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Introduction to Beekeeping with The Hive Supply Chicago — 9 Mind-Blowing Facts

Here, at Simply Wood Rings, we strive for eco-consciousness and sustainability; so, naturally we are interested in local initiatives that encourage such practices. The NWI Times.com reported that Mayor Daley began a green roof initiative on Chicago's City Hall in 2000 and three years later added two beehives housing about 10, 000 bees. Today, the number has grown to an estimated 160,000 bees. But that’s just the tip of the proverbial beehive. Last Sunday, I attended a Beekeeping 101 course taught by Naaman Gambill at the ReBuilding exchange (Bucktown). Naaman runs The Hive Supply Chicago (Homan Square) with his partner John Hansen who, Naaman told us, has 40 years of beekeeping experience in Chicago.

The Hive Supply Chicago

Photo: TheHiveSupply.com

The course was a three-hour introduction to the topic of urban beekeeping. It was amazing to learn about bees in a context I had never had the opportunity to do before. Naaman began the lesson with an overview of hives and provided information about basic necessities for urban beekeeping.

Here are a few things I learned :

1. If you're interested in keeping bees in Chicago, you’re easily allowed up to five hives on your property.

The only requirement is that you register with the Illinois Department of Agriculture which consists of filling out a “brief one-page form and mailing it to the IDOA.” This process is free of charge and you will receive access to necessary, yearly inspections from a IDOA Apiary Inspector. Naaman explained that the inspectors are actually there to help you in any way possible — they are there to serve the beekeeping industry.

2. There is such a thing called “bee space.”

Bee-space is the amount of space bees need to move around in the hive—this is typically 3/8” to 1/4”.  The amount of bee-space you allow for in your hives determines the amount of propolis — a type of bee glue — and comb that the bees will produce.

SWR Bee Space

Bee-Space

3. There is one queen per hive — around 20,000 bees in total. 

When a colony starts or an old queen retires, queen bees hatch and then duel it out GoT-style. 

4. ….And she only mates with drones from other colonies.

Drone bees are male (non-worker) bees and take up about 3% of a beehive population. Within a hive, they are virtually useless. These bees are the first to sacrifice themselves in times of bee-hardship (i.e. disease or cold spells) as they live on the flanks of the colony.

5. One hive can produce up to 62 lbs of honey. On average, hives produce around 29 lbs a year.

And they fly pretty far to make it. According to the British Beekeepers Association website "Bees fly about 55,000 miles to make just one pound." 

6. Bees are very type-A.

They remove pests and dead/dying pees as soon as possible. However, when a pest finds its way into the hive — the colony will sting the pest (for example a mouse) to death and then, if they’re unable to carry it out, they completely seal off the pest in propolis, i.e. that bee glue I mentioned in no. 2.

Bee Dance Video by Georgia Tech College of Computing

Screenshot from The Waggle Dance of the Honey Bee video published by Georgia Tech College of Computing

7. Bees are highly skilled communicators. Especially through dances.

Bees are hyper aware of time and space. Bees know where the sun is at all times because they have a polarized lenses and an internal clock. They utilize encoded dance moves (wiggling, figure-eight patterns, orientation, length of dance time, and pheromone expression) to indicate to each other where food and water supplies exist outside of the hive.

8. Also, when bees rub against each other they are communicating through pheromones.

The pheromones act as a sort of telephone-game relaying back to the queen, who makes decisions about how safe and healthy the colony is. If her own pheromones take too long to travel back to her, she knows the hive is getting too large and she must leave with part of the colony and allow the remainder to choose a new queen.

9. Different breeds of bees have different temperaments.

For example, Italian bees are comparatively gentle while Russian bees are more defensive in nature. Naaman suggested that, of the existing breeds, Carniolan bees have the best combination of traits while still maintaining a hardiness that is suited to Chicago’s climate.

Bees are amazing creatures and they’re integral to the health of our ecosystem. There are tons of beekeeping communities in Chicago and resources available on urban beekeeping and I’d encourage you to check them out. Below are a few links to get you started. Have a great week!

The Hive Supply Chicago

Cook Dupage Beekeeping Association

Chicago Honey Co-Op

Garfield Park Conservatory

Windy City Beekeepers Association

Westside Bee Boyz

Belmont Feed and Seed 

Class Materials at The Hive Supply Chicago, photo taken by Madeeha

Class Materials at The Hive Supply Chicago, photo taken by Madeeha Lamoreaux

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How much to spend on an Engagement ring?

The age old question: How much should you spend on an engagement ring? 

It's been answered with "two months' salary" for years and years.
Do you really need to spend that? Is that what everyone really thinks? How many people believe that?

A study done by GoBankingRates suggests that just isn't the case. They surveyed 5,000 adults and offered them 7 options. The results are shown below...

