The Waxes of Skin Care: The Types and the Benefit of Each

Comparison of Some Natural Waxes Used in Body Products:

Waxes are complex mixtures of large organic molecules: alcohols, fatty acids, and esters.

They are insoluble in water, but most of them can be dissolved into organic non-polar liquids, like oils and many organic solvents. They tend to be malleable solid at or near room temperature, and most melt above 104 deg F.

Compared to fats and oils, they are harder, less greasy and more brittle. They are also very resistant to moisture, oxidation and microbial degradation. In general, waxes can help protect the skin (by forming a film and/or acting as an emollient). They also help thicken, emulsify, and stabilize many body products. This can improve their texture, viscosity, and stability.

 

Plant, Animal, or Mineral

Many plants and animals make waxes. The oldest know, and used continuously for thousands of years, is beeswax. Some will even argue that wax also occurs naturally in petroleum. Though we by no means consider it equal to plant or animal waxes. In addition to naturally occurring waxes, there are in also man made waxes. In this post, we will take a look at the following waxes.

Animal: Beeswax, Lanolin

Lanolin
Beeswax

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plant:Carnauba, Candelilla

Candelilla Wax
Carnauba Wax

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beeswax

Beeswax is a wax secreted by the European honeybee and has been used for thousands of years, for a variety of body product applications: from lotions to salves and balms. It is the oldest known emulsifier for body products. The potential for allergic reaction is low, is not likely to clog pores, and allows the skin to breathe. Include the fact that it’s an emollient, a humectant, and antimicrobial, it’s easy to see why beeswax is well suited to body products.

As with the other natural waxes, beeswax improve emulsions and consistency in a variety of different formulas, can help extend the shelf life of certain ingredients, thicken a formula, and much more. Because beeswax has a tacky consistency on it’s own, adding it to body products produces products with good staying power. Beeswax ranges in color from white to deep amber. It has a melting point of 62 to 64 °C (144 to 147 °F). Because beeswax isn’t brittle over as large of a temperature range as the plant waxes, solid products that incorporate beeswax are less likely to crack or shear. Because this wax is produced by bees, it is not vegan.

 

Lanolin

Lanolin is wax secreted by wool-bearing animals, and is made up predominantly of long chain waxy esters. It is a greasy thick solid. Studies have shown that lanolin is a long lasting emollient that breathes, and reduces skin roughness. That makes it easy to understand why lanolin, and lanolin derivatives, are used extensively in both the personal care products, as well as many health care products. Lotions, salves, balms, and ointments are where you are most likely to run into lanolin in your medicine cabinet.

Other applications include use in lubricants, rust-preventive coatings, shoe polish, and other commercial products. The melting point of pure lanolin is 38 °C (100 °F). Unfortunately, out of the natural waxes looked at here, it is the most likely to cause allergic reaction. This should be kept in mind when purchasing or formulating body products. This wax is made by wool bearing animals, as such, is not vegan.

 

Carnauba Wax

Carnauba wax comes from the carnauba palm (Copernicia cerifera), which is a native of Brazil. The wax it produced is a hard brittle amber to brown colored solid. Bleaching the wax can lighten the color. It is known as the queen of waxes because it is the hardest wax. Used most commonly to give a glossy protective finish to a variety of products –  car paint, leather, wood, food. Edible – used since 1920 for waxing fruits and veggies, and added to pastries. In cosmetics, carnauba wax is used to add stiffness to mixtures like mascara and lipstick. It is also used in emulsions like liquid and cream lotions. Melting point: 82–86 °C (180–187 °F). It’s E number (food additive number) is E903. This wax is vegan.

 

 

Candelilla Wax

Candelilla Wax is a brittle brownish yellow wax that is made by the Candelilla shrub, native to Mexico and the Southwestern United States. It’s primarily used to harden other waxes without raising their melting point. Additionally, it is used as a glazing agent for foods, a binding agent for gums, in the manufacture of varnish, and as a hardener for lip balms and lotion bars. Melting Point: 68.5–72.5 °C(156-163°F). It’s E number (food additive number) is E902. This wax is vegan.

