Monday, July 26, 2010


Ok, my every Friday natural colorant posts aren't working out like I planned. Life is getting in the way. So, here it is. Natural soap colorant #3... Alkanet Root. I apologize for low picture quality, I took these photographs with my cell phone.

Alkanet Root is an herb that is used as a dying agent (among other things) and has been for centuries .

Here, I'm using it to color my soap.

To begin, I take 6 tablespoons of Alkanet Root and add it to 16 oz. of warm olive oil (that I've heated slightly on the stove).

I let it sit in the pan for 5 minutes and then pour it into a clean jar, cover, and let sit over night.

The following day I strain the oil.

I add the olive oil to the other oils in my soap recipe. Add the lye/water. Mix until trace.

Continue with the other additives at trace. Pour into mold.

This is the result 48 hours later. Tiny bit of ash on top but looking great. Turned out a deep purple.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

DO's & DON'T's on a RESUME

One thing that I learned in college that stuck with me more than interview etiquette is how to put together a resume. You'd almost think my professors beat the "protocol" into me because I've become a very nit picky person about how resumes make a potential employee appear to potential employers. I've put together a list that doesn't include what lots of other sites have covered. These are just the things I think that most people either don't know or are confused about when they put their resume together.

1. If you don't know how to put your resume together DEFINITELY work with a template like the ones in microsoft word. Most of them are laid out perfectly and require your input in specific locations. Just follow the visual guide and you'll get most of it. It is always better to follow a template than to wing it on your own if you have no idea what you are doing.

2. If you are using a template, don't include the fancy graphics that come along with it. The colors, boxes, lines, etc... can be distracting to the reader. There is no need to be cute because employers aren't interested in that. Simple and to the point is what employers want. Tip: employers are busy and want to spend as little time on resumes as possible so if they get distracted by fancy graphics they might just miss the finer points of your resume. Bullets are great, italicizing is also helpful, but graphics are useless.

3. Do limit the pages of your resume but... I've learned that it depends on the job you are seeking. If you are hoping to be employed as a CEO of a fortune 500 company it will serve you well to list all the experience you have and if it takes up 3 pages than fill it up. For most positions you are setting yourself up to be "ignored" if you have a long resume and I'm not talking about that job as a professor at the University (another job that would require sharing as much as you can on experience and education). I'm talking about the average jobs. You really don't need to submit a three page resume for a position as a librarian or a job as an administrative assistant. Do at least one full page but try hard not to go past two.

4. Your objective: don't say your objective is to gain employment as a janitor when applying for a secretarial position. Yes, this does happen. The problem is that people put together resumes and then save them for when they want to apply for a job, so when it comes time to submit them they touch up the areas of employment but they ALWAYS forget the objective. Make sure you review the objective for each and every job you apply for because the objective is the FIRST thing employers read.

5. Don't spend a lot of time listing experience that doesn't relate to the position you're applying for. If you are applying as a house cleaner it is unlikely the employer cares that you can type 90 wpm. The entirety of your resume should reflect the job you are applying for so only list relevant work history and education related to the position you want. The only exception to this is a major gap in work history. If you are applying for a job as a secretary and the past work includes secretarial jobs but there is a 2 year period where you worked as a teacher or something else, it serves you well to list it because any job is better than a gap in employment. Some employers will just ask in the interview why there is a gap in employment and others will toss the resume assuming the gap is a reflection of something negative but you won't know which one will be reviewing YOUR resume.

6. Do list jobs in chronological order and MAKE SURE IT ALL FLOWS WELL. Example: If line one is current job (2010) and line two is the job you had before that (2007) then the third line should be the job you had before the 2nd to the first. Don't do this:

2010 (current job)
2007 (next job)
2004 (other job)
2006 (other job)

There isn't a single employer that wants to sift through resumes that make their eyes spin. It is tough enough to go through 70 resumes but even worse to go through resumes you have to figure out what they are saying.

7. Don't list job references or personal references on the resume. Some people think this is etiquette but it really isn't. Employers are going to ask for references during or after an interview, I've not known one to ask for them beforehand. With this make sure you give the employer work references along with those personal references. I've known potential employees to forget to submit the work references quite often after they've been requested. I'll receive a list of personal references instead. It isn't deliberate but interesting that it happens more often than not.

