Here at Independence Homestead we try to reuse as many materials as possible, so I had the idea that we could make candles in containers using repurposed glass food jars. We have quite the collection of baby food jars, salsa jars, pasta sauce jars, and more.
When melting wax for the candles, I read that it was important not to overheat the wax, so a double boiler was recommended. I realized since low heat was best, we should use our solar oven!
Solar oven setup on deck, ready to go!
Our candles will be so environmentally friendly! The only new items in them will be the wick and tab, plus solar energy will be used to make them. Plus the beeswax is harvested from our own backyard!
Since our bees made some crooked comb, we had cut off that crooked comb, harvested what honey we could from it, and we still had a lot of comb left over.
We needed to melt down the beeswax in the comb so that we could use the wax for candles and other potential crafts. George did some research, and found that it was common to use solar ovens to do this. We had been wanting a solar oven for other reasons so it was a good opportunity to go ahead and build a solar oven!
Once the solar oven was built, we setup the wax purification system. According to George’s research, the way to get the beeswax from the comb and leave behind any impurities was to put the comb on top of a paper towel, which was held over a bowl half filled with water.
Here’s the wax melting setup, ready to go in the solar oven.
As I embark on a candle making adventure, I picked up Candle Making in a Weekend by Sue Spear to pickup some pointers.
This book was a good overview of candlemaking. It had instructions for a wide range of projects. The instructions were simple and easy to understand, plus there were helpful pictures. I feel that if I wanted to make very intricate candles, I would be able to with this book’s instructions.
Our bees were spotted covering the front of the outside of their hive this weekend (called bearding) and we made a decision about our hens. So we wanted to share a quick video update on the bees and hens.
It finally happened, we are totally caught up on our beekeeping progress with our website!
Today we did an inspection on both hives and instead of snapping a bunch of photos we decided to make a video of the experience.
We’ve split the video into two parts, the first of our Lexington hive, and the second our Concord hive. The Lexington hive is looking very strong with lots of comb filled with capped brood, larva, eggs, nectar, pollen, and even some honey! Our Concord hive is the weaker of the two but still relatively well off with a decent amount of capped brood, larva, eggs, nectar, pollen, and some honey.
Please enjoy these videos as we do talk a lot more in the video about the inspection process and more about the details of our two hives. We’d love to know what you think of our hive inspection and if you have any questions feel free to post them here!
If you are at all like us, when you hear about beekeeping you think little white boxes stacked alongside a field filled with buckets of honey. It turns out those bee hives have a name: Langstroth Hives. They are great for large scale commercial beekeepers, as well as people who want the convenience of a wealth of products and accessories all designed to work with your hive. But did you know there are other options for beekeeping on your homestead?
Martha and I were talking one day about ways we can become more self-sufficient and got to thinking about bees. We knew very little about bee keeping initially (and are still by no means experts), but what we did know that bees help pollinate plants (so good for our garden), they produce honey (a tasty treat), and that they are facing some serious problems which are still haunting apiarists and scientific researchers. Not to mention they are a renewable resource that, given the right conditions, can pretty much sustain themselves and still provide useful resources for their keepers!
This series we are starting is our way of giving back to the community that we have benefited from along our journey of becoming beekeepers. We hope to share our experiences, insights, and gained wisdom in hopes that others can benefit from our work and become more prepared in their own homestead!