Coconut, Honey, Beeswax Lipbalm


Someone asked me a few weeks ago, “What do you do with all the beeswax from your honey extraction?”

Good question. I have saved almost all of it. I have tried to segregate the lighter cappings wax  from the more yellow comb wax. With my stock of wax decided to try my hand at making lip balm – move over Burt’s   Bees, Bishop’s Bees is moving in. 

I don’t intend to “bee” a threat to his business. Next spring I will have table at some “Farmers Markets” in the area to sell my raw local honey and to have some value added products to sell. Hopefully to draw some more folks in. The lip balm may be one of a few products.  I have plans for honey straws, more creamed honey of several flavors and possibly some honey wine vinegar. 

I made batch 1 of the lip balm today. This is a test batch. I weighed out 1 ounce of light beeswax, 2 ounces of organic coconut oil and 1/2 tsp of honey. All melted together and then divided into some small tins and a couple of tubes. All went pretty well. The only issue was the reluctance of the honey to blend into the melted oils and wax. More research to do. 

I intend to hand these few out, gather feedback and adjust going forward. 

Coconut oil to start with.

A look at some of the differences in color of beeswax. 

A few of the first batch samples. 

I will get some feedback and modify the recipe going forward. I am wanting to find a way to bring the flavor and aroma of honey out a little more for batch # 2. 


Going Bananas in the Garden


The surprise success with plantings this year has been the banana “plant”….. Not really a tree but most folks refer to them as trees. This was the second year after panting the first corms. I was given one that should have produced “Manzano” bananas but has yet to fruit. The other was a mystery….If Marcelino’s father told me I must have not understood or heard. The unknown variety has produced a very nice large bunch and along the way I learned a lot about the growth habits of bananas. An internet search leads me to believe that the bananas  are “Pera”.

Once the plant matures a stem growing inside the pseudostem (trunk for lack of a better term) emerges from the top. As it curls downward it has what looks like a purplish heart looking bulb, an “inflorescence”. Looks like tightly wrapped paired leaves.

Female flowers beginning to expand.

Female flowers beginning to expand.

“A stem develops which grows up inside the pseudostem, carrying the immature inflorescence until eventually it emerges at the top. Each pseudostem normally produces a single inflorescence, also known as the “banana heart”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana#CITEREFStoverSimmonds1987.

It was interesting watching the top two leaves open up and expose the flowers. The first that are exposed are the female flowers that develop into fruit. Each time the purple leaves open it exposes another tier of flower bracts. As the bananas fill in, maybe 8 to as many as 20 tiers the heart now begins to produce male flowers that appear to be useless….once they appear, they dry up and drop off. At first I thought I had a problem but learned that was normal.

My hanging banana storage in the garden.

My hanging banana storage in the garden.

Once the banana has plumped up nicely and doesn’t seem to be enlarging I have been whacking off three or four at a time and allowing them to ripen indoors. They will stay nicely on the plant until the weather turns cold. After that I will cut the entire stalk and hang it in the garage to ripen slowly.

Several ripe ones with the most recently cut.

Several ripe ones with the most recently cut.

.Indoor hanging storage

Indoor hanging storage

Gardening activities have included building up a raised bed by adding more compost and mounding it up for planting strawberries. The cucumbers are done but the dang asparagus keeps sending up new shoots, not many but enough to snack on while weeding. The Matt’s Wild Cherry tomato plant has begun producing again….they are small but tasty….pea sized to a little less than cherry sized. My Poblano pepper plant is churning out tons of dark green peppers.

The beginnings of my fall strawberry planting's. I will ad at least 50 more plants.

The beginnings of my fall strawberry planting’s. I will ad at least 50 more plants.

Teeny tiny Matt's Wild Cherry tomatoes.

Teeny tiny Matt’s Wild Cherry tomatoes.

Hmmm - the beginning of some green beans....they better hurry - the air is cooling.

