Why Beekeeping is the Ultimate Hobby in Self Sufficiency
When I first wanted to become a beekeeper it was because I read a little bit about bees and found them fascinating. What I didn't think much about was the products you harvest from the hive. I knew beekeepers harvested honey, but that was the extent of what I knew. However there are endless possibilities of what you can do with honey, beeswax and propolis, so let's get started!
Uses for Honey
Cooking with Honey
Honey is the only food that never goes bad. 2,000 year old honey was found in King Tut's tomb and it was still edible! Honey isn't just for sweetening your tea. I use a light honey like Mesquite to sweeten my coffee because it has a very mild flavor. I prefer darker honeys like Macadamia Blossom to drizzle over pancakes and waffles and honeys that are not as sweet such as clover are great when cooking a teriyaki sauce or on cheese and crackers.
Honey can be used anytime a recipe calls for sugar or corn syrup. Here's my cooking with honey cheat sheet for you below.
Medicinal & Topical Uses for Honey
Honey has antibacterial properties, is acidic and contains a small amount of hydrogen peroxide. This makes it a great go-to when you have a sore throat or burned your skin.
Mix honey in warm water with some lemon to soothe a sore throat and help alleviate coughing.
Pour honey over a burn to alleviate the pain. This works really well! If you severely burned your skin, seek medical help.
Use honey as a face wash. I learned this from the owner of a spa in Maui. Just rub onto your face and let it sit for a couple of minutes. I use it in the shower. It makes for an easy clean up. I also use a crystallized or creamed honey if I want a slight exfoliation.
Infusions & Mixtures
There are a ton of different kinds of honey infusions & mixtures you can make. Here's a few of my favorites. In general I start with 1tsp for an 8oz jar of honey and continue to add more until I have the flavor I like.
- Mix honey, cocoa powder and a touch of sea salt to honey for a delicious chocolate sauce.
- Add a couple sprigs of rosemary, sage or herb of your choice to a jar of liquid honey and let sit a few weeks.
- Mix ground cinnamon to honey for an instant cinnamon bun.
- Combine honey & ground coffee for a caffeine buzz.
- Add minced chili peppers to honey for a spicy honey.
- Mix vanilla bean paste for a super yummy treat.
Beeswax is so underrated! There are so many uses, it's hard to know where to start. Here's a few of my top uses:
There are quite a few ways you can make candles. You can purchase a mold and pour the wax into the mold (or an empty yogurt cup), you can pour the wax into an empty container (like an old candle container) or you can drip string into a can or jar of wax and make candle sticks. Beeswax is the only wax that improves the air quality. It burns at a higher temperature and causes dust and other allergens to drop from the air. If you're not sure what kind of wick to get, buy the 2/0. It's the most common and works for most containers and molds. In general if your candle will be 2-3" wide, you want a 2/0 wick.
Add beeswax to lotions, salves and lip balms to help your skin lock in moisture and protect it from the dry air. An easy beeswax lotion recipe is 2tbsp shea butter, 3/4 cup coconut oil (or almond oil), and 1/4 cup beeswax.
In the Kitchen
Make beeswax wraps and ditch the cellophane. Beeswax wraps are a pretty popular product right now but so easy to make. Make a bunch and give them as gifts for the holidays!
Being 100% Ukrainian, I grew up with pysanky eggs. To make these, you use beeswax to cover up areas before you dip the egg in dye.
Batik is when you use beeswax to prevent dye from coloring areas of fabric.
Around the House
Naturally preserve wooden furniture with a beeswax finish.
Rub it on drawers so they slide better.
Rub your needle through a thin piece of beeswax so it slides through fabric better.
The lesser known product from the hive is propolis. It's plant sap and the bees gather it to plug up holes in the hive and because it is high in antibacterial properties. It disinfects the hive. Before the queen lays an egg in a cell of honeycomb, that cell is lined with propolis.
Most beekeepers will make a tincture from propolis by soaking it in alcohol for a few weeks, making sure they shake the jar at least once a day. Then this tincture is used in body products or as a throat spray.
I have also used propolis to stain wood as it will stain everything it comes in contact with.
Occasionally, I will meet a beekeeper who is chewing on a piece of propolis because they swear a piece of it on an aching tooth alleviates the pain.
Ready to Give Beekeeping a Try?
If you haven't started keeping bees yet, but are thinking about it, I hope this article helps you realize beekeeping is more than getting a little honey for your tea. These products you can make are great Winter time projects when your bees are all huddled up and you're looking for something to make when you're missing your girls.
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