Entries for month: June 2012
So as a beekeeper I have lots of wax and no easy use for it; it takes time to clean and is prone to wax moth infestation unless it is perfectly clean... what to do??
I decide to embark on a candle-making mission... how hard can it be? Just get a mould, heat up some wax, pour it in, add a wick and hey presto - a candle. Well that would be wrong, wrong and wrong.
The wax has to be perfectly pure as any impurities will lead to a poorly performing candle and you have to keep the temperature low as you can discolour the wax by overheating. And finally, a wick is not a wick. I have discovered the world of burn time, melt pools and flame sizes.
The first thing I now know is test, test, test: you have to test the wicks to get the best performing candle with the correct burn time. Too cold a flame and you get an unburnt column of wax left behind; too hot and the candle burns up in no time, so it's a matter of trial, error and experience to get it right. Every batch of beeswax is also different so you need to re-test from time to time to make sure your selection is correct.
And it's best to go for a pure cotton wick without any nasty zinc stiffener; beeswax is pure - why add metals to it?
So it's winter - a slow bee time for most, although there is an unseasonable flow on in places with a couple of beekeepers doing winter extraction in NSW this week.
We had an interesting discussion at the Illawarra Bee Club last night about Varroa, with the biggest take-home being: when it does get here, don't follow the rest of the world and throw mitecide at the problem. Try and let the bees handle it because the chemical controls only last so long and in about 10 years it will stop working. Instead let the hives that are going to die die and the bees will by natural selection work it out. That could be easier to say than do with your hives failing around you...
And finally, I just read some idiot has poisoned 750 hives up the south coast - a big loss for producers and what sort of fool does that.
Despite the poor weather last night we had a rollup of about 15 members to start the bee club and have decided on the last Tuesday of the month as our regular meeting date.
Next month we are conducting a honey tasting which will be fascinating, with honeys from australia and overseas.
I attended a presentation last week at CSIRO on honey and mead. It was quite an interesting event with some inflammatory topics covered, like honey toxicity from Pattersons Curse.
This weed, which is a prolific nectar producer, contains a liver toxin that can be transferred from both pollen and nectar and over-consumption can be fatal. It is however only a small contributor to our honey production so is unlikely to be an issue.
The other major topic covered was botulism in honey. All honey contains a small amount of botulism, and as a result honey should not be fed to children under 1 as their immune systems are unable to deal with even this small level of the toxin.