Bee friendly to vintage wood

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“Bee” quiet, sssst, listen do you hear them humming whilst being ever so active? Who makes this buzzing sound, indeed pollinator insects: the bees being happy. Gentle creatures they are, not at all attacking for no reason, as the wasps do, in this part of the country! We meet the gentle bees every day on our land and are treated with the sight of beehives in the field next door.

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From what I can see, they love our mint, chives, thyme, oregano plants and simply adore our strawberries and of course the lavender. Our shallow birdbath, filled with pebbles, is one of their favourite places too. Our vegetable patch, read tomatoes and pumpkins, I must admit, does get a lot of attention too. The wild fields around us, even the wild asparagus plants (yes we do have them) and the honeysuckle in front of our patio, as well as the sunflowers amongst the weeds in the next field, all attract them. The dead wood, scattered around the goats and donkeys’ field, provides them with an ideal nesting place.

Did you know that bees fall for blue, purple and yellow flowers? So plant them in clumps, use different shapes, create some diversity and they’ll be all the more attractive to them! Fill those sunny spots in your garden, as they don’t like shady, windy corners.

For the love of bees, honey and wax, let’s all create sanctuaries for honeybees, filled with abundant native wildflowers, inviting them over. Give them some nectar, some pollen, as these busy creatures are too important for our food supplies and the future of wild blooming plants.

Why my sudden interest for bees, you’ll wonder… ah, but have you ever smelled the house in winter, while the woodstove is burning and all the wooden furniture, after a hard days’ work, is polished with bee wax and smiling back at you, being enhanced, protected, fed and restored? Our ancestors knew what they were doing, wood comes back to life after being treated with beeswax.

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My husband still owns a beautiful block of beeswax from the military supply store, as you can observe in the picture. When they ordered it, they only wanted a small amount, but they received huge amounts, big blocks. Beeswax was ordered to waterproof all the army’s electrical equipment. It was melted over the electrical connections.

What does he do with a block like that? He chops it up, melts it and adds his own secret ingredient, which melts it to a soft base. He then uses coloured dyes to stain woods creating: dark oak (nearly black polish), mahogany (red polish) and a light pine one for light coloured wood. The house smells beautiful, once I’ve treated my cherished old furniture with them.

Along come the stories then of his army time, where he and all the guardsmen, put beeswax on toe caps and heels before polishing them or as he says: before “bullin” (mixing spit and shoe polish). His boots came up to a bright shine as if they got mirrors on them. If I ask him more about how he did it, he tells me: “You burn the boots down with an old heated up spoon. You iron the leather on toecaps and heels with it. Then you melt the beeswax and put an even coat over heals and toes, pick up a soft rag, spit on it and with black shoe polish make it shine.”

Even more surprising is that his dad bought the little block you see in the picture, years ago, in the very same region we now live in!

Most recipes nowadays use olive oil and beeswax, which is very environmental friendly and readymade beeswaxes are available everywhere on the net for reasonable prices. But who can resist the charm of that big block of wax…

Busy polishing bee

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