 

Waxes For All

With the exception of lanolin, which is a thick pasty solid at ambient temperature, the others mentioned are firm, that can be bought in a variety of shapes/sizes: slab, chunks, flake, pellets, powder. Size can have an effect when trying to measure or melt the wax. Which wax you pick, will depend on personal preference, and your desired results.

 

Links giving some basic information on various natural waxes:

Beeswax

Lanolin

Carnauba wax

Candelilla wax

Lanolin allergies

 

A note on Paraffin Wax:

Many of you will say paraffin is not natural, since it is a petroleum product. Others might try arguing that it is natural, because be isolated naturally from crude, simply by distillation. In that respect, it could be argued that it is natural. So, here goes: Paraffin wax is isolated during the petroleum distillation process. It is a bluish-white opaque solid. It was first isolated and used in Germany in 1830. Since then, a long and varied list of uses has come about. As such, most of us got our exposure to paraffin early on –  it is the primary ingredient in crayons, candles, and Vaseline. Most uses make use of the fact that paraffin wax can be used as a protectant, a lubricant, or a sealant. Because of it’s slippery feel, paraffin is added to body products to make them easier to spread around.

Another reason it is used in beauty products is because it is a relatively cheap way to make skin feel moisturized. It’s important to note, that even though the skin feels hydrated after applying paraffin wax containing products, paraffin is not hydrating, and doesn’t do a good job or repairing skin damage. And, it is not necessarily good for the skin for other reasons – It clogs pores, doesn’t let the skin breathe, and can contain trace chemicals from the petroleum distillation process that are harmful. Melting point:37 °C (99 °F). It’s E number (food additive number) is E905. This wax is vegan.

Paraffin wax

Paraffin wax in body products

A Good Direction for Amazing Skin Care

Even if you believe that paraffin is a natural option, it is our opinion that with very few exceptions, a more wholesome, nourishing, natural wax can, and should be used. Our recommendation is Carnauba wax if you are waxing your car or beeswax if you would be using on your skin. When it comes to protecting and keeping your skin hydrated, beeswax is incredible at both. You can try this in our solid lotion bars. Just pop out the puck and rub it where your skin is dry and will notice just a little protects and moisturizes your skin. Beeswax is a humectant and will draw moisture to your skin even in extremely dry climates as well as sealing in the moisture without clogging your pores.

 

More Bees solid lotions are a fantastic choice for natural care for your skin. These lotion bars are great for sensitive or worked skin. Whether you clean, build, sew, file, whatever it is you do our solid lotions are capable in helping repair and protect your skin. You can click the link below to our store and try one of these fantastic products for yourself.

The Buzz on Canandian Artist: Aganetha Dyke

Hauntingly beautiful

That’s what I thought when I looked at images from the “Masked Ball” series of sculptures by Aganetha Dyke.

Aganetha Dyck is a Canadian artist that was born in Manitoba in 1937. She now resides in Winnipeg, Canada. Much of her work centers on, or relates to honey bees. My favorites are the “Masked Ball” series of sculptures. To create these, and other similar sculptures, Ms. Dyck uses found objects (figurines, shoes, sports equipment, etc.).  After finding the pieces she will use, Ms. Dyck paints bee pheromones onto them before placing them into active bee hives, and leaves them there, sometimes for years.

The Art of the Bees

Ms. Dyck has always found the bees to be an incredible architects, who build beautiful 3 dimensional sculptures. Sculpture that she believes to be true art. Ms. Dyke views her art as a collaborative effort between her and the honey bees with which she works. Communication between different species has long been an interest of Ms. Dyck, and she considers the bees co-artists. She believes that works such as hers can remind us of our interconnections with other species, our shared vulnerability, and our fleeting life in the world.

Much of the research she has done on bees has focused on the ramifications of the disappearing honey bee for our world.

“I’m really concerned for them. 95 per cent of wild honey bees have disappeared. When you’re so close to a creature that’s so important to the world and you know how quickly they could disappear, and what that would do to humanity, that’s a relationship that’s pretty precious.”

