December 2006

Happy Holidays!

Welcome to our first edition of The Buzz, the newsletter of Honeybee Natural and Santa Fe healthy candles. 

Please do give us feedback.  We want to know what's useful to you.

Meet the Team...

Valentin, Joyce, Joey, Chris, Karmen, Leonard, Sandy, Gloria, Jeff

Holiday Candle Traditions (Gloria)
The Season of Advent, December 3 – December 24, 2006

Advent marks the start of the Christmas season. It begins on the Sunday nearest November 30, the feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle, and lasts four Sundays. The date it begins changes from year to year. As a result, so does the length of each Advent season. (This year the first Sunday in Advent is December 3.)

(Newsletter linked at this point… )

The word advent, from Latin, means "the coming." It is a time of spiritual reflection as well as cheer and anticipation.

The home or family Advent devotion includes the ceremonial lighting of candles in the Advent wreath. An Advent wreath is made from greens to symbolize continuous life and contains four candles— three purple and one rose or pink. Often a fifth candle (white) is added to the center of the wreath for lighting on Christmas Eve, in celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Devotional rituals vary according to cultural tradition and personal taste. Include bible verses, carols, discussions, questions or whatever your family chooses.  If you have older children, pick a leader for every week. The leader can then select the format they want the lighting ceremony to take. Often the lighting of the candle/s is before dinner or right after sunset. The candle lighting is progressive from week to week, starting with one candle the first week, two candles the next week and so on, preparing the way for the coming of Jesus.

First Sunday of Advent: Hope.  Light one purple candle to symbolize Hope. Prayer: Read Isaiah 60:2-3. Extinguish the candle flame.

Second Sunday: Peace. Light two purple candles - Hope and Peace. Prayer: Read Mark 1:4. Extinguish the flames.

Third Sunday:  Joy. Light two purple candles (Hope and Peace) and one rose or pink to symbolize Joy. Prayer: Read Isaiah 35:10. Extinguish the flames.

Fourth Sunday: Love.  Light all four candles - Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. Prayer: Read Isaiah 9:6-7. Extinguish the flames.

Christmas Eve after sunset: Light all four candles and add the fifth white candle (the light of Christ). Prayer: Read Luke 1:68-79 and Luke 2:1-20.

Keep the candles lit longer, or safely throughout the evening.

Make your own Advent wreath using greens from the yard, florist wire, pine cones, candles and candle holders. You can also find wood or metal bases to be used year after year.

We make tapers by the pair in 6" ($3.95), 9" ($5.95), and 12" ($7.45) lengths. Our colors include the purple, rose and ivory colors for Advent.  If your local retailer doesn't have these colors, please call us directly at 1-877-736-2887.  We also offer an Advent bundle containing 12-inch candles: three purple, one rose and one ivory for $19.50.  See our full selection of colors and sizes. Please call to discuss any special order requests. Our team of artisans are very talented and creative.

We also make the perfect Christmas tree candles, our T4.  They're 4" tall, 1/2" diameter and fit perfectly in standard clip-on holders.  The come by the dozen in red and ivory.


Hanukkah, December 16 – December 23, 2006

Hanukkah or Chanukah (Hebrew for “dedication”), annual festival of the Jewish people celebrated on eight successive days. It begins on the 25th day of Kislev, the third month of the Jewish calendar, corresponding, approximately, to December in the Gregorian calendar.

Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights, Feast of Dedication, and Feast of the Maccabees.

(Newsletter linked at this point… )

Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem by Judas Maccabee in 165 BC. Rededication was necessary because Antiochus IV Epiphanes, king of Syria and overlord of Palestine, had profaned (defiled) the temple. In 168 BC, on a date corresponding approximately to December 25 in the Gregorian calendar, the temple was dedicated to the worship of the pagan god Zeus Olympius by order of Antiochus, who forbade the practice of Judaism. An altar to Zeus was set up on the high altar. When Judas Maccabee recaptured Jerusalem three years later, he had the temple purged and a new altar put up in place of the desecrated one. The temple was then rededicated to God with festivities that lasted eight days (see 1 Maccabees chapters 3 and 4).

