Tag Archive | soap

We Bee Cold!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

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Well, so much for the 60 degree days.  It’ll be 9 degrees here in Central MD tonight.  For us, that is COLD.  Burr!  This is the time when I start to worry…and wonder…and worry…and wonder if I did right by the girls this winter.  Hoping for some warm reprieve.  In the meantime, I’m getting more candy made so I’m prepared to stock them up on food the next time I’m able to get into the hives.  I’ll step up there tomorrow and clean their entrances of dead bees.

The Cat House

The bees aren’t the only ones who are cold.  We have two kittens who showed up at our house over a year ago.  A year later, they’re still here, inside all cozied on our bed.  Spoiled little monsters.  But their mamma is very ferrel and she still comes around.  We feed her and the hubster made her a nice covered shelter with lots of hay for burrowing, which she has not yet used.  It breaks my heart that she’s out in the cold while her youngsters are living the high life.  But she’s a wild one.  Very very skittish.  She’s a bee-utiful girl too.  Makes me wish I was Dr. Doolittle and could talk to the animals.

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Indoor Activities – The Soap Incident

Then there’s the great indoors – I love soaping.  My latest project was a 3 lb batch of cold process honey oat soap.  I was excited to try out a brand new soap mold.  The key word here is “soap” mold.  Soap is not cold when you put it in the mold. It is still warm and pourable, so you would think that if a mold is designed for soap, it would withstand some heat.  Well it started off great, then a few hours later we had a melt down…literally.  The mold melted down and my soap collapsed.

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Disappointing.  I love the handsome, uniform bars.  But I’m over it.  In 4 weeks it’ll be ready for the bathtub or shower and no one will care that it looks like the state of Tennessee or a monument from Stonehenge, as long as it lathers up and cleans.

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I hope everyone else’s indoor activities are going well – getting the equipment prepped, making candy for the girls, reading up in preparation for the spring explosion.  I’ve already seen beekeepers taking orders for nucs and packages, and our bee club will be holding their annual new-beekeepers course in another week.  Wow, time goes crazy fast.

To you and your bees – hang in there, stay busy, and stay warm.

 

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Let 2015 Begin!

January 3, 2015

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Happy New Year everyone!  The past few weeks have graced us with occassional 55-60 degree days, giving me the opportunity to check on the welfare of my girls.  So far all five hives have been out and about, cleaning house, getting some orientation time in.  I’ve continued to restock their candy so they always have food, so we’ll just keep on keepin’ in hopes that spring comes quick this year.  No worries though, I have plenty of indoor activities lined up.

“The Bees”

The hubster bought me a book for Christmas called (what else?) “The Bees”.  It’s not a how-to book, but rather a fictional novel where the characters are all bees.  It got great reviews, and I’ll post my own thoughts when I’ve finished it.

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Of course I’ll be reading Michael Bush’s “The Practical Beekeeper”, “Beekeeping for Dummies”, and some other beekeeping books to help me keep up with the girls.

Soaps, Lotions and Potions…Oh My!

I’m obsessed with soaping and lotions and potions.  I made a batch of Goat’s Milk Hand and Body Lotion and Goat’s Milk Facial Lotion yesterday, and today I have a batch of Honey Oat Soap melting down in the crockpot as I write this.  I might even make a batch of lotion bars before the day’s end.

Check out the recipes on the main menu bar above!  I’ll add more recipes and how to’s for using honey and beeswax.

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Equipment Prep and Cleaning

It has to be done – Clean the hive tools, smokers and boxes.  Prep frames, and build and paint new boxes.  Build swarm traps. Plan out a new area for more hives (don’t tell the hubster) :o)

Planning out the Garden

Buying and starting seeds in the greenhouse this year???  Will be nice to use it for something other than storing bee equipment :o)

Happy Beekeeping in 2015!

Yep, lots of busy work ahead in preparation for what I hope will be a growing and prosperous 2015.  Best wishes to everyone for another happy, busy, productive beekeeping year!  I’m off to make soap….

 

Soap Making Obsession

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Lavender Milk Mash (left) made with milk, lavender essential oil and crushed spent grains; Forest Glen Yogurt Soap (right) made with whole milk yogurt.

My latest craze…soap! I am learning all kinds of wonderful ways to make soap. Soaps in the crockpot, cold process soaps, soaps made with milk and yogurt, soaps made with beer and spent grains, and of course soaps made with beeswax and honey!  It’s surprisingly easy to make, and based on the number of recipes, sites and tutorials out there, everyone is doing it!

For beginners, I recommend the hot process method, for two main reasons:

1. You don’t have to be precise, and
2. It’s ready to use straightaway.

The crockpot cooks the soap, pushing it through the gel process and allowing it to soaponify within an hour’s time, so you can start using it immediately.

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Start off with a few basic recipes using inexpensive kitchen oils (like crisco, soy oil, vegetable oil, olive oil, rendered fats like beef tallow – and don’t forget beeswax), some hardware store lye (like Red Devil – I get my from Ace Hardware), and distilled, bottled or rain water.   Don’t use water from the tap since it has different chemical make-ups and can cause inconsistent results.  You can substitute other liquids for the water, like beer, tea, and milk.  These liquids need to be treated differently because they react differently with the lye.  But the options are endless.

You can use the hot process method on virtually any cold process soap recipe.  Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be designing all kinds of different soaps, and family members will become your test subjects.  Ha!  No more store bought Coast soap for you dear husband!

Soap making resources are everywhere on the internet, so instead of adding yet another tutorial, I will refer  you to some of my favorite soaping resources so you can begin your own soap making obsession…

GoodEarthSpa Hot Process Soap Step-by-Step (my favorite tutorial for hot process soap)

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More of my favorite tutorials and resources…

GoodEarthSpa Channel on YouTube – Full of detailed tutorials and recipes for all types of soaps, cold, hot, solid, liquid, laundry, and more. Plus, she’s a beekeeper!

SoapQueenTV Channel on YouTube – Tons of wonderful soap making video tutorials and more!

Chickens in the Road – Hot Process Soap Tutorial

Chickens in the Road – How to Make Soap Tutorial

From Nature with Love – My favorite Soapulator (for calculating soap recipes)

The Chemistry Store – favorite supply resource

Amazon – my other favorite supply resource

Smart Soapmaking by Anne L. Watson (99 cent kindle book on Amazon.com – a great starter book and she has other books to help you advance into other areas of soap and lotion making, all 99 cents)

Pinterest – for soap recipes galore!!!

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Happy Soaping!!!