Hmmm – the beginning of some green beans….they better hurry – the air is cooling.

My bees are now residing elsewhere but I am making more local contacts that are willing to host hives for me. I have a home for the top bar hives about 5 minutes from my house – Yee Haw. The productive Langstroth is too far away but it is in a good home. I am aiming for 10-12 hives next year and possibly 20 the year following. The new Texas regulations allow me to sell at Farmers Markets now….as long as I do not exceed 2500 pounds per year….that is a lot of honey!

This will give you an idea how big the slabs of comb are. This one had an ear on the left hand side broke off.

This will give you an idea how big the slabs of comb are. This one had an ear on the left hand side broke off.

Side note; I bottled the Honey Blonde Ale a   few nights ago…..made with MY honey. It will be awesome! The color was perfect, a hint of honey flavor but not too sweet.




I am Legal Now


Actually, I have been legal for a long, long time! As of September 1st of this year I can legally sell honey at Farmers Markets as long as I meet the State of Texas’ labeling requirements. The key change for small producers, those selling under 2,500 pounds per year, requires a label indicating that the honey was not bottled in a facility inspected by the Texas Department of State Health Services. 

This is an example label added to the bottom of a jar. I snapped this iPhone photo at the Liberty County Beekeepers meeting this week. This little law change has many small producers breathing easier. To sell retail or wholesale, honey must be bottled in a licensed and inspected honey house/facility. That cost is beyond the means of hobby producers. Many small producers were technically breaking the law prior to September 1st. Small producers could always sell direct to the customer. A caveat, the honey must have been sold by the producer or immediate family member. That was how is I peddled my honey. 

My haul from the northern hive was small but very tasty. Most of the honey was bottled in 3/4 pound plastic Queenline bottles. I made a little larger bottle as payment to the hive’s host.  About 13.5 pounds total for this trip. The hive is now in winter mode and the honey remaining is for the bees. 

I just love the feel of the bottle getting heavy as it fills, the wonderful aroma that escapes and catching the sweet drops on my finger as the valve closes. I do lick my fingers and then rewash before proceeding! Yes I do! 

The honey bear actually holds the same weight as the white topped bottles. 

I have the catalogs out, dreaming about next spring and deciding how big my hobby will become. At a minimum I will have my existing Langstroth and two top bar hives. Let me amend that, I am building two “half” top bar hives this weekend. I can use them as Nucs or if arrangements can be made, as a rescue hive for cutouts or for capturing swarms. 



Country Honey

1 Comment

If you have been following along you will remember that my sweet neighbor filed  a complaint with the HOA about my bees. Some BS about the bees posing a threat. After 18 months in my backyard they suddenly posed a threat. Under protest and a deadline I moved the hive too far away but the location is very nice. The woman hosting the hive is a sweetheart, wants bees and takes good care of them. 

A couple of days ago my wife and I drove north to knock off two tasks. One, meet out son who attends Texas A&M University and two, me running over to the ranch and checking on the bees. My wife did some grocery shopping for Joe while I borrowed his truck to head over to the ranch. 

The hive seems to like it’s new home.  It is in a small fenced area to keep the cattle out and has enough sun under the big oak tree. There is a stock tank for water very close by. Looks like bee heaven. 

I think the site will look better next spring if I can add a few more hives. Two or three here and maybe another two or three across the road on a friends ranch.  I am hoping 6 hives in the area will help make the trips a little more profitable. I pulled the top super from the hive in preparation for winter, shuffled some frames and refreshed the hive beetle traps. The observed numbers of beetles was significantly lower on this trip – I like that! 

Yesterday I extracted honey pulling about 12 pounds or so from the frames. The honey is dark and rich tasting. I will send a couple of jars up to Johnnie at the ranch as payment for hosting and keeping the feeder full. The hive looks well set to make it through the winter. 

Next trip up I will add a resrictor to keep the mice out and slip a thin board under the hive to cut down on the cold air that can enter through the screened bottom board. 



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