According to tradition, only a one-day supply of non-desecrated olive oil could be found for the rededication, but that small quantity burned miraculously for eight days.

Jews commemorate this event by lighting candles for the eight nights of Hanukkah. A complete set of Hanukkah candles contains 44 (2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9).  The principal source for the story of Hanukkah is the Talmud.

The principal feature of present-day Hanukkah celebrations is the lighting of candles, one the first night, two the second, and so on until eight candles have been lit in a special candelabrum called a menorah. A Hanukkah menorah has eight branches and a holder for an extra candle that is used to light the others. (A seven-branched menorah is now a symbol for the state of Israel.) A blessing is said each night as the Hanukkah candles are lit.

Hanukkah is a festive family occasion, with special foods and songs. Children generally receive small gifts or money, known as Hanukkah gelt (money), each evening after the candles are lit. Foods fried in oil, such as latkes (potato pancakes) and doughnuts, commemorate the miracle of the oil. Sweet foods also are popular, and children may receive chocolate coins in place of Hanukkah gelt. Songs also play a part in the festivities and remind the family of the events commemorated.

We offer Hanukkah sets of 45 candles in a tasteful organza bag.  Colors are: ivory; blue and ivory; and rainbow mix. The candles are 5/8" diameter and 5" tall. The retail price is $14.95 per set.


What are Farolitos and Luminarias?

Christmas in the southwest is a beautiful time. As many areas have mild evening temperatures, outdoor celebrations have become holiday traditions. Lighting the way to a festive time in the southwest are luminarias or farolitos. These are candles carefully placed in sand inside a bag - usually of craft paper, providing a warm yellow glow at night.

(Newsletter linked at this point… )

The tradition of lighting small bonfires, called luminarias, on La Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) was brought from Spain to Old Mexico in the 16th century by Franciscan monks. They were set alongside roads and churchyards to guide people to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. This custom then traveled northward with the Spanish into what was to become New Mexico. Here the crisscross fires of piñon wood came to symbolize lighting the Christ child’s way on December 24th.

So how did luminarias go from being small bonfires to lights in small paper bags?

These lights have their roots in the 1800's. Small bonfires, like the current day bonfires on the corners of Canyon Road in Santa Fe, were used to guide people to Christmas Mass. Quite often they were set out during the final night of Las Posadas, the symbolic representation of Mary and Joseph seeking shelter in Bethlehem, walking from home to home before Jesus was born. In later days, children carried small farolitos as they reenacted Las Posadas.

How to Use Luminarias and Farolitos

Now people use luminarias or farolitos to decorate the path to their door as well as outlining the roofline of their home with these warm inviting lights. People in Albuquerque tend to call the paper bag lanterns, luminarias, but natives from Santa Fe insist the correct term is farolitos. Historically, a true luminaria is a series of small bonfires lining the roads. We use the terms interchangeably.

Make Your Own

Making luminarias, or farolitos, is fairly easy. Just purchase paper bags, tea light or votive candles, and gather some sand. Crafty people will fold the tops down and cut holiday shapes in the bags. Fill each bag with several inches of sand and press the votive candle in the center of the sand so that the flame does not touch the paper. For the novice, we would recommend beginning with lining your walk way and skip the more dangerous positioning of Luminarias on your roof. We would also recommend choosing a dry night with very little wind. Luminarias will usually burn about 4 hours before going out. You'll probably be headed for bed about that time!

Places to See Grand Displays of Farolitos and Luminarias and Southwest Holiday Lights:

      Santa Fe's Canyon Road, Christmas Eve, and through the season.
      Rio de Las Luces (River of Lights) at Albuquerque's Botanic Garden.
      Noches de las Luminarias - Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona.
      Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico Luminaria Festival
      Tlaquepaque Luminaria Festival - Sedona, Arizona

Our beeswax votives burn about 18 hours, so they can be used over several nights in a luminaria, or use a tea light for one night.  We have some odd colored votives on sale for $2 each. Call for details - 1.877.736.2887.