Image via GoBankingRates

As you can see, there are more people that thought money was no object or spending less than $1000 was appropriate. It seems that the classic advice of two months' salary is out the door.

What does that mean for you? It means looking for an engagement ring your significant other will love!

  •  Know their style.
    Are they super simple? Do they love the outdoors or would they rather shop till they drop? 
  • Know your budget.
    There's no need to get into debt before you're married, this is a new step in your relationship and it should be enjoyed. Meaning isn't determined by price.

Breaking Traditions Wood Wedding

Vintage provided ring capped with walnut and turquoise

Birdseye maple with silver and sapphire inlay

Rosewood with turquoise inlay and bezel set topaz

"Breaking Traditions"
Mahogany, birch with inlayed crushed stones

​As for us, we love using materials that have meaning for our customers. Creating rings with materials that are provided give an extra feature for them. Hearing the stories behind why they're important is what gives their ring value to them as well as to us. While you're out shopping for a ring whether it be together or purchasing a ring for a surprise proposal, think about what makes you happy and what gives value to you and your significant other. 

If you're loving our rings we'll always be here to create something special for you!​

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How to have an eco-friendly Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is right around the corner and we know that it can be hard to try to stay eco friendly during the holidays when so much is happening at once! We have researched some tips for how to try to stay eco-friendly during Thanksgiving to help you in your efforts!

One way is to get food from a farmers market and support local farmers.

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Commercial canning of vegetables uses 3 billion kWh of energy per annum. That’s enough to run more than 8.5 million refrigerators for an entire year! Also the transportation of food across the world uses so much gas that buying local makes a huge difference.

By avoiding canned goods, you’ll also be cutting down on your exposure to BPA – a hormone disrupting chemical that lines tin cans…which even the FDA has ‘some concerns’ about.

When celebrating with family, try to go with some cloth napkins instead of paper ones. Again, while the paper ones are convenient, they’re incredibly wasteful and most definitely not eco-friendly. Did you know that the average American uses 2,200 two-ply paper napkins per year? That’s 662 billion napkins ending up in American trash cans every twelve months!

Another way to try to be conscious of your eco-footprint this year is to make sure to avoid wasting food. Try to only make enough for everyone and don't have leftovers that you will just end up throwing away. 

Also why not try a candle-lit dinner this year? Using candles instead of electricity the whole night will create ambiance and be romantic while saving the environment.

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Your green efforts don’t have to end just because the meal has! When it’s time for the clean-up, you can make further green choices.

Conventional cleaners are chock-full of chemicals which are hazardous to both the environment and our health. Overhaul your arsenal of cleaning products with some homemade versions – most of which can be made from items you already have in your kitchen.

We hope this helped you think of some ways to be as eco-friendly as possible this holiday season and that you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families! 

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4 Ways to Give Eco-Friendly Gifts This Season!

Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Ideas

Are you in a crisis because you want to give awesome gifts this holiday season but don't want to contribute to the mass production and consumption that comes along with it? Want to try to stay eco-conscious this season? We have some ideas for how you can give without feeling guilty! 

1) Donate to an Animal Sanctuary or Environmental Charity

Animal sanctuaries are amazing places and exist all across the world and giving a donation to an animal sanctuary is a way to avoid contributing to the big companies selling presents this holiday season. If you know your bestie's favorite animal, you could make a donation in their name and even get them a little photograph or plush toy of the animal. Some sanctuaries that are great are Farm Sanctuary and Bat World. Farm Sanctuary gives a photo and birth certificate with your “adoption” of an animal and Bat World provides a picture, birth certificate, and some other cool perks as well.

Consider donating in your friend's name to the Environmental Defense Fund, National Resources Defense Council, The Sierra Club, or any other foundation they are a fan of. 

EDF Logo Background

2) Gift an Experience

Giving an experience as a present, like a class or a trip to a winery is a great gift idea. It gets people out of their comfort zone to do things they have never done before and could even spawn a new hobby. You may even get asked to join!

Penguin Foot Pottery Chicago

Gift a class at Penguin Foot pottery in Chicago

3) Make a gift from scratch

Giving a gift that you took time out of your life to make is a really great thing to give! It shows how much you care about someone and makes them feel extremely cared for. It is also a great way to cut down on excessive production this holiday season. You could try your hand at candle making or even knitting. It may even spawn a new hobby....

The best resource for DIY crafts is of course Pinterest. I've been obsessing over polymer clay recently and Pinterest has some really beautiful instructables and inspiration. 

Polymer Clay Necklace
Polymer Clay Necklace
Polymer Clay Necklace

4) Growable Gifts

Giving someone a little life to grow is an amazing present. Having plants around increases positivity and growing one can make you feel accomplished as well.

