Friday, October 28, 2011

Do-It-Yourself-and-Save-a-Bundle Beeswax Balm

After an absolutely gorgeous week in Southern Illinois, where I finally took a fall off my motorcycle, and lived to tell about it, I found that riding made my skin very dry and sensitive.  I have made my own balms and salves before, but thought I would go online to see what products were currently out there.  I was shocked to see the prices folks were charging for balms--some as much as $12 - $13 for 2 ounces.  I have no problem with people making a product and selling it for what they want, but when I realized that I could make it for only mere pennies on the dollar, and you could too, that it was time to tell you how to do it.

Balms and salves are simply olive oil and beeswax.  The only real difference is where you decide to rub it, whether it be your lips, on your elbows, or your feet! You can add essential oils or herbs to it, choosing appropriate ones for different parts of your body (you may not wish to add menthol and peppermint to your lip balm for example, but hey, maybe you do!)

So where do you get beeswax? Know your beekeeper! Many beekeepers will keep it in stock, or you may have to call and place an order before hand so he or she can save you some next time they extract honey.  You could order it on ebay or get it from your local craft/hobby store, but you really don't know what you are getting then.  Some of the "big box" bee supply companies carry it, but it's typically been bought from big commercial beekeepers who use chemicals in their hives (and is in the wax that you would then be putting on your body).  I suggest an organic source like Glory Bee, who also is a good source for the oils and herbs (tell Kaitlyn I sent you.)  Another source I trust is Mountain Rose Herbs.

Sheri's Simple Salve
1/2 c olive oil
1 oz beeswax
10 - 15 drops of essential oil (all one kind or mix and match)

Heat olive oil and beeswax together in a double boiler until melted.  Remove from heat, adding essential oils and placing quickly into jars with caps on.

(really? $6 an ounce for that?)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Classes Galore and No Bake Honey Drops

Sheri and Jennifer teaching kids about bees and beekeeping. 
I am a teacher by profession, and a beekeeper by accident. I have always enjoyed teaching. I know it's one of those things that you either like or you hate, and I happen to like it.  I started teaching preschoolers back in the 80's, then was a librarian for awhile, and then started teaching pre-kindergarteners for a bit.  In 2000 (I remember it well because it was a president-election year and the "hanging chad" debacle) I started teaching junior high health and did that for 10 years.  I enjoyed that teaching job immensely until the next presidential election, at which time that current president decided to cut my program and I was without a job.

I began helping David teach beekeeping classes just a couple of years ago when the classes became to get really large, and I have truly enjoyed it. I also taught Sunday school, vacation bible school and bible studies for nearly 3 decades. I've led reading groups and young mothers groups,  taught childbirth classes for a short time, and even taught young teens CPR and first aid for their babysitting jobs.   I am currently homeschooling Seth, and soon Christian. 

You'd think that means I'm a really smart person, but I'm really not.  Somehow when I was in school back in the psychedelic 70's, I learned how to ace a test, but quickly forgot whatever it was we were learning in school. But one thing I learned, and the one thing I teach my kids now is HOW to look up information--where to find it, how to search for it, who to ask. 

Our classes at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms are over for the year. We taught about 15 classes and short courses here at our farm (until they got so large we had to move the classes to a bigger facility) as well as taught at other clubs and colleges.  We had about 200 people go through one of our courses at the farm this year, and numbers unknown at the college courses, clubs, and associations that we taught at (but we're guessing about another 300 - 400) and without exception, we enjoyed everyone of them. 

At last week's Natural and Sustainable course, I made Honey Drops and leave you with the recipe here:

Honey Drops
1 cup honey
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups powered milk
dash vanilla
1/2 c granola
1/4 c miniature chocolate chips (optional)
1/4 - 1/2 c powdered sugar

Cream honey and peanut butter together first, then add remaining ingredients.  Shape into balls and roll in powered sugar.  Keep in refrigerator.