For the Love of Chives!

Chives are an outstanding choice for your local pollinators. They are effortless to grow from seed and make a beautiful border plant. Considering I have two favorites, I thought I would share both: Common Chives (Allium schoeonoprasum) and Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum).

Common Chives are another a super choice for any ! This edible, perennial herb adds late spring/early summer color to your landscape or . These chives also make a thick and tidy boarder choice. Common chives are hardy in USDA zones 4-8.
Height: 12”
Bloom Color: pinkish-purple
Bloom Time: spring
Light: full sun/part shade.

Garlic Chives are worth the long wait! When the summer flowers are fading, these beauties are just getting started. What a perfect way to extent your garden blooms for your local pollinators! Garlic chives are hardy in USDA zones 3-9.
Height: 18”
Bloom Color: white
Bloom Time: late sum-fall
Light: full sun/part shade.

*I sow both chive varieties outside, about 6 weeks before my average last frost date.

Our motto is simple… “Plant a flower, save a bee”! 💚 Roda

Note: We order both chive varieties from Botanical Interests

All photos belong to Indigo Acres Apiary

Hyssop: A Must for Your Garden

Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is one of my favorite perennial herbs to grow from seed. These plants are loaded with purple, nectar-rich flowers, beginning mid-summer. Hyssop makes a beautiful feature in any garden and is stunning when mass planted. The hyssop plants in our gardens and meadows are always buzzing with bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects.

This hardy perennial herb is native to the U.S. Hyssop is drought tolerant and grows on woody stems that are loaded with long leafy spikes and filled with tiny flowers.

Hyssop has a sweet scent, with leaves that have a warm, slightly bitter taste. Use the leaves and some honey from your local beekeeper to make tea.

I start my hyssop seeds indoors, 6 weeks before my average last frost date. (May 15 -zone 5b)

Height: 24”-48”
Bloom Color: Lavender-Blue
Bloom Time: Summer
Light: Full Sun to Part Shade

As garden catalogs continue to fill your mailbox, make sure you add hyssop to your wish list!

Note: All of my hyssop seeds come from Botanical Interests

Happy Seed Starting!


Beekeeper Roda’s Story

My name is Roda. I am the owner of Indigo Acres Apiary in Rockford, Michigan. I was born a nature girl. I spent my childhood exploring the woods, catching critters, and gardening with my dad. Even then, I was easily distracted by bees, butterflies, and blooms. I would spend hours with my little Kodak camera trying to capture nature from behind the lens.

As an adult, I knew I wanted to make a difference. I became a teacher and spent over 20 years in the world of elementary education. But, I still had a dream. I closed the door on my career and opened a new door. I was determined to spend my days outside, in my gardens, chasing bees with my camera.

Indigo Acres was established in 2014. We began to transform our 13 acres into what we like to call our “staycation”. We built a barn and expanded our gardens. Our family began to grow with lots of furry and feathered friends. But, there was one very special edition that still needed to happen… My sweet bees. After years of research, I finally felt prepared to begin my beekeeping adventure!

For the past 6 years, I have spent my days living my dreams. I talk to the animals, dig in the dirt, and dance with the bees. Our apiary continues to grow each year, as our gardens and meadows expand. I feel it is my duty, as a beekeeper, to provide chemical free forage and soil for all pollinators.

As of spring 2020, I will be the proud mama of 25+ colonies, and our apiary is still growing! When I am not tending to the bees and gardens, I enjoy inspiring others through our summer Hive Tours and Bee Camp for Kids.

My advice…Live your best life! Follow your heart and make your dream a reality. 💚 Roda

The Beauty of Borage

Planting a pollinator garden is a wonderful gift for the bees. Considering they pollinate 1/3 of the food we eat, planting bee friendly flowers is the least we can do to give back. If you are wondering where to start and what to plant, borage is always on the top of my list!

Borage (Borago officinalis) is an annual herb that is loved by bees and other beneficial insects for its pale, runny nectar. These beautiful flowers are abundant from late spring to late fall, making it a perfect choice to support the bees during a late summer nectar dearth. Borage is one of the last flowers blooming in our pollinator gardens, when the fall frost begins to arrive.