-Aganetha Dyke

Though many of her works rely directly on the laying down of beeswax by bees, some of her work is in the form of scans and images taken from inside working hives, creations that combine drawings with hive parts or beeswax, and creations made by dipping everyday items into melted beeswax.

 

Her work has been exhibited in many galleries and museums in the past, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, and the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Upcoming Exhibit

To see some of Aganetha Dyck’s work up close and personal, consider visiting the upcoming Something More than Nothing exhibit. It will be at the Reach Gallery Museum in Abbotsford, British Columbia (on the US-Canada border very near Vancouver, BC) from 5/23/2019 through 9/15/2019. This exhibit contains work from several artists. It deals with the concept that hidden or ignored work is nevertheless fundamental and necessary in our world.

 

Wikipedia article on Aganetha Dyke

Gibson Gallery

Reach Gallery Museum

Video with Ms. Dyck

 

The Giant Bee of Indonesia Is Back Again

In the midst of an ever growing list of extinct and endangered bee species, there is a bright spot.

In 2018, for the first time in almost four decades, Megachile Pluto (commonly known as Wallace’s Giant Bee) was sited. Even though this bee was once feared extinct, the individual who found the Wallace’s Giant Bee captured and promptly sold it for $9,100 on Ebay.

The killing and sale of the giant bee sparked outrage, and many feared for these reclusive bees. And then last week, another giant bee was sighted. Thankfully, after photographing this specimen, the individual released the bee alive.

Who is Megachile Pluto?

Discovered in 1858 by Alfred Russel Wallace, as he catalogued the flora and fauna of Indonesia, this bee received a mere one sentence entry in Wallace’s journal. This bee lives on three islands of the Indonesian province of North Moluccas: Bacan, Halmahera and Tidore. Oil palm plantations steadily are replacing the lowland forests where these bees live, leading to an ever increasing reduction of habitat.

Many feared that this bee had become extinct, until it was seen again in 1981. It would be 38 years until the next sighting of Megachile Pluto. And you would know if you saw Wallace’s Giant Bee.

This bee is the largest bee in the world. Females measure approximately  1 ½ inches long with a wing span of 2 ½, while males measure 0.9 inches long. (For comparison, a typical honeybee measures in at approximately ½ inches long.) These giant bees live in active tree-dwelling termite nests. The females have large mandibles, capable of gathering, transporting, and manipulating the plant resins that the bees use to fashion their nests. As with all other species of Megachile bees, Wallace’s Giant Bee feeds on nectar and pollen, and carries pollen in the thick hairs on its ventral surface (abdomen).

Looking to the future

People have seen this bee only a handful of times since its discovery. For that reason, there is no accurate estimates of how many of these bees exist. From a conservation standpoint, Megachile Pluto is a vulnerable species. Entomologists are unsure if the sighting is good or bad from a conservation standpoint. The news coverage the sighting has generated is sure to make more people aware of this reclusive bee. The question is, will people go to these Indonesian islands in search of these bees, or will they be encourage to fight for the preservation of this species. Will they invade its territory, or will they lobby for the preservation of it?

The next time someone sees one of these incredible bees, will they sell it on Ebay, or will the let it be?

Further reading

There are many credible sources of information on Wallace’s Giant Bee. Here are a few.

Aussie Bee Post on Wallace’s Bee

National Geographic article on the sale of Megachile Pluto specimen in 2018

Megachile Pluto Wikipedia article

 

When the Daisies Come Up Spring Is Here

“What flowers mean spring to you?” I asked my husband just the other night.

 

“Daisies.” Was his rather interesting and simple response. Intrigued I chose to pry for more information.

 

“Why? Daisies aren’t the first to come up. They aren’t the first to flower.” I didn’t think I would get an answer. So I was surprised when it came.

 

“Steve said to watch for the daisies. That they meant spring.” Steve; Ron’s beekeeping mentor, he told Ron that when the daisies came up, it was time to really gear and grow the bees. There would be a steady flow of nectar from a succession of flowering plants all the way into the fall.