8. Please do a lot of proof reading or better yet, have someone proof your resume for you. I'm one of those people that grit my teeth when something is misspelled (ignore my misspellings on this blog!) I've seen resumes where every other word is misspelled. If english is your 2nd language and you aren't sure about the spelling, just ask a friend to proof for you and make corrections. Each employer has their reasons for why misspellings make them tear their hair out so avoid misspellings and along with that avoid poor grammar because if you don't the 2nd line into your resume could be the moment it hits the trash.

9. Don't send in a resume for a job you have no experience in. If you do this you are just wasting your time and the time of the employer. Doing so will not by some miracle get you an interview. No experience = no job in todays market. You MUST have something to offer the employer!

10. Don't throw a hissy fit when the potential employer asks you to fill out an application after you've submitted your resume. A lot of people think that the resume was sufficient because essentially they are going to repeat on the application 90% of what was on the resume but... a resume is not a legal document the way an application is. You sign your application and your giving oath to several things on that document, one being that you haven't lied about the content of your app., and another usually being that you have no criminal background. So just fill out the application with a smile, you'll get through it just fine.

11. Do use a legible font when you type your resume. Don't use anything like a fancy "giselle" font because cursive can be hard to read when it is typewritten. Use Ariel, Ariel Narrow or Times New Roman. Bolding headings is a good idea because it helps the eyes. Don't include color, example: don't highlight anything red so it stands out more. Make sure the entire resume is the same font, don't get carried away using numerous fonts.

12. Don't forget to list how the employer can reach you, this would include name, number, and email address.

13. Don't list hobbies. I file this under sharing too much info about yourself. Sure, share it in the interview if they ask you "tell me about yourself" but generally I haven't met an employer that really takes hobbies into consideration when hiring and depending on what the hobbies are, it could backfire.

14. Don't show employment gaps and jobs you've held for a short time or be ready to explain them. Something that really hurts on a resume is a gap in employment or short term work. If you were employed Sept. 2009 to Jan. 2010 and you list that on your resume, it could be a red flag to the employer that you aren't dependable. Depending on the rest of the content on your resume it could be cause to take a pass on interviewing you. Same with gap in employment. If your resume is weak than the employer might not take the time to ask you why it is that you didn't show any work during May 2007 and June 2009. I even tell my kids that this is something they should always keep in mind when they become a part of the working world.

Remember, the resume is all about getting your foot in the door for an interview. Don't confuse the resume with the interview itself. With the resume you are trying to create a "wow factor" that makes the employer want to call you. Focus on the important in as few words as possible!

Friday, July 23, 2010


I've decided to name my apiary and so I need help from my readers. I am requesting that you share an apiary name in the comment section of my blog and at the end of august I will let my kids choose their favorite name from the list of comments. Whomever gives the name that is chosen will receive a bar of handmade soap and one 4 ounce aromatherapy candle. I will put up a sign with the chosen name in my apiary.





Thursday, July 22, 2010


I decided after talking to several people about this that I wanted to share some information on putting a resume together and doing interviews for potential employers. I am surprised how many people are not aware of interview/resume etiquette. At first I thought it was a generational gap but it turns out that many of my peers are in the dark on this. I'm going to do this in 3 separate posts. First: Interviewing etiquette. Two: The do's and don'ts on a resume. Three: The "OH NO YOU DIDN'T" Interviews I've had.

This information is NOT based on personal "opinion". I'll be sharing things that have been passed on to me from employers, from teachers in high school, from a course I took in college and from the experience I've received being part of the hiring process in companies I've worked for (as Director of Communications and Administrative Assistant positions), plus my 3+ years of experience as a manager of healthcare workers.

In this list I won't only explain why you should or shouldn't do something, I will tell you why.

1. When you are called for an interview, sound enthusiastic (even if you aren't). Whether we like it or not, employers are already forming an opinion about you when they hear the attitude in your voice. Don't sound frumpy like Eeyore from Winnie the Poo. Nothing says "I really don't want this job but I have to get it" for whatever reason, like a frumpy voice.