This annual herb grows easily from seed. There is no need to start borage indoors. Sow it directly outdoors, 1-2 weeks before your average last frost date. Borage self-seeds prolifically, so make sure you plant it where you really want it!

Borage has many human benefits as well:
•The edible flowers can be used to decorate cakes, candies and summer salads.
•Freeze the flowers in ice cubes to add to summer drinks.
•Cook young borage leaves and stems to add to soups and salads. (Borage has a cucumber-like taste.)
•Use the leaves for an herbal tea.

Height: 2-3ft
Bloom Color: Mainly blue, but pink may be observed.
Bloom Time: June-September
Light: Full sun to part shade

Note: I purchase all of my borage seeds from Botanical Interests.

Our motto is simple: “Plant a Flower, Save a Bee!”

Happy planting! Roda

Inspect with a Purpose

As spring arrives, I become more and more excited to begin hive inspections. As much as I enjoy inspections, I want to make sure I am not opening a hive just to say “hello” to my sweet ladies. Before I inspect a hive, I make sure I have a purpose for the inspection.

Beekeeper Roda

For example:
•Is the colony showing signs of swarming?
•Does the colony have enough honey and pollen stores?
•Is there a queen present?
•Is it time for their monthly mite check?

Note: My goal is to have each hive open no longer than 10-15 minutes. As long as I see eggs, I know the queen has been present over the past few days.

Queen Thelma

Keeping detailed notes during each hive inspection, allows me to have a plan of action for future inspections. If I am just checking for pollen and honey stores, there is no reason to disrupt the entire brood nest. On the other hand, if I am checking on the status of my queen, once I find a frame filled with eggs, I am set.

Capped honey (white) & capped brood (yellow)

Before I begin my inspections, I check my previous notes and make sure I have a purpose for opening the hive. Through consistent observation and detailed record keeping, many colony issues can be avoided.

Think ahead and expect the unexpected! ~Roda

For more about Indigo Acres Apiary, visit our About Us page!

Let’s Talk Pollen!

Pollen is a protein food source for the bees. This powdery substance is collected from flowers, by the forager bees, and brought back to the hive and stored in cells. Pollen is then used to make bee bread, (a mixture of honey and pollen) as well as royal jelly. Pollen is also the main source of amino acids in the honey bee diet. Bees collect a variety of pollen types to be healthy, just as we humans consume a variety of foods.

Pollen color varies, from plant to plant. For example, these are some of the pollen sources/colors that bloom in our gardens and meadows:

  • Marigold: Orange
  • Aster: Reddish Yellow
  • Sunflower: Golden Orange
  • Goldenrod: Golden Yellow
  • Raspberry:Light Grey

Throughout the season, the ladies store a serious amount of pollen for the winter. This makes my heart so happy. As a beekeeper, I feel it is my job to provide pollinator friendly flowers, shrubs and trees for my sweet bees. When people ask me how many colonies I would ultimately like to have, my answer is, “As many as our 13 acres can support.” Would I love 100 colonies? Yes! But, I feel it is important to have balance.

When I committed to becoming a beekeeper, I committed to providing for not only my honey bees, but for my local pollinators. Expanding Indigo Acres Apiary also means expanding our pollinator gardens/meadows. I would love to be able to count on the forage that is within 2 miles of our home, but I just can’t. By providing chemical free forage, I know our ladies are healthy and safe. Maybe I am an overprotective bee mama, but I like to encourage my sweet bees to remain close to home.

As you are planning for your spring garden, keep in mind that planting a variety of pollinator friendly plants is most beneficial. Although sunflowers are a wonderful choice, adding sunflowers, borage, and hyssop provide not only pollen variety, but blooms that will support your local pollinators throughout the seasons.

Our motto here at Indigo Acres Apiary is simple: “Plant a Flower, Save a Bee!”