Making a little seed starter kit or a terrarium is a great way to create something small and growable for a loved one. Also, how many other gifts can release oxygen into the atmosphere?

If you're in Chicago, check out the local business Alapash in Ravenswood that offers ready-made terrariums and kits. 

Alapash Home and Terrarium


Don't forget to look through our ring selection for some eco-conscious gifts as well! 

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Strength Of Souls

We are pleased to introduce a new set of rings to all of you: our Strength of Souls set!  This ring set pairs oak bands with an inlay of malachite and turquoise to create a very significant ring for the wearer. We really love making these rings, and I will explain why below!!

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The Strength of Souls set represents strength.. For a couple it shows how two people who support and love one another can weather any storm, and these rings represent that journey. If you only wear one for yourself, it shows that you are a strong grounded person who knows what they stand for. The Oak tree has a long history of representing strength, as well as malachite and turquoise. 

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Oak

Oak is a wood native to the northern hemisphere and it represents strength and a noble spirit. The Ancient Celts observed the oak tree’s massive growth and impressive expanse and they realized that this tree can endure most things. They also observed that oak trees attract lightening and they thought this made them even more powerful. Oak trees are known to live for over 200 years which shows how strong and stable they are during all the things they endure. Ancient people also made doors from oak because of the tree’s strength. They believed these doors would keep out evil spirits. This tree is known to represent truth and knowledge.

Turquoise

Turquoise was found in many burial sites of warriors throughout both north and south america because of the strength of the stone. in the Orient, rings and amulets were used to protect against evil spirits. Turkish soldiers would wear turquoise to prevent falls while riding their horses in battle. The apaches believed there would be turquoise at the end of a rainbow for good luck.

Malachite 

Inherent in Malachite is lighter green eye-shaped forms or bands on its surface. These "eye stones," believed to enhance great visionary powers, were used to ward off negative happenings. They were stones of security and protection for children, and their most remarkable association today is the ability to warn of impending danger by breaking into pieces. It is a Stone of Transformation, assisting one in changing situations and providing for spiritual growth. Malachite is a protection stone, absorbing negative energies and pollutants from the atmosphere and from the body. As a stone of transformation, Malachite encourages change and emotional risk-taking.

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What Makes Willow Wood so Wonderful?

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Willow is the Birthwood that represents the month os September and is one of our favorite woods! The willow tree has always been one of my favorite trees, but it can be used for many different things and has many different meanings! 

Willow Tree

Willow is a decidedly aromatic tree found most often near waterways throughout temperate regions. It has a history of a long- standing relationship of usefulness- medicinal, magical, and otherwise. The willow tree is most associated with the moon, water, Goddesses, and all that is feminine. It is the tree of dreaming and deep emotions. It is a tree of enchantment and was associated in Celtic folklore with poets and spells of fascination. The energy of the willow wood puts us in touch with our deepest emotions and inspires us to come to an understanding of ourselves. It stimulates our intuituve side and helps us find the right path in life. 

Willow Wood

The North American indigenous tribe called the Seneca, has a long bond with the willow tree. They consider it to be a source of gentile humility, charm, and grace. 

On an herbal level, willow bark has been used for it's pain-relieving qualities for at least 2,000 years. All varieties of the tree can be used as an eyewash, to clear skin, and get rid of dandruff. Willow has also been known to be useful in cases of nervousness and hysteria. It can be used to loosen the chest when someone is sick with a cough or pneumonia as well. 

Now that you know some more about the willow tree, check out our Birthwood ring section to see our Willow Wood ring and the rest of our Birthwood line! 

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Things to do in Chicago for Labor Day Weekend!

Three day weekends are the best! If you are like me, you like to get out and about on a long three day weekend, but sometimes can't think of anything to do. Here is a list of some cool things going on around Chicago this weekend if you need some help figuring out where to go! 

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Photo courtesy of navypier.com

Fireworks at Navy Pier 

Every Wednesday and Saturday throughout the summer, Navy Pier has a fireworks show that starts around 9 - 10 pm. This Saturday is the last fireworks show of the summer at 10:15 pm! You can also schedule a fireworks cruise if you prefer to see them from a boat in the middle of the lake. Check out times and pictures here: https://navypier.com/fireworks/

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Photo Courtesy of seatageek.com

Taste of Polonia 

Starting September 2nd and going until the 5th, you can check out Taste of Polonia at The Copernicus Center in Chicago. The festival celebrates Polish culture and has tons of food  and drinks to choose from. There will be performances, carnival games, and things for people of all ages! You can have access to all the fun for just 10 dollars as well! Get more info from their site: http://topchicago.org/

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Photo courtesy of americanlobserfest.com