 

“They’re little and white and come up in the grass.” Ron told me.

 

I was curious about the type of daisy Steve might have been talking about, so I jumped onto my computer. Daisy…Kingdom Plantae, order Asterales, family Asteraceae…Wow! Did you know that there are over 4,000 species of daisy!

 

Three possible types of daisy Steve could have been talking about:

Lawn Daisy (also known as Common Daisy and English Daisy)

Bellis perennis is called The lawn daisy because even mowing will not get rid of them in your lawn. This daisy originated in Europe, but is now naturalized across temperate regions of the Americas and Australia as well. It blooms late spring through fall. This plant grows low to the ground, and is considered an invasive weed by most. Though considered a weed, it is also intentionally cultivated in many gardens as a flowering ground cover. A growing number of people are now deciding to grow the lawn daisy intentionally in their yards. This is a good choice if you are going for bee friendly plants for your yard.

 

Fleabane Daisy

Erigeron annuus. Native to North America, this daisy species grows in 43 out of the 48 contiguous states. This daisy has very small flowers, but they can grow quite tall – up to 5 feet. The flowers of this daisy are often white with yellow centers. But sometimes they have pink or purple petals.

 

 

 

Oxeye Daisy

Leucanthemum vulgare. As with the lawn daisy, this daisy originated in europe, and is widespread there. It has naturally spread across temperate regions of Asia, and Turkey, and has been introduced into the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand. Cattle will not eat it, and once established, it is difficult to get rid of. It is considered an invasive weed by over 40 countries. This daisy blooms spring through fall, and has a very high pollen count. This plant grows up to 20 inches high. Though considered a weed, it is also intentionally cultivated in many gardens as a flowering ground cover. A growing number of people are now deciding to grow the lawn daisy intentionally in their yards. This is a good choice if you are going for bee friendly plants for your yard.

 

There are countless other wildly growing  could be the flowers Steve was referring to. I wish we could ask him, though he probably didn’t know the exact species name. Steve tragically and unexpectedly passed away several years ago. I’m still not sure exactly which species Steve was talking about. I wish he was still with us, so he could tell us. We miss you Steve. This article was in memory of you.

Bellis perennis

Erigeron annuus

Leucanthemum vulgare

The Buzz of Rainy Days: What Can You Do?

Do you have little ones in your life? It could be your kids, grand kids, nieces, or nephews. It could be your friend’s kids, the kids you babysit, or the ones you teach. I bet they’re getting restless right about now. Snow and rain and cold, Cold, COLD! Just when many of us though that winter was going to be mild this year, it slammed into us. That means lately, kids have been kept in a lot more than they would like. They’re getting bored, irritable, and antsy. They’re probably starting to bicker, and drive you crazy. So what can you do?

Here are a few activities that will occupy them, alleviate some boredom.

 

Edible Peanut Butter Play Dough

Here’s a fun, edible clay that will keep many kids occupied for hours. You will need to mix together:

  • 1 C creamy peanut butter
  • 1 ½ C dried milk
  • ¼ C honey

Mix until the mixture forms a ball. Knead until smooth. Add more dried milk as needed while mixing/kneading to make a smooth, pliable ball that doesn’t stick to the hands, bowl, or the surface it is kneaded on.

Hand out chunks to the kids. Encourage the kids to form the dough into animals and other shapes. Or, break out the cookie cutters. The really cool thing about this clay is that the kids can eat their masterpieces, if you’re OK with that. If the kids will be eating their creations, consider making available dried fruit, candies, baking chips, nuts, seeds, pretzel sticks, and/or shredded coconut to decorate their project. Before letting the kids eat their sculptures, or putting the clay back into the storage container, consider immortalizing their creations with a quick photo. Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container or bag in the refrigerator. If the dough develops an off odor, throw it out.

