Tuesday, 12 February 2013

In search of beeswax

I was in desperate need of some beeswax to run a workshop planned for the next day!  We always like to get our beeswax from local bee-keepers and as I currently live in Dorset, that’s where I started my search.

                                                                    A top bar hive
The comb is much more rounded...

I found a lovely man who I have had contact with but have never met.  He keeps bees all over and although has lots of National hives he’s big into top bar hive honey production.  This is a more natural form of bee-keeping which interferes less with the bees.  It allows them to shape their own comb and hardly disturbs them when you easy the bars away from each other to check the brood.

So anyway, Chris Slade the local bee-keeper was at Kew, not the gardens but the national archives that day in search of info for the “Local boarders research group”…I’d never thought about how and when the county of Dorset became.  He would return late that night so I drove over their in the depths of darkness after my pregnancy yoga class to find a warm face, nestled amongst a dashing white beard in his cosy house.

He sang me an ode to the bees and entertained me with a fabulous poem he’s written and supplied me with beeswax and an example of the comb from a top-bar hive. 

The workshop the following day was to promote wellbeing for women who’ve had a difficult time. We have funding to introduce them to the hedgerow in all its wonders.  It’s called the Hedgerow Harvest Project.

That day we were to make lavender and calendula lip balms.  They loved the tale of the night before, my chance meeting with the bee-keeper and seeing and smelling the comb…

Karen at the lavender farm in Herts

Lavender is easily recognised and commonly found in gardens.  Its perfect to harvest just as the flowers close and when dried makes a lovely infused oil which can be used as a soothing, anti-inflammatory base for creams and balms.

Calendula grows abundantly once planted and its name comes from the fact it flowers in every month of the year.  It is really amazing to see its resilience as the weather turns colder and colder.  Calendula or marigolds originate from South Africa but do really well here.

Lip balm recipe:

We use a basic balm recipe of 4 parts infused oils, 2 parts cocoa butter to 1 part beeswax.  We use oils of comfrey, st. john’s wort and heather too in our balms.

You simply melt the ingredients together in a bain-marie  and the add essential oils of your choice right at the end before putting in the jars. We use oils of peppermint, lavender, geranium depending on the action of the balm we are looking for.

It was great for folk to go away with a lovely balm to use as a healing balm for their kids or a lip balm for themselves.

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