2. Dress conservative when going to an interview even if the job you're seeking is construction work. How you dress isn't so much about the position you are seeking as it is about showing respect to your potential employer.

3. ALWAYS shake the employers hand and greet them professionally. Included in this is firm handshake (not squeeze them to the ground handshake or limpy wimpy handshake) and eye contact. In America, firm handshake and eye contact shows confidence. Other countries, this can be the opposite, but here in the U.S it is a must.
The first impression is 90% of the interview and that first impression happens in the FIRST 5 minutes. It is difficult for employers to shake off certain physical aspects of an interviewee which leads me to #4.

4. Cover the tattoo and piercings! Like it or not, tattoos say two things about a person. One: they are followers (before you get huffy on this, look around you. 99% of the population didn't get a tattoo until it was popular to do so) and two: they are rebels. Of course, this doesn't speak for everyone as a whole, my husband got a tattoo for spiritual reasons and had it done in a spiritual manner, but stereotypes come about for a reason and although they are wrong, people have a hard time separating the stereotype from the person. Employers are no exception. Generally, an employer doesn't want an employee that can't think independently and they don't want an employee that can't follow instruction. If your potential employer doesn't have the time to take the risk on you, THEY WON'T. Cover the tattoos and piercings until you get the position and the employer has the time to get to know you. Yes, feel free to ask if your tattoo or piercing (THAT IS COVERED DURING THE INTERVIEW) should remain covered during work hours because some companies demand it and you'd want to know that ahead of time to prevent problems later. Most employers don't care if you have a tattoo or piercing, they just don't want to see them at an interview. It is all about respect, respect, respect.

5. DO NOT ACCEPT CELL PHONE CALLS OR TEXTS DURING AN INTERVIEW. This should need no explanation but seriously I guess it does because this actually happened to me. Besides being obviously RUDE, it says several things about an interviewee. One: you aren't that interested in the job, Two: you can't get through 30 minutes much less 8 hours without talking or texting on the cell, Three: your phone is your life-line and you can't manage without it, even manage to do your work. It is one thing if you forgot to turn your phone off, in which case you'd apologize to the potential employer and then turn off the phone or if you have an emergency call (and it better be a REAL emergency) coming through, explain that BEFORE the interview starts so that no one is caught unprepared.

6. Don't ask about salary during an interview. There has been some serious misconception about this. Every employer knows that you as the potential employee needs or wants money or you wouldn't be interviewing for the job, you don't have to shout it out by asking what the pay is. It means you care more about the money than you do the job and you want to give several impressions in a job interview. One: you want the employer to believe you are sincerely interested in the work you'll be doing, two: you want the employer to believe that work is first and money is second. That isn't true for most people and employers know it, this is where "unwritten" etiquette comes in. Employers know you need/want money but they want to feel/believe that your heart is into this job (whether it is or isn't) and that you really don't care about the pay (even though you do). Few words speak volumes and in this case it yells greed. Most employers won't admit this but I guarantee it is what they are thinking. No one wants someone who obviously is driven by the almighty dollar because it leads to other thoughts about that potential employee, thoughts like will this person stick with us if the company struggles financially, will they always be harping on the employer over raises and benefits, will this employee be remain productive even if the salary demands can't be met, etc... Some companies can't give you a hefty raise every year so if your eyes read $$$$, you won't get hired. Save the questions about salary for when you are offered a job. You might feel like you've wasted your time if you need $20/hr and you learn later you can only make $10/hr but time is not wasted in any interview. All interviews should be considered valuable experience. The more you interview the better you'll get at it. Asking about money isn't worth risking a potential job. When the employer offers you a position and if they haven't already told you, then and only then do you ask about pay. If it isn't what you expect you tell them "I'm sorry, the pay isn't what I expected so I will have to decline the offer." If they want you bad enough they may meet your demands and if they don't they will be ok with it and move on.

