The Humble Journey to Beeswax Wraps

Being an ecologically minded individual and following the worlds ever saturated issue with plastic it got me thinking one day, when I ran out of clingfilm…. there must be an alternative. So, that’s where I began my internet search and I found clingfilm alternatives.

The two alternatives I was looking at were silicone wraps and beeswax wraps. I’m a natural researcher and wanted to find the most sustainable alternative. Silicone is a very popular idea, but, and now this is a big but, silicone, although food safe, non toxic and easily recycled, once it’s produced it doesn’t degrade, so here we have a similar problem as plastic (but without the toxicity) that once something is made from it, it never goes away. So this rules silicone wraps out, despite them looking rather cool and interesting. Plus, I have silicone ice pole molds and those tend to split after a while, so I’m guessing that the covers might too and then it’s only option is either burning it and letting off silica fumes, burying it in landfill, or recycling. Ruling these out, I looked at the other popular option, beeswax wraps.

I am a big fan of fabric, I do have an addiction and I feed my addiction regularly, sustained by my business. Ahem, I digress…. so, beeswax wraps are made from thin cotton fabric with melted beeswax, tree rosin and jojoba oil. You can store items in them, or cover pots with them and the wax forms a seal using the warmth of your hands. They are compostable, can be used for 6 to 12 months, the wax can be reset and they work! Cool, very cool in fact, so then I started looking into Bees and Beekeeping, how wax is produced established that I really didn’t like the idea of traditional beekeeping methods. For example, why cut of the queen bee’s wings to stop her from swarming? Surely this goes completely against nature, and it’s definitely not fair to completely clear the hive of wax and honey just before winter. I really, was not enjoying what I was finding and I did know that vegans have been on the fence about this, whether honey was an acceptable product because of it’s production.

Then, when researching beekeeping further I stumbled upon there was another way, a kinder way, and ethical way of beekeeping and I wanted to learn more. This is when I put out a call to the universe for a local Ethical Beekeeper to work with, or at least buy from. I like to deal with people face to face if I can, also, it keeps mileage and transportation down, supports local businesses/practices, which is very important for the local economy, etc, etc. You get where I’m coming from.

My first call was a fella who lives down my road, called Dietmer, who is trying to set up the Bourne Coin. I had found out about it via my network and he lived a few doors down so I was naturally curious about him and what he was doing locally. He was really nice, and said he would ask about, I think he said something about speaking to local beekeepers in Eastbourne, and to leave it with him. I dropped him in a beeswax sandwich wrap as a thank you… It was a large one as i reckon he looks like he likes proper decent sized sandwiches…. he just chuckles when I see him;  I do hope he liked his little gift.

When I’ve got a bee in my bonnet (excuse the pun) I can get a bit impatient, like a lot of us, and so I put the feelers out on the internet, including my ThePadLadyUK business facebook page, where I communicate with my likers and let them know new products being listed on Etsy. My idea of producing a local ethically sourced sustainable beeswax plastic alternative product was growing. I bought some wax and the other ingredients to make some trial ones and the result was good, I gave some to a few friends to try and they liked them too, but I really wasn’t happy with using wax from bees who were compromised…. I’m still not happy I made that purchase…. for that I am truly sorry bee population of Livemoor.

So here we are, one of my followers tagged local sustainable, ethical beekeeper Jennifer Moore, who runs Wayward Bee. We chatted about my  Beeswax Wrap idea and then she invited me to come see her at her home, where she can talk me through her processes, how she works with the bees, educate me on her intuitive style of beekeeping and to try some of her wax if I was happy…. and guess what? I was! I was completely happy with Jennifer’s way of keeping bees and even better, I liked and respected her as a person. She, in turn, had been looking at ways of using her beeswax as she didn’t want to waste it. Always a bonus.

This wax was so completely different to the pellets of the livemoor wax, it was raw and it smelt beautiful. The chunky hand melted chunks of raw wax had natural propolis that hadn’t been filtered out and was much stickier.  I think the term Jennifer used for this propolis and natural raw bee stuff is gubbins, which still makes me chuckle. Don’t worry, most of the gubbins is left at the bottom of the saucepan, it doesn’t go into the wraps and being an attempted zerowaste business what gubbins doesnt melt gets turned into fire fuel and firelighters, but that’s another topic altogether.

After a few trial runs I found that I needed to adjust my recipe purely because it was much stickier. I wanted sticky, but not too sticky. the 50/50 recipes were too much stick anyway, in my opinion. This is actually great news, because it reduces the amount of tree rosin used and although this is food grade and seen as safe some people aren’t great fans. I get this….. keep the product as natural as possible.

The amount produced of this wax is really not much, so far this year, Easter to July, the Bees have only let me have approximately 1.5kg, which sounds a fair bit, but it really doesn’t go that far, but that’s the thing about working with the bees rather than raiding their hive, it’s like helping them with their housekeeping and giving them a little extra space two work with. Well, this is my impression, and but I’m not a trained beekeeper, Jennifer from WaywardBee is…. did I mention she runs courses in sustainable, ethical beekeeping? She does, look her up if you are interested. She tells me she’s also writing a book, which will be rather cool to read. With an arts background Jennifer will be doing all the illustrations herself too…. my goodness, what a multifaceted lady… She’s pretty cool and I’m very lucky to have found her just up the road.

So, there we have it, my road to researching and making ThePadLady HumbleIdeas Local Ethical and Sustainable Beeswax wrap products. Now you know why mine are a little different to some of the others, but that’s nice…. It’s makes you feel good when you buy from someone who has the bees interest at heart. Afterall without bees the world would be in trouble.  I also make sandwich and snack bags and wraps. Supercool they are, I’m converted, are you?

If you’d like to buy any of my wraps, then feel free to contact me direct, or I have a little Etsy Shop and the wraps are here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ThePadLady?search_query=Beeswax

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