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!


How to Clean a Gun

You’ve officially purchased your own firearm and ammo. Besides knowing how to store it and use it, do you know how to properly clean it so that it functions properly? Cleaning a firearm doesn’t have to be difficult, and even if you’re new to firearms, keeping your guns clean should be an absolute top priority. You should be cleaning your gun after each and every use! Here are some tips on how to keep your firearms in excellent condition:

First, remember the 3 rules of gun safety.

This will likely be a reminder for those that are experienced with guns, but these rules are ones that can never be said enough. First and foremost, make sure that the gun is unloaded. Open up the chamber and look down the barrel to be absolutely sure that no ammunition is present. The second rule is to never aim the gun at anybody or anything – determine a safe zone and always keep the gun’s nozzle aimed that way. Third of all, never put your finger on the trigger until you’re ready to shoot. All three of these rules are extremely important and should be practiced each time you handle a gun.

1. Ensure the gun is unloaded.

 Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for people to get hurt while cleaning their firearms because they forgot to unload it. Double check that there isn’t any ammunition around, and even if you think your gun is unloaded, always check again for safety and good practice. Point the gun away from you as you are cleaning it. Also, wear safety gear, like goggles and gloves, to protect yourself from solvent debris.

2. Clean in a well-ventilated area.

 This is important for your own well-being and safety, considering that the chemicals produced during firing can remain in your gun and release toxins. The cleaners and lubricants can also be harsh on your body, so make sure to wear protection while cleaning in a well-ventilated area.

3. Protect surfaces with plastic bags and newspapers.

To protect your tables and other surfaces, it’s important to separate the solvents from the cleaning chemicals and the lubricants from whatever surface you’re working on. First, cover the area you’re working on with a plastic cover, like a trash bag. Then, scatter newspapers and other miscellaneous papers around so that everything has a protective paper layer over it. Not only does this protect the surfaces that you are working on, but it also makes it easy to throw everything away at once when you’re all finished!

4. Disassemble your gun according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

You will rarely need to break down your entire gun for cleaning purposes. Guns should be treated with the utmost care and should be handled slowly and carefully during the disassembly. The field-stripping process is different for semi-automatics and double revolvers, so make sure that you have done your research on the process for your particular pistol, rifle, or other firearm.

5. Put in the effort to clean the bore of the barrel.

This is the most important part to clean because it is such a major component of your firearm. When fired, material can be left over and potentially corrode the inside of your barrel. It is extremely important to take your time cleaning this essential part of the gun with a cleaning bore and a cleaning product, like this Tipton Bore Solvent. To clean, place the solvent onto a towel or wire brush and slowly scrub the inside. Afterwards, check with a light to see if the inside is all clear of debris and cleaning solution.

6. A little goes a long way with solvent.

After you’re done cleaning the barrel, use a nylon brush, dab on some solvent, and scrub the other surfaces of the gun. You may use a cotton rag to scrub off any excess residues. Keep an eye out for buildup around the forcing cone if you have a revolver; this can dull your pistol. Before you lubricate, make sure you’ve completely dried your gun of solvent.

7. Reassemble and preserve.

After lubricating, carefully put the pieces of your gun back together, making sure everything fits back together correctly and is sturdy in its place. To preserve your gun’s surface and to protect it from any damage, a light coat of preservative is recommended. Apply a metal preservative or any gun oil to the surface with a rag. Then place it  into its designated container.

For more tips on how to store and clean your firearm properly, visit the experts at Big R! We have a variety of solvents, oils, and brushes to help you maintain your gun’s appearance and lifespan for years to come!

Best Tools for Spring Cleanup



The flowers are blooming and the sun is officially shining, spreading its warmth. Spring is finally here and you’re probably itching to cleanup and refresh your home! Winter has officially faded, but the bitter winds and icy remnants may have left a lasting impression on your plants, landscape, and home’s exterior. To prepare for the new season, it’s time to get outdoors, grab some tools, and begin to refresh those flower beds and lawns. Here are a few of our favorite tools to help make spring cleaning one of the best times of the year:

1. Stihl High Performance Engine Oil

It’s in your best interest to replace your engine oil after months of not using certain tools and devices. When oil sits inside a tool for too long during the cold, harsh winter, it will often lose its performance quality. To keep your tools running good as new, we recommend using Stihl’s engine oil for a cleanup that won’t too hard. You’ll notice a huge difference in the performance of your tools and the time that it takes you to get the job done!

2. DeWALT 16 Pc. Pilot Point Drill Bit Set

This drill piece set is perfect if you’re in the mood to get crafty and creative this season! Starting new projects will be fun and engaging with these tools within arm’s reach. The Pilot Point marking is famous for starting instantly on contact, leaving clean and precise holes without any frustration. The tapering construction also increases durability, meaning you’ll have this set for a long time!

3. Milwaukee Electric 1/2 Magnum Drill

Milwaukee is a brand that you can trust, and this product in particular is a great investment that will be a reliable tool for years to come. With its easy-to-hold handle that makes construction and industrial work easy, it will quickly become one of your favorites. It moves forwards and backwards through wood, plastic, composite and metal materials with precision, and is remarkably speedy! DIY projects never looked so easy!

4. Stihl Motomix

Stihl Motomix has long been known to be one of the best fuels for your tools! It is made with high quality ingredients that ensure you’ll get a powerful impact from your devices with the best possible efficiency, every time. Its non-ethanol and high-octane, premixed and blended for the greatest performance possible.

5. DeWALT 20V Max Impact Driver

This brushless impact driver by DeWALT is truly worth its weight in gold! With 3 speeds powered by lithium ion, this drill provides application specific control for the user. The brushless feature provides approximately 57% more run time than tools with brushes. Accessory changes only require quick and easy operations – you can even do it with one hand! Also built to be compact, you can fit the impact driver into tight spaces with ease.

6. Milwaukee High Torque Impact Wrench

This tool is unrivaled in its class! It is incredibly powerful and more compact than any other comparable tool, and supplies a precise and efficient 450 ft-lbs of torque. The trustworthy 4-pole motor from Milwaukee is able to make your time as efficient and impactful as it can be. This is a tool you’ll definitely want to have on your tool bench!

For more power tools and accessories, come on in to Big R anytime to get our suggestions on the best tools to help you on your next project!