Friday, March 18, 2011


I've learned spring is definitely anxiety time for a beekeeper. My bees are coming along nicely but I'm not 100% sure what I'm doing at this point. I opened the hive 2 days ago and found what appears to be 5 frames of full honey and my cluster of bees was sitting on top of 5 empty frames of honey. They are able to fly out and some were even tapping into the honey but I keep questioning myself... will the cluster not get to the honey and die out?

I was advised by the experienced beeks on beesource to move a frame close to the cluster and break open some of the sealed honey to give them easier access, which I plan to do if we hit 40's and sun again soon. So far, the girls aren't consuming the pollen patty I gave them and they are very very moody. I was being swarmed when I opened the hive. I smoked myself a few times and that seemed to help.

I've signed up for Beekeeping in Northern Climates Part 2 at the University. Can't wait to pick Marla Spivak and Gary Reuters brains again.


Anne-Marie said...

I hope your bees start to 'bee'having for you soon!

Jennifer Young said...

Questions for the Guru.... I have a supplier that is sending me some Mica for me to experiment and post about. She says it is natural forming. Can you tell me how NATURAL is Mica? xo Jen

Michelle said...


LOL! Me too :) I'll be spying on them again tomorrow, I hope they are happy to see me.

Michelle said...


After making this post a year ago:

I received numerous comments through email. Mostly people asking more questions. I decided to look up the Chemistry Dept. at the U of M and sifted through the faculty listed to find the individuals I thought could answer my questions. I emailed 4 Chemists inquiring about the naturalness of mica and oxides plus their safety in cosmetics.

I thought I'd receive various opinions but they all seemed to agree on just a couple basics and they were very careful not to elaborate on the term natural and stayed away from safety questions other than to distinguish between safety in relation to natural vs. synthetic.

All four Chemists stated the following:

1. Lots of natural occurring agents are replicated in a lab but it doesn't mean they are less safe, sometimes the opposite is true. The purpose in replication is to remove harmful chemicals (referring to natural not synthetic). Something manufactured in a lab can be chemically identical to something found in nature.

2. Since there is no standard for the use of the word "natural" the chemists wouldn't distinguish between a natural or synthetic mica. One chemist even stated that how he viewed a natural substance is quite different than what he thought the FDA would refer to as natural substance and his view was it didn't matter if it was made in a lab or sourced from the earth, if both were chemically identical than both were natural. He used rust and mold as examples.

Continue onto next post (I couldn't publish it all in one, sorry)

Michelle said...

I reread my old post from last year and based on the info I gathered at that time it would seem that it is certain mica in cosmetics is synthetic but looking into it further I now doubt that to be entirely true.

Now that I understand the FDA somewhat better I don't believe that their regulating mica as a colorant puts mica into a synthetic category. Maybe for legal labeling purposes but not from a factual scientific standpoint. There are synthetic mica's created in laboratories. This is absolutely true domestically (in the U.S.) but not always true for countries like India and Brazil (and there are others).

For example, there is a supplier by the name of The Conservatorie that sells what they claim to be 100% natural mica. I've inquired with them about this claim and they stand by their assertion. If you look at their site they have several mica's listed. The ones that are 100% natural have an INCI showing "mica" as the only ingredient. I've learned mica, in its natural state, is white (there are some other shades but white is what you will find pure) Unlike I found in previous reports that stated only synthetic mica is white.

Look here: and you'll see that Mica #TC0701001 does not contain any synthetic additives, it is in fact 100% pure.

Many suppliers sell mica that is mixed with Titanium Dioxide and synthetic colorants. Conservatorie does sell mica mixed with Titanium Dioxide and other oxides but they also sell 100% natural mica.

This is the mica (muscovite) used in cosmetics:

IMO if your supplier is stating their mica is natural forming, I would imagine it is naturally sourced directly from muscovite.

I couldn't say if the mica created in a lab is identical to that created in nature or whether additives are included. It make sense that synthetically producing a chemical identical could be safer if the pure form contains any metals that are detrimental to our health.

Personally, I would feel very comfortable buying mica from conservatorie and making a natural claim on my product and since your supplier has told you their mica is naturally formed and if they are forthcoming with the INCI sheet and it shows no other ingredient other than mica, I would say that is natural.

I hope this helps!

Just some follow up info:

Here is some info on Mica from India:

Muscovite has the following chemical makeup:
potassium, oxygen, silicon, aluminum, fluorine, and hydrogen.

FDA cosmetic additives: