Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Minding my own beeswax

Earlier this summer my family inherited two beehives, setting them behind my home studio and peering out occasionally to see the bees as they buzzed to and fro, collecting pollen and nectar and returning home to build their intricate homes of wax.

A few days ago we carefully took the lids from the boxes containing the hives. While both colonies had been active, one had been much busier, and we suspected that the other hive wasn't doing well. Our guess was confirmed -- the hive had been abandoned!

Before a new colony could move in next spring, the box had to be cleaned and put away for the winter. One of the fringe benefits of this process is the stockpile of beeswax and honey left behind by the departed bees. We divided the golden treasure with some friends who were helping us with the inspection. Taking our portion into the house, we began a long evening separating the wax from the detritus of the hive. I always save the last bits of my beeswax candles, knowing how much the bees work to make the wax. It's a good thing, because we soon realized that we weren't left with enough wax to make a new candle for our dinner table. Melting all the waxes together, though, we were able to fill a mold we purchased the next day from a local candle-making shop.

It's so easy to take honey and beeswax for granted when we see them at the farmers' market or the store. But the process of making this candle with my family left me with great feelings of awe and gratitude for the bees and their work.


Shelley Noble said...

Oh, I'm so glad you said that, Karima. I feel exactly the same way! Both Beeswax and honey are precious precious things to me too. And I haven't even had the experience of a real hive as you have. Jealous!

I feel similarly about salt too. I treat it as if it were gold as well.

That candle is stunningly beautiful, all the more because you made it!

elizabeth said...

Is the photo of the candle the one you made? It's beautiful. Where did you find such a mold?
I hold onto alot of "used" wax bits from candles that have burned down to remake new ones and I have to agree- the beeswax is golden, special. And what a wonderful gift to receive-2 hives!
I've heard that mint, any mint, is especially good for the health of the bees. Best wishes for future colonies.

Ulla said...

The scent of beeswax always sends me swooning, this is a lovely tale...
And the candle is wonderful!

Castle in the Air said...

The mold is from a shop in Berkeley called Juniper Tree. If you visit their website you will see a picture of the shop - the window numbered 2518 used to be Castle in the Air! They took over my spot when I moved out.

With all my best,