Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Encaustic Painting

Beeswax is used in encaustic art.  Pigment is added to the beeswax and then it is applied to the canvas.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Breeding Mite Resistant Bees.

Recently a British beekeeper has developed a mite resistant honeybee. 

Ron Hopkins, a 79-year-old beekeeper from Swindon, discovered using a microscope that bees in one of his hives had learned how to remove the parasite from each others' bodies by grooming each other. So Mr Hopkins set about trying to spread the genes of his "grooming" bees to his other hives, using artificial insemination. It worked, and now he's hoping that it will spread via wandering queens to the rest of the bee population in Britain.
Hopkins knows that the Swindon Honeybee, as his strain has been named, is not a short-term solution. "It will take a lot of work, but it could be our only hope of saving the bee," he said today. "What I want to do is redevelop the British bee so that it can protect itself against these varroa mites. If all the bees in the world die out, then we die out. The situation is really that serious."
Yugoslavian honeybees are know for their hygienic behavior, cleaning mites off of each other.   Breeding traits into bees has been challenging since many desirable traits are not dominant and will drop out after several generations.  Hygienic behavior may not be matched with traits of a bee that is hardy for winter climates or  queens that lays a large and robust colony.  Too many years of bee breeding with lack of genitic diversity  has caused trouble.  Looking to the Africanized bees migrating north from South America, they are aggressive but much more resilient to CCD and mites.  Over time, breeding with native bees has made the Africanized bees a little less aggressive.   Using the crucible of Mother nature with natural selection honeybees have survived for 30 million years and will continue to, but breeding traits that we deem important is much more difficult to balance a honeybee for domestic production and a honeybee bred solely for survival.

Friday, August 13, 2010


I came across a great video from Penn State on CCD.   It seems as the rate of CCD does decline in areas other causes of hive loss begin to become more apparent.  Over all back in 1980 America the number of bee colonies had peaked and has been diminishing ever since.  Aggravated by more intensive agricultural methods and the introduction of mites the steady decline continues even after you factor out colony collapse disorder.  The current rate of winter losses is around 30% still above the more traditional 20%.  This becomes more difficult to make up during the summer by splitting hives.  When you have 7 of 10 of last years hives you need to be much more focused to build up your bees to get the 3 back out of the 7 left than getting a more normal 2 out of the 8 from last year.  Hopefully we can get back to a more normal attrition rate sooner than later. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Beeswax Pomade

This is a popular use for beeswax.  This is a straight forward low cost recipe to make your own at home.  Also use the link below to find more DIY recipes for beeswax.

1 Decide what are you going to use it for what style

2 Depending on what you will use it for will give you a general idea of the measurement of the ingredients.

3 If you want more hold give it more bees wax than petroleum jelly or oil.

4 First melt your bees wax in a clean pan until its a liquid, then pour into a cooling container.

5 Add oil or Vaseline so the wax doesn't go hard again.

6 Remember more oil or petroleum jelly: less hold, but more shine.

7 If you like, add some mint or some kind of nice-smelling oils to cover up the smell of the petroleum jelly.

  • Make it in large batches because if you're a greaser, you will use a lot.
  • For it to wash out, use detergent, (like for your dishes.)
  • I personally prefer to use corn starch and shampoo because it's better for your hair. 
  • You are handling hot wax, be careful!.
  • Don't use paraffin wax or any artificial waxes instead of bees wax.
  • Don't melt it in a microwave, only on a hotplate or stove.
  • Never put pomade in your eyes or in your mouth.
  • Keep away from kids.
  • Use only cooking oils like olive or vegtable never use motor oil.
  • Use only natural scented oils or edible oils for your pomade.
Things you'll need

  • a kitchen
  • a pan a skillet
  • a stirring spoon
  • oven mitts
  • a container
  • bees wax
  • oil or petroleum jelly
  • scented oils (needed if you want it to smell good)
For this and other beeswax recipes wikihow has  plenty.