How Mayetta Farms Beeswax Lip Balm is Made

This is not a recipe, but rather a glimpse behind the scenes of how we make our beeswax lip balm here at Mayetta Farms, so that our customers can feel confident about what they are putting on their lips.

Ingredients

Our lip balm containers are BPA free.

The ingredients we use in our beeswax lip balm are: organic coconut oil, beeswax (from our own hives only), organic shea butter, organic peppermint essential oil, and vitamin E oil.

Here is a photo, so you can see the exact brands we use…

Making the Lip Balm

First, we put the proper portions of each ingredient in a glass bowl.

Then we heat it using the double boiler method.

Then we pour the mixture into our lip balm containers, using a special tray to hold them in place.

Once the mixture cools and solidifies, we scrape off the excess, so that the lip balm is flush with the top of the container.

Now it’s time to put the caps and labels on each tube.

All done!

At Mayetta Farms, we think it’s best to know as much as possible about the products you consume, whether they be cosmetics, food, or anything else. We hope that showing you our processes makes you feel more confident in the products we offer.

Thanks for your support!

-Mayetta Farms

Rendering Beeswax

When beeswax is first harvested, it is full of debris, and needs to be rendered (purified) to make it suitable for use in candles and cosmetic products. There are expensive machines that can help with this, but at Mayetta Farms, we do it the old fashioned way – by hand. Here’s how!

We start with beeswax. In this case, some of the wax was from the cappings that we scraped off to harvest honey. The rest of the wax was beeswax that I had collected over the course of the season. Every time I scrape off any burr comb (excess comb built outside the frame), I toss it into a bag to use it later, for this purpose.

We put all of the wax into a pot of water, and put it on the stove, heating it until all the wax has melted into a liquid. Once the wax is liquid, we take the pot off the burner and set it to the side to cool.

As the pot cools, the wax will begin to solidify and float to the top. The vast majority of debris will end up on the underside of the floating wax. This must be scraped off and discarded.

After discarding the debris, rinse the pot, put fresh water in it, put the wax back into the pot of water, and repeat the process. Again, after the water cools and the wax solidifies and floats, scrape and discard the debris from the bottom of the wax.

The wax will get cleaner and cleaner with each round. How many times you must do this depends on how clean it was to begin with. It can take 10 rounds or so to become perfect. Some light weight debris may float up into the wax. Such debris can be removed with a toothpick while the wax is cooling.

We recommend only using 1/2 to 1 inch of water in the pot. The more you use, the longer it takes to cool.

Happy rendering!🐝

-Mayetta Farms

How to Harvest Honey

This is a how-to guide for harvesting honey using an extractor.

Tools needed: extractor, uncapping tool, food grade bucket with spout, double sieve, jars/lids.

Tips before you start: we strongly advise only harvesting honey on an easily cleaned surface. Otherwise, we recommend covering the floor with plastic. Also, never harvest honey outside, or you will be covered in bees in no time. Lastly, remember that 75-80% (depending who you ask) of the honey on the frames that you harvest, MUST be capped with wax. Otherwise, it’s not ready to be extracted. The bees cap honey with wax once they have reduced the water content enough to make it an unfavorable environment for bacterial growth, so if you harvest too much unfinished honey, you will increase the chance of your honey going bad. If harvested properly, honey should never go bad!

So, here we go…

After preparing for harvest and getting all of our tools and equipment ready, here are the steps we take:

1. Remove the wax cappings from both sides of each frame of honey using an upcapping tool. There are a few different options available for uncapping tools. There are uncapping scratchers (pictured here), uncapping knives, and even heated knives that cut through the wax easier. We generally use both scratchers and knives, but we don’t use the heated knife, because we don’t want to expose our honey to heat.

2. Once uncapped, put each frame into the extractor until the extractor is full of frames. If you don’t have enough frames to fill the extractor, you should try to balance what you have. For example, this extractor holds 6 frames. If you didn’t have 6 frames, but you had 3, you would want to place the 3 frames evenly around the extractor, so that it’s balanced while spinning.

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3. Hand crank (or turn on, if electric) the extractor for several minutes in either direction, until all of the honey has left the comb, and is dripping down the inside walls of the extractor.

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4. Place a food grade 5-gallon bucket with a double sieve on top of it, under the spout of the extractor, and open the spout. The sieve removes bee body parts and pieces of beeswax that are in the honey, allowing only the honey to go into the 5-gallon bucket.

5. Open the spout of the 5-gallon bucket to fill each jar with honey.

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6. Put the lid on the jar (and the label on the lid, if you wish).

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All done!

Now enjoy some honey for yourself, give some to your neighbors, and sell a few jars for extra cash!

Last tip: children under the age of one year are NOT supposed to eat honey, due to the risk for botulism. We recommend informing anyone you give/sell jars to of this, just to be safe.

Thank you for reading!

-Mayetta Farms

 

 

Winterizing a Beehive

Here’s what winterizing a beehive looks like at Mayetta Farms…

First, we make sure the frames are loaded with honey to get them through the winter. If there are empty frames, we replace them with full ones.

Second, we treat the hive with a plant-based compound called oxalic acid, to prevent varroa mites from killing the bees. We prefer not to use medicated treatments. Here’s what the EPA has to say about oxalic acid: “Oxalic acid is ubiquitous in the environment being found naturally in many plants and vegetables, as well as in honey. It occurs naturally as the potassium or calcium salt in sap, notably in plants of the Oxalis and Rumex families.”

Then, we put “bee candy” on top of the frames (the white clumps in this first photo). This is a homemade fondant that we made, and that we hope the bees will not need. It’s an emergency source of food, in case the winter is longer than expected and the bees run out of honey stores to eat.

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Next, we put a wooden shim on the hive around the bee candy. It simply raises the next box up an inch or so, to make room for the bee candy to sit on the frames. Then, we put a metal grate called a “queen excluder” on top of the shim. The queen excluder is not actually being used as a queen excluder here. That is a separate thing, but it works well for this, too! Here, you can see the shim and the metal grate…

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On top of the metal grate, we put a medium hive box, and line it with a thin tea towel. On top of the tea towel, we fill the box with pine shavings. This is called a “quilt box.” The purpose of a quilt box, is to absorb condensation, so that it doesn’t drip on the bees, potentially killing them.

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Next, we put cardboard shims in between the quilt box and the inner cover, to vent the hive.

 

Then we put the outer cover (not pictured here) on the very top and put heavy bricks on top of it, to help weigh down the hive, protecting it from winds.

The last photo here, is of the “entrance reducer.” It helps keep cold air out of the hive, by reducing the size of the entrance. It also reduces the amount of space that any invaders would have to access the hive. Notice that the reduced entrance is about a half inch off the floor of the hive. This is intentional. In the winter, many bees will die and fall to the floor of the hive. Having the entrance/exit raised off the floor, keeps it from being blocked off by dead bees.

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Some beekeepers will also wrap their hive with some form of insulation. We have been considering doing this at Mayetta Farms as well, but so far we have found condensation to be a worse problem for us than the cold.

The only other tips I would add, is that Thanksgiving is a good rule of thumb date, by which you should have your hive winterized. Also, if you have a problem with mice, consider buying a mouse guard for your hive, because mice will get inside and chew up your frames, if you let them.

Thanks for reading!🐝

-Mayetta Farms