- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
"You can learn a lot from these displays," a fairgoer at the 144th annual Dixon May Fair commented.
She was looking at an educational display with the catchy title, "None of Your Beeswax," the work of Ryan Anenson of the Tremont 4-H Club, Dixon, whose projects include beekeeping. The display is showcased in the Youth Building (Denverton Hall) at the Dixon May Fair, which opened Thursday, May 9 and continues through Sunday, May 12.
In his project, Anenson explained what bees produce. He zeroed in on bee venom, pollen, beeswax, royal jelly, honey, propolis, and also alternative medicine, history of honey, and bee hive air. Anenson concluded: "Honey might be the most well-known bee product in the world, but it certainly isn't the only by-product these magnificent creatures produce. Bees are considered 'the pillars of agriculture' for the work they do in pollination. If you have ever enjoyed most fruit, vegetables and other crops, you should generally thank the bees. Through pollination, bees contribute to maintaining biological balance in nature and help various animal and plant species, including humans, to thrive. Honeybee products are an entirely natural food source and have a long medicinal history that people have used since ancient times.Bees are arguable the most invaluable species to life on earth and are more vital than many people may realize."
As for beeswax, Anenson penned: "Worker bees at a young age will secrete beeswax from a series of glands on their abdomens. They use this beeswax to form the walls and caps of the honeycomb. However, some beekeepers use plastic as a foundation or substitute for honeycomb. Just like the honey that bees produce, many people harvest beeswax for various purposes, like candles, lip balms, creams, polish and conditioners, just to name a few."
The teenage 4-H'er was among those who attended a UC Davis Bee Symposium several years ago, and also participated in a recent California Honey Festival, co-sponsored by the City of Woodland and the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center.
Madeline Giron, another Dixon 4-H'er, sketched a color pencil drawing of a bee, and Markus Taliaferro of the Suisun Valley 4-H Club, Dixon, submitted a photo of a honey bee sipping nectar. Another drawing, the work of Katelyn Nipper of Fairfield, featured "crayon art flowers": brightly colored spring flowers bordered by the crayons she used.
Lots of flowers! Just add pollinators!
Meanwhile, speaking of pollinators and plants, there's a clearance plant sale at UC Davis on Saturday, May 11 at the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden's Teaching Nursery on Garrod Drive. It's open to the public from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Horticulturists are billing it as a "Pollinator Paradise." Everything is 15 percent off (Members receive an additional 10 percent off.) You can access the inventory here.
Lots of plants! Just add pollinators!
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Elizabeth Frost is at wick's end.
When she's not tending the bees at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis or tending her own bees at home, she loves to make candles.
That would be candles crafted from beeswax, a natural substance that bees produce from their abdominal glands. Bees use the wax as "building blocks" to build combs to rear their young and store honey and pollen.
Candlemakers love the fine quality of beeswax, a product also desired in the cosmetic, health care, food and music industries. It's used for everything from sealing cheese to glazing fruit, candy and baked goods to polishing shoes and furniture. Your father or his friends probably used it to wax their moustaches. You use beeswax when you apply lip balm or chew gum.
Elizabeth makes candles.
"It's really fun," she said.Elizabeth or "Liz," a beekeeper at the Laidlaw facility since January of 2008, works closely with bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, manager of the Laidlaw facility. Her responsibilities include maintaining the apiaries and lab facilities, and aiding Cobey in her queen rearing and instrumental insemination classes.
Liz, who holds a bachelor of arts degree in English and Italian from UC Davis, with a minor in entomology, said she's always loved candles. "Growing up we would visit the Hurd Beeswax Candles in the Wine Country (St. Helena)."
Her favorite molds include bee hives, pine cones, eggs, pillars and tapers. The eggs? "You can add feet to them and make them very creative," she said.
Liz entered the beekeeping world in August 2008 and the candle-making world about a year ago.
If she should light the proverbial candle at both ends, the odds it will be made of beeswax.