Return To The Office – How Plants Can Help

In March, people from all over the UK found themselves in a unique situation. Most were not used to working from home but, suddenly, had to adapt to a new situation. Remote working quickly became the norm and many people have truly enjoyed the experience; however, there is no denying that this type of work also has several drawbacks.

Below, we’re taking a look at the good and bad of working from home – and how plants can help to prepare for a return to the office.

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

Pros

Apart from self-employed individuals, such as freelancers, remote working was new for the vast majority of people. Most have adapted very well to the circumstances and have reported an increase in their productivity and efficiency. In fact, in a recent survey, 43% of bosses surveyed found that remote work had a positive impact on productivity since lockdown started.

After all, working from home allows you to have more flexibility when it comes to work hours, since you are able to create or adapt your schedule to fit your lifestyle. This means more time with family too.

It might also be your case that working in an office means having to deal with distractions that bring down your productivity levels; so, you may find that working from home allows you to focus on work and makes it easier to take a break.

Another benefit is not having to commute. Not only is commuting time-consuming and, therefore, an interference on work-life balance, but it can also be expensive. Due to this, you probably appreciate being able to save money on fuel or train fares; working from home also means you’re not spending money on coffee runs and eating out.

Cons

However, while there is no doubt that working from home offers a host of benefits, it can also have several downsides, which make people keen to return to the office.

A big issue with remote working is isolation. If you’re used to chatting with colleagues on a daily basis, you probably miss the face-to-face interactions and might end up feeling lonely. Loneliness is not conducive to productivity or creativity. On the contrary, if you feel lonely, you will likely feel less motivated and without energy as well.

Another disadvantage of remote working is how boring the experience can quickly become. Before the COVID-19 pandemic and world-wide lockdown measures, you may have dreamed of working from home. However, it’s clear that looking at the same four walls every day without a change of scenery can be harmful to your mental health. This means cabin fever, stress or depression.

Working from home blurs the lines between professional and personal lives, as you may have been forced to work from your kitchen, bedroom or living room. Not every home environment is appropriate for remote work either, be it because of children in the room or simply lack of space, which can have a negative impact on work.

Something else to consider is how out of touch people have felt with their wider business community and with their clients. In the office, it’s easier for you to communicate with your peers, partners and customers but, when working from home, these connections are not as strong.

Returning to the Office

A lot of people are still working remotely but a return to the office is now imminent.

Of course, it’s not expected that businesses demand everyone returns to the office at once. This will likely be a phased-in return in line with current government guidance, which will see the slow re-introduction of the office to the many individuals working from home or on furlough.

It’s crucial that workplaces ensure the safety and comfort of their staff, and you’ll be surprised at the key role plants can play in this process.

Plant Barriers

For example, plants can be used to delineate areas and teams. They allow you to implement social distancing measures easily and, because you’re using plants instead of tape to mark spaces, your employees can benefit from a green and aesthetically pleasing office.

A 2016 study found that cognition can be boosted by 26% in green workspaces, and that people’s wellbeing and productivity improve with plants around them as well. This makes adding green barriers to the office a great argument.

Replacing Desks with Plants

If, because of social distancing, you have to remove desks, you don’t want the office to look sparse and empty. Adding plants to the newly vacated spots is a great solution because it makes the office look attractive and vibrant.

Plants Help with Anxiety

A fantastic benefit of plants in the office is that they ease anxiety and stress levels, perfect to help with the current circumstances.

Plants reduce stress at work, as they help people feel calmer and more positive. Both having visual access to plants and being allowed to care for them (passive and active involvement) can have a calming effect. So, by adding plants to the workplace, you can help your staff fight anxiety and stay relaxed.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you to prepare for a return to the office with our plants and to create a peaceful environment that your employees will love.

 

 

6 Plants That Induce Sleep

The Daily Mirror once reported that over a third of the British public was suffering from sleep problems. The NHS have since provided a report that considers the methods in which this information was gathered, and how much the results should be trusted. To surmise, the final evaluation was that the report was not, and never pretended to be, a scientific study and therefore should be treated with caution.

On the other hand, it is not wrong that a worryingly large percentage of people do struggle with their sleep, and poor sleep can negatively impact an individual’s life in many areas. The Daily Mirror brought sleep back to the centre of public thought, and since then, other studies about how sleep patterns affect mental health and physical health have become more widely read.

