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One of the problems that overwhelm beekeepers is the formation of moldy syrup on the bee feeder receptacle. There are many ways to prevent the mold from growing. You may, of course, use commercial antifungal emulsions. But there are simple, safe, and eco-friendly techniques to control the mold.

This relatively minor nuisance affects both commercial beekeeping businesses and small-scale organic bee-farming operations. The mold itself does not harm the bees. But you wouldn’t want the same bees to derive sustenance from mold-infested syrup and produce your honey at the same time.

The syrup is composed primarily of dissolved sugar. It is an easy target for mold. In addition, the environment inside the bee hive encourages the growth of mold. It only takes a few days for the fluffy wisps of whitish growth to appear on the bee feeder. If the mold is present only in a small area, then that is not a cause for concern. But if the mold has spread, then here are two eco-friendly ways to deal with the mold infestation.

One, get a baggie feeder. If you have one, the bees are then forced to drink only from the small slits on the outside of the bag. The slits reduce the surface area of the sugar syrup that is exposed to air.

Two, concoct easy-to-make homemade emulsions. Here are three homemade recipes for your bee-feeder antifungal emulsion. Choose from any of these natural remedies: a fifty-fifty mix of lemongrass oil and spearmint oil, basic lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar. Never use cream of tartar as your antifungal solution because it causes bee dysentery. The trick is to turn the sugar syrup slightly acidic.

So, ditch that can of antifungal chemical emulsion and pick up any of these pantry staples. Take care of the environment while you take care of your bees.

By K. Ong

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Surprising Tidbits about Raising Chickens

They’re a common sight on the farm, but chickens are also becoming a popular addition to the urban backyard. If you’re on the fence about whether chickens are really right for you, here are some surprising things you might discover about your new pets.

Your chickens have personalities. Watching a chicken run across the yard is one of the most entertaining things you’ll see in your back yard — but your hens’ funny antics are only the beginning. Over time, you’ll probably find that your chickens will develop an affection for you and will come to you when you call, eat from your hand, and perhaps even sit on your shoulder. The more time you spend around them, the more likely it will be that your chickens will show you the love.

They’re a lot easier to care for than other pets. After you get over the initial worries about what to feed them (chicken pellets, of course) and where to house them (in a cute, simple coop outfitted with nesting boxes and a roost) you’ll find that your flock doesn’t require much fuss at all. If you develop a system to automatically open the coop door in the morning and then to shut it again at night, the small hassles involved with raising chickens get even less hassle-y. In short, in return for a few minutes of your time (or that of a willing child in your household) you’ll reap delicious rewards.

And speaking of that, prepare to turn your nose up at store-bought eggs from here on out. Once you’ve cracked open your first deep orange home-grown egg, it’s going to be really hard to stomach the ones you might find at the grocery store. Compared to your home-grown eggs, store-bought eggs will seem pale and lacking in flavor and nutrients. To get eggs of similar quality to what your ladies are producing you’d have to pay premium prices at your local farmer’s market.

Those eggs will be hard to peel. While that sounds like a bad thing, it’s actually a mark of freshness. When you hard boil your eggs for Easter or to create a batch of deviled eggs, it’s best to allow the eggs you’ll use to sit for a week or two. The shells of fresh eggs will peel away in tiny bits, unless you let the eggs “age.” From that experience, you’ll realize that the eggs you bought from the store were none too fresh. All the more reason that a backyard flock is indeed worth your while.

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