7. Try to avoid telling personal stories that lead to "revealing" what should be private information. I know this is difficult because sometimes, especially in casual interviews, you can fall easily into this trap. It might not be a "trap" in the sense that it is intentionally set by the potential employer but again, the employer is making mental notes. Avoid telling them you have children. Legally, you don't have to and legally, they can't ask. Don't talk about your family troubles like the drug addicted sister, the needy mother, the absent father, the slacker husband, etc... Anytime you share some part of your life the employer immediately digests that information and then ponders whether or not these things are significant and in some way can impair your ability to work (whether that means taking you away from your job or consuming your mind so much that your productivity will be lacking.) KEEP ALL PERSONAL DETAILS TO YOURSELF. It would serve you well to know what an employer can and cannot ask and I would stick within that guideline as well when it comes to sharing information. Here is a list of 30 questions that can't be asked in an interview: CLICK HERE

8. Don't interrupt. If the employer is talking and blabbing on for what feels like an eternity just keep on nodding and smiling. People who interrupt are NOT good listeners. You want to give the impression you are a good listener, even if you aren't. This is fact. I've had to train myself to be a better listener over the years so I can attest to this. There are even some courses on how to be a better listener. I don't like to call it a personality flaw because we are who we are but we do need to learn when listening is important and an interview is that time.

9. Know something about the job you applied for and the company/person offering the job. Would you go into Microsoft seeking employment without knowing Bill Gates is the founder and that they manufacturer a number of computer products? Maybe you would but you shouldn't! This goes back to the money issue. Not knowing anything about Microsoft would tell them interviewer that you need a paycheck (and who doesn't) but the job itself is secondary = NOT GOOD EMPLOYEE!

10. Always arrive on time, better yet be early! Although most people already know this, being late to an interview means your likely to be late a lot to work.

11. Don't fidget in your seat. This gives the impression that you are nervous, which is ok, but it also gives the impression that you are insecure and that isn't ok. Insecure people need lots of guidance and employers want to feel they can trust you with the job, whether it is done independently or not.

12. Don't talk negativity about past employers. All it shows is that you have no respect and your likely to do the same to the potential employer. No one wants to be raked through the coals behind their back and all stories have two sides, so if your slagging off a past or current employer it is just a sign of your inability to hold your tongue and quite possibly you've represented yourself as the new "gossip" monger of the company which we all know leads to office politics and no one wants that.

13. Don't tell the employer that you have applied to numerous other companies. What this tells the interviewer is that, one: you could actually leave your current position with their company if one of these "other" companies you applied to comes a calling, two: you are desperate.

14. Don't blame anyone for leaving past jobs, even if there are legitimate reasons. I left a job at a church because the Pastor I was hired under left after 4 years and a new one came in. She and I didn't see eye to eye so I left that position. Actually the entire staff of 5 left because of the new pastor and of course in a new job interview I could explain the ins and outs of that story, afterall I had 4 other staff members that would concur with what I had to say but it is all irrelevant. Don't get stuck on triviality. No one cares if you and your former boss had a beef or if you and a former co-worker couldn't breath the same air. You can still be honest without revealing details. In my case, I would say that I left that position because I had been there 4 years and at the time I wanted to explore something new. Unless your resume shows you jumping job to job every six months, wanting to explore something new after 4 years isn't a big deal and "exploring something new" might translate as the new boss and I didn't see eye to eye but the interviewer will appreciate that you didn't slag off the old boss even if you could prove she was a wench.

15. Refrain from bringing people to interviews with you. This is all about being able to stand on your own as an adult. Confidence and security is what you want to emit and bringing mom or hubby to interview emits the opposite. Bringing kids to an interview is sooo baaaaaaaaaad. Although it wouldn't be a deal breaker for me as an employer because I have kids an understand that need but some employers will see that as an inability to balance home life with work life. If you can't leave the kids at home or with a sitter than reschedule the interview.

16. Last, for heavens sake don't lie on an application ESPECIALLY if a background check is involved. No one wants a liar working for their company for a thousand reasons. If you broke the law, tell the potential employer. Most times, depending on the crime, employers see past that. You're just hurting yourself by lying. Same goes for falsifying experience or education. Eventually it all comes to light and the embarrassment and possible prosecution is NOT WORTH IT!

Monday, July 19, 2010


Although honey isn't something people usually reach for when they "think" natural colorant and I hadn't plan on blogging about it as such but I was making milk, oatmeal and honey soap this week and so I decided to include this in the blog posts on natural coloring.

