Bees on my mind.

We had our monthly bee meeting last week and the annual beginning beekeeping class put on by the association was this past weekend.  Plus it was time to order our bee packages through the association group buy.  It’s been a bee-filled week and my mind is swirling with bee brain goo!

On a quick side trip here, our beekeeping association finally has a website!  Yay!  It’s still under construction but you can peek at the beginnings here:  Mississippi Valley Beekeeping Association.   I’ve put the link to it in my sidebar so it’ll be there on for later reference.

Although we had already gone to the beginning beekeeping class last year, we went again this year.  I’m so glad we did.  I think we learned even more this year than last.  Last year, we were so overwhelmed with info that I’m afraid half of it didn’t stick.  This year, after having worked with bees for a year now, we were much better able to comprehend all of that info that was being slung around.  We picked up gobs & gobs of info through the monthly meetings over the past year and this year’s class just cemented it all in.

At the end of the class, we put in our bee order:  2 packages of Carniolans and 4 packages of Italians.  With the two we already have, that makes six — plus whatever we get should we try splits this year — and I think we will.  We’ll also be building some swarm traps and crossing our fingers for increases that way (but we won’t hold our breath).

Last year’s bees were housed in standard, Langstroth hives.  This year, we’re gonna experiment & diversify.  We’re gonna raise us some hippy bees!  Michael Bush’s The Practical Beekeeper has been on my wishlist for a long time.  I finally ordered it a few days ago.  His website has most of the same info but it’s a nightmare to my dense self.  Books, I get.  Disjointed websites, not so much.

We’re going to build some horizontal standard hives.  We’re going to build some horizontal top bar hives.  We might even build some Warre (vertical top bar) hives.  Who knows what other crazy stuff we’ll do?  I don’t like being dependent upon manufacturers and forking over massive piles of cash.  I want simplicity, stuff we can build ourselves with almost no money, using scraps we have on hand.  That’s how we do everything else so it’s only expected that we’d go that way in our beekeeping as well.  It won’t all work, I’m sure, but we’ll learn from it and find some method(s) that work for us.

Same for treating for this and treating for that.  It’s not that we’re all granola & Birkenstocks because, wow, we’re so not.  It’s mostly that we’re lazy and cheap.  Who wants to have to buy this chemical and that chemical and do all of the work to apply them at the right times & intervals.  Not moi.  No, sirree.  I want organic.  I want cheap.  I want natural.  I want lazy.  This is where the Michael Bush reading comes in.

Along with figuring all of this out, I’m also working on getting the info we need to start selling here.  I spent part of this morning on the phone with the Missouri Department of Agriculture, bouncing around to various departments.  I’ve had a rough time finding exact info (online) on the selling of raw honey & wax, raw goat milk, garden produce, vegetable & flower seedlings, and eggs.  Actually, the egg info was really easy but the rest has been a bit of a maze.  Those of you who know me well know how much I hate phones.  I tried for months to find concrete info, through the state statutes, on this stuff but finally broke down and started calling today.  That’s pretty bad.  I’m going to set up a separate page here (will be tabbed along the top) with all of the regulations as I get answers directly from the horses’ mouths.  Maybe I’ll save someone else a headache down the road, as well as have a permanent place to reference it myself.

So, after I made various goops a couple of weeks ago, I decided I enjoyed it and continued on with finding ways to use beeswax.  I made homemade deodorant and shampoo bars.  The deodorant was easy-peasy and it works better than any commercial deodorant.  How weird, right?  But I’m telling ya, if you’re at all interested in trying to make toiletries at home, start with the deodorant and toothpaste.  Both are amazingly better than storebought and as easy as you can get!

The first soap recipe I tried a few days ago was the rosemary & peppermint shampoo bar from Mommypotamus.  I tweaked it slightly, converting to grams because I’m a dork, and subbing in sweet almond oil for jojoba oil since I had none.  It all went perfectly well… until my crockpot threw a hissy fit.  Long story short, they’ll be fine but I’m letting them cure for a few weeks just to be sure.

Yesterday, I went to Mommypotamus’ original recipe source, Frugally Sustainable.  The recipes only vary a little bit and then I tweaked a wee bit again, converting to grams, using sweet almond oil instead of jojoba oil, and using orange and lemon essential oils.  I also tossed in a bit of honey.  (I wonder if the bees will be chasing me around the yard this summer??)This time, the crockpot behaved and all went well.

One issue I had with both batches — and I don’t think it’s a problem — was with the lye solution.  I added the lye to the water and let it cool.  It set up.  Like a soft tofu sort of thing.  Weird.  I posted a comment over on Mommypotamus’ blog asking about it but she didn’t know either.  You know what she did, though?  She sent me a bar of her shampoo so I could compare it!  How cool was that?!  I tried it last night, after a bit of hair detox (read about what to do with commercial hair goo buildup), and loved it!  I followed with the homemade hair conditioner.  I’ve got a bit of hair funk going on today but it’s good — nothing gross, just having a spunky, energetic day — and  you know I already have plenty of those.  I’ll report back on how my hair does after some time to adjust.  In the meantime, I love the smell and feel of the soap.  It lathers nicely and feels rich.  I even used it for body soap.  Shhhh….

2 Responses to “Bees on my mind.”

  1. Paula March 5, 2012 at 10:16 pm #

    Interested in the deodorant experiment. I haven’t gotten brave enough (yet) to try making my own soap as I’ve found a pretty good Maker out of Oregon. Still the idea intrigues me.

    • Diane March 10, 2012 at 9:30 am #

      Not sure how I didn’t see this comment before now. I think I’m getting old….

      Anyway, go for it! I was really skeptical of the deodorant. Really, really, skeptical. But it does work — better than any deodorant I’ve ever tried. Amazing stuff!

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