December 26, 2006 – January 1, 2007

Kwanza is an African-American holiday based on traditional African festivals celebrating the harvest of the first crops. The word Kwanza means "first fruits" in Swahili, an East African language.

(Newsletter linked at this point… )

The celebration of Kwanzaa lasts seven days, from December 26 to January 1. Each of the seven days of the celebration is dedicated to one of seven principles. Each day one candle is lit that represents each principle.

Day 1 - middle candle - Black - Umoja - Unity
Day 2 - innermost red candle - Kujichagulia - Self-determination
Day 3 - innermost green candle - Ujima - Collective Work, Responsibility
Day 4 - middle red candle - Ujamaa - Cooperative Economics
Day 5 - middle green candle - Nia - Purpose
Day 6 - outermost red candle - Kuumba - Creativity
Day 7 - outermost green candle - Imani - Faith

Kwanza combines traditional African culture with African-American ideals. Kwanza centers around the Nguzo Saba, seven principles of black culture developed in 1966 by the holiday's founder, Maulana Karenga. 

In the evening, family members light one of seven candles in a Kinara (candleholder) and discuss the principle for that day.

We don't make black candles, but we recommend Creative Candles as a good source (not pure beeswax, but partly, and good quality).

Burning Tips, Safety and Such (Chris)
Wax cleanup

Over the holiday season we’ll all be burning a lot of candles. Some of those candles – yes, even ours, will drip and spill. From pesky drafts that cause a delicate little drip and a spot on great-grandmother’s lace table cloth, to those grand moments of oops that spread wax from floor to ceiling, we’ll all be doing some clean-up. Those of us skilled, careful or lucky enough to avoid spills will still likely be cleaning candle holders.

(Newsletter linked at this point… )

Beeswax and most candle waxes are not water soluble, so resist the first impulse to involve wet sponges, rags, etc., unless you catch the spill in the moment and the sponge or rag is expendable.  In any case, a dry rag is better than a damp one.

Also, solid wax is generally easier to work with than liquid wax, so it's almost always best to let spills cool and harden before engaging them.  The colder you get the wax the harder and more brittle it becomes and the easier it is to get off, so anything that can fit in the freezer should go there first.

On solid, smooth surfaces such as tables, counters, glass, etc.:  the cold wax can often be pried and popped right off a surface without further fuss.  Use an implement that won't damage the surface - for wood and other soft materials, use something smooth and made of wood or plastic, not sharp metal. If any residue remains, use a wax solvent(products such as Weiman's Wax Away or Goo Gone; always read the instructions to make sure it won't damage the materials you're cleaning).

On rough, uneven or porous surfaces:  this gets trickier.  The wax will grab or penetrate.  Use an implement, as above, to get what you can mechanically.  Scrape and pick - carefully.  To remove the wax from cracks and rough surfaces, put some wax solvent on an old toothbrush and work it in.  Wipe with a dry rag.

On carpets:  If you discover the wax when it's cold and hard, scrape and pick, then use the solvent.  Solvents may damage some synthetic fibers - read the instructions or do a small test patch.  If you witness the spill, you'll have to use your judgment:  if the wax is not just sitting on the surface, taking a rag to it immediately may prevent it from getting down deep and you may get most of it up at this stage; but if it seems to be suspended on the surface of the fibers, let it cool and harden.  Solvent (!) will get the rest either way.  The method of hot iron over towels, rags, paper towels or newspaper is risky.  The heat will cause the wax to liquefy, which makes it both easier to get up and more likely to spread and go deep.

On textiles:  again, wait until the wax is solid and cold - the colder the better.  If you try to get the wax out while it's liquid it will just go further into the fabric and increase your work.  Remove as much wax as possible by breaking, chipping, picking and nibbling.  Next, work wax solvent in with a rag or, on more robust fabrics such as upholstery, use a soft brush such as a toothbrush.  (Again, read the solvent product instructions and check against the type of textile you're saving - the solvents may damage some synthetics.)  Once the solvent has removed the wax, use normal laundry or dish soap to remove the solvent.  The same warning about hot irons and such applies here also.  Some will come out, but some will spread and penetrate deeper.