Great American Lobster Fest 

The Great American Lobster Fest is the Midwest's biggest seafood festival! It takes place at Navy Pier on September 2nd and September 3rd. They have all the lobster you can ever imagine in one place, plus live music and shopping. There Is also a lobster brunch cruise on the 4th taking off from Navy Pier! Check it out here: http://www.americanlobsterfest.com/​

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Photo courtesy of Everfest.com

African Festival of the Arts

The African Festival of the Arts always takes place on Labor Day weekend in Washington Park. The park turns into a simulated African village and is filled with performances and art. They even have an African marketplace so you can shop til your heart desires. Read more here! https://www.everfest.com/e/african-festival-of-the-arts-chicago-il

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Photo Courtesy of cityofchicago.com

Chicago Jazz Festival 

    One of the most infamous music festivals in the country happens right here in our own backyard. The Jazz fest has been around for some time and people come from all over to hear the jazz musicians who grace the stages. If you have a chance to go, you definitely don't want to miss the music! Check out the lineup here:http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/chicago_jazz_festival.html/

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What is a Moissanite?

While browsing our site, you may have noticed that we use what is called a moissanite in almost all of our rings with stones in them. I have realized that most people don't know what exactly a moissanite is, and have never even heard of it before viewing our rings! Well, I am here to let you know just exactly what a moissanite is!

Moissanites are stones that are an eco-friendly alternative to diamonds. Most people want diamonds in their rings because of the sparkle and hardness of them, which is totally understandable! The only thing is that diamonds are not always eco-friendly and most of the time their origins are unknown. This is why a scientist named Henri Moissan created an alternative to diamonds. He discovered moissanite crystals in a crater that was created by a meteorite in 1893. He realized these crystals had more brilliance than a diamond and he found out they were composed of silicon carbonate.  Since the crystals are extremely hard to find in nature being that they come from a meteorite, he decided to start growing them in science labs. Henri Moissan later won the nobel prize for his discoveries. 

The moissanites that we get to use in our wooden rings come from a company called Charles and Colvard. They are one of the top leading moissanite distributors in the world. Moissanites have been proven to have a hardness of 9.25 on the Mohs scale of hardness, which makes it one of the hardest substances on earth!  This means that it can resist all surface scratching as well as having an incredible brilliance to it. 

Since we are an eco-friendly business and are incredibly conscious of where all our materials come from, we really couldn't find anything better than moissanites to use in our rings. We hope you love them just as much as we do!! 

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Wood Ring Tales – Adam and Vicki

We haven't posted a Wood Ring Tales in a while for you, so here is our newest story! Adam and Vicki are two of our customers who made some very personalized rings for themselves. We are always happy to create custom orders, especially creating rings that can be paired with engagement rings like Vicki's.  Here is an excerpt from the ceremony that the couple shared with us:

The ring is a symbol of the unbroken circle of love, of family and commitment. These rings are made of Black Walnut, taken from a tree planted by Vicki's grandparents, Tom and Ann Niblock. Black Walnut has also played a significant role in Adams life; it was our grandfather's favorite nut, and several black walnut trees dotted the family homestead. Inlaid in Vicki’s ring are stones that they collected from the beach in Delaware, where they first pledged their commitment to each other through engagement.

Adam and Vicki, your choice of this wood for your rings is fitting. Your marriage, like a tree, is a living, breathing thing. It must be carefully nurtured, to allow its roots to spread and deepen. Over time, it will change, never the same from year to year, but ever growing and increasing in strength. It will witnesses the passing of the seasons, and through every winter, it will keep faith in the hope of spring. It will weather storms and rejoice in the warmth of the sun. May these rings always remind you of the vows you have taken.

We love their story and we are so happy that we were able to create something so special for them! Congrats Adam and Vicki! Below are some pictures from the ceremony. 

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Hollywood In Chicago


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Photo via americastours.net

      Here at the shop, we are all big film lovers. Our shop is located inside a building in Chicago called the Midland Building, and we found out that part of the movie Divergent was filmed on our roof! We thought it was so cool that we should share it with you. The Midland Building is an old industrial building, which is a perfect setting for the futuristic, sci-fi, urban dystopia in Divergent. You can see other distinguishable landmarks in the movie, like the Willis Tower, the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier, and the Chicago River. 

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Divergent was filmed with the company Cinespace, which is a block away from our building. Cinespace is responsible for shows like Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., and Empire. We even saw Sophia Bush on the street one day while walking to lunch! If you ever want to try to catch a glimpse of a movie or T.V. show being filmed, head on over to Pilsen to check it out! 

Below is a video that shows the characters jumping onto the Midland Building! 

Check out Cinespace by going to their website: http://www.chicagofilmstudios.com