Saturday, August 13, 2011

We Have a Winner!

The random number generated was 4, which means Angela Walters, you have won a one-pound jar of the next harvest of Prairie Blossom Bee Farm Honey!

I suggest you hide it from your husband. ;-)

Welcome to the new friends, and thanks to everyone for your comments and continued support.

Mark and I hope to drive to the Delta tomorrow afternoon. We may harvest, we may add boxes, it all depends on what we find and the weather.  I've not been there yet, so I'm excited to see the bees in action.

While we did see a few bees while we were in Alaska, we didn't see many honey bees.  So here is a photo of a lovely dahlia we found in Anchorage.  Don't you just love saying the word, "dahlia"? And "calendula." I have a thing for flowers . . .

Monday, August 8, 2011

Beeswax Candles

This post could also be titled "Why Beeswax Is Best Handled by People Who Have Patience"

Mark went out of town. Whenever that happens, I try to carve out time to do things I enjoy so that when we're both home, we can spend time together.

The only picture I took that conveys a sense of competence & lack of mess-making prowess.

That's a nice way of saying I can't do crafty stuff with him in the house.  Because, let's face it: crafty stuff = mess making. I have to get out all the stuff, figure out how to do it, do the crafty thing, and clean up.  This take a long time, and sometimes, the process is a lot messier than the product would lead you to believe. My OCD husband does not like messes.

"Let's just do a couple of candles, just a bit 'o wax," she said.

Today I got the clever idea to try my hand for a second time at making beeswax candles.  I have the pot, the molds, the wicks, and a supply of beeswax. I was bothered with the cracks that formed in the initial batch, so I read up on the subject and hoped today would be different.

Melted wax, reflection of myself in tea kettle.

It might have been, were I a person who had patience. Alas, there was much mess making.  Then, I decided, since I already had wax drippings on the counter and floor, why not just melt down all the wax we've been accumulating and pour it through cheesecloth so it would be cleaned up, in one place, and ready for whatever I wanted to do with it.

Part of our stash of wax. No, not all of it!

A loaf pan of clean wax.

That was not a good idea, really.  I got distracted from the candles. I didn't watch and fill.  Then I panicked and overfilled. Then I yanked the wick out of a votive candle trying to get it out of the mold -- a mold I had sprayed mold release into.Then I forgot to pour the French vanilla fragrance sample I'd gotten into the melted wax while it was in the pot so I poured it into the mold and it hardened the wax before I could stir it due to the temperature difference.

Trying to keep the wicks straight. But overfilled molds = clips and sticks stuck to candles!

As I was pouring up pots of beeswax, I'd try to pour the dregs into a small bowl to keep the honey and detritus out of the beautiful, clean wax in the loaf pans. Instead of waiting for the wax to rise to the top and harden, I tried to skim some off the top, which made a mess of the entire bowl.

Just one small part of the carnage.

I spent nearly three hours slaving over a double boiler, and ended up with 8 small candles, none of which are perfect.Why did I think this was a fun way to spend some free time, again?

I have to say, I am pleased with the loaves of wax. If I were sane, I'd sell them to someone and give up the idea of crafting with them altogether . . . 

The Peace Bee Farmer on Moisture in Honey

For those of you interested in just how the bees deal with moisture in the nectar they bring back to make into honey, check out this blog post from Richard.