On skin:  ouch!, and ouch! again.  It hurts when it hits you hot, and again when you pull it off.  But not so much.  Hot wax in very small quantities probably won't burn you, and the wax won't damage your skin. - in fact it's good for it.  Smearing the hot wax right away dissipates the heat but may make cleanup more difficult.  Leaving it to cool means enduring the heat, but then it comes off in pats - usually with your body hair.  Larger quantities of hot wax can cause severe burns and should be wiped and scraped off as quickly as possible before it can burn.

In hair:  this is probably the one sure exception to the let-it-cool rule.  Best to get it immediately with a rag, then comb out what you can.  The solvents are probably not a good idea.  Beeswax won't damage the hair, but folks might wonder if you leave it in there. 

On glass and metal candle holders:  as with everything else, the first step is always to get as much wax off in the solid state as possible using mechanical means that won't cause damage.  Into the freezer, then pick and scrape.  Next comes the solvents.  And the last resort is hot water.  It's a very bad idea to get any wax into the sink and down the drain, as it will clog.  If you have or can find an old pot that won't be used again for cooking, put candle glass into it in cold water.  Bring the water to a slow simmer.  The wax will melt and rise to the surface.  Let the water cool.  Skim off the solid wax.  Boil again, then take out the holders while hot and wipe down with a dry rag.  They should come clean as new.

On candle holders other than glass and metal:  see the sections on hard surfaces, both smooth and not.  A holder with an antiqued finish needs extra delicate care.

Cleaning wax is a bit of work, so everything we can do to keep it where we want it will pay dividends: the right holders, the right placement, avoiding drafts, and the constant application of common sense.

Candle Safety Rules: Christmas trees, all-night candles, and everyday vigilance

As a childhood amateur pyro, a man who makes things that burn for a living, and a member of our local volunteer fire department, I have more intimate experience with the perils of fire than most.

I belong to the risk management school of living. Some people think that they’ll be safe if they avoid dangers, but I prefer to know and manage the danger through education, preparation, and vigilant awareness. Whether it’s hang gliding, fishing (the most dangerous sport in America), or burning candles in the home, there’s a way to do it safely and a way that gets people killed. Accidents don’t just happen; in most accidents, a human is involved somewhere in the lead-up; and just because an accident hasn’t happened yet or recently does not mean that one could not happen in the next moment.

(Newsletter linked at this point… )

A candle seems so friendly and benign as it burns quietly at the dinner table; but a candle is a source of fuel, and when lit, can quickly catch other things on fire. It happens more often than you’d think. You leave the dinner table to go watch a movie, candles still burning. The cat jumps up for a lick of butter, knocks over a candle. The wax melts into the table cloth, which catches fire, melting the rest of the candle into a molten pool of fire. Now the whole table is on fire, and we’re only a few minutes into this scenario. The smoke hasn’t yet reached the smoke detector in the kitchen, and the dining room is about to be lost.

Candle safety rule #1: Never leave a burning candle unattended.

When I was a child, we always had candles on our Christmas tree.  Choose a species with well-spaced branches and short needles; keep it in water and make sure it doesn't dry out; use the right candles (short) and the right holders (metal clip-on); place the candles properly so they're not right under a branch or another candle; and be there for the enjoyment and the safety.  Have a fire extinguisher on hand just in case.

Candle safety rule #2:  Always burn candles in a fire-proof holder appropriate to the type of candle.

There are times when we want to leave a candle, such as a 7-day votive, burning all night or when we're not there.  We know this is a bad idea (rule #1), but we take precautions (rule #2).  Still, we should only do this with container candles that are set on a non-flammable surface and away from all flammable items.  That should take us to about 99% safe. Finally, we should consider the least likely, most improbable events to account for that last one percent: the window is open; a bird flies in with nesting materials which it drops into the candle; the house burns down.  An earthquake or tornado hits.  A gas leak occurs. 