Things to consider:

  • Make sure any kids involved do not have nut or milk allergies.
  • This activity is not recommended over shag carpeting. Consider covering the carpet if you will be doing this activity in a carpeted area..
  • Have kids wear an older shirt, since the oils from the peanut butter can transfer from the clay, to their hands, and onto their cloths.
  • If you want to occupy the kids, let them play for awhile before cleaning up.
  • Make sure kids wash their hands before and after playing with the clay.
  • Clean the play surface before handing out the play dough.
  • Even the best behaved kids are going to be tempted to nibble on the clay (which is ok, if you’re OK with it). Keep this in mind when handing out chunks of clay to play with.
  • Refrigerate unused portions for another day.

 

Sensory Play Box

Let your child play with a homemade sensory box. In a box or bin, place dries pasta, dried beans, beads, small toys, buttons, small smooth pieces of glass, washers, small pom poms, etc. Pebbles, sand, fake paper grass, toilet paper tubes, and fake flower tops and leaves can be fun too. Make sure to use a variety of textures, colors, and sizes.

Allow the kids to free play. Some will make up little games, others will play pretend, or they will explore differences between the items in the box. For extra fun, include a spoon, a measuring cup, and a magnifying glass. A pair of chopsticks, tweezers and/or tongs can also be very fun when added to the box.

To get a bigger bang from your box, you can change things up. You can turn your sensory bin into more than one activity. For example, give your child an ice cube tray or egg carton and encourage them to sort by different textures, colors, shapes, types of item, etc. Or challenge them to see which items they can pick up with chopsticks. Regardless of how the kids choose to play, many kids will play quietly with a sensory box as long as you let them.

Things to consider:

  • Small items pose a choking hazard.
  • If the child will be sitting on the floor to do this activity, consider putting down a small blanket or sheet. When the child is finished playing, simply pick up the floor covering, and pour the items back into the box.
  • Shorter, flatter boxes/bins work better than really deep ones.
  • If you want to occupy the kids, let them play for awhile.

 

 

Movie Day

Recreate the magic of a movie theater right in your home. Our top picks are: Epic, A Bug’s Life, James and the Giant Peach, and Antz . A single movie, or a marathon –  your choice. All it takes is a good movie(s), a few treats, a drink, some popcorn, and a very dark room, and you’re ready to go. Besides candy and popcorn, consider cheese chunks, dried fruit, nuts and small pieces of fresh fruits and veggies. Don’t forget to have intermissions as needed, for bathroom breaks, to stretch, and to refresh treats and drinks.

 

I was asked over my shoulder a few moments ago “But what does this have to do with honey bees?” My answer to all of you is, as much or as little as you want it to. The Play dough can just be play dough, or it can turn into a discussion on bees, how they make honey, and why. The sensory boxes can be bee themed if you like. Or not. If they are, you can ask “What/why”  type questions to get your kids minds going. Questions like “Why do you think bees like flowers?” The movies can be any type of movies. They can just be a movie if you want. Or they can be the starting point for many discussions on insects, pollinators, or bee. That’s the beauty of these activities. They can be whatever you want or need them to be.

Can Bees Solve Math Problems?

5+2=?

 

The answer’s 7.

 

It’s easy enough, right?

It is, but at the same time, it isn’t. Adding, as well as subtracting, are actually complex number skills. You have to remember multiple things when figuring the answer to an addition or subtraction problem. First, you need to remember the rules. Next, you need to remember the numbers and what they mean. Finally, you need to remember what addition is, and how to do it. This series of events takes both short-term working memory and long term memory.

 

Looking at our example, you need to remember several things. What is “5”? Or “2”? What does “+” tell you to do? Can you figure out how to do it to “5” and “2”? And what do you get when you do that? That’s a lot to remember and do all at once.

 

For the longest time, scientists believed that very few animals besides humans might be capable of such complex numerical thinking.

 

But in recent decades, scientists have assembled an increasing list of animals who are capable of performing just such complex number skills. February 6th, Australian and French scientists publish a scholarly article which added the humble honeybee to the list. Already on the list: Humans as young as 1 ½ years old, chimpanzees, rhesus monkeys, vervet monkeys, orangutans, African grey parrots, and pigeons. Recently African jumping spiders, and golden silk spiders were added to the list. Now, honeybees take their rightful place on the same list.