(BTW/sorry about these blog delays lately. Things are crazy over at the Valadez home and I'm not finding the time that I had before to play on the net.)

So for those who haven't tried honey yet. If you want a natural tan color and a great all around additive, honey is the best. Unfortunately, I'm not at a point in my beekeeping venture where I can use my own honey... the bees are just making enough for themselves right now, so I had to reach for the store bought kind. Always get local honey! Better for the environment, better for the beekeeper ;)

In this recipe I used 2 ounces of honey mixed with .5 - 1 ounce of hot water (it takes hot water to liquify honey, cold doesn't work so well). I only mix the water with the honey so all of it gets incorporated, otherwise without water some honey gets left behind.

Add the honey at trace.

This is the color it produces. Without the honey, this soap turns creamy white.

Why honey is good for skin:

1. It moisturizes.
2. Promotes tissue growth.
3. Reverses damage caused by free radicals.
4. Great for sensitive skin.
5. Contains antimicrobial properties.
6. It is a natural antiseptic.

Happy Soaping!

Friday, July 16, 2010


The only thing keeping me from throwing in the towel on this beekeeping venture is thinking that the death of all these brood really wasn't my fault. My hubby likes to tease me about it but I just didn't see any other way.

We did a partial reversal on our hive as many experienced beeks suggested we do. It wasn't in-line with what I learned at the University but what was happening with my hive wasn't what I learned at the University either. We were instructed to do a full reversal on the hive before fall, ONLY after the third hive body was filled with brood. Well, we have nearly 5 full frames of honey in the third hive body and yet we have no queen or brood in there. My mentor said my queen must be getting squeezed in that 2nd hive body (he actually told me this a few weeks ago) and yesterday told me to get my butt out there and do a partial reversal.

Hive body 2 would go in the place of 1 and vice versa. We removed hive body 3 and set it aside, we removed hive body 2 and that is when we saw the massacre. My bees had drawn out comb on top of the frames in hive body 1 and below the frames in hive body 2 and the queen placed brood there. I'm thinking this means the queen ran out of space and her tribe was creating new space for her to lay in. The sad part is, when hubby lifted the 2nd hive body it exposed the brood. I figured, and maybe I'm wrong, this brood was now dead so I took to scraping the comb off the top of the frames and in turn that also removed the brood. What makes it even sadder is the nurse bees weren't given up. They kept tending to this exposed brood and here I am 10 minutes later sitting at my computer, looking out the window and the brood I scraped off and there are still nurse bees tending to them.

I hope I did the right thing by scraping them because, and I don't know if any other beeks ever looked this closely, but one of the larvae is moving. The pupae aren't moving but oh yes, that lavae is :(

They look like they may have been drones?

Thursday, July 15, 2010


One of the most common things for people to do is refer to most stinging insects as bees. Generally, if a stinging insect has a slender body and is colored yellow and black, it is a bee in the eyes of humans. I'm no exception. I always called yellow jackets bees and those around me at the moment knew exactly what I was talking about. But, there is a problem. When we call all stinging insects "bees" it gives the real bees a bad rap.

Here is a link to explain the difference between "real" bees and their stinging counter parts the yellow jacket, hornet and wasp.

Here is a pdfile that shows you the difference.