Candle holders often fail.  A glass taper holder often cracks if the candle is let to burn right down inside.  A votive glass can crack open if the metal tab is moved to the side once all the wax is molten.  Candle holders may be made of wood or other flammable materials. Tapers fall over.

Candles also fail.  A pillar that starts to drip may expose too much wick causing the flame size to increase dangerously, which accelerates the melting and further increases the size of the flame that may then spread to other things. 

Candle safety rule #3:  Never burn a candle on or near anything that could (!) catch fire.

Do you have a plan in case of fire in your home, your business?  Do you know now to get out safely?  Do you have smoke detectors (check the batteries) and fire extinguishers (check the pressure)?

Of Candles, Chemistry and Global Warming (Chris)

There's much talk in the air about reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in order to curb the global warming effect that elevated levels of CO2 in the atmosphere is causing.  It may or may not be too late to avert disaster, but surely we are morally compelled to understand the problem and do what we can to mitigate it. 

(Newsletter linked at this point… )

What we call air is a mixture of gases.  The major elements are: about 78% nitrogen; 21% oxygen; 1% argon.  These combine and recombine with other elements in many molecular forms.  One such molecule is carbon dioxide, made of one atom of carbon and two atoms of oxygen, which comprises only about 0.033% of our air.

We humans, and most all things animal, are intimately connected to the rest of the natural world via the carbon cycle.  When we breathe in, our lungs take up the oxygen in the air.  When we breathe out, we put back CO2.  What we call “fresh” air is air rich with oxygen; and from an immediate human perspective, oxygen is the thing we most urgently care about.  But where does the oxygen come from, and where does the CO2 go? 


Trees, plants, and most all things vegetable, also breathe.  They breathe in carbon dioxide, and breathe out oxygen.  The oxygen we need to live comes from them.  The carbon dioxide they need comes from us.  The carbon that we exhale as CO2 also comes into our bodies from the plants in the form of food, either directly through vegetables, grains, fruits, etc. or in meat and eggs taken from animals that have eaten plants.   

The carbon from the CO2 that plants absorb becomes part of them and is trapped there for the duration of their lives.  In the course of life on earth, much carbon has been trapped in deposits of dead organic matter that became oil, natural gas, and the other hydrocarbons we use as fuels.  When we burn those fuels, we release the carbon back into the air.  We’ve released more than the vegetable world can re-absorb, and so the atmospheric levels are rising.  And to worsen the matter, we’ve been cutting and burning forests which has the double effect of reducing the number of oxygen-producing, carbon dioxide absorbing plants, and also releases their carbon.

Fire is a chemical process.  When a substance is burned, it undergoes a chemical transformation, a chemical reaction.  Oxygen from the air is combined with other elements from the molecules of the substance.  As an example, the combustion of methane (CH4), the simplest hydrocarbon molecule, made of one atom of carbon and four atoms of hydrogen:

 CH4 + (2) 02   =>   CO2 + (2) H2O 

One molecule of methane combines in combustion with two molecules of oxygen to produce one molecule of carbon dioxide and two molecules of water (vapor, steam).

When we burn a candle, the same process happens.  Beeswax produces a very “clean” burn, meaning that it produces mostly carbon dioxide and water, as the reaction above.  This is good, and does not harm us.  Chemical candles of paraffin and such produce far more “dirty” burns, leaving carbon monoxide (CO), volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) and partially burned hydrocarbons (soot) that are toxic and do harm us.  But in neither case is the carbon dioxide the issue.  See below. 

(As an aside, there is no difference between the carbon dioxide (or any atom or molecule) from a source we deem good, such a as beeswax candles, versus a source we deem not good, such as a coal-fired electric plant.  There is no good CO2 and no bad CO2.  CO2 is CO2, no matter the source.) 

We cannot stop producing CO2.  We do it with every breath.  If we killed ourselves in despair, our bodies would release CO2 in cremation or burial.  This is natural, and OK.  We have the right to our lives, perhaps even the right to enjoy our lives. 

