Beekeeping For Dummies
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There is nothing more satisfying than making your own creams, salves, and balms with beeswax from your hives. Honestly, the best thing about making your own body products is that you know what is in them. No need to worry about parabens or endocrine disrupting chemicals or ingredients that you can’t even pronounce.

The beauty products that you can make on your own are far better and fresher than any product out there and are more emollient and hydrating than anything you can buy.

The recipes here utilize extra virgin olive oil, sweet almond oil, and coconut oil — all of which are edible. There are so many other wonderful oils, each with their own unique quality such as shea nut butter, jojoba oil, apricot kernel oil, rapeseed oil, safflower oil, and wheat germ oil, that you can try.

You can substitute any oil here for another; however, don't use a mineral or baby oil because they produce a heavy product and are by-products of petroleum production.

Because these are fresh and natural cosmetic recipes, they don’t contain any preservatives. Mark them with the date of manufacture and use them within a six‐month period.

Use your cappings

In making beauty products use cappings wax. This is the wax that the bees produce to cover the honey in the hive and is saved during extraction. Because it is brand new, the wax is light in color, aromatic, and clean. And because you already know that no chemicals should be used while the honey supers are on the hive, you’re guaranteed that your wax is also chemical‐free.


Use a good quality kitchen scale that measures in ounces for the dry weight of beeswax. To break up the beeswax, use a screwdriver and a hammer on a cutting board — never use a knife! Cleaning any container that has been used to melt beeswax can be a lot of work, so use something like empty coffee cans (well washed and dried, naturally) with chopsticks or the wooden paint stirrers from a hardware store as mixers.

This way, you can see when the wax has melted, and you are ready to begin. This works very well in a double boiler — you simply place the can in a pot of warm water to melt the wax and oil; bend the lip of the can with a pair of pliers to make a pouring spout. Clean up by wiping the can with paper towels until the next use, or recycle the can.

Working with melted beeswax is like working with hot cooking oil — use common sense! Never melt beeswax directly over a heat source; always use a water bath when melting beeswax. Wax melts at between 143 degrees F to 148 degrees F. It’s fairly stable below 200 degrees F, but at higher temps beeswax can vaporize (flash point) and can ignite.

Keep a fire extinguisher handy when melting beeswax. You might also want to cover your countertop with newspaper to absorb any spilled beeswax. This is especially helpful when filling lip balm tubes.

As wax overheats, it begins to smoke and give off an acrid smell. If this happens, remove it immediately from heat.

Ultra‐rich skin cream

  1. Gather the following ingredients:

    • 2.5 ounces (weight) beeswax

    • 4 ounces (liquid) lanolin

    • 2⁄3 cup sweet almond oil

    • 3/4 cup distilled water

    • 1 teaspoon borax (sodium borate, chemically pure)

    • A few drops essential oil (your choice)

  2. In a double boiler, melt the oil, lanolin, and beeswax to 160 degrees F.

  3. Heat the borax and water in a separate container to 160 degrees F. Be sure that the borax is dissolved.

  4. Add the water mixture to the oil mixture while stirring briskly.

  5. When white cream forms, stir slowly until the mixture cools to 100 degrees F.

  6. Pour into containers, label, and date recipe (use product within six months).

Be certain that you use chemically pure borax when making cosmetics (it can be ordered from beekeeping equipment suppliers). Never use laundry‐grade borax for cosmetics. Borax is a complex borate mineral salt, which occurs naturally and is mined in the Mojave Desert in Boron, California. In these recipes, it acts as an emulsifier and has some minor preservative properties.

Rich body balm

  1. Gather the following ingredients:

    • 5 ounces beeswax (weight)

    • 1-1/3 cups distilled water

    • 2 teaspoons borax

    • 2 cups (16 ounces) olive oil

    • A few drops of essential oil (your choice — Geranium is nice!)