Bedroom with plants biophillia

How Can I Improve My Sleep?

There are many things that you can do to improve your sleep. You could avoid taking caffeinated products and drinks before bedtime, engage in relaxing activities before bed, and set regular times to encourage good habits, but you could also consider adding some plant life to your bedroom.

We are experts with indoor plants and indoor flowers, so let us help you to achieve a better night’s sleep with some natural interior design changes.

 

Lavender

The scent of lavender is well known for being relaxing. Scientifically, it has been shown to reduce blood pressure and heart rate, which is beneficial if you find yourself struggling with anxiety when you get into bed.

Many people use lavender spray on their pillows, others use pouches of dried lavender in their pyjama drawers to scent their sleep clothes, but we think that the best solution is a pot of fresh lavender by your bed. Lavender has a beautiful colour that you will appreciate every morning, whilst its scent calms your nights.

Lavender plants like warmth and sunlight, so keep one on your windowsill.

(Sansevieria) Snake Plant

Air quality is another factor that might be affecting your ability to sleep easily and through the night. We spend a lot of time breathing moisture into our bedrooms, and this can increase the humidity levels in the room, especially if you keep the door shut as this decreases air circulation around your house.

High humidity increases the likelihood of mould and dust mites, which can affect your ability to breathe and leave you with a poor night’s sleep. Snake plants are great at pumping oxygen into your bedroom to improve your air quality, and their large leaves are also good for removing plenty of harmful chemicals such as xylene, trichloroethylene, toluene, benzene, and formaldehyde.

Peace Lily

Air that is too damp can cause plenty of problems, but dry air can also be an issue for sleep. If your bedroom has an issue with dry air, you might be better using a peace lily. These lilies can increase your bedroom’s humidity by up to 5%, which is known to decrease dry skin and hair, static electricity, and increased susceptibility to colds (ApartmentTherapy).

A peace lily will not require much watering or light, so you can keep it right next to your bed without worrying that it has enough resources.

Aloe

Aloe is a popular plant in most households, famous for its ability to soothe minor cuts, burns, bites and dry skin – but have you thought about introducing one into your bedroom? Aloe vera makes oxygen at night-time, which is great for your bedroom’s environment. Aloe likes a lot of sun, so keep it in the window next to your lavender.

Happy aloe plant

Areca Palm

Areca palm is known for being one of the best air purifiers. Like the snake plant, it has great ability in removing toxins from the air. The areca palm is also a natural air humidifier, ensuring that bedroom maintains great air quality while you sleep.

This plant requires a lot of bright but indirect light. If the light is too harsh, the leaves will turn yellow. Keep your areca palm healthy by keeping the soil moist during the spring and summer, allowing it to dry out between watering in autumn and winter.

English Ivy

If your bedroom struggles with damp, English ivy is another plant that can help to combat some of the issues that could be causing poor respiration in your bedroom. This sprawling, leafy plant is fantastic at collecting airborne mould – preventing you from ingesting it and developing an infection.

Are Plants in the Bedroom Harmful?

No, most plants are not harmful to keep in your bedroom. Plants produce small amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) during the day which some people worry about, but they produce far less than a human partner or pet and are therefore they are not harmful to your home. These plants’ ability to produce oxygen means that they are actually very beneficial sleeping partners.

For more information about putting plants on your premises, go to our blog.

Outside Spaces and How to Make the Most of Them

Outside spaces at the workplace can often be forgotten about, but we’re looking to change that.  An outside space can be a place for relaxation, re-energising, and creativity.  We strive to encourage more businesses to incorporate popular biophilic trends by blurring the lines between indoors and out – and we love to discuss the benefits of doing so.

Here, you can learn about some of the best ways to use your outdoors spaces, as well as how to bring a piece of the outdoors into your establishment with indoor office plants.

Flexible Meeting Spaces

If you’re working in close proximity to a park or garden, using this space to hold meetings could prove to be great for morale – especially during warm weather.  Of course, we wouldn’t recommend hosting any meetings that will include information that is confidential to your clients, but taking a break from the office to discuss internal changes, processes or brainstorming will maintain efficiency with time, and may even help your workers to stay productive later into the working day.

