Tagged "From the Beekeeper"

How to Make Beeswax Candles At Home

Organic Beeswax CandlesBeeswax candles add a warm, amber glow to your dinner table. Unlike paraffin candles, beeswax candles burn cleaner with no sticky, black soot. They also purify the air, burn slower, and are virtually dripless in a draft free environment.

We make beeswax candles for our museum, but you can make them just as easily at home. The video below shows you the step-by-step process to making beeswax candles using molds. You can also pour the beeswax into empty glass jars, but you will need a metal clamp and glue dot to hold the wick to the bottom of the jar.

What you will need is:

  • Beeswax
  • Wick (2/0 ply works for most candles 3" in diameter or less but consult your mold for the best size wick)
  • Crockpot
  • Candle Mold (we get ours at mannlakeltd.com)
  • Scissors
  • Wooden sticks or clothes pins
  • Large needle or bobby pin
  • Silicone Spray
  • 2 Large Containers for Pouring Wax
  • Rubber Bands
  • Cotton Fabric Squares
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Do orchids produce nectar?

Do orchids produce nectar? Yes! About two thirds of the 30,000 orchids in the world produce nectar and pollen.

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Looking for a book for honey lovers?


Considering how long people have been using honey, it’s no surprise that there is a wealth of knowledge about honey, and infinite recipes using it. If you are looking for a book for a real honey lover, we recently came across Honey: A Connoisseur’s Guide.



The book tells primarily about different types of honey and the flowers they come from. Lehua blossom honey is described as “distinctive complex flavor. Tangy, not oversweet; crystallizes beautifully.” Macadamia Nut Blossom has “hints of roasted nuts and leather” and is considered a “silver spoon collection” honey (to be eaten straight with a spoon it’s so delicious!) We quite agree.

The author also explains what kinds of honeys are good in certain recipes. If you are a honey aficionado, there are instructions on how to arrange a honey tasting (similar to a wine tasting) for the best flavor and bouquet combinations. For instance, you could arrange a tasting from milder to stronger flavored honeys from a variety of blossoms.

The book is more about honey than about bees, which means it won’t tell you how to become a beekeeper, but it has a very good recipe section that has honey in every recipe. There is Pork Loin Roasted with Orange and Ginger, Italian Pine Nut Cookies, Upside-Down Apple Cake, Plum Salad…One idea, replicated below, is Squash Cornbread, which is excellent with some Organic Wilelaiki Blossom honey drizzled on top!


Squash Cornbread
from Honey: A Connoisseur’s Guide with Recipes

1 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup sour cream
2 tbsp honey (plus more for drizzling!)
2 eggs
3/4 cup mashed cooked squash, at room temperature (this is about 1/4 of an acorn squash)
2 cups cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Dissolve the baking soda in the buttermilk. Stir in the sour cream and incorporate the honey in a thin stream. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs and add the squash, cornmeal, salt, and buttermilk mixture. In a 9-inch pie plate or baking dish, melt the butter. Tilt the pan to coat the dish well, then pour the excess into the batter (1 Tablespoon), stirring to incorporate. Pour the batter into the baking dish. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until set at the center.

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Small Hive Beetle Threatens Hawaii’s Export of Queen Bees

The attached article describes the challenge Hawaii’s beekeepers and queen bee breeders face since the small hive beetle found its way to Hawaii. It has dramatically increased the complexity and difficulty of producing Hawaiian honey given the increased labor required to monitor and keep our hives free of this pest.

Tribune-Herald Staff Writer
HILO — The small hive beetle, the serious honeybee pest first spotted in Hawaii on the Big Island in April 2010, has now found its way to Kauai.

The state Department of Agriculture announced in a Friday press release the beetle may have been spread by beekeepers transporting hives from an already infested island, including Maui, Hawaii Island, Molokai or Oahu. It added the state’s valuable queen bee exportation business could suffer if foreign countries opt to ban imports from Hawaii, and the agency reminded beekeepers they are obligated by law to obtain permits and prior inspection before transporting their hives or beekeeping equipment.

Darcy Oishi, an entomologist with the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, said Friday the infected hives could have come from most anywhere in the state.

“I was going to say it had to have come from Maui, Molokai, Oahu or the Big Island, but we don’t even know that, because there could be an infestation on some place we’re not even aware of right now,” he said.

The beetle is “very cryptic,” he said, and people often have trouble recognizing them, and in some cases choose not to report them. Therefore, they can be in an area for a long period of time before the infestation is known.