  2. In a double boiler, melt the oil and beeswax. Heat water and borax in a separate container to 160 degrees F.

  3. Add the water to the oil mixture VERY SLOWLY, stirring constantly.

  4. When mixture is emulsified, pour into containers, label, and date the recipe. Use product within six months.

Here’s a recipe to make lip balm that’ll keep your lips soft and healthy, even in the harshest weather.

Beeswax lip balm

  1. Gather the following ingredients:

    • 1 ounce (weight) beeswax

    • 4 ounces (volume) sweet almond oil

    • A few drops essential oil (I recommend peppermint or wintergreen)

  2. In a double boiler, combine and melt beeswax and oil; stir until wax is melted.

  3. Remove from heat, add few drops of essential oil, and pour into lip balm containers.

  4. Let lip balm cool and solidify before placing caps on containers.

This recipe is a favorite for making specialty salves. By changing the essential oil, you can come up with many different products. Add eucalyptus oil, and you have a cold chest remedy. Add comfrey and you have a cut and wound healer. Add propolis and you have a first‐aid antibiotic ointment. Add chamomile for a soothing foot rub salve. Or add citronella or lemongrass for an effective insect repellant.

Beeswax and olive oil salve

  1. Gather the following ingredients:

    • 1 part beeswax

    • 6 parts olive oil

    • Fresh or dried herbs (optional) or essential oil of your choice

    If using herbs, clean and dry thoroughly, place in glass jar, cover with olive oil, and allow everything to steep for one week. Strain herbs from olive oil and proceed.

  2. In the top of a double boiler set over medium heat, warm olive oil and add beeswax; stir until beeswax is dissolved.

  3. While warm, pour into small jars; when cool, cover with lids.

These bars are great to keep handy when you need to refresh your skin. Try silicone baking molds, which are available in cookware departments and come in a variety of shapes. Soap‐making forms also work nicely.

Beeswax lotion bar

  1. Gather the following ingredients:

    • 2 ounces (weight) beeswax

    • 2 ounces (weight) sweet almond oil

    • 2-1/2 ounces coconut oil or cocoa butter or combination

    • 1/4 teaspoon vitamin E oil

    • A few drops of essential oil (your choice — lavender is lovely!)

  2. Melt all ingredients (except essential oil) in double boiler.

  3. Remove from heat and add the essential oil.

  4. Pour into molds, let cool, and place in cellophane wrapper or ­reusable container.

Natural homemade sunscreen

This one is unlike the other finished recipes in that the final product looks more stirred or whipped, rather than flat and finished. The zinc oxide is heavier than the other ingredients. To ensure the emulsion is suspended, you need continue stirring until cool.

Use as you would regular sunscreen. Best if the product is used within six months.

  1. Gather the following ingredients:

    • 1/2 cup almond or olive oil (you can infuse with herbs first if desired)

    • 1/4 cup coconut oil (natural SPF 4)

    • 2 ounces beeswax

    • 2 tablespoons zinc oxide (available in the pharmacy section of your grocery or a drug store)

    • Optional: 1 teaspoon vitamin E oil

    • Optional: 2 tablespoons shea butter (natural SPF 4–5)

    • Optional: essential oil of your choice

  2. Melt all ingredients (except zinc oxide and essential oil if using) in double boiler until melted.

  3. Remove from heat and add zinc oxide and essential oil.

  4. Pour into container, stir a few times as it cools to make sure zinc oxide is incorporated.

Packaging and labeling

There are many online sites for packaging and labeling products. Think up a clever name for the item that you have prepared. Make sure that you list all of the ingredients on the label (in descending order of quantity) along with the net weight of the product and some sort of contact information.

All of the products from the hive are amazing and health‐giving; just remember that you should not make any guarantees about the benefits of what your creams, salves, and balms will provide. Just include anecdotal testimonials. Make sure that the containers are food‐grade quality; metal tins are very cute, but some essential oils can react with them and corrode the metal.

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