 

 

 

 

Are you are wondering how exactly scientists checked to see if honeybees can add and subtract? I sure did! To understand, follow along.

 

Imagine you walk into a room. There’s a door on the other side of the room. Next to the door are four blue shapes on the wall. After you walk through the second door, you enter a second room. In this second room you see two more doors. One door has five blue shapes next to it, and the other one has three blue shapes next to it.

 

Which door do you go through next? If you picked the door with five shapes, you get a sweet, yummy treat. And if you picked the door with three shapes, you get something yucky and bitter to eat.

 

Now, do this 100 times, using either blue or yellow shapes. You will eventually figure out that blue means” add one” to the number of shapes on the first door if you want the yummy treat. Yellow means “subtract one.” Once you figure this out, you will have learned something new. Another way to say it is that you will have been trained.This type of training is called reward-punishment training.

 

This is exactly how scientists taught bees how to add or subtract one from a starting number that was between one and five. Each bee had 100 training runs, before they were tested. If bees didn’t learn how to add or subtract 1, scientists expected they would get the answer right 50% of the time when they did test runs. But when bees tested, they got the right answer 63% to 72% of the time. These numbers are very statistically significant, and show that the bees did indeed understand the ideas of “add one” and “subtract one.”

 

This study also shows that large complex brains, and language skills aren’t needed to understand and carry out complex numerical concepts.

 

Finally, this articles adds to a growing list, the number of surprising mathematical concepts that honey bees understand. Previous experiments have shown that honeybees can learn and use the concepts of “greater than” and less than,” and understand the concept of zero.

 

Who knew bees could do math. Did you?

 

The following link will let you read the full scholarly article, which was released on February 6th, 2019:  Numerical cognition in honeybees enables addition and subtraction Science Advances  06 Feb 2019: Vol. 5, no. 2, eaav0961 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav0961

 

This following link is to  the article that explored the honey bees understanding of greater than, less than, and zero.  S. R. Howard, A. Avarguès-Weber, J. E. Garcia, A. D. Greentree, A. G. Dyer, Numerical ordering of zero in honeybees. Science 360, 1124–1126 (2018).

 

Fraudulent Mānuka Honey from New Zealand

Today, I saw an article that floored me, the headline read “New Zealand brings first ‘fake mānuka honey’ prosecution”. I know many who buy and use mānuka honey, so I just had to share it with all of you. I mean; when you love something you want to know about it and make sure it is what is says. It’s scary when something you love turns out to be fraudulent. Sometimes it is minor, at other times it can be dangerous. But what about this fraudulence in the case of mānuka honey?

 

What is this Honey

For those of you who aren’t familiar with mānuka honey, here’s a quick little blip. Mānuka honey is prized by honey enthusiasts worldwide as a panacea – a magical elixir made by the honey bees that will cure all your that ails you.

People have been using honey to remedy a variety of problems since ancient times. This makes sense, since modern science has shown that honey is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, an antioxidant, and packed full of nutrients. Scientific findings are mixed on whether mānuka honey heals or aids conditions such as cancer, diabetes, or stomach ulcers. That said, honey has been shown to help with pain, and the healing of wounds (cuts, abrasions, burns) and topical infections (viral, bacterial, and fungal). Mānuka honey is said to be the most potent of honeys in this respect.

 

The Science Behind The Wonder Honey

How can that be? It’s because the degree of such activity is highly dependent on many factors. The factors include the quality of and type of food the bees take in, the climate  and the environmental health of the area the hive is located in, and health of the hive itself.

 

Which brings us right back to this incredible liquid gold. WHY do people covet it so? What’s so special about it? And why are there so many big claims out there about it? It all comes down to location, location, location. Which comes down to the broom tea-tree, which originated in one region of the world, New Zealand and Australia. The mānuka myrtle thrives in USDA hardiness zones 9-11. There are many countries that host mānuka plantations across the world. As a result, not all Mānuka honey produces comes from down under.

