Introducing my Bees

I’ve been a beekeeper for three years (just this spring is the anniversary) and I never felt qualified enough to write about it. I really don’t feel qualified yet! There’s so much to learn that I don’t think I ever will. My mom and I started Shamrock Apiaries after my grandpa’s friend starting keeping some of his bees on my grandpa’s farm. We named our apiary Shamrock because it is the street my grandpa’s farm is on. With Al (Albon Apiaries) as our mentor we started three hives, and in our first summer we caught a swarm and moved up to four.

We name each of our queens after real queens. We have Elizabeth, Victoria, Marie 14055146_10157297437665293_6911574687855759179_nAntoinette and Cleopatra. Elizabeth is the tallest hive and was always the strongest. Sadly this year Elizabeth and Marie Antoinette didn’t make it through the winter. Nether starved, both got sick even though we treated them in the fall sometimes you can’t protect them.

We will be replacing them and keeping the same names. We’re hoping to get one more hive (and name her Ru Paul) but we haven’t decided when we want to do that. Our yellow hives live with Al’s blue ones. The colour doesn’t matter we just like yellow.

We have a solar powered electric fence around them to protect them from raccoons, skunks, and even bears. Although I’m not sure it’s strong enough to stop a bear.

DSC_7161_preview.jpegWe do keep the honey and wax but we’re not in it for the honey. I like to think of it as the rent they pay. We just want to take care of them and learn everything about them. I think of them more as pets than livestock.

We try our hardest to keep the little girls alive. I just love watching them and working with them.

We harvest any excess honey they have in the fall. The brood boxes (the two large ones on the bottom of each hive) carry enough honey for the bees to make it through the winter, and the top boxes (honey supers) are for us. Sometimes the bees don’t fill the honey supers at all. Any wax I get comes from harvesting the honey. We only take the very top layer off of each frame and leave an almost finished frame for the bees to use next year.  I use the wax for candles, lip balms, and hand creams.DSC_6874_preview.jpeg

Beekeeping is getting popular and I think the majority of people doing small scale beekeeping are helping the ecosystem out by keeping the number of honey bees alive up. However many people go into it expecting it to be easy, and not following regulations and laws, which causes the spread of dieses between hives. I just try and take care of my bees as best we I can.

The photos are all by my lovely friend Katey who now has her own photography company you can find their Instagram here , the portfolio here and website here. The photos were taken before she created Little City Lifestyle, but her new stuff is just as good!

(not an ad just showing support for my friend)

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Low waste Lazy Soap

I got a ton of soap molds for Christmas and my birthday last year and haven’t used them! IMG_5593So I decided to give it a go. I wanted my first soap making experience to be so easy a child could do it so I used a soap base. I found a natural honey soap base at my local farming supplies store by chance and bought it. For only a couple dollars of soap base, some dyes and essential oils I made fifteen soaps so I was happy. The soap base was wrapped in plastic but it is still less packaging than fifteen soaps individually wrapped would have had.

I originally made uncoloured soaps but I found that boring and melted them again to add colouring. To add some texture I added some dried lavender from my garden to some, and coffee to an other. I think dried citrus zest would work great too.

All you have to do is melt the soap base. I did so using a double boiler (a metal bowl over a pot of boiling water). I have a specific metal bowl I use for all DIY things so that I don’t have to worry about it being soapy or beeswaz covered and then using it for food.

Once you melt the base pour it into your molds and add whatever you want to it. If you don’t have a mold you can use a silicon icecube tray or make a mold using a box/baking dish and line it completely with parchment paper ( I havn’t tried that yet so if it doesn’t work I’m sorry) and then cut them into squares after.

Have you tried melt and pour soap?