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Tag Archives: bees

  • And the winner is...

    Wow!  What an amazing response.  Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to vote.  Turns out you're a clever bunch agreeing entirely with the eminent judging panel and also picking my other favourite!  Yes, that's right, we're going to be launching 2 new designs.

    The winner of the design competition is Nectar by Bec Cooper.  We'll be announcing the launch date and the chosen colour/s within the next couple of weeks.

    Designer beeswax candles - who thought non toxic could look so good Nectar - Mint, Cool Grey, White


    We've chosen "DC"'s comment as the winning comment - "Nectar! The design holds my gaze and changes as I look at it — rather like a flickering candle flame does. It contains tumbling cubes, snowflakes, and honeycomb-like hexagons."

    This year voting was incredibly tight and interestingly there were different, clear winners depending on where the voting happened.  The other clear favourite was Lily by Melissa Nalder, so we're planning a launch for that too!

    ISCD Queen B design collaboration - bringing designer values to beeswax candles Lily - Charcoal, Silver, White


    We'll be making launch date and colour announcements shortly.  A big thank you again to design luminaries, Louise Olsen and Stephen Ormandy for their time and sharing their expertise and insight in judging this year's finalists.  I have found it rare to meet people so talented and successful who are so down to earth, generous and caring.

    Thank you again for sharing your thoughts.  It is only with your feedback and involvement that Queen B can continue to create light that is loved by the community we seek to serve.

    Cate xx

  • My recent visit to Dom Perignon

    You may have noticed I've been a little quiet of late... I was busy living one of my dreams!

    As someone who is passionate about taking the best of what nature has to offer and then perfecting the craft of utilising it, I have long been a fan of Dom Perignon.  In this day and age of mechanisation and the mass production of everything, I love it on that rare occasion where tradition (and the recognition that often hand made is simply better) prevails - and Dom Perignon is one of those rare examples... the grapes picked by hand.  The bottles riddled by hand.

    You may recall, because I blogged about it here, that a couple of years ago I did a light sculpture for Dom Perignon at Vue de Monde.  Researching for the sculpture I was fascinated by the long history of monks keeping bees with Dom Pierre Perignon a monk of the Benedictine order (DOM = Deus Optimus Maximus - the highest 'rank' of monk) and their history with making beeswax candles.  The sculpture itself is not a candle but utilises the translucent beauty of beeswax whilst celebrating the iconic Dom Perignon bottle.

    Anyway, finally this year I fulfilled my dream of visiting the abbey where Dom Perignon lived (and the caves where Dom Perignon is now made and matured).  As it turns out, Rocco (Wine Director at Vue de Monde) told them I was someone important and I was given the royal, VIP treatment.  A more worthy person would just take in their stride... I kept on pinching myself!

    Wanting to share it, I felt that the images alone were too static and didn't do it justice, so I put this little something together... escape to the Champagne region in France even if it is only for a couple of minutes.  Goodness knows I've relived it many times in the past few weeks.

    Cate xx


  • Letter of the week

    I chose this week's love letter for two reasons.  Firstly because I love someone who goes and does their own research and then forms their own opinion and secondly because I happened to have another call from a concerned customer this week about this very issue and so the email was timely.

    As I said in return, "I get so torn between "rising above it" (which a lot of people espouse and which makes a lot of sense to me) and then being so angry and incensed that people are being completely misled and the injustice of it all (to our business, our staff and our customers).  Whilst you seem to have read through it, I hear about and meet people regularly who are reading it on a superficial level (because they're busy) and they're buying it."