Most honey gets the bulk of its antimicrobial ability from hydrogen peroxide. Unlike other flowers, the nectar of the mānuka tree is very high in dihydroxyacetone. Bees convert this compound into methylglyoxal (MG) when they take the mānuka nectar and turn into honey. MG is found in most types of honey, but it is usually only in small quantities. But in mānuka honey, MG is found in much higher concentrations which makes it the antimicrobial powerhouse of honey.

The Bittersweet Truth

Because this honey often goes at a premium cost, the chance of fraud is quite high. Recently New Zealand is charging a company who chose to add synthetic chemicals to mānuka honey. Afterwards they would mark this crude imitator as mānuka honey. This is the first ever case of honey tampering of it’s kind brought. The company, Evergreen Life Ltd is the manufacturer/seller of the honey in question.

As quoted from the article:

 

“Details of exactly which products the company is accused of tampering with are expected to emerge during the court case, which is scheduled for a hearing next month.

 

Evergreen’s website says it sells health products internationally to countries including the United States, Australia, Canada, Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia and China.”

 

Click on the link to read the full article published by The Guardian on Jan 30, 2019

New Zealand brings first ‘fake mānuka honey’ prosecution

Thank You and Please Remember

Thank you for joining us again this week and please remember that we are not doctors or health professionals. Online information can be helpful but they aren’t as knowledgeable as certified professionals. Never replace ongoing treatment with natural remedies without discussing your specific condition or situation with your doctor. Diabetics should consult with their health professional before ingesting honey, or using honey topically on broken skin.

 

Interested in growing a Mānuka tree? They grow in USDA hardiness zones 9 and 11. You should be plant these in full sun in coastal areas or under partial shade inland.

The Good That Just Got Better; If It Were Possible

Wouldn’t it be nice if you always had the things you loved? Good things never seem to last as long as we would like. They seem to deplete so quickly and it can be troublesome to remember to procure more. But here, we can help keep the good coming straight to your door.

We now have subscriptions so you can get the products you love when you want them without the memos and reminders. Whether you need it every month or every three months. The good can keep on coming and all you need to do is enjoy it. You can use it as a chance to try new scents, flavors, or combinations. Whether you want the lip balm, soap, solid lotion, or the variety bundle you can have what you love.

 

Personalize your pack or get a sampler, whatever you want, when you want it. Maybe even get this as a gift for those you love for the upcoming Valentine’s Day. What could be better than a good gift that keeps giving. Who wouldn’t enjoy that? So if you have a loved one who loves More Bees, consider sending them a link or buying them a subscription.

What is the Real Break Down on Plastic

The Price Behind Plastic

People held out so much hope for plastic. It was seen as a solution to so many problems just a few generations ago. But now we know that the rampant use of plastics comes with a hefty price. It fills our dumps, litters our land, clogs our streams, and creates huge mats of debris in our oceans.

And it can last from several to hundreds of years before it a plastic item breaks down. It depends on the type of plastic and the conditions (Temperature? Sunlight? Oxygen present? Buried? In the ocean? etc.).

The Breakdown of the Plastic Break Down

When it breaks down, most plastics release toxic chemicals and further crumple or break into smaller pieces of plastic. Very little of the plastic littering our world breaks down into new, non-hazardous compounds. And these smaller and smaller pieces of plastic, along with breakdown chemicals, have now entered the food chain. Animals eat plastic, where it clogs digestive systems, disrupts endocrine and reproductive systems, and pollutes bodies with hazardous chemicals, like bisphenol A, which is a known carcinogen. It’s the very reason the use of plastic nanobeads is banned. And now, plastics, and their bi-products are showing up in humans.

 

Knowing all of this, people ask us, how we can wrap our soaps in plastic.