Humans have celebrated and sanctified with fire since time immemorial.  I don’t think we need to stop.  The burning of candles is a miniscule contributor to the CO2 crisis.  There are a thousand other ways we can reduce our CO2 contributions.  Probably the candles you burn in one year equate to no more than a gallon or two of gasoline, that thing you bought and didn’t need, and so on.  If we want to both use candles and reduce our impact, there are so many things we could change first. 

What we all must do is increase our awareness of how we contribute to the problem and the solution.  Good questions yield good answers.  Everything (!) we buy, everything we do contributes, because it’s all related to energy, and our primary source of energy is fossil fuels and things burned.  There are no simple answers except that by consuming less, perhaps even doing less, we reduce our impact.   

Most of the choices involve complex considerations and range from the large and significant items to the small and daily practices: 

  • Do we buy a new car because it uses less fuel?  Using less fuel is good, but how much energy was used to make the new car, transport it to our location, etc.?  Perhaps driving our old car a few more years until better technology is available would have less impact.
  • Do we burn a beeswax candle instead of using electric lights?  We don’t frankly know how to compute that answer.  Perhaps we should all go to bed earlier, cuddle more and get more sleep.

Bringing our conscious attention to bear and engaging our families, friends and communities in the conversation will make the difference – if not to the world, then at least to our lives.

Conclusion:  The natural balance between vegetable life and animal life has taken eons to evolve; but in the short course of human ascendancy we’ve shifted that balance, and it seems we’re about to see the catastrophic result on many fronts.  Every choice we make in our lives counts towards the future.  Those of us who care must take a look at our options and make the best choices we can while continuing to live with joy and with light. 

On Candles and Health (Chris)

Following the article above, the carbon dioxide that candles release when burned is not a problem from a health perspective.  We release carbon dioxide from our bodies with every breath, and of course in every breath we also breathe carbon dioxide in and out from the ambient air. 

The significant effects of burning candles in our indoor environments are two-fold: 

  1. Burning any candle reduces the available oxygen;
  2. Burning a candle that emits toxic by-products makes us sick.

Therefore, we should: 

  1. Burn fewer candles and/or keep a supply of fresh air – a good practice with or without the candles.  (By fewer candles we mean two, or six, or twelve instead of 20, or 50 or 100.  And yes, some people really do burn that many.)
  2. Choose healthy candles.
On Honey and Health (Gloria)
When it comes to preventing colds and flus, it should come as no surprise that most recommendations are of the practical sort that most of us know innately.

In this day of pharmaceuticals, it seems we've forgotten common sense - and honey. Dr. Jarvis's guidelines for staying well are a refresher in the medicinal wisdom of our grandmother's era:
  1. Get enough sleep. Early to bed and early to rise make a person healthy as well as wise, since aligning your sleep schedule more closely to the sun is better for your system.
  2. Dress for the weather and avoid chills. Don't sleep with the windows open on cold nights.
  3. Take hot baths (not scalding though). Drink warm foods such as tea and soup.
  4. Eat breakfast. Eating early in the day keeps your body acidic (an alkaline system is more prone to illness).
  5. Don't worry. Be happy. Stress can make you sick.
  6. Get exercise, especially exercise that you enjoy. Any recreational exercise including walking, hiking, gardening, biking, and even yard work will keep your body fit and less prone to illness, while getting your lymph system circulating more freely.
  7. Limit work, both mental and physical, to the length of the work day. 12 hour days are not good for you. All work and no play make a man ill, as well as dull.
  8. Eat well and regularly. Emphasize greens, grains, and fruits. Eat food that grows in your region. Avoid wheat and all sugars except for honey.
  9. When feeling vulnerable, or as a preventative tonic, drink honey and vinegar ("honeygar") as described below.

Tasty Honey and Vinegar Beverage:

Many natural folk health traditions recommend drinking honey and vinegar daily. The best vinegar to use is raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (such as Bragg's), which is bio-active, unlike commercial brands that are essentially dead. When choosing honey, an organic raw honey is best, but the important thing is that it be raw and unpasteurized. Wildflower honey will have the widest variety of organic compounds that strengthen the body.