While I was out weeding the backyard tonight I saw one of my bees crawling around on the ground. Odd I thought, considering she was about 4 feet from the hive. I went to pick her up and she tumbled off my glove only to land on her back. She buzzed vigorously and managed to right herself. She started walking about so I let her climb on my glove again, this time with success, all the while begging her not to sting me. I tried to get her to walk onto a flower in front of the hive but she wasn't interested. I thought about flicking her off but I imagined she could sting faster than I could flick. I regretted picking her up, knowing full well that the gloves were thin enough to be stung through. I decided since I had been idiotic enough to allow this venture that I needed a picture. I walked slowly up the stairs onto the deck on our house and yelled for my daughter to get the camera. I watched our little bee friend groom herself, at least that is what it looked like she was doing, for about 5 minutes. Then she stopped and took what looked like a "mini" nap and then started grooming again. Rubbing her head and eyes with her front legs and then pumping her back end (hoping that wasn't a sign I was about to be stung) and rubbing her back legs over her torso. She didn't seem to mind me at all. Of course, my hubby appeared, claiming I was holding her back from her sisters and insisted I flick her off so she could fly home. I was scared but he was guilting me into it. I flicked her and SHE DIDN'T FLY!!! I watched her drop quickly to the bottom of our deck (it is a long way down) and then proceeded to yell at my husband for guilting me into killing one of my own bees. He walked away leaving me in sorrow :( I feel badly. I can only hope that she hit the rocks below like a feather instead of like a brick.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I'm wayyyyyyyyy too emotional to be a beekeeper. I crushed a bee and I really hate that but what makes me feel sick is the fact that things aren't going according to the book. I inspected the hive again today and things are happening that I either forgot what they mean (which is probably the case) or didn't learn (less likely the case). I found drone cells, about 5-10. More frames are FULL of honey, no queen in the third hive body yet and no brood. I know beeks are suggesting I rearrange the bottom two hive bodies and I plan on doing that the next sunny, clear day (hopefully tomorrow) but for now I'm just flustered because I have no idea why this isn't working out the way we were told it would in class =(

Anyway, I have some fun pictures.

Hubby saw a bee on a plant in front of the hive. She was checking him out while he's checking her out. LOL!

Here is some beeswax that we pulled off the bottom of the frames. It is white until it ages, then turns yellow.

Can you see the little drone cells? The drones are the males and their cells are puffy instead of flat like the females.

Lots of honey being made. I was tempted to lick the frames but I could just predict how that one would turn out. LOL!

The famous PROPOLIS. We have very little right now but I've heard from other beeks that the bees will create more and more and things get much stickier. They used it to seal two frames together, which I popped apart with my hive tool.


This week I made soap using Parlsey Powder. Parsley, as you probably already know, is commonly used as a spice in cooking. I always confuse it with cilantro even thought they really look nothing alike. I'm just goofy that way. I'm not a fan of the way parsley tastes but I like to use it when I want to color my soap green. I haven't experimented with it very much but I do know that something is influencing the staying power of the color in my soaps. Oils, essential ois? Not sure. I've used it to swirl in one batch and it lasted about 3 months and then faded to nearly non-existent, I used it to color a top layer of one batch green and it lasted over 8 months before starting to fade. Of course, the oils and eo's were different in each batch. But anyway... This won't be an experiment, it just gives you an idea of how beautiful the natural color is. I've purchased the parsley powder instead of drying and grinding my own.

Steps: Pretty easy. I used 1 tsp per pound of soap and this batch was 4 lbs. I take out half the the raw soap and add the parsley. I stick blend it until smooth and fully combined and then add it back into the other half of the uncolored raw soap. I stir it in, I don't blend. I just feel more in control, making sure no lumps exist. Once it is mixed well I just plop it in the mold and I'm done. (Oh, add your fragrance after the colorant is mixed entirely with all the raw soap).

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Sorry about the NO POST of natural colorant in soap on Friday. I lost my camera and just learned tonight that I left it at my sisters. Will retrieve it tomorrow and do the post on parsley as a natural soap colorant.


I had someone on facebook ask me about propolis and royal jelly so I thought I'd share a bit about them on my blog, as much as I know anyway. I keep hearing about all the health benefits and have looked into this a bit for myself so I'll share what I know in that area as well. I'm going to give the short version since the long version can be googled or found in several books. I'm just going to post the nitty gritty.


Short version: Honey comes from the nectar of flowers. Bees collect the nectar, bring it back to the hive, pass it on to other workers, the workers process it internally released enzymes into the nectar to break it down then regurgitating it into the comb. Because nectar contains a high percentage of water, the bees have to reduce the water content and they do this by fanning their wings near the honey comb. Once the water content comes down to a certain percentage (18.6% to be exact) the bees seal off the comb holding the honey, saving it for future consumption (either for themselves or by us... well, they don't realize they are doing it for us because if they did they'd probably poison it). LOL!


