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We’ve had quite a few kids into the hive recently which gives me the occasion to wax lyrical about all things honeybees, beeswax and honey.

The thing that usually has the most misconceptions surrounding it is what beeswax is exactly.  So, here are a few things you may not have known about beeswax…

  1. Beeswax is produced by wax glands on the underside of the abdomen of a bee.  It is clear liquid when exuded and becomes wax upon contact with air.

    Bees' wax glands

    Bees' wax glands

  2. Worker bees are usually allocated to wax production between 12 – 18 days of age! (is there something there for Gen Y perhaps?!)  The bees collect the wax with their legs and then chew it to soften it and make it malleable (to make the honeycomb structure in which they store flower nectar to ripen into honey.
  3. Beeswax is clear/white when exuded.  Discolouration occurs when the wax is stained by honey, pollen, propolis (or by beekeepers overheating the wax).  To read more about why Queen B candles are so light in colour, read our blog post on Why The White Wax Queenie?
  4. A bee makes around 10 nectar gathering trips per day (and can carry 25 – 5- milligram’s of water or nectar per trip).  Flower nectar is simply ‘unripened’ honey.  It takes 82kgs of nectar (ie around 165,000 trips) to make 1kg of honey.  In the course of those 165,000 trips, worker bees will fly around 4 million kms’ (100 times around earth).
  5. Bees consume a lot of energy in the production of wax using around 8 – 10kgs of honey to produce 1kg of wax.

This is some of the unspoken magic in every Queen B candle.  There is literally thousands of hours of bee flight and the work of thousands of honey bees in every single candle.  Don’t get me wrong, bees like to work hard.  It’s in their DNA.  They are born and literally start working immediately.  It is quite something to observe.  However it is still lovely to acknowledge that as you enjoy the beautiful golden light of your Queen B candle.

Of course, after all that hard work by our bee sisters, we treat our beeswax like gold at Queen B.  It is thoroughly washed, settled and filtered over 48 hours to remove any impurities (like pollen, propolis or dust) all of which have a massive impact on how a beeswax candle burns.  Having clean, unadulterated beeswax is just as important as finding the right wick in creating Queen B candles.

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Discover your local retailers in the back streets of Brookvale and bag yourself a bargain at BrookSALE

Saturday, 26th November 2011

Occupy Brookvale!

The back streets of Brookvale are a hive of businesses manufacturing and supplying goods to retailers Australia wide.

Join us for the inaugural BrookSALE on Saturday, 26th November 2011 (9am – 4pm) and discover:

  • hand-crafted Australian beeswax candles and honey at Queen B,
  • beautiful European tableware from Villeroy & Boch,
  • gorgeous French glassware from La Rochere at Mosaique,
  • Australia’s yummiest jams, marmalades and chutneys at Hank’s Jam
  • Australian made gates made to survive Australia’s harsh climate at Leisurewood Gates

Meet the makers.  Meet the importers.  Meet your neighbours and do your Christmas shopping locally.  In fact, at these prices, why not decorate your entire home (and entry gate) and then sit down to some candlelit sourdough toast with Hank’s jam?!

With unbeatable offers and discount prices BrookSALE is brought to you by:

Hanks Jam – With over 30 delicious product offerings in 3 different sizes we cater for almost all tastebuds. Using only the best natural ingredients, no artificial flavourings or preservatives, our Jams and Chutneys are being used by the most discerning chefs, food stylists and discerning customers nationwide. (www.hanksjam.com.au)

Leisurewood Gates – Leisurewood Gates was established in 1981.  We specialise in custom made joinery and steel/timber automatic gates.  We’ll be showcasing our new laminated timber gates at BrookSALE made from Cedar and Silver Birch. These high quality laminated timbers produce gates that are cheaper and more adaptable than traditional joinery gates and they’re made in Australia to survive the harsh Australian climate.  (www.leisurewoodgates.com.au)

Mosaique – Importers of French made glassware and soaps and body products from the south of France. We have a wide range of fabulously scented soaps, hand creams and body lotions, just perfect for gift giving. Table linen and dinnerware to make your Christmas table something special. Vases and ceramics – all made in France. Come along and speak French, discuss your French holiday with experts who really know France while grabbing a bargain.

Queen B – Come down to Queen B’s hive and meet our talented candle-makers as you watch the process of beeswax candles being hand-made.  Indulge your taste buds with over 22 varieties of Australian honey – and meet our beekeepers too.  Northern Beaches local beekeeper, Shannon Schmidt, will be onsite as will Bruce White, OAM – one of Australia’s most experienced beekeepers.

Villeroy & Boch – As a leading name in European tableware, Villeroy & Boch offers an array of stylish solutions to turn a house into a home.  Innovative creativity has been integral to the character of the company for more than 260 years.  Today, a contemporary selection of ceramic designs, cutlery, glassware and accessories awaits those looking to create a home environment that reflects their personality.

BrookSALE - Google Maps

BrookSALE - Google Maps

 

Look for the red BrookSALE flags as you drive around behind Warringah Mall and grab great gifts at amazing prices to give your family and friends this Christmas

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You may recall that in June I blogged about the hive I got back in March?… if not, you can read about it here – https://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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At the Queen B Hive in Brookvale we stock both honey and beeswax candles… 22 varieties of Australian honey and over 40 varieties of candles (plus another 100 or so candleholders).  We try to share the joy buying beeswax from some beekeepers and honey from others.

