Beeswax Furniture Polish and Mum’s Table

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About 30 years ago my mother made me a coffee table. It turned out to be magnificent and was to be one of several made by her. It had later traveled to Australia (I packed it personally), it moved about to several rental properties before we bought a house, and then it survived another voyage to New Zealand. It is rather fragile and it is a miracle that it survived all the moves. It has also been used as a play surface by the grand kids, one who learnt to walk by holding on and going round and round. The baby also produces copious amounts of drool since he is teething and manages to drool under the glass top (another miracle), staining the wooden rim. It was looking a bit neglected. I wanted op restore it to its former natural glow but I hate varnish and oils would change the colour so left it alone for years and years. Last week I made some beeswax polish and tested it on a small part of the table – I was delighted with the result. I applied the polish with a dishcloth and buffed it up as I went along and the table looks wonderful. The pictures show the table without the glass top. Another good thing was that the table smelled good and I did not have to have to clean the wax from my hands since it is the same as the cream I put on my face.

My mother was /is an artist and in her nineties now. She went from painting to sculpting, in wood eventually, ending up making bedsteads, doors , tables and huge full length mirrors in wood. The designs were her own and as a child I remember admiring her  doodles which covered every bit of paper, the phone book, napkins, every thing that was at hand. This table reminds me of those doodles, always full of curves and swirls and flowers and as I polished, I enjoyed tracing the forms with my cloth and fingers, a three dimensional doodle, almost, a wonderful gift from  my mother.

PS – As you can see by the writing style, this was written by Mrs Back Yard Farmer

Beeswax Face Cream and Furniture Polish

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The face cream and the furniture polish have the same basic recipe. I quite like the thought of that! I did add vitamin E oil to the face cream and broke some lavender flowers in to the polish though.

The jury is still out regarding the moisturiser – some people in the family are allergic to all store bought creams and break out in rashes, pimples and is some cases small weeping sores from them – and it takes about 2 weeks of consistent use before the problems start.  The product feels lovely on the skin and I, for one, ( no allergies) shall be using it during the winter on hands, feet, face and especially lips while working outdoors in the cold.

The furniture polish worked very well on my wood wardrobes, and one can use it for dining tables and all wood food prep surfaces since it does not contain any toxins.

Face Cream and Furniture Polish

1 part beeswax. If you are lucky enough to get your hands on honey combs you can clarify your own wax or you can buy some from beeswax suppliers.

3 or 4 parts olive oil  depending on how soft you want the end product


Create a double boiler from two pots, the bottom one with water and a small spacer, I used a saucer, place the beeswax and olive oil in the top pot and heat.  When clear and melted remove from the heat and add vitamin E oil or lavender flowers. Pour in to containers while hot and stir while cooling.

Apply the mix containing the vitamin E oil to your skin and the lavender scented mix to the furniture 😉




Beeswax clarified

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We have some honeycomb from which we had already removed the honey. I read up all I could about clarifying and extracting the wax and almost gave up trying. It all seemed too difficult, but was very easy after all. I tied the combs up in the top of a pair of pantyhose, put it in a pot of water placed over another pot of water to create a double boiler. I boiled the wax until the wax had melted and leaked out of the pantyhose leaving the crud and rubbish behind, easy to lift out and put in the bin.  After cooling overnight I had this beautiful yellow disk of beeswax floating on the water in the pot, ready for various projects from moisturiser cream, furniture polish to coating my cheeses. It smells so good, too.

Scientists decode honeybee ‘waggle dance’

2014-04-06 - Honey Bee

A honeybee who has found a good source of nectar or pollen performs a waggle dance to tell her nestmates where she has foraged. Here she repeatedly communicates that the profitable food location is at approximately 750m from the hive and about 270 degrees from the sun’s azimuth

Honeybees fly much longer distances in the summer than in the spring and autumn to find good sources of food, a new study has found.

Researchers at Sussex University spent two years decoding the “waggle dance” of thousands of honeybees, a form of communication by which the bees tell their nestmates where to go to get the best source of food to bring back to the hive.

By measuring the angle of the dance in relation to the sun and the length of time the bee waggled its abdomen while moving in a figure of eight pattern, researchers have been able to map the distance and location where bees forage from month to month.

With a one second waggle equating to a foraging distance of 750 metres, the bees dance language revealed that the area they covered in search of food is approximately 22 times greater in the summer (July and August) than in spring (March) and six times greater in summer than in the autumn (October). In the summer the area they cover is 15.2km sq, compared to 0.8km in spring and 5.1km in the autumn.

Honeybees will not waste valuable time and energy travelling to find food if they don’t need to, so the researchers say the results, published in the journal PlOS One, show that the summer is the most challenging season for bees to collect the nectar and pollen from flowers.

“There is an abundance of flowers in the spring from crocuses and dandelions to blossoming fruit trees. And in the autumn there is an abundance of flowering ivy. But it is harder for them to locate good patches of flowers in the summer because agricultural intensification means there are fewer wildflowers in the countryside for bees,” said Frances Ratnieks, professor of apiculture at Sussex University, who supervised the study.

Honeybees face many challenges including increasing lack of forage because of modern farming practices.

The researcher say the results can be used to focus efforts to help bees better. “The bees are telling us where they are foraging so we can now understand how best to help them by planting more flowers for them in the summer,” said Ratnieks.This video describes the research project Waggle dance distances as integrative indicators of seasonal foraging challenges carried out by Margaret Couvillon, Roger Schürch and Francis Ratnieks at the Laboratory of Apiculture & Social Insects (LASI) in the School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex

Honeybees may also have to forage further in the summer because they have more mouths to feed when the colony expands to 50,000 bees and there is more competition for food from other insects and pollinators including bumblebees.

The glass-fronted observation hives are located at the university campus surrounded by the South Downs countryside and a few kilometres from the city parks and gardens of nearby Brighton and Hove.

The waggle dance clearly show that the bees are heading to the downs in the summer and researchers are currently examining which flowers they are feeding there.

The honeybee dance language was first decoded by Austrian scientist Karl von Frisch who was awarded a Nobel prize in 1973 for the discovery.

Ratnieks said its work will benefit other pollinators, such as bumblebees.

“Mapping the waggle dance will allow us to help other species, because where honeybees find good food, we have already found a plethora of other pollinating insects feeding there,” said Ratnieks. “So we can improve forage for all these insects.”

The Sussex research comes as the the IUCN’s latest “red list” of threatened species update warns that 24% of Europe’s 68 bumblebee species are threatened with extinction. According to the Status and Trends of European Pollinators, loss of habitat and wildflowers due to modern farming practices and urban development, plus changes in temperature from climate change, are the main threats to the species.

Potential Beekeeper’s Lament

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Learning about bees wearing the most fetching bee suit ever! A beekeeper friend lent the suit to a grandchild so he could spend a day with him and his bees. Sadly, I think that I do not have the space for a hive in my garden, so I shall keep wishing and planning. In the meantime I will enjoy all the bumblebees and honeybees that visit my garden from elsewhere.