Let’s Bee Inspired! Roda

For more information about Indigo Acres Apiary, visit our About Us Page!

Planting a Larval Host Garden

As much as I love to talk about my sweet bees, today I want to share how you can help your local butterflies by planting a larval host garden.

When people share with me what they are planting for their local pollinators, one of the first plants listed is the butterfly bush (buddleia davidii). Although this plant is beautiful and a wonderful nectar source, it is considered invasive in many areas.

If you choose to plant a butterfly bush in your garden, I highly recommend planting it in a container. You can also purchase a sterile cultivator. These plants produce a minimal amount of seeds compared to the non-sterile varieties.

More importantly, the butterfly bush is NOT a larval host plant. Insects require a host plant for reproduction. The butterfly offspring needs to be able to feed on the leaves of native species for survival.

Host Plant Recommendations:

Here are just a few wonderful host plants that you can add to your gardens for the butterflies:

  • Herbs: hyssop, dill, mint
  • Perennials: aster, hollyhock, milkweed, purple coneflower, wild indigo, joe-pye weed, sedum & black-eyed susan
  • Cover Crops: alfalfa, clover, mustard
  • Grasses: bluegrass, bluestem, sedge, & switch grass
  • Trees: black cherry, oak, poplar, tulip tree, pawpaw & willow
  • Vines: honeysuckle, hops, moon flower & Passion flower
  • Shrubs: false indigo, spicebush, viburnum, lilac

Note: If you are looking to bring monarchs to your backyard gardens, plant a variety of milkweeds. Milkweed is the ONLY host plant for the monarch butterfly.

💚 Note: I purchase my milkweed seeds from Botanical Interests

Spring is just around the corner!

It is never too early to start planning for this year’s gardening season.

If you have a passion for butterflies, check out our Monarch note card set in our online shop!

Monarch note card set

Autumn Gifts

Bee on flower 5

Here in West Michigan, our leaves are changing and there is definitely a chill in the air. Hello, October! I feel like it was just yesterday that I was saying “hello” to our sweet honey bees, after a long and challenging winter. Time sure flies when you are doing what you love!

Here are a few highlights from our 2019 beekeeping season…

  • Autumn honey bee note card set
  • Hydrangea note card set
  • Monarch note card set
  • Garden Friends Note Card Set
  • Garden whimsy note card set
  • Beekeeper note card set
  • Bees & Blooms Note Card Set

A sneak peek at what’s in store for 2020…

  • Summer Bee Camp for kids! Watch our Bee Camp 2020 Page for more information coming soon!
  • Expansion: We are adding 7-10 new honey bee colonies to our woodland meadow, spring 2020.
  • We will continue to expand our current pollinator gardens/meadows for not only our sweet bees, but for our local pollinators!

THANK YOU to everyone that supported Indigo Acres Apiary this season!

We can’t wait to share our passion with you in 2020!

Plant a Flower, Save a Bee

Warmly, Roda

Honey: Order Your Hive Share Today!

bees and honey

Hive Share orders are officially open! There are many benefits to purchasing a share, of one of our beehives:

  • You will not have to worry about running out of honey before next year’s harvest. You will have honey for the entire year!
  • You will receive a discounted rate.
  • Order early, and you will have the opportunity to meet our bees and learn where your honey comes from, during a complimentary Hive Tour!

Visit our “Honey” page for more details!

Hard at Work!

Artistic Hives

One of the unique elements, at Indigo Acres Apiary, is our brightly painted beehives! There is nothing like a field of wildflowers or a manicured pollinator garden, filled with artistic beehives, to spread the joy of nature…

Clover Meadow Hives
Pollinator Garden Hives
Evergreen Grove Hives
Painting Honey Supers!
If you can’t find Roda, with the bees or in the gardens, she is probably painting.
Thematic Hives…these two seem a bit “Wicked”

Are you looking for an exciting West Michigan adventure, this summer? Visit Indigo Acres Apiary and sign up for one of our Hive Tours or Beekeeping Sessions. We can’t wait to share our amazing honeybees with you!

Save the Bees!