weeds have a tendency to take over everything if not managed properly. If you are looking for an alternative to the traditional do-it-yourself weeding, there are a number of tools that can make your task easier and complete it more efficiently. Try these tools for your arduous weeding tasks:

  • Garden Hoe: Removes weeds by first agitating then grooming the surface of gardening soil
  • Scuffle Hoe: Cuts the roots of shallow weeds closer to the soil’s surface
  • Weeder: Removes weeds from lawns while preventing grass damage; effective for use in small places
  • Hand Cultivator: Removes weed roots that are in tight areas and close to the surface of soil without disturbing nearby plant roots

Pruning

To maximize plant growth, it is incredibly important to tend to your plants frequently and prune them. It’s also vital to trim stems, leaves, or branches that are either dead or overgrown. Not doing so will impact your plants in a negative way and stunt their continued growth. Prevent your plants from overgrowth with tools like:

  • Pruning Knife: Useful for delicate pruning based on various blade shapes and sizes, i.e. cutting flower stems and trimming small branches
  • Pruning Shears: Cut thin branches from small trees, bushes, and small plants
  • Loppers: Extend to cut thicker, higher branches on trees
  • Pruning Saw: Uses power and larger teeth on its blade to cut small branches

Maintaining Garden & Lawn

  • Shredder: Recycles gardening waste; helps to make waste easily containable; provides useful material from accumulated waste, such as compost
  • Round Point Shovel: One of many types that digs large holes; transports heavier materials like rocks
  • Leaf Rake: Removes light debris from lawns and gardens, such as leaves and sticks
  • Pressure Washer: Cleans objects and surfaces by adding power to the flow of water; removes layers of undesired buildup
  • Lawn Mower: Cuts grass to even lengths
  • Leaf Blower: Blows light debris, like leaves and dirt, from lawns and walkways

In short, your choice of gardening tools can make or break your plants’ growth! Therefore, it is very important that you choose the right vendor for your gardening necessities. Discover some essential tools you need to add to your gardening collection? Still have some questions about gardening dos and don’ts?  Head over to your nearest Big R location to ask one of our garden experts or view more gardening tips here.

Woman with white hair gardening

Planning Your Vegetable Garden

Woman with white hair gardening

Save money and save time by producing your own vegetable garden oasis. There’s nothing like plucking a sun-ripened tomato right off the vine to create a BLT sandwich masterpiece. Fresh, quality produce right out your back door? Yes, please! Forget the bi-weekly trips to the grocery for the farm fresh produce! Bring your garden to life with these simple tips and tricks:

Choosing Vegetables for Your Garden

Before starting your garden, think about the products you purchase frequently at the market. Although cucumbers may be an easy vegetable to grow, it may not be a family favorite. Cucumber plants produce quite a bit so be sure to choose veggies that the entire family will enjoy! Look up recipes for ways you can fully utilize your fresh produce, like making tomatoes into pasta sauce or salsa.

Once you’ve decided on your vegetables, be sure to read the seed label to know exactly what you’re buying. One type of vegetable can have thousands of varieties. Ensure that the variety you choose is best for your space, soil, weather, etc. If you’re new to gardening, seed pods and Jiffy Mix are great options to get you started. Although the selection may be limited, the growth process will be hassle-free and your vegetables will be ready to harvest in no time.

Picking the Garden Space

The most important part to picking a garden space is the availability of sunlight. Most vegetables need 6-8 hours of sun to fully flourish. Monitor your backyard throughout the day to find a location that is ideal for these conditions. Be sure to consider the proximity to water as well. The last thing you want to be doing in the heat of summer is lugging around watering cans. If a hose is nearby, be sure to have a nozzle with a low-pressure water option. Too much water at once can be harmful to your new garden.

Preparing Your Garden Space

Once you have your space, clear out all excess weeds or plants. To give your garden a fresh start, add new soil that’s moist and full of nutrients. This will help provide your vegetable garden with the optimal amount of water. Next, plan out rows to plant your seeds. Know that each plant grows differently, with some needing more space than others. It’s best to label these rows so that you know exactly how to plant and care for each type of vegetable. Once your planning and preparation are done, you’ll be ready to start planting those seeds!

It’s easy to want to jump right into starting your new garden, but planning is vital. Remember that every garden and every vegetable is different, so research and preparation is key. Need some extra assistance? Ask one of our friendly garden center experts or view more tips on building a bountiful garden! If all goes according to plan, your patience and hard work will pay off with beautiful, savory produce in no time!

Seeds for your Garden

Seeds for Your Garden

Seeds for your Garden

Looking to liven up your backyard this spring but have no idea how to get started? Why not start this spring off right by creating your very own garden?!

There are numerous benefits to growing your own garden of veggies! For starters, enjoy the convenience of walking out your backdoor to select only the most tasty and fresh ingredients needed to create a savory masterpiece. Plus, in gardening with your own seeds, you’ll keep some green in your pocket while building up that green thumb! Experiment with various plants, vegetables and flowers to create a beautiful array of color in your backyard!