    "Hi Cate,

    I just read your post on chlorine and then located and checked out the offending website to sate my curiosity.  What an "ode to an ego" it seemed, all the way through.  The person in question is quite good at sounding as though he knows what he is talking about, at a superficial level - by subtly misdirecting the reader.  Very calculated.  It seems disturbingly personal - and directed at you.
    I also felt the fuss about candle painting was sour grapes -  he offers nothing as sophisticated as your decorative pillars.  It is far easier to put someone else down than come up to the mark.
    Anyhow, bravo to you for standing your ground, whilst retaining your dignity and grace.  Mr obfuscation is showing poor form and I wouldn't buy his candles on principle (as well as the fact that I love yours so why would i change). Anyway, as I said, he offers far less in every way.
    Keep doing what you do so well,
    Having worked every day of the long weekend, I can assure you that I'm not doing Queen B because it gives me work/life balance.  Having not put prices up in 8 years, I can assure you that I'm not doing Queen B for money.  So why do it then?  Because I'm completely obsessed with bees.  I'm passionate about minimising chemicals in our homes.  I'm passionate about the environment.  I get to meet extraordinary people.  Because if I'm going to do something a gazillion hours a week then I want to do something where I feel as if I'm making a difference.  And most of all because I love making and sending out light.  If you think about for just a second, that really is an amazing thing to be able to do with your life.
    Feeling blessed,
    Cate xx
  • That's enough about me... what do you think of me?

    OK, so this post borders on narcissism, BUT anyone who makes a product will tell you that there is nothing like the thrill you get when you see it loved in someone's home.  And so, a few photographs that I snapped when I was staying with Joost & Jen (+ girls, dog, chooks & bees)...

    Bee Bottles, Vases & Jars
    Bee Bust & other assorted Queen B goodies
    Broken bottles from Dom installation & Queen B reversible candleholders
    Joost's beehives... pollinating his 9 acres of flowers & veggie patch
  • So what exactly is beeswax?

    We've had quite a few kids into the hive recently which gives me the occasion to wax lyrical about all things honeybees, beeswax and honey.

    The thing that usually has the most misconceptions surrounding it is what beeswax is exactly.  So, here are a few things you may not have known about beeswax...

    1. Beeswax is produced by wax glands on the underside of the abdomen of a bee.  It is clear liquid when exuded and becomes wax upon contact with air.
      Bees' wax glands


    2. Worker bees are usually allocated to wax production between 12 - 18 days of age! (is there something there for Gen Y perhaps?!)  The bees collect the wax with their legs and then chew it to soften it and make it malleable (to make the honeycomb structure in which they store flower nectar to ripen into honey.
    3. Beeswax is clear/white when exuded.  Discolouration occurs when the wax is stained by honey, pollen, propolis (or by beekeepers overheating the wax).  To read more about why Queen B candles are so light in colour, read our blog post on Why The White Wax Queenie?
    4. A bee makes around 10 nectar gathering trips per day (and can carry 25 - 5- milligram's of water or nectar per trip).  Flower nectar is simply 'unripened' honey.  It takes 82kgs of nectar (ie around 165,000 trips) to make 1kg of honey.  In the course of those 165,000 trips, worker bees will fly around 4 million kms' (100 times around earth).
    5. Bees consume a lot of energy in the production of wax using around 8 - 10kgs of honey to produce 1kg of wax.

    This is some of the unspoken magic in every Queen B candle.  There is literally thousands of hours of bee flight and the work of thousands of honey bees in every single candle.  Don't get me wrong, bees like to work hard.  It's in their DNA.  They are born and literally start working immediately.  It is quite something to observe.  However it is still lovely to acknowledge that as you enjoy the beautiful golden light of your Queen B candle.

    Of course, after all that hard work by our bee sisters, we treat our beeswax like gold at Queen B.  It is thoroughly washed, settled and filtered over 48 hours to remove any impurities (like pollen, propolis or dust) all of which have a massive impact on how a beeswax candle burns.  Having clean, unadulterated beeswax is just as important as finding the right wick in creating Queen B candles.

  • My favourite work of art at MONA, Tasmania


    The rest of my "Highlights from Tassie" posts appear in no particular order.  They were all equally magical in their own way.

    The one I'm sharing today is about my favourite work of art at MONA (the Museum of Old and New Art) in Tasmania.  I am confident that it was not a curated part of the exhibition, but if art is something that provokes an emotional response, that makes you stop and ponder, that is visually grabbing and that inspires you, then this was, hands down, the highlight for me.