Short version: nurse bees secrete royal jelly from glands on the top of their heads. Royal Jelly is used to feed larvae. Initially the bees will feed royal jelly to larvae but it is only used long term if the larva is to become a queen and then the queen continues to eat this throughout her life.


Short version: beeswax is excreted from glands on a worker bees abdomen. It is through the consumption of honey that a bee produces this wax. Bees use the beeswax to draw out comb in new frames inside their hive. Once the comb is drawn out this is where pollen, honey and brood are stored.


Short version: pollen, as most people know, exists on flowers. Bees collect pollen in special little baskets (aka pollen baskets) on their hind legs. Once back at the hive the bees mix the pollen with water and then store it in the comb for both the workers, the queen (pollen helps create royal jelly) and to feed the larvae. Without pollen, bees and the brood would not survive since pollen is packed full of the protein bees need to live.


Short version: Bees collect sap from trees, mainly poplar trees, and after it is mixed with beeswax it is called propolis. This propolis is like cement and the bees use it to seal up the hive. Since the queen hates light and cold drafts can kill brood, all openings are filled with propolis. Propolis keeps bees healthy! Bees use propolis as an anticeptic in the hive, lining the cells in each comb. They also use it to wrap up introducers like mice once they are stung to death. This prevents disease or other bacteria from infecting the hive.

The benefits of all the above are many. I've personally experienced the health benefits of honey each time I've had a cold or laryngitis. Propolis is said to be beneficial when antibiotics like penicillin or amoxicillin have failed. Beeswax has a number of uses including as candles as an ingredient in body products.

To read up on the health benefits of propolis, click here.

To read up on the many uses and studies of royal jelly click here, here, and here.

The many uses of beeswax, click here.

Studies on pollen, click here.

The great thing about honey, click here, here and here.

I've just posted a few interesting links to read on the benefits of the above. I've also listed some links that give details about studies done, some of which show that evidence of benefits on some of the above are inconclusive. I know there is solid scientific evidence to back up the health benefits of honey and propolis but as for royal jelly and bee pollen, although I believe they are beneficial, the scientific community still seems to be debating it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Some of the flowers I planted. This is butterfly weed. I thought it was so pretty growing around the lake, I decided to plant some in the yard.

Another pretty flower but I have no idea what it is. I'm too lazy to look at the hang tag out in the garden. It is a perennial and it spreads, that is all I know right now LOL! (Just learned that this is a: obedience plant, Physostegia virginiana. Thank you Cindy Naas Stapleton for recognizing the flower and giving it a name.)

Our broccoli is coming along nicely. Not sure what ate the leaves and maybe a more experienced gardner can enlighten me as to whether whatever ate the leaves are a good or bad thing??? (just learned that this is a cabbage loper (white butterfly that lays larva that eat the leaves) thank you Priscilla Powers Bue for the education! I now need to get out there and look for larva before they do anymore damage)

Ok, the only problem I have so far with gardening is not knowing when to harvest things. Is this lettuce ready to be harvested?

My lemon balm is growing great. Just need to have that tree removed that is sticking out behind it so I can make room for more.

I'm VERRRRRY happy with my rasberry bush. Next year I will plant several more since this year was such a success.

Here is a little bit of our fourth celebration.


Yana terrified on the baby slide.

Maya and Yana on the merry-go-round.

Middy's beautiful face.

Last but never the least, me and my fran in the garden.


It is hard to fully appreciate the scale of which my bees have multiplied in just a couple months in this picture. I video taped but the sound effects didn't transfer well. There was a nice humming sound coming from the mass of bees flying about outside the hive. I stood only 4 feet away when I took this picture but as usual because the sun was finally shined and the air was warm the bees were too busy to notice me standing there.

Thousands of bees were flying above the hive but unfortunately you can't see that in this picture. To see them in this fashion makes me wonder how someone with barely any yard at all could actually keep bees without the neighbors having a nervous breakdown. When my bees come out in large numbers like this they tend to occupy a good portion of our backyard which is over 1/2 an acre, and even then I keep waiting for the neighbors to protest a little.

I was happy to see the girls out and about this afternoon. I'm waiting for a more condusive moment to rearrange the bottom two hive bodies (a partial reversal), maybe when the third hive body is 80% full of honey.

