Monday, 19 January 2015

A Good Sign In The Dead Of Winter

When temperatures plunge well below zero degrees Fahrenheit, it's always reassuring to see a rim of frost around the upper entrance of a honey bee hive. This evidence of frozen bee breath proves the colony is alive and well. Of course I already knew this from listening to the collective hum of the bee cluster inside. This morning all of my three hives were humming a contented tune. They are producing heat by shivering their flight muscles and it's marvelous that during our very cold winter nights, the centre of their cluster is as warm as a mid-summer's day.

On a frosty morning, a bee hive's top entrance has frozen crystals of bees breath.

Yet again, my learned cousin and beekeeping expert came up trumps in advice. For the final filtering stage of beeswax, he uses and recommends milk filters. In 2014 I recovered over 30 pounds of beeswax. Last week I melted and ran the wax through coffee maker baskets. The wax looked pretty clean but after remelting and passing it through the milk filters I could see that it really does remove the finer particles. Excellent tip, Cuz! The next step will be making hand-dipped taper candles. I love the sweet fragrance of the warm bees wax and the feeling of connecting to a practice extending back to the middle ages. 

Milk filters removing the finer debris in beeswax.

Keeping me company while I putter the winter away, my furry pal Ellie Mae follows me from room to room. I would love to know her background but she keeps these secrets to herself. And anyway, a lady should be allowed her own privacy, shouldn't she?

Ellie Mae takes her role of companion cat seriously.


  1. Ellie Mae is most gorgeous, and I can see how she has made her place in your home. Fancy knowing how the bees are alive, I will pass this onto a friend in Dunedin who has been bee-keeping for 60 years, since we were together at High School. Looking forward to the next part of this process. Hugs, Jean

  2. It is important to have moral support! What fun. Is it much more work 3 hives compared to 1? This is intersting work, or play!

    1. Hi Jennifer,
      3 hives is very little more work than 1 but more importantly, if one hive gets into trouble, for instance loses their queen, spare hives can come to the rescue with brood and queen cell donation. Transfusion insurance if you like. Must admit, I've become hopelessly addicted to bee keeping. The delicious honey is merely a bonus.


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