 

Informal Lunch Area

Many offices have difficulty keeping their indoor air quality at healthy levels, so encouraging staff to take a break in the outdoors can improve  health and concentration. Particle pollution is known to poorly affect physical and mental health, and indoor spaces are typically ten times worse for this pollution than outdoors. Taking a break from particle pollution can do wonders for the help and headspace of your staff, so if it’s a nice day – why not suggest a picnic? Ideally, if you do have some viable outdoor space at your office, providing table and chairs to create an alfresco area which can be used for eating, taking a coffee break or having an informal meeting is an excellent idea.

Breakout!

Help to boost health and wellbeing, by turning your outdoor space into a useable attractive area for a quick spell outside for formalised lunchtimes. When under duress a break outside can help staff to reset and return with a fresh can-do attitude, whether they’ve just struggled with an intense call with a client or business partner, or a busy morning with back-to-back activity. Plants and nature have plenty of restorative qualities. Your business could easily be enjoying these benefits with minimal cost.  The added benefit of topping up vitamin D levels in the sunshine and taking in the view of green plants will also help to improve immune systems to work optimally and keep your workforce healthier and happier.

Bringing the Outdoors IN

In many cases, a green attractive outdoor space may not be within a lunchtime walking distance of the office.  And you may not be lucky enough to have accessible outdoor space of your own.  In this case, you may be looking to bring aspects of the outdoors into your workspace so that staff and guests can still reap some of the benefits of natural elements and plants.

Looking around your office, you may find some areas that can easily be converted into a green space. Think about you dining area, or communal areas such as locker tops, or break out rooms.  Here are some popular methods that modern businesses use to bring biophilic benefits into their place of work:

Entrances

Often overlooked but integral to the first impressions of your business, the entrance can be a fabulous place to start adding some greenery.  Not only important for your guests, a green entrance will suggest positivity to your workers as they enter and leave your establishment.

There are a number of methods for increasing your kerb-appeal, including window boxes and external green walls, but you might also choose to add an internal moss wall to your lobby area, large and unique planting options by the door, and table posies in waiting areas.

If you’re interested about installing a green wall for your business, we recommend reading our blogs on this topic:

Can I have a Living Wall?

It’s Alive! Buildings with Living Walls

Moss Walls: Q & A

 

Roof

Green roofing is a brilliant idea – looking out for your office window, a green roof nearby brings brilliant rural landscapes a little closer to city-orientated businesses. Our brains respond very positively to colour, and views to nature so the sight of a verdant green roof could prove to be quite inspiring, boosting productivity and creativity.

There may be a group near you that you can help to get involved with green initiatives. A BID (Business Improvement District) will typically group neighbouring businesses in an effort to improve their local working area together, and sometimes, this might include making their views greener by collaboratively installing green roofs.

Balcony and Terraces

Balconies and terraces can be a great place for workers to enjoy a brief respite in the fresh air, but you can bring nature even closer by installing some beautiful window boxes or planters to add to the relaxing vibe and make them visually beautiful.

Could your business be making more of outside spaces, or is it more feasible for you to create some green spaces inside your own office area?  We love all things biophilic and can help you with any green design queries that you might have, so speak to one of our friendly team about your ideas soon.

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Can I have a Living Wall?  And What ‘Green Wall’ alternatives are there?

Without a doubt, living walls look stunning and provide large swathes of real planting from floor to ceiling, creating a real impact…

A living wall can have numerous benefits in business environments; they can help to make staff more productive in the workplace and are equally important in improving the perception of your brand. In this article, you can find out the main points to consider when thinking about a living wall for your space, and why it could be important for your staff or guests.

Green Wall for CTA

Can I have a living wall?

Almost definitely yes! Or at least, the effect that a living wall can give. We create bespoke walls for your requirements, though there will be some spaces more suited to live living walls than others.

A living wall works best in a well-lit space with plenty of room and fresh air circulating. For example, entrance atriums and large reception areas with hard or concrete floors. It is ideal to install them when a building is being constructed so that the irrigation system can be put in and the living wall placed on top. This can also off-set some of the cost, as the wall won’t need plastering and painting.