Does gardening sound like your kind of spring activity? Then you have come to the right place! You may be wondering, “How on earth do I get my own garden started?” Learn how to make your backyard bountiful (and more beautiful) by following these simple steps:

  1. Choose the right seeds for you.
    When it comes to beginners, you don’t want to go overboard with planting too many seeds or planting seeds that are too high maintenance for your lifestyle. Keep it simple by starting with seeds that have fewer requirements, but still fill your desires for the look of your garden. For beginner skill-level gardening, try seeds like tomatoes, marigolds, basil, or broccoli. Most plants should be started indoors because seeds love warmth and humidity when they are young.
  2. Keep your eye on the time.
    It is important to pay attention to what seeds will grow best in certain conditions because you will want your seedlings to sprout in good weather. Top crops to plant in the central and midwest region this season include tomatoes, onions, carrots, garlic, and lettuce. Additionally, different seeds require different lengths of time for their growth, so do not worry if your seedlings’ growth is not the same for every plant. Each one grows at a different rate!
  3. Organize your space.
    The containers in which you plant your seeds can make or break the seeds’ growth. When it comes to choosing the proper containers, try to base the container type and size on the needs of your plants. Essentially, make sure the container is deep enough for the plant roots, and be sure to create holes in the floor of the container for drainage. For organizational purposes, it helps to label containers, ensuring that seedlings are not mistaken for one another. Lastly, be sure to create a viable space for your plants indoors that will foster their growth before (and if) you move them outdoors; try to find a space where seedlings have room to grow and access to fresh air and sunlight.
  4. Find the right soil.
    Ensure that you have the correct potting soil for seedlings by making your own mixture or by purchasing designated bags of seed-starter mixture like Jiffy® Organic Seed Start at your local Big R. Be sure that your soil mixtures are moistened before you begin to plant your seeds. After all, water is the essence of life!
  5. Where should they live?
    Now is the time to start putting your seeds into their new homes. Research to discover how deep the seeds need to be planted in the soil mixture of your pots or containers. While some seeds actually need to be lightly placed beneath the surface of the soil, others can simply be sprinkled on top. Double check to ensure which seeds need ample sunlight to germinate so that you do not bury them too deep.
  6. Prepare your plants for the outdoors.
    After nurturing your seeds indoors for a handful of weeks, it will be time to start the process of hardening off, or preparing your plants for the transition into their new environment. Toughening up your seedlings over the course of 7 to 10 days before you gradually transplant them from an indoor to an outdoor environment will help them adjust a little easier to their new conditions. Try placing your seeds in a safe, protected space outdoors for a few hours per day, then bring your plants back indoors for the remainder of the night over the duration of 10 days to introduce them to the new conditions.
  7. FWS: Food, Water, Sunlight.
    Be sure to feed and water your seedlings as often as needed, as this is the most important step in the growth process for your seeds! Trying use a plant food like this Miracle-Gro® LiquaFeed™ to foster optimal growth. Sunlight plays a vital role in the growth of some seedlings compared to others. Remember to treat all your seedlings with tender love and care, but not necessarily treat all of them the same.
  8. Run your very own garden!
    After a week of hardening off your seeds, it is time to introduce them to the great outdoors for good. Transplant your seeds into your front yard, backyard, or the designated garden space you’ve created, spacing them evenly across the surface. The design aspect of your garden is entirely up to you! Get ready to care for your garden all season long with gardening essentials such as gloves, shovels, watering cans, and more at Big R Stores.

Have these steps down and ready to put them to action? Get started on your very own garden today by heading to your local Big R to stock up on all of your gardening necessities. Still have questions we have yet to answer? Bring your inquiries to us in-store or online at BigR.com

Big R Lawn Fertilization

Why Fall is a Great Time for Lawn Fertilization

Big R Lawn FertilizationYes, Fall is a Great Time for Lawn Fertilization

You’re probably thinking something along the lines of…

“Fertilizing your lawn in fall? It’s going to snow in a couple months!!”

Well, maybe it’s time to rethink what you know about lawncare. Fall is a great time to fertilize your lawn and has greater benefits than fertilizing in the spring. If you want healthier and deeper roots, grass with stronger growth and disease tolerance, and a greener yard – start fertilizing as soon as the season changes. The sweetest month to start? October! So before your lawn goes into hibernation, follow these fall fertilization tips to prove that the grass really is greener in your lawn. Read more

10 Life Lessons You Learn Growing Up On A Farm

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Growing up on a farm brings both challenges and blessings. It builds character as well as perseverance and creates an attitude of optimism. Take in all of the smells and sights of surrounding animals and plants to truly appreciate farm life. You work long, hard days so you truly enjoy the time you spend with your loved ones. You learn to till the earth in order to grow your own food and provide for others and make the most of your land. The lessons you learn on a farm will follow you throughout your life, whether you move into the city or stay on the land. Here are a few lessons learned from growing up out in the country:

1.  Learn Where Your Food Comes From

There’s a certain appreciation that comes from watching a tiny seed grow into a little sprout and then finally a full-grown crop that feeds the country. You appreciate it even more when you’re the one who planted that seed. With patience, routine, and effort, you created something wonderful. What other amazing things can you create?