On Monday, according to the release, a beekeeper in Lihue noticed unusual beetles on some beekeeping equipment near his hives.

“The Plant Pest Control Branch of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture was contacted on May 22, and samples were taken and sent to HDOA entomologists in Honolulu, who confirmed the identification of small hive beetle Thursday,” the release stated. “In the meantime, HDOA received reports that potentially infected hive material had been previously moved to other locations on Kauai. HDOA staff is currently surveying and assessing the extent of the infestation on the island.”

Oishi said that established beekeeping operations on the Big Island are already quite familiar with the quarantine on transporting their hives, but added the Hawaii queen export businesses is booming at the moment, with more and more people hoping to cash in. And educating those people is now a priority in order to protect the burgeoning industry.

“The circumstances of this particular problem is that it’s good people noticed there was a problem and notified the Department of Agriculture, but it also highlights that if beekeepers are interested and want to do things like collecting swarms or doing hive removals, they really ought to be careful about what they do,” he said. “They don’t want to intermingle a new hive with their own stocks. That’s just asking for problems. There should be a quarantine, period. Watch it carefully. Be responsible.”

Oishi added Hawaii’s exports are in a precarious position when it comes to foreign countries. The continental United States already has small hive beetle and accepts imports of Hawaiian queen bees readily. But not so for other big importers.

“When the small hive beetle first appeared on the Big Island, Canada put more stringent restrictions on exports of our queens,” he said. “Canada is our biggest customer for our queen-rearing industry, outside the continental U.S., so that was pretty significant. And Europe, another smaller, but important, market outright refused to take our shipments.”

Oishi added Japan opted to close its markets to Hawaii queen honeybees after another pest, the varroa mite, became established here.

Small hive beetle adults are about four to five millimeters in length and are yellowish-brown in color, turning brownish, then to black at maturity. They feed on most anything inside a beehive, including honey, pollen, wax, as well as honeybee eggs and larvae. As they feed, they tunnel through the hive, damaging or destroying the honeycomb and contaminating the honey.

Symptoms of infestation include discolored honey, an odor of decaying oranges, and fermentation and frothiness in the honey. Heavy infestations may cause honeybee colonies to abandon hives. The beetle is native to sub-Saharan Africa and was first detected in the U.S in 1996 in South Carolina. It was subsequently detected in Florida in 1998 and is currently found in many states in the south and central areas of the U.S. and California.

Besides being honey producers, bees are critical pollinators for many food crops, including melons, watermelons, cucumbers, squash, lychee, mango, macadamia nut, coffee, eggplant, avocado, guava, herbs and some flowering plants, such as sunflowers. HDOA estimated in 2007 that about 70 percent of Hawaii’s food crops depend on pollination by bees.

Beekeepers who notice any suspicious beetles or larvae inside bee colonies are asked to contact HDOA immediately at hdoa.ppc@hawaii.gov or by phone at 973-9525 (Oahu) or 274-3072 (Kauai). More information is also available at hawaiibee.com.
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Aliens Threaten Hawaiian Lehua Honey

No, we haven't been reading the National Enquirer. Aliens are threatening production of the rare and marvelous Lehua honey extracted from Hawaii's Ohia forests. However, these aliens are terrestrial, introduced to Hawaii from Brazil in 1825.   They are strawberry guava plants, an invasive species that has no natural predators or competitors in Hawaii, and which the U.S. Forest Service now believes is growing so aggressively that it is damaging Hawaii's watersheds and replacing native forests. The Forest Service is promoting a plan to slow strawberry guava's growth to allow native plants, such as the Ohia tree, to compete for space.   And the Forest Service's plan? To introduce the insect Tectococcus Ovatus, or scale insect, also from Brazil, to feed on the strawberry guava and thereby reduce the number of seeds produced and slow the rate of the plant's growth. Consider this Alien v. Predator II (or is that III?).   This plan has been studied for 15 years and the Forest Service is convinced the law of unintended consequences won't operate once the scale insect has been released. Given the problems Hawaii has with invasive species, local residents aren't convinced, and voiced their concerns at a recent meeting of the Hawaii County Council Committee on Public Works and Intergovernmental Relations.   The alternative to the Forest Service's plan is to manually remove the strawberry guava, a grueling, time consuming, and expensive task, and one that is likely to be difficult to fund in a time of budget constraints.   You can learn more about this at the Hawaii Invasive Species Council link:  http://www.hawaiiinvasivespecies.org/hisc/enews/20080716hiscenews19.htm
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