DIY HERBAL SALVES
Supplies you’ll need:
Dried herbs or fragrant flowers
About 2 cups (473 mL) olive oil or other carrier oil, such as calendula oil or almond oil
About 1 cup (236.5 mL) BEESWAX (you can use a small votive beeswax candle if you can’t find pure beeswax)
Essential oil (optional)
Clean glass jars with tight-fitting lids, for infusing oil
Cheesecloth or a jelly bag
Liquid ingredient measuring cup
Small clean tins or jars with lids
Kraft paper adhesive labels and printed Japanese washi tape
Yields about 2 cups (473 mL) of salve
Note: When you’re infusing the oils, there is no strict measurement or ratio of herbs to oil — just make sure to use enough oil to generously cover the herbs, since the herbs will absorb some of the oil.
1. Place the dried herbs or flowers in a clean jar and cover with olive or other carrier oil, filling to within 1? (2.5 cm) of the top of the jar.
2. Seal the jar tightly and place in a sunny window. Shake every day or so for two weeks to disperse the herbs throughout the oil.
3. Place a double layer of cheesecloth or a jelly bag over the measuring cup. Pour the contents of the jar over the cheesecloth or jelly bag to strain out the herbs. Let drain.
4. When the oil stops dripping, wring the herbs out with your hands to extract all of the infused oil. Discard spent herbs. Note how much infused oil you have in the measuring cup.
1. Pour the infused oil into a small saucepan. Grate the beeswax onto a plate. For every 1/4 cup (59 mL) of infused oil in the pan, add 2 tablespoons of grated beeswax to the pan and stir until dissolved. If you’re using essential oil, add a couple drops for every 2 tablespoons (29.5 mL) of infused oil, or more if you prefer a stronger scent.
2. Warm the ingredients gently over low heat. Meanwhile, place a saucer in the freezer.
3. When the wax is dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and place a spoonful of the salve mixture onto the cold saucer. Place the saucer back in the freezer.
4. After about a minute, check the consistency of the salve by removing the saucer from the freezer and testing it with your finger. If it’s very hard, add more infused oil. If it’s too soft, add more grated beeswax. Aim for a consistency that will work well as a salve (I prefer mine on the creamy side so I can use it as a heavy-duty gardening balm).
5. When the salve reaches the desired consistency, pour it into clean tins or jars.
6. Place the tins or jars on a level surface to cool and set. When the salve has cooled completely, place lids on the tins or jars.
1. Add decorative labels to the tins or jars to identify the blends. I printed the blend names on adhesive kraft labels and cut the labels to fit the tops of the tins. I also added a piece of washi tape along one side.
2. Store the salve in a cool, dark place.
“Maybe if you just told us where you found the nectar”
Pesticides, like other residential flotsam, are swept off our properties during periods of rain and over-irrigation. These pesticides pose a threat to aquatic life and ground water supplies. Yet every landscape has pests: unwanted weeds, bugs, and animals. How you perceive and manage these pests determines, in part, the amount of pesticides swept off your property. A gardener practicing CPR may be more lenient with some pests, may seek less toxic alternatives for others, and may change the composition of their landscape to deter particularly destructive and determined pests.
Listed below are a variety of plants that either repel unwanted bugs, or attract beneficial insects, all of which reduces the need for pesticides.
Yarrow, Ornamental Allium, Chives, Angelica, Southernwood, Wormwood, Borage, Coreopsis, Cilantro, Buckwheat, Garlic, Lavender, Lemon balm, Pennyroyal, Spearmint, Rosemary, Blue Elderberry, Santolina, Mexican Marigold, Marigold
‘Citizen Scientists’ To Help Gauge Wild Bee Population
Scientist Gretchen LeBuhn is trying to save the nation’s wild bee population. But to achieve her goal, she’s resorting to some unconventional means, namely the help of ordinary citizens from across the country.
On Saturday 100,000 ‘citizen scientist’ volunteers will spend about 15 minutes counting the number of bees that visit “lemon queen” sunflowers they’ve planted following instructions on LeBuhn’s website,www.greatsunflower.com. Participants will monitor the flowers for bees twice monthly through the end of the summer, uploading the information into a central database.
Studies have shown that pollinators affect 35 percent of the world’s crop production, but climate change and a little-understood phenomenon called “colony collapse disorder” are threatening honey bees, a key pollinator. Though researchers have reported a drastic decline in the populations of domesticated honeybees since at least 2006, the statistics on wild bees have remained more elusive.
LeBuhn hopes the new data will help scientists identify where native bee populations are doing well and where they’re doing poorly. Hopefully, the hundreds of thousands of sunflowers planted by volunteers will have the added benefits of providing wild bees with an enriched and expanded habitat.
“We’re really leveraging science dollars to do a survey we could never do using traditional methods,” said LeBuhn, an associate professor at San Francisco State University. “It would just be incredibly cost prohibitive. I was thinking of sending my grad students up to Napa [County] and having them count bees,” she added. “But to do that at any bigger scale than one county would be impossible. So it’s amazing to get all these people participating.”
Participants don’t need to know whether the bee they’re watching is a bumblebee, a carpenter bee or a honeybee, LeBuhn said, though a guide available on her website can help with identification.
There are more than 4,000 different species of native bees in North America, according to Science Daily, but many of them have already disappeared. LeBuhn says that of the nine species of bumblebees known to live in the San Francisco area, researchers have only been able to find four of them in recent years.
Dancing Honeybee Using Vector Calculus to Communicate
Vanishing of the Bees says, “another way to help the bees – dance!”
Southern California Coastal Pollinator Planting Guide (pdf)
How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower!
- Isaac Watts
My Revolution. Saving bees in Central London.
Urban beekeeping is increasingly popular around the world, with many cities lifting bans on inner-city beehives. London, in particular, has made a name for itself as a haven for urban beekeeping—even if some beekeepers are skeptical about the city’s efforts to fund inexperienced bee enthusiasts. It’s not just the city government that is stepping in to support London’s bee population either—in fact a major corporate-sponsored program is helping would-be beekeepers to learn the skills they need…
From supporting research into Colony Collapse Disorder, through distributing wildflower seeds to customers and its own farmers alike, to providing direct funding and support for amateur beekeepers, this initiative always looked like a major step beyond your average corporate outreach effort. The video below would seem to confirm this, visiting urban beekeepers who have directly benefited from the