Monday, July 5, 2010


Of course, the day I decide not to bring out the camera to the bee yard I get stung three times in my hand. Well, I did have gloves on and THANKFULLY the stingers didn't penetrate the goatskin or else I'd be in misery right now.

I'm not sure if my bees weren't in the mood for me before I arrived or just vice versa but neither of us are in the greatest moods today (maybe they sensed that about me when I opened the hive and reciprocated in kind.

This was the first time I experienced cranky bees. Usually they are happy just flying about but today they were GROUCHY and buzzing so loudly it sounded like a massive army marching ahead. They targeted me and avoided the hubby, swooping around my head in a rapid motion and their buzz wasn't that lulling hummm I usually hear, more of a "I'm going to kill you unless you retreat immediately" sound.

There were several casualties... one was a bee on the top of the frames. She looked as if someone ripped her wings off as she rolled around kicking. I suppose she could have been one of my assailants since it was clear she was dying. I only saw one of my attackers, still stuck in my glove trying to pull itself free. I flicked her off quickly and removed the stinger (smoke smoke smoke to avoid pheromones blowing about). It was too late, I'd missed two prior stings and the girls were arleady in attack mode by the time I'd been stung I noticed the third sting.

Again, I was distracted by the fact things didn't go according to the book, or should I say, according to University of Minnesota instructions. Eleven days ago I added the third hive body with one full frame of drawn comb and bees. I inspected today to make sure the queen had moved up and was laying eggs but unfortunately I found no queen and absolutely NO BROOD! So for now, I'm at a loss. Did the queen get killed somehow? Is she still working in the 2nd hive body and just hasn't moved up. Right now I have 2 full frames of honey in the third hive body, so the other bees have moved up easily and are working but somewhere, somehow, the queen is left behind :( I have no clue what to do?

Friday, July 2, 2010


I just thought this was the cutest thing. The bees connecting to each other to cross frames. And here my primitive brain just figured they walked all the way to the bottom and crawled back up the other side. LOL!


Hibiscus is my favorite natural soap colorant. Not because it creates a vibrant color in my soaps but because hibiscus has so many beneficial uses. I learned about hibiscus as a tea when I was a student living in Mexico during the early 1990's. In the town I lived in the Jamaica Tea (hibiscus) was plentiful, at every corner and every restaurant. When I'd visit my then fiances family home I'd always get Jamaica Tea with my dinner. My mother-in-law in later years told me that Jamaica Tea was used to detoxify ones body. After learning this I did some research and sure enough, it has many health benefits including an ability to cleanse the liver (something modern science is just learning but the ancients of Mexico already knew).

As for soap, I just tried it because I always have it on hand. I was hoping it would create a beautiful red/pink soap but as with most natural colorants mixed with lye, that wasn't the case. Instead, hibiscus creates a nice tan color. Anytime I want a tan soap that doesn't contain honey (another way of making soap tan), I use hibiscus.

Where to find hibiscus locally?

It can be found at local ethnic food stores. We get ours from El Burrito Mercado (Mexican Market)

Steps to Creating the Tea:

This is done the same way any tea is done. These steps probably aren't necessary for those who make tea regularly but I'll just go through them anyway.

I take out how much hibiscus I think I'll need, which is usually a handful, but for the purpose of this soap I measured an ounce and mixed that with 16 ounces of simmering water.

I let it simmer until I feel like most of the color has been absorbed from the leaves. Usually 5 minutes. Then I strain it.

I don't mix hot water with lye (no no no), so I just pop the tea in the freezer while I get my oils and other things ready to go. The freezer cools the tea pretty quickly.

Proceed with mixing lye into water, etc... After you pour the lye into the water you'll SEE and SMELL the different. You no longer have a beautiful maroon-ish tea but instead a pukey brown that stinks equally as bad as it looks.

Mix it with the oils as usual... it will still smell pukey. Additives included as usual. Pour in mold and this is the color you'll see:

And this will be your final bar: (some things can affect the final bar color, things like fragrance and other additives but usually in terms of how dark of a tan you'll get)

NEXT WEEK: Parsley