Not all constitutions are well served by the vinegar - a fermented preparation. Feel how it works for you.

2 tsp. honey
2 tsp. vinegar
8 oz. warm water

Mix all ingredients together in a glass, and stir well.

Sip rather than gulp for maximum benefit.

Caveat: Don't give this preparation to children under one year of age, as unfiltered honey can, in rare instances, contain pathogens that could harm an infant whose immune system is still developing. Ditto for raw vinegar, which babies probably wouldn't like anyway. (

We sell raw local honey at our retail store.

Backyard beekeeper: The Journey begins (Chris)
If you’ve been thinking about keeping bees, maybe 2007 will be your year to begin. It will be ours. We’ll all be on a steep learning curve, and we’re going to share our learned knowledge and our experience through this section of the newsletter.

(Newsletter linked at this point… )

The winter is a great time to start (or continue) reading and gathering resources, making a plan and calendar, and getting in tune with the seasonal cycles of nature where you live, where the bees will live. And if you can find experienced beekeepers in your area to mentor you, all the better, because there’s a tremendous amount of local knowledge that can make life and death differences for your bees.

Getting to know the bees, extending our awareness to their lifecycles and their relationship to the seasons and the weather, is an essential part of successful beekeeping. Since moving to the farm, I’ve been watching a wild hive that lives in the old cottonwood by the acequia (irrigation ditch).

During winter, wild bees, like their domesticated cousins, cluster in a tight ball to keep warm. The queen is at the center and the worker bees circulate from inside to outside. In January, the queen starts laying eggs in the center of the nest. Because stored honey and pollen are used to feed these larvae, colony stores may fall dangerously low in late winter when brood production has started but plants are not yet producing nectar or pollen. Domestic hives may require supplemental feeding at these times.

When spring "nectar flows" begin, bee populations grow rapidly, but there can still be gaps between one flower species and the next, and bees are vulnerable to starvation during these times.

By April and May, many colonies are crowded with bees, and these congested colonies may split and form new colonies by a process called "swarming." A crowded colony rears several daughter queens, then the original mother queen flies away from the colony, accompanied by up to 60 percent of the workers. These bees cluster on some object such as a tree branch while scout bees search for a more permanent nest site - usually a hollow tree or wall void. Within 24 hours the swarm relocates to the new nest. One of the daughter queens that was left behind inherits the original colony. Domestic beekeeping attempts to manage swarming and hive divisions in order to keep the bees from going feral.

A book that has great information and is also a wonderful read is Sue Hubbell’s A Book of Bees and How to Keep Them. Publishers Weekly: “…here she introduces us to the tasks and pleasures of beekeeping. Hubbell manages 300 hives, some on her own farm, others scattered about the countryside on land she rents for one gallon of honey a year. Beekeeping, we're shown, is a marvelous example of symbiosis, advantageous to humans, bees and crops. Noting that the end of one honey season is the start of the next, Hubbell begins with autumn when she checks the hives and prepares them for winter. She takes us, step by step, through the construction of a hive, explaining terms used by beekeepers. Spring brings re-queening if needed, and late summer, the harvest. Hubbell describes the collection and extraction of honey, the hard work to complete the season. Beekeeping has to be the apex of animal husbandry; it is a wondrous subject, and Hubbell does it justice.” If you can’t find this book at your local, independent bookseller: 

Community Events (Chris)

Every year we donate the candle dipping event at the Santa Fe Waldorf School and other local schools.  It takes me back to great memories of childhood. 

That's Valentin and me leading the rabble.

We have tools and supplies to lend and donate to schools.  Please contact us to find out more.

For pricing and to place an order, please click here. We're shipping orders the day they come in or next-day and expect to keep this up through the holiday season.
Happy Holidays to you and yours. 

May Peace, Joy and Love bless our lives and our world.

The Honeybee Natural Team.




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