If you have a carpeted area or a space with lower light levels, such as a restaurant or traditional carpeted office reception, you could consider an artificial living wall instead. These look beautiful and give a very similar effect, creating the same kind of wow factor. For office spaces, moss walls also make an excellent option for giving a high impact finish, they are easy to retrofit and require minimal ongoing maintenance.

Another option to include real, live planting without the commitment and expense of a full living wall, is to opt for live dividers or panels. These are self-contained green modular products and give a great effect. These can be replanted on a regular basis to give a different look and so can be treated like art installations. You can also use them to give seasonal variation to your location…

tall green wall in a clean white entry space

Where is the best location for different types of green walls?

The best type of wall for you will depend on your location and the requirements of the plants you select. For example, some plants need more light than others so if you are planning to place your living wall in a bright and airy reception, you will have lots of options for the type of plants you can use.  For dark areas, you may need a growing light. You can also opt for moss walls or artificial living walls as these are perfect options for many spaces. Moss walls look exquisite when executed by professional plant technicians like Planteria. With lots of colour options and three different types of moss to choose from; bun moss, flat moss or reindeer moss, there are lots of variations to make your wall unique. You can also include your logo or a message and have something bespoke and specific to your company.

Here’s some more reading material on living walls to get you inspired for your new project:

It’s Alive! Buildings with Living Walls

Moss Walls: Q & A

 

What is A living picture and what types of living walls are there?

A living picture is a self-contained piece of art with a frame and a central section of planting. Living pictures look beautiful and can be hung singularly or in groups.  Also available in this type of product are living panels and dividers. These are easy to maintain and a cheaper option than a full-scale living wall. There are lots of options for different types of planting and it can be regularly changed to give different effects throughout the year. If you move offices, you can even take these with you which you can’t do with a traditional built-in living wall.

When would I opt for Moss wall?

We supply sixteen different colours of preserved moss which can be used to beautifully create bespoke walls and even replicate your logo. Most moss is not recommended for use in exterior positions, but for interiors it is easy to manage and control. It is lightweight and fairly straightforward to install, making it ideal for most office environment.

Why would I choose an artificial living wall?

An artificial living wall brings many of the design benefits of a real living wall, with far less maintenance or ongoing costs associated with a real living wall. Obviously, an artificial plant does not grow, and you won’t reap the benefits of the air cleansing and CO2 absorption that you get with real planting. You also need to consider that artificial planting, made from plastics, is not as environmentally friendly as the real deal. However, just like interior furnishings, they last a long time and can be moved with you if you are moving offices, so this should be weighed up in your considerations.

moss wall plants living wall broccoli and cauliflower

Which are best and why?

There is no right answer to this question as whether you opt for a traditional built in living wall with its own Irrigation system, an artificial living wall, a living picture,  panel, divider, or moss wall, will largely depend on your vision for your premises and the constraints of your environment and budget.

When planning in your green wall, you need to ask your plant provider questions like:

  • Is this right for my space?
  • How much will it cost to install?
  • What will the monthly cost of ongoing maintenance be?
  • What possible issues might occur that I need to keep in mind for the future?

Big living wall in reception area biophillia biophilia

If you would like to discuss your location and options to help you decide which is best for you, please get in touch with Planteria group today for a free consultation and quotation service.

Top Ten Scary Plants

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We love plants; they’re calming, they improve your décor, and they reduce C02 levels in the home and office. But there are plenty of plants that you wouldn’t want to find in your office at 9 am on a Monday morning. With Halloween fast upon us, this blog will take a look at nature’s finest arboreal warriors. Perhaps you’ll appreciate your office peace lily a little more after seeing these horrors.

10) Cuscuta – Strangle Tare

Often appearing overgrown and tangled, Strangle Tare isn’t harmful to human beings, but it is certainly scary to read about. Occupying a ghost-like role in plant life, the Strangle Tare will leech the life out of its host plant(s), detaching itself from its own roots in order to survive solely on the hard work of other vegetations. Strangle Tare thrives in hot climates, and there are only four species native to Northern Europe.

9) Utricularia – Bladderwort

Everyone has heard of venus fly traps, but did you know about Bladderwort? Bladderwort flowers, like venus fly traps, feed on whatever prey they can catch in their snapdragon-esque maws. You won’t see bladderwort on land though, Bladderwort lives in fresh water, so next time you go wild swimming, remember the carnivorous Bladderwort!

