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Archive for September, 2011

You may recall that in June I blogged about the hive I got back in March?… if not, you can read about it here – http://queenbcandles.wordpress.com/2011/06/12/popping-in-to-see-the-girls/.

Well, Spring has sprung and ‘the girls’ appeared to be outgrowing their neuc hive.  This week I decided to give them a fully fledged ‘grown up’ hive before I went away.  At the same time one of our candlemakers asked me if he could come and see the hive as he hadn’t seen a hive before (although he works with bees visiting him every day)!  Alas, there went my bee suit!  So, with no gloves or veil, and a pounding heart, I rehoused the girls and Friday and I have to say that it was absolutely extra-ordinary.  What a rush.  Lucky I did it when I did because they were getting seriously cramped.

Here’s a look inside the lid of the nucleus hive.  There are 3 large sections on the top right full of drone brood (ie larvae of drone bees). There were also 2 big sections of unripened Neutral Bay honey and a couple of sections of comb which had been built, but had nothing in them yet.

Inside the lid of neuc hive (with pine needle smoke wafting!)

 

Close up of drone brood and unripened honey in honeycomb

 

In this next photograph you can see how I took the 4 existing frames from the neuc hive and added 4 new empty frames in the new larger hive.  By this stage there were about 5,000 bees flying around and looking very confused, one excited candle-maker and me trying to keep calm because bees can pick up fear.  I actually think I found that fine line between fear and excitement though.  The whole experience was quite surreal.  I am pretty sure I made several mistakes that would have had many a beekeeper stung by bees with a slightly hotter temperament, but I seemed to be forgiven my errors.  This queen makes lovely, well mannered, hard working, forgiving offspring!

Combining existing frames from neuc hive with new frames

I think the following photograph is one of the best photographs I have ever taken… it shows a worker bee with her bottom in the air ‘scenting’ to alert the other bees where to come.  There were literally dozens of bees with their bottoms in the air…

Worker bee 'scenting' to alert foragers where home is

 

And finally, the prize!  Whilst the honey wasn’t even ripened yet, I couldn’t resist taking a little for my excited little candle-maker to share with his flatmates and for me to share with my niece and nephew who had been watching the bees with me just a few weeks ago.

First harvest of Neutral Bay honey

 

I am happy to report that Neutral Bay honey is a lovely light honey, mild in flavour (partially because it hadn’t been ripened properly yet) with fruity notes and strong pine needle smoke overtones!!  I think I may have gone a little overboard on the smoke at one stage!

Tomorrow I am off to my beekeeping conference for 10 days.  How exciting!


Queen B beeswax candles are made with 100% pure Australian beeswax a pure cotton wick and copious amounts of hand made love. We stock beautiful and stylish candle holders, personalised candles, votive candles and pillar candles that nourish the human spirit and our environment.

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I just came across an old issue of Mindfood magazine which had a great article on beekeeping in Tassie… with a couple of super recipes – Honey Madeleines  and Cinnamon and Honey Swirl Teacake.  I think I’m going to give those madeleines a bit of a run myself this weekend.

Below is a transcribed copy of the article.  Or you can click on the link below to open a pdf.

201105 Mindfood – The Secret Life of Bees_email

The secret life of bees
MiNFOOD meets the clever creators, and the brave apiarists keeping us in honey.
BY Laura Venuto | May 13, 2011

Next time you drizzle honey onto your morning toast, spare a thought for Ewan Stephens. Not only did his day start at 4am, he also had to deal with some pretty aggressive passengers riding on the back of his truck. “They were very nasty today,” he says gravely.

“When you unload the hives it’s nice to have sunshine so they can fly around and look around for the leatherwood flowers. But when it’s overcast, they just hang around you and get pretty nasty.” While Stephens has stopped counting the stings, one beekeeper they had in from Germany counted every one. “He worked out it was about 2300 stings for the season,” he says.

Stephens is a third-generation apiarist, and works with his brothers Kenneth and Neal, and their mother, Shirley, whom they affectionately refer to as the queen bee. Stephens was taught beekeeping from age eight by his father and grandfather. It was his grandfather Robert who started R Stephens honey company (leatherwoodhoney.com.au) as a post-World War I hobby in 1920. It is now the second-largest honey producer in Tasmania; its second-biggest export market is New York.

In a secluded clearing in the pristine world-heritage rainforest areas on the beautiful west coast of Tasmania, Stephens has just unloaded about 100 hives. He will do 24 of these loads over 24 nights to various leatherwood locations on the west coast – a total of 2400 hives. It is early February and the leatherwood trees are just starting to flower. Tasmania is the only place the leatherwood tree grows, making this distinctive-tasting honey all the more unique.

“Our leatherwood trees are normally 400 years old,” says Stephens. “It doesn’t yield honey until it’s 80 years old. It’s a very poor generating tree. We tried to replant them 30-40 years ago but it wasn’t successful. If you burn leatherwood forests out, they’re gone forever. It’ll never come back.”

The leatherwood season is very short, so special bees have been bred to suit the unique conditions. “On the mainland you get honey 10-12 months of the year, but here you only get honey for up to eight weeks,” Stephens explains. “In that time, you’ve got to produce a lot of honey. So our bees are bred from an English black and an Italian gold bee. They’re a very high-production bee and they work very hard for us.


Queen B beeswax candles are made with 100% pure Australian beeswax a pure cotton wick and copious amounts of hand made love. We stock beautiful and stylish candle holders, personalised candles, votive candles and pillar candles that nourish the human spirit and our environment.