    OK, so I'm not going to win any cinematography awards, the resolution is dodgy and whatever I was doing that makes the click, click sound is a little annoying, BUT these are my highlights and unfortunately that is the best that I can do to share with you what was a completely profound and beautiful moment, indeed one of the 4 most profound and beautiful moments in 2 ½ weeks in Tassie... which is only a reflection on my camera skills, not on the rest of my time in Tassie.

    Hopefully it will inspire you to look for more bees in your day and watch with delight as they go on their merry way.


    [BTW the building is also striking and stunning and the rest of the art was, I thought, variable but entertaining].  MONA request on their website that photographs of the art not be published without permission... so we'll just stick to the building and my favourite work of art.  I really hope you enjoy it too.  There is something so delightful about seeing nature in all its glory and loving itself sick!  The garden was pumping like a mardi gras dance floor.  Flitting here and there.  Sequins and tiara's.  Bum waggles.  A touch of pink.  And oh so beautiful to watch!

    [No, I'm not outing myself, I love a gay man as much as all of us other single Sydney chicks too terrified of getting hurt!]
    MONA Gallery, Tasmania


    I only realised the irony of this photograph later... I wonder if he chose the t-shirt specifically?


  • Bees In The City - Cast Your Vote on our New Logo

    I've recently set up a new business with a good friend, Bruce White OAM (got to love those initials)!

    Bruce was the gem who set up the hive for me on my balcony, and as anyone who has read this blog would know, I am completely obsessed with my balcony bees!  So I got to thinking that more people needed to be able to have bees - not just for the joys of managing bees, but because more and more people have veggie patches in the city and that means we need more and more bees in the city for pollination (not to mention the parks and gardens).  By now you can work out where the business name - Bees In The City - came from!  Imaginative huh?!

    Of course, I am an expert in running businesses that make no money (and Bruce is a bit of an expert at that too), so the challenge became a way of making the venture viable.  Hence the idea to do hives for restaurants and hotels.  We provide the hives and the management expertise and honey extraction equipment and services and they have the job and benefit of using their own honey in their restaurant or selling their own honey.

    Anyway, I used DesignCrowd to run a logo design competition and would love your thoughts.  You can see the shortlist and case your vote here -

    Recently my candlemaker, who had never seen a beehive before (even though we have random scout bees scoping our premises daily), came to see my hive.  I love the sequence of photographs below which occurred in less than half an hour!

    BEFORE realising how gentle bees really are


    AFTER realising how gentle bees really are


  • The 'other' queen

    Last week I opened the hive to see how things were going (very well it would seem) and I managed to get a sneaky shot of the other queen...

    Queen B's queen bee


    She's the large one in the centre looking like she's tired and over laying eggs!

    A couple of other beautiful shots too... the one following is of a worker bee cleaning her proboscis (that's the bee's mouth) which is straw-like to allow her to suck nectar from the flowers.

    Proboscis polishing


    The photograph below shows worker bees coming back to the hive with full pollen baskets (on their back legs).  The bees fly into a flower and, being covered in fine hair, the get covered in pollen.  They then use their front legs to tuck the pollen back into the pollen baskets on their back legs.  Amazing.  Pollen tastes a little like sweet, nutty flour and is packed with protein, amino acids and every vitamin known to mankind.  Good one nature.

    Full pollen baskets


    The final photograph I thought worthy of sharing shows that even though all the bees in a hive may have the same mother, as half sisters, they bear the markings of their different drone father's.  On the right hand side of the photograph below you can see a bee which has much darker markings than the bee below.  This is a good sign and tells the beekeeper that the queen bee mated with drones from other hives/with different genetic markers.

    Front and centre in the photograph you can also see one bee passing nectar to another.  This is part of the process by which flower nectar gets converted into honey (ie by mixing it with enzymes in the bees stomach).  It is later matured in the hive whereby the bees flap their wings to evaporate moisture from the flower nectar (which is around 70% water when collected).  When the water content reaches 15 - 17% the cell is capped to signal that the flower nectar has been ripened into honey.

    Half sisters and Sharing the Love


    There endeth the lesson.  Can't believe how much I love having bees.

    Meant to be writing a eulogy for Lizzie.  I just can't get those words to flow so easily.