Benefit of Biolefin

It’s because not all plastics are equal when it comes to environmental problems. We have gone to great lengths to be as environmentally conscious as we can be, while at the same time balancing other demands placed on us. For example, some of the markets we participate in require that body products be packaged and labeled. We researched materials and settled on Biolefin shrink wrap, made by Wells Plastics using Reverte technology. It is an oxo-biodegradable polyolefin plastic film that breaks down to simple non-toxic compounds in a shortened time frame. It is food-grade and acid free. According to the manufacturer, the Reverte additive causes the plastic polymer chains in the film to break down into much shorter fragments, which can then be consumed by bacteria that is abundant in the environment.

 

When exposed to sunlight, heat, and air, the wrap we use begins to decompose within 1 year. When fully decomposed (1-3 years), only water, carbon dioxide, and biomass are left behind. The biomass is chemically different than plastic and is consumed by microorganisms in the environment. If left in the dark without oxygen, the biolefin breaks down to methane and biomass that can be consumed by microorganisms. This process takes longer, around 4 years according to the manufacturer.

More Bees Wrap

We like it because it keeps the soap dry, clean, and contained. It allows us to affix labels so the customer knows what they have purchased. It has the added benefits of allowing the soap to breathe, and allowing the customer to smell the soap. We even chose paper labels without a plastic coating. Are our choices perfect? Probably not, but we’re trying.

National Geographic article on marine plastic waste

Article about microplastics in human stool

Time for garbage to decompose

National Geographic on degradation of ocean plastics

Biolefin information page

Wells plastics Reverte oxo-biodegradable polyolefin page.

Reverteplastics page

Magic Mushrooms: A New Hope for Bees Plagued By Mites

Today, I read an article that I just had to share. It isn’t the longest, but it could turn out to be quite significant.

Tiny Mighty Terror

It was about varroa mites, honey bees, and a possible remedy to some of the problems plaguing the honey bees. Introduced to the US in the 1980’s, varroa destructor, a parasitic mite, has been wreaking havoc with beehives across the country. These mites sap the strength of the bees on which they feed.

But they do even more than that. You see, just like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes can carry illnesses that infect humans, varroa mites can carry viruses that infect bees. As rodent fleas caused the Bubonic Plague, the varroa mites are contributing to the die off of a large percentage of honeybee hives in many parts of the world. It is estimated that in the US, 40% of hives were lost from April 2017-April 2018.

Plight of Flight

There is more than one virus that the mites can pass to honey bees, but the most significant seems to be deformed wing virus (DWV). It causes wing deformities in the bees, particularly those incubated with the mites. The wing deformities range from mild to severe. But any deformity is significant in a species that has to be able to fly to feed itself.

It’s easy to see why varroa mite infestations are a concern for beekeepers. The varroa mites spread from bee to bee and larval cell to larval cell within a hive very easily. Mites can also be spread from hive to hive when hives are kept in very close proximity to each other, or when a infected bee comes into contact with other bees when foraging. They can even jump off one bee, hang out on a flower, and jump onto a bee from a different hive.

Scientists have know for a few years that the mites can spread diseases such as deformed wing virus (DWV). For that reason, beekeepers try to control levels of varroa mites. Most do this with with chemical miticides. While initial results seem good when hives are treated, some beekeepers have noticed the miticide resistant populations develop quickly within their hives. Since resistant varroa can thrive in a hive, and pass viruses on to the bees, some scientists are looking at treating the viruses that infect the bees.

Magic Mushrooms

Recently, it was discovered that a couple of different conk wood mushrooms, amadou and reishi, are effective against DWV. Conk wood mushroom extract, when mixed with sugar water, and delivered by feeder has proved effective at combating DWV. Not only have these mushroom extracts shown positive results against DWV, they have shown an even greater antiviral effect on Lake Sinai virus, which is also causing serious problems in some beehives.

Studies are just beginning on the effectiveness of these mushroom extracts. It will be interesting to see if the initial results carryover to real world beekeeping situations. This could turn out to be a new front for helping the bees. We all know they could use all the help that they can get. If you would like to read more in depth on the topics we covered above, feel free to follow the links below.

 

The article that started this blog post

Basic info on Varroa Destructor

Mushroom extract as medicine

Cool article on conk wood mushrooms