8) Dering Woods – Screaming Wood

Dering Woods sits next to Pluckley, England’s most haunted village, in Kent. Dering and Pluckley purportedly house between twelve and sixteen ghostly residents between them, alongside the 1,069 living people who reside there. However, the trees themselves don’t seem to have any bearing on how this woods came to be a hotspot for the supernatural; if anything, what’s really scary is how its ghoulish reputation has led to its destruction. Campers looking for a thrill descend on the Screaming Wood with hopes of meeting a famous ghost, leaving a trail of litter in their wake. Pluckley village has spent £6,000 on litter clearing, and a further £41,000 has been sunk into trying to protect Dering Woods from future ghost hunters. So if you go down to the woods today, you’d better go with an eco-friendly attitude, the ghosts and residents will both be grateful!

7) Armillaria Solidipes – Humongous Fungus

The colloquially named Humongous Fungus spreads itself in the American underground of Malheur National Forest. A mushroom that transcends millennia, the Humongous Fungus is considered to be somewhere between 1,900 and 8,650 years old and covers an area of 3.7 square miles. If you ever get to see these Oregon woodlands, try not to think too much about the expanse of mushroom growing secretly beneath you.

6) Actaea Pachypoda – White Baneberry, Doll’s Eyes

These creepy berries are aptly named; looking like eyeballs on flesh-red stems, these berries will watch you unceremoniously as you walk through hardwood forests in the USA or Canada. As if they weren’t already unsettling enough, these plants are highly toxic to human beings, causing cardiac arrest or death upon their ingestion.

5) Hydnellum Peckii – Bleeding Tooth Fungus

Mushrooms are already rather odd-looking plants, known for having multiple poisonous variants, but mushrooms can be somewhat charming in the context of being described as fairy houses. The Hydnellum Peckii, by contrast, isn’t going to be considered a suitable home for any fairy. Like its nickname implies, this fungi produces a gross, jammy substance from its pores.

4) Nicotiana Tabacum – Tobacco

All parts of the Tobacco plant are incredibly poisonous, especially its leaves. Even though it’s so poisonous, tobacco continues to be used worldwide, and is estimated to cause more than five million deaths per year. Tobacco might not be visually scary, but it is deadly.

3) Amorphophallus Titanum – Corpse Flower

The Corpse Flower is infamous. It is known for having the largest flower on Earth, but also for emitting the most foul aroma of rotting flesh! The Corpse Flower can reach a whopping three metres in height. The Corpse Flower’s odd aroma is an evolutionary effect which grew to attract carnivorous insects in order to achieve pollination. Even weirder, the Corpse Flower can warm itself up to further resemble dead flesh when attracting flies and dung beetles.

2) Mammillaria Elongata Cristata – Brain Cactus

Just as the name implies, the brain cactus looks freakishly similar to a human organ – the brain. Brain cacti aren’t actually dangerous to humans (aside from the prickly spikes) so you could keep them as indoor office plants if you wanted, but you should first consider the history of how the Brain Cacti develop.

Brain cacti are a type of ‘Cristata’ cacti that form into these brain-esque shapes if they are injured at a young age. Unable to grow past the painful experiences of their youth, the brain cacti grow into a twisted and convoluted shape.

1) Algae Bloom – Red Tide

‘Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight. Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning.’ This old saying, was a way for shepherds to predict the next day’s weather. The Red Tide, however, is always an omen of ill portent, irrelevant of what time of day it strikes. Red Tide is toxic algae rising up from the sea floor, which can occur after a particularly bad storm. The Red Tide isn’t especially pleasing to look at, being somewhat reminiscent of the shower scene in Psycho, but what’s more horrifying is the destruction that reveals itself two weeks following: fish and marine life will begin to wash up dead on shores and beaches, having been killed by the toxic algae in their water.

These are the top ten scariest plants in the world. Insect-pollinated plants are good greenery for hay fever and asthma sufferers, but your employees would probably not be too happy if they had to share their workspace with the magnificent Corpse Flower. When looking to choose the perfect indoor office plants, consider getting in contact with Planteria instead.

If you’re looking for more material on scary plants, why not to turn to literature and film?