    Queen B beeswax candles are made with 100% pure Australian beeswax a pure cotton wick and copious amounts of hand made love. We stock beautiful and stylish candle holders, personalised candles, votive candles, tealight candles and pillar candles that nourish the human spirit and our environment.

  • My first taste of balcony honey

    You may recall that in June I blogged about the hive I got back in March?... if not, you can read about it here -

    Well, Spring has sprung and 'the girls' appeared to be outgrowing their neuc hive.  This week I decided to give them a fully fledged 'grown up' hive before I went away.  At the same time one of our candlemakers asked me if he could come and see the hive as he hadn't seen a hive before (although he works with bees visiting him every day)!  Alas, there went my bee suit!  So, with no gloves or veil, and a pounding heart, I rehoused the girls and Friday and I have to say that it was absolutely extra-ordinary.  What a rush.  Lucky I did it when I did because they were getting seriously cramped.

    Here's a look inside the lid of the nucleus hive.  There are 3 large sections on the top right full of drone brood (ie larvae of drone bees). There were also 2 big sections of unripened Neutral Bay honey and a couple of sections of comb which had been built, but had nothing in them yet.





    In this next photograph you can see how I took the 4 existing frames from the neuc hive and added 4 new empty frames in the new larger hive.  By this stage there were about 5,000 bees flying around and looking very confused, one excited candle-maker and me trying to keep calm because bees can pick up fear.  I actually think I found that fine line between fear and excitement though.  The whole experience was quite surreal.  I am pretty sure I made several mistakes that would have had many a beekeeper stung by bees with a slightly hotter temperament, but I seemed to be forgiven my errors.  This queen makes lovely, well mannered, hard working, forgiving offspring!


    I think the following photograph is one of the best photographs I have ever taken... it shows a worker bee with her bottom in the air 'scenting' to alert the other bees where to come.  There were literally dozens of bees with their bottoms in the air...



    And finally, the prize!  Whilst the honey wasn't even ripened yet, I couldn't resist taking a little for my excited little candle-maker to share with his flatmates and for me to share with my niece and nephew who had been watching the bees with me just a few weeks ago.



    I am happy to report that Neutral Bay honey is a lovely light honey, mild in flavour (partially because it hadn't been ripened properly yet) with fruity notes and strong pine needle smoke overtones!!  I think I may have gone a little overboard on the smoke at one stage!

    Tomorrow I am off to my beekeeping conference for 10 days.  How exciting!

    Queen B beeswax candles are made with 100% pure Australian beeswax a pure cotton wick and copious amounts of hand made love. We stock beautiful and stylish candle holders, personalised candles, votive candles and pillar candles that nourish the human spirit and our environment.

  • Popping in to see 'the girls'

    For many years I was under the mistaken impression that as I lived in an apartment I couldn't have a bee hive.  Turns our I was wrong.  So several months ago I got a hive.  At this stage is is only a neuc (a very small hive).  But when we make it through winter and the queen starts laying frantically in Spring, we'll put a full size box there and a honey super.

    We have the entry to the hive facing away from my balcony doors (it faces the park opposite where I live) and I haven't had a bee come into the apartment once (despite leaving the doors open all day every day in the warmer months).  On my days off, if the bees are working, I will and sit a foot away from the hive and watch the girls to check that they're finding pollen and that everything seems in order

    Anyhow... I thought I'd give 'the girls' a few months to settle in before popping in to check they were happy.  Finally on Monday I had a look.


    [Side note - my friend, Bruce, who set up the hive is something of a bee whisperer.  He's been around bees his whole life.  I, on the other hand, have a long history of asthma attacks and have never been stung by a bee (despite having them here at work every day).  So, I mentioned to Bruce that I'd bring my 'bee suit' home and he said I wouldn't be needing it.  Turns out he was right... again.  No bee suit.  No gloves.  Just Bruce, 5000 females and me!]




    Queen B beeswax candles are made with 100% pure Australian beeswax a pure cotton wick and copious amounts of hand made love. We stock beautiful and stylish candle holders, personalised candles, votive candles and pillar candles that nourish the human spirit and our environment.


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