I just wanted to drop in today to give you the scoop on Due South, a fantastic event going on over in Thomasville, Georgia tomorrow!
The bands are going to be the bomb, but what I want to share more with you today is all the Makers!
The Makers Market will be going on from noon to five on Saturday, April 26th. There are 30 amazing makers, selling all sorts of handmade goods from candles to bags to knives. In fact, I’ve featured 3 of them right here on Oysters & Pearls in the past! Let me reintroduce you to:
My good friend Marc will be at the Makers Market selling his unbelievably gorgeous tobacco slat cutting boards, frames, trays, and wall art, along with some of his beeswax hand balm and chapstick. I know he’d love to see ya!
My buddy Will Manning is making the trek from Athens this weekend to show us what he’s been working on since he left Tallahassee. He’ll have a variety of knives with him and will be taking custom orders, so be sure to get in line early!
In addition to these Makers who are close to my heart and my blog, there are an unbelievable amount of crazy-talented people converging on Due South to sell their handmade wares. Check them all out!
Happy Friday!! I think this could possibly bee the last bee-themed post for a while. At least, for this week anyway. :)
I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with all the leftover honey comb from the bee hive we moved, but I knew I’d figure something out. I figured that I would figure out how to melt the wax down, and then figure out something to do with it. And so I got the beeswax melted down and processed at home, but then I had a 8-inch square of beeswax to do something with.
As the title of this post so subtly hints at, I came to the conclusion that I would make coconut and beeswax body butter. Mainly because 1) it sounded easy, and 2) I already had coconut oil.
Also, yet another score for hoarding: I just so happened to have two mini Altoids tins rolling around in the bottom of my purse, simply waiting for just such an occasion.
Homemade Coconut and Beeswax Body Butter
– 1 tablespoon grated or shaved beeswax, packed tightly
– 2 tablespoons coconut oil
– 5 drops of Vitamin E oil
Measure the ingredients and place into a glass measuring cup. Microwave at 20 second intervals until just melted. Stir everything until it’s completely melted and incorporated. Pour immediately into some sort of hoarded repurposed container and allow to cool.
This makes a little more than two mini Altoid tins worth of body butter. I left the rest in the measuring cup just to use it up first. It is amazing on your skin!
I was pretty excited about how this first test turned out! It’s solid, but warms up easily with your touch and spreads smoothly. I may play around with more of a cream recipe soon. Any words of wisdom from anyone who has done this before?
I just have this one block of beeswax, so I am not going to be making much of this stuff, so small batch recipes are what I’m looking for. I’ll mainly leave making beeswax products to my local professional at Nunya Beeswax. :) But it’s fun to try it out myself! If you’re interested in trying out your own body butter or other creations, you can buy bricks of beeswax at our very own local beekeeping store: The Bee House, on Highway 12 near Lake Mystic in Bristol, Florida (in the old Lake Mystic Grocery, if you’re local). It’s where I’ve gotten all my beekeeping supplies thus far. Pay them a visit if you’re a local beekeeper or just want to purchase some honey, honey soap, or beeswax!
When I said this would be a long post, I meant it. However, It’s mainly pictures, so don’t be afraid.
Unless, of course, bees give you the heebie jeebies. Then you very well may be afraid and may not want to keep scrolling down.
But last week, I fulfilled a very long-time goal of mine: become a beekeeper. Marc – yup, the Southern Restoration Furniture and bee keeper extraordinaire, helped Wheat and I move a wild hive of bees at my parents barn to a store-bought hive. Marc is pretty much a pro, and also uses wax from his own bee hives to make Nunya Beeswax.
Shameless plug: you can purchase Marc’s awesome Nunya Beeswax hand balm and chapstick at:
Marc had prepared us to expect the worst (hence my extreme level of preparedness by borrowing Wheat’s Aunt’s full bee suit), but I escaped with nary a sting. Wheat and Marc got stung once each. Apparently we have the friendliest bees on planet Earth, which I have now dubbed my hive of sweet bees, who don’t mind it at all when you literally cut open their home and relocate them by force.
