I do believe that this has been the longest breaks between blogs, but it didn’t seem like anything new was happening in the bee yard! It’s too warm. It’s too cold. It’s raining too much. Some weak hives didn’t survive sub-zero temperatures but others did. There’s a lot of pollen coming in. That’s the Cliffnotes recap of the last couple of months!
I have, however, been experimenting with beeswax. The first step was figuring out how to refine the wax we already had. Hubby melts wax in hot water, then lets it cool. The wax floats to the top and the junk falls to the bottom, and we end up with fairly clean wax. I then filter that through cloth and finally felt to eliminate tiny particles and end up with wax that is ready to use for candles. I pour that refined wax in small molds and store it for later use.
It’s taken me some time to figure out which wicks work with which candle molds and tins, but I finally have an assortment of candle styles that burn well all the way down. Beeswax candles are reputed to reduce indoor pollutants while burning longer and brighter than paraffin based candles. I currently opt to make on 100% beeswax candles without additional scents. I was hoping to make some dipped candles this week, but between the cool temperatures and the sniffles, I don’t think I’ll get to sit outside for 4 hours dipping wicks into a container of melted wax! I know what a klutz I am, so I’m not going to try dipping wax inside the workshop; I’ve done a good job so far of keeping the melted wax contained, but there’s no point in pushing my luck.
I’ve been using wax from our general stash for candles, but when to comes to skin products, I’m only using wax from honey cappings or from unused foundation that melted into a glob in our storage building. The best product so far is a massage lotion bar that uses sesame oil and cocoa butter in addition to the beeswax. It even softened up the calluses on my feet that come from too many hours wearing work boots! I’m less impressed with the anti-itch salve I made, but I may have needed to let the essential oils sit longer. It does a good job on my dry skin, but the massage lotion bar does a better job. Plus, it smells like chocolate and I’ve found I like smelling like chocolate almost as much as I like eating chocolate! My main sources for information so far have been Beeswax Alchemy and The Beeswax Workshop. We were looking forward to a “Beyond Wax” workshop at the annual Georgia Beekeepers Association Spring Conference, but the flu kept us at home instead. We’re now looking forward to the fall conference.
Hubby and I have been enjoying some of the less-fragrant natural soaps I received for Christmas, so my next foray will be into soap making. (I also enjoy the more fragrant soaps, but smelling like rose petals isn’t really his thing.)
Of course, winter is also the time for the more mundane tasks like painting and repairing wood-ware and keeping an eye on the bees when the weather permits. It’s also spring cleaning time, so I’m reluctantly spending some time in the house. Coughs and sniffles aside, life is still good on the farm and getting better all the time.