1) 1907, The Willows, by Algernon Blackwood

2) 1962, The Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson

3) 2000, House of Leaves, by M. Z. Danielewski

4) 2008, The Happening, by M. Night Shyamalan

5) 2011, A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness

6) 2015 (Uk), The Vegetarian, By Han Kang (translated by Deborah Smith)

7) 2016, The Forest, by Jason Zada

 

Introducing our feathered residents…!

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There’s nothing like fresh, truly free range eggs from happy chickens allowed to roam the six acres at our Head Office nursery. These birds are real characters and provide us with some extra amusement. Promise we’ll keep them away from answering the phones..!

Beekeeping: Our Story and Advice

Our head office team are all buzzing about our honeybees, and you might be too if you knew how important they were and how easy it is to keep them. In this article, we share our experience of beekeeping and offer you some advice to help you get started.

Beekeeping at Planteria

We take the environment and the stewardship of it very seriously. It’s our job to work with nature and improve workplaces across the UK, and this encourages us to understand the importance of natural habitats and how to protect them. Caroline works in our New Business team and she recently became our resident Beekeeper. Read Caroline’s blog below which includes tips and facts to inspire you.

Beekeeping at Planteria – by Caroline

It seems a little ironic to decide to become a beekeeper with a postage stamp for a garden. But, with my first nucleus hive just set up and prepped for winter, here’s how I started my beekeeping adventure.
I have always had a fascination with bees; they are remarkable insects! Every colony is a highly complex community made up of around 50,000 bees, each with a specific role to ensure the survival of the colony as a whole. Bees play an essential role in all ecosystems, pollinating most flowering plants, in turn serving all other animals, with around a third of human food-producing crops reliant on them.

The honey they produce boosts our immune system, provides protection from pollen allergies and has wound-healing benefits through its antibacterial properties. It is also a delicious and natural source of sugar which our bodies find easier to process. The bees produce honey to feed on and, more specifically, to store to ensure their survival through winter. Given enough nectar to forage, and somewhere to store it, they will keep producing it to excess all through the summer, which we can then extract.

There are approximately 44,000 amateur beekeepers registered across the UK, managing over a quarter million hives. Over the last few decades, most of the honeybees’ natural habitats have been destroyed, along with their food supply, so these managed hives make up most of the UK honeybee population today.

 

I had the opportunity to take part in a beginners’ beekeeping course run by my local beekeeping association. This involved six fascinating evening classes and a little hands-on experience with the bees and their honey. I really just wanted to learn more about bees and maybe lend a hand at the local apiaries. It created a lot of interest at work and I suggested we could have our own hive at Planteria.

We have a clear view of environmental issues and are proudly a zero-to-landfill site, alongside other positive changes like using hybrid vehicles to further limit our environmental impact. It wasn’t a stretch to think Planteria would be open to the idea of a little backyard beekeeping, and I have such amazing employers who not only thought it was a great idea – but they also covered the cost of bees, the hive and equipment too.

We are so lucky to have a rural office space with over an acre and a half of meadow. With it already home to our sheep and lots of chickens, the bees are barely noticeable and have lush hawthorn hedgerow and dandelions to forage from. Our year-round supply of office flowers, awaiting delivery to our customers, also provides a unique and diverse menu for our bees.

With any little luck, and despite my novice beekeeping skills, our bees will be producing honey from spring next year. In fact, if all goes to plan, I should be harvesting upward of 10kg honey from our single hive.

Starting Your Own Beehive and Supporting the Bees

We highly recommend meeting with your local beekeeping association who are experts at beekeeping and can support you with both knowledge and resources. They can give you lots of advice on the local species, how to build your own beehive and the cost of beekeeping.

Spring is the best time of the year to start beekeeping if you are starting from scratch, so prepare ahead. It is best to introduce bees to a new hive during spring, so they have the whole summer to forage and settle with a good stock of honey for winter. Plan to have all your equipment ordered during late autumn and installed before the end of winter so that you can order bees, get some training, and be fully prepared for their arrival.

There is a lot to think about when installing bees on your property; you’ll need to think about appropriate areas of shade, raising the hive to a good height so you can access it easily, and buying protective clothing to tend to your bees without getting stung. You may also want to get tested for allergies by your doctor before you go all-in on your beekeeping. There’s a lot to consider, so speak to your local beekeepers and refer to our blog for more stories about our real experiences with honeybees.