One of our honey beekeepers has a little celebrity following of his own.  Yves Ginalt was features in an SBS series called The Passionate Apprentice.  Whilst I would like to think that the swooning was over his occupation, I suspect that it may have had something to do with his strong, French accent!  Accent aside, his honey is absolutely extraordinary.  Branded Miellerie, meaning Honey House, it is seriously special honey.  Being French, Yves soft sets each jar of honey in its own jar.

Following is an article on Yves from the Sydney Morning Herald.  Read the transcript below, or click on the link at the bottom to see a pdf of the article.  When you pop into the hive, be sure to try all of his honeys… in the meanwhile, read (in a strong French accent) and enjoy!

 

Take Your Sweet Time
9 March 2010, Good Living, the Sydney Morning Herald

A Steady, old-fashioned process results in distinctively delicious honey, writes Lucy Barbour

It’s an early summer morning in the bushland overlooking Tasmania’s Lake Pedder.  Artisan apiarist Yves Ginat wakes in his caravan and brews a pot of tea.  He then sets to work among swarms of bees bringing native floral nectar to the hives.

Then hours and about six stings later, he drives home to prepare organic, cold-extracted honey.

Ginat’s passion for raw, unprocessed honey began in Bourges in central France, where he grew up keeping bees as a hobby with his father.  “we are going every summer to meet the beekeeper just to try his honey from the flowers.  That’s the connection between [France] and now,” Ginat says.

The “now” is Ginat’s life in Woodbridge, southern Tasmania, where he set up Miellerie (French for Honey House) in 2005.  His range consists of Blue Gum, Prickly Box, Leatherwood, Tea Tree and Lake Pedder’s Nectar.  All the honeys are prepared using organic and biodynamic techniques, with an emphasis on French tradition.  “The French are very fussy about the timing of collecting the honey.  It has to be when it has got the pure flavour of the flowers,” Ginat says.

Most supermarket honeys are heated during preparation to achieve a longer shelf life.  Heating can affect a honey’s flavour, colour, texture, nutrients and aroma.  Miellerie honeys are cold-extracted, straight from the comb, so all original qualities are retained.  The colour varies according to the type of flower.  While the Leatherwood is a light creamy shade, the Lake Pedder’s Nectar honey is darker brown and the Prickly Box is a buttery yellow.  They’re also unfiltered, so it’s not unusual to find the occasional speck of pollen or honeycomb spread over your toast.  Savour it though.  It’s all part of the raw-food experience.

The task of cold-extraction is time consuming but Ginat wouldn’t have it any other way.  “we just try to have something coming from the land and the trees,” he says passionately.  “We’re trying to take time to appreciate it so it’s not too rushed and so the honey tastes good.  It’s just like good wine.  It has to be made slowly.”

201003 Miellerie article

Josie Rickards of Wholefoods House in Woollahra says Miellerie is her best selling honey range.  “It’s an artisan type product that’s locally and sustainably produced and it tastes excellent.  The process that [Ginat] uses, the French [method], gives it a creamed honey flavour.  It’s quite distinctive.”


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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Whilst my fascination with bees manifests itself most obviously in my love of and obsession with creating the world’s finest beeswax candles, actually it extends all the way from beekeeping through the societal structure of bees, to all the products of the hive (including honey, bee pollen and royal jelly) and finally to candles.

Today I read a fascinating piece of medical research on the Antiproliferative Effects of Honey in the treatment of cancer.  The research was done by Saravana Kumar Jaganathan and Mahitosh Mandal and published in the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology.

Following is an abstract of the research:

Honey has been used since ancient times both in medical and domestic needs, but only recently the antioxidant property of it came to limelight. The fact that antioxidants have several preventative effects against different diseases, such as cancer, coronary diseases, inflammatory disorders, neurological degeneration, and aging, led to search for food rich in antioxidants. Chemoprevention uses various dietary agents rich in phytochemicals which serve as antioxidants. With increasing demand for antioxidant supply in the food, honey had gained vitality since it is rich in phenolic compounds and other antioxidants like ascorbic acid, amino acids, and proteins. Some simple and polyphenols found in honey, namely, caffeic acid (CA), caffeic acid phenyl esters (CAPE), Chrysin (CR), Galangin (GA), Quercetin (QU), Kaempferol (KP), Acacetin (AC), Pinocembrin (PC), Pinobanksin (PB), and Apigenin (AP), have evolved as promising pharmacological agents in treatment of cancer. In this review, we reviewed the antiproliferative and molecular mechanisms of honey and above-mentioned polyphenols in various cancer cell lines.

Composition of honey

If you have a little more time, you can read the full piece of research here.

We have 22 varieties of Australian honey for tasting at the hive where we also make Queen B candles.  The most important thing to be aware of when buying honey is to ensure that the honey has not been heated over 42 degrees Celsius.  At that temperature the anti-bacterial properties of honey start to be killed.  Most supermarket honey is flash heated (which involves heating significantly above 42 degrees).  They do this to stop the honey candying on the shelf because a lot of people think that if their honey candies that it has gone off.  It hasn’t.  All honey will candy in time, the timing just varies.  Eg Clover honey will candy within a couple of months where Yellowbox honey would take years.

If you’re ever near Sydney’s Northern Beaches, feel free to pop in and try some honey and read the tasting notes and research and watch Queen B candles being made.  Happy days.


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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