2. Understand Other Animals

You learned when a cow was calving by simply looking at it. You witnessed live animal births, paid attention to important signals during labor and helped deliver the baby. You could tell when your animals were getting sick and took care of them. Yeah, you got your hands dirty. But more importantly, you learned how to understand animals just by looking after them. No words needed. This kind of intelligent empathy is truly unique.

3. Develop Manners and Respect

Not only did you live with your family, you also worked on the farm with them every day. The hard work of farm life creates an environment of respect. Being constantly surrounded by family means learning discipline from your elders, and respecting them and others for their hard work. Politeness and hospitality are some of the greatest traits you picked up from your close-knit family.

4. Learn and Practice Patience

Time has a different way of moving on a farm. Plants, animals and land don’t abide by regular 9-5 office hours. You learned how to wait patiently, to pay attention to the small details and to not rush through certain tasks. Some things needed more time than others – and that’s ok.

5. Appreciate Nature and Where You Come From

People in cities had backyards – you had an entire landscape at your feet, free for you and your animals to roam. You’ve had your fair share of adventures in wild terrain and run-ins with wild animals. Be proud to admit you were raised on a farm – that makes you more in tune with nature than many people.

6. Utilize Your Resources

Everything has a purpose on a farm; no one likes to be wasteful. That’s why you know how to be resourceful. You learned how to maximize what you have to the fullest. From food to farm equipment, everything was a precious resource, so you never take things for granted. Your experiences have taught you how to be efficient and acknowledge when you’re being wasteful.

7. Realize The Truth About Excuses

There is no such thing as an excuse, and you’ve learned this the hard way on the farm. A job needs to get done and it needs to be done well – no excuses!

8. Acquire Handiness

If you grew up on a farm, you grew up around a lot of different tools and machinery. You’ve definitely picked up a thing or two about being handy. You probably know how to look under a hood, fix a tire and change the oil. You know how to repair things because that’s just one of the many chores you had on the farm.

9. Toughen Up

There’s no crying on the farm! When something goes wrong, there’s no time to worry about it – you can either fix it or you can’t. You develop thick skin and learn to prioritize your time for more productive tasks. There’s always another task that needs to be accomplished.

10. Get in the Driver’s Seat

Perhaps the most exciting thing for kids growing up on a farm is the fact that you get to learn how to drive a tractor way before turning 16. You learned how to drive a stick before many of your city friends who had to wait.

To keep your farm in working order, view our high-quality farm products and more – stop by your local Big R store.

How to Become a Beekeeper: 2 Species of Bees for Beginners

beekeeper-beekeepingSo you’ve just started to get into beekeeping — and good for you! It’s a great way to spend your time and the reward is so worth it when you discover that you’re able to help out and maintain an entire hive. But with so many bees in the world, how do you know which stock is best for you and your lifestyle? Here are a few suggestions, featuring two of the most popular bee stocks in the United States:

1. Carniolan Bees

These kinds of bees have origins in Middle Europe and start breeding early on in March, sometimes even late February if the weather gets warm early.

  • PROS

This earlier reproduction is better for the hive because they generally have a high yield. They are also more tolerant of colder climates and longer winters than other bees, making them a good first-time bee for the entire year. They are also less likely to steal honey from other colonies, preventing disease transmission. They are gentle when overcrowding is not a major problem. Carniolans tend to be proficient as they adjust worker bee population to the availability of nectar as well.

  • CONS

They are more likely to swarm and potentially be defensive if overcrowding is a problem. Carniolans struggle during the hot summer months.  There is a lot of time, money, and effort involved in making them thrive and live pleasantly.

2. Italian Bees

Italian Bees were brought to the US in the mid-19th century, so American beekeepers have had years of experience with them.

  • PROS

Italian bees are extremely efficient at producing great quality honey. They are significantly less defensive compared to other bee stocks. Their coloring is desirable and unique. They also tend not to swarm when under stress.

  • CONS

They tend to eat their own honey if there is a surplus, particularly in the springtime. They are also known to steal honey from other colonies, making disease transmission possible. In addition, they are not known to fare so well during cold winters.


Remember these tips:

  • All generalities about certain bee groups should be treated with caution, as they are still somewhat unpredictable and can act uniquely against the norm.

  • Some beekeepers allow oversimplifications about certain bee groups so that you can make the best judgement about which bee stock to get, based on their experiences.

  • Bees will act however their Queen acts — meaning, if your bee is particularly defensive, the others will act so as well. If you want to change the stock’s behavior, swap out the Queen.

To get started beekeeping, get Big R’s beginner beehive kit!