The hive has been thriving underneath this wood rack for about a year and a half. I am so excited that I finally managed to recruit someone as crazy (crazier?) as me to help me move them and teach me their bee keeping ways. Thank you x100,000,000 Marc! And thanks to my sister Anna Jo, for taking 98% of the pictures in this post.
See them coming and going so peacefully? Blissfully unaware of what was about to go down.
If you happen to know my Dad, you know that he does everything he does 150%. So naturally, his wood rack not only has a floor, but it also has a sub-floor. So to get to the hive, we had to pull up the boards, then saw through the plywood “sub-floor” and remove it, too. We anticipated that the bees would not like this at all. Not one little bit.
So after a quick primer from Marc, and some frame prep (we tied strings to the bottom of each frame so we could place the bees own honey comb into the frames for them, rather than using the plastic inserts some of them came with), we unloaded all the wood, and I suited up. Just in case. It was my first beekeeping experience, after all.
I felt like a white oompa-loompa.
We then proceeded to deconstruct the wood rack while trying to not royally tick the bees off. (<– Bee pun: royal, as in royal jelly? Get it?)
We quickly realized that the plywood sub-floor had rotted through in the center, and we got our first glimpse into the hive.
Next we had to saw through the plywood and pry it off. This is where we got very nervous indeed. The occasion called for lots of smoke.
Fact: according to my bee sensai Marc, smoke doesn’t “calm” the bees down like I always thought. Bees communicate with each other by releasing pheromones, and the smoke simply disrupts their ability to tell one another to attack you.
Once we got it cut successfully and pried the edges up, we got our first good look into the hive.
It. was. crazy. Marc and Wheat slowly lifted the entire board and moved it to the back of the truck and flipped it over. Seriously quite possibly one of the wildest things I’ve ever seen.
Somehow we managed to get this done without inciting a bee riot. We carefully picked up each piece of honey comb, cut it to the length of the frames, and tied the comb into place. We shook bees off of each piece of comb into the box. We scooped bees out of the old hive with a manilla envelope and shook them into the hive. There were bees EVERYWHERE.
The fact that their own honey comb is in these frames should encourage them to stay put in their new hive. They should fill it the rest of the way out, connecting everything together with fresh comb and propolis (aka bee glue) so that we can remove the strings this week.
Most of the honey comb didn’t have honey in it – it will full of brood. The queen lays eggs in the cells of the comb, and the worker bees eventually cap them off. The worker bee brood is flat, and the drones, which are much larger, have raised brood cells. Below, you can see some of the bee larvae.
Queen cells, however, look completely different from the rest of the cells. When we got into the hive, we found 11 queen cells, which was evidence that the hive was probably about to split itself and a swarm of bees + the queen was going to leave the hive and find a new one. The queen cells they left behind would allow the bees that stayed to raise up a new queen (first one to hatch wins – they would have aborted the other queen cells) to maintain the mother hive.
Below you can see two queen cells on the edge of the honey comb, but also in the center you can see a drone bee emerging. This is one of the few pictures I took – Anna Jo is an excellent guest photographer!
What little honey comb did actually have mostly honey in it, we threw into this bucket. Along with some more bees.
If you are ever wondering about nature’s perfect design, all you have to do is look at honey comb.
The pieces of honey comb that were stuck to all the boards I cut off to save for beeswax.
The bottom of the main “sub-floor” sheet of plywood to which most of the comb was attached:
So pretty. And pretty unbelievable.
What was really crazy was how after we had filled up a full hive of bees, there was still enough for another hive left!
We got as many bees as we could into their fresh new digs, then ratchet-strapped the hive together and taped over the entrance for transport to their new location across the river at my parents’ house.
We are crossing our fingers that they liked their new place so much because we got the Queen in there and they were following her, but we just can’t be sure. We are checking this week to see if she’s in there, but just in case, we put 3 queen cells in there too. I’ll update this post once we check things out.
We temporarily have the hive sitting on top of a tree cross-section, but will be swapping it out with something more permanent this week as well. I kind of love the tree version, though.
After getting the bees all settled in to their new home, we went back and put the wood rack back together for the bees we left behind. This time, we put a new piece of plywood down and used screws to put everything back together. That way, we can come back and get them out a whole lot easier than it was this time.
At this point, I was far more comfortable with the bees than I was when we started. Clearly.