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I don’t usually blog about specific wedding unity candles that I hand-paint, but I was a little excited about how these turned out.

I was provided with a copy motif from the wedding invitation

The bride said she’d be happy with an outline of the design.

I got carried away in the moment and we delivered this (I’ve removed the family name’s to protect identity).  Yay.  Pretty happy with that.  Hopefully the bride will send through images from the day and then I’ll share those here too.


Queen B beeswax candles are made with 100% pure Australian beeswax a pure cotton wick and copious amounts of hand made love. We stock beautiful and stylish candle holders, personalised candles, votive candles and pillar candles that nourish the human spirit and our environment.

Read Full Post »

A few weeks ago I was in Melbourne showing our Queen B candles to potential retailers.  These trade shows are typically quite generic and soulless… lots of white or glass shelving, tables and plinths showcasing tens of thousands of products, the vast majority of which were made offshore.

Enter Joost!

Unfortunately this year my laptop camera chose that exact moment to not work, so this year we have a series of photographs of the stand set to beautiful music and employing all the clever little tricks that iMovie allows you to use.

The build team who set up these trade shows are always excited to see what Joost has in stall as we typically arrive in his big, yellow van with all manner of rusting, rustic frame work on the roof and foliage busting out of the all the doors.  It is amazing to see this cacophony of chaos morph (with a little help from Joost and his team) into a beautiful stand in which to show Queen B candles.  This year was no exception to the norm with more people wanting to buy Joost’s succulents borrowed from the plant wall on the side of his house than wanting to buy Queen B candles!  But you get that.  After 6 years my skin’s a little thicker and now I love doing it for both of us.

It is funny how many people stopped to touch the succulent on the corner and to question whether it was ‘real’ – the assumption being it was fake because it looked so perfect.  Great intro to say that everything on the Queen B stand was alive and natural… including the Queen B candles.

Thanks Joost.  Love your work. xx


Queen B beeswax candles are made with 100% pure Australian beeswax a pure cotton wick and copious amounts of hand made love. We stock beautiful and stylish candle holders, personalised candles, votive candles and pillar candles that nourish the human spirit and our environment.

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One of the most oft asked questions at the Hive is what holder to use for the Bee Lights… and as they are one of my all time favourite candles I thought them worthy of all all time favourite candle holder.

We started with the Mini-Marilyn candle holders which I blogged about here.

Now… drum roll… I am delighted to announce the launch of our Reversible Beehive Candle Holders.  Available in both brass and nickel-plated you can use this holder for Bee Lights on one side or Tapers on the other.  Clever or what?!  Good one Scotty (clever metal worker).  Yes, these are made in Australia.  Extraordinary at these prices, I know.  Particularly when you pick one up and feel how heavy they are… yes, you get that with a quality, solid, hand-made in Australia product.  Just ask all the people who wanted Bluescope Steel and have had to settle for something inferior.

Available in brass

or nickel-plated

Nickel Beehive Reversible Queen B Candle Holder  Nickel Beehive Reversible Queen B Candle Holder Close Up

To kick things off we’re offering 10% off until 11.59pm on 5th September 2011.  Yes, that is only 3 days.

We’ve also put together a pack which gives you:

- a Reversible Beehive Candle Holder
– Bee Lights (pack of 10); and
– 20cm Tapers (pack of 5)

for $69.95.  That’s a 12.33% discount to what you would usually pay, and we have an additional 10% off until 11.59pm on 5th September 2011.  Bargain.


Queen B beeswax candles are made with 100% pure Australian beeswax a pure cotton wick and copious amounts of hand made love. We stock beautiful and stylish candle holders, personalised candles, votive candles and pillar candles that nourish the human spirit and our environment.

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An opportunity exists for a full time Lady in Waiting at Queen B.

The Role
The role is varied but ultimately there is never a dull moment.  To some extent the scope of the role will depend on the successful applicant and what their strengths are, but at a minimum the role will involve:
– packing orders
– helping man the shop at the Hive
– keeping the Hive clean
– unpacking deliveries
– keeping the Hive running efficiently
– preparing for trade shows
– helping attend to emails

Other tasks that may be involved (depending on skill level)
– assisting with PR
– MYOB
– updating website
– product photography
– you name it
– if it is something that is required to be done in a small business, then most likely that too

Qualities Required

Mandatory
– perfectionist
– great attention to detail
– thoroughness
– ‘i’ dotter and ‘t’ crosser
– good memory
– ability to pick things up quickly and think on your feet
– good presentation
– fine print reader
– neat hand-writing
– good communication skills
– detail demon
– desire to make a difference
– ability to work under pressure

Just in case you missed the point, the role is for someone who is VERY detail oriented.  We have big picture lovers more than covered at Queen B!

The role is full time and will involve working on Saturday’s.  We are prepared to be a little flexible with hours for the right person.

To apply, please read more thorougly about Queen B on our website.  If you’re interested after that, please pop an email to the attention of Cate on the email address queenb [at] queenb.com.au (replace the [at] with @) telling me a little about yourself and attaching a resume if you have one.  Please also answer the following 3 questions:

1. What appeals to you most about the role at Queen B?

2. How would your friend’s describe you?

3. What did you love most about your last job?

Applications close 9th September 2011.


Queen B beeswax candles are made with 100% pure Australian beeswax a pure cotton wick and copious amounts of hand made love. We stock beautiful and stylish candle holders, personalised candles, votive candles and pillar candles that nourish the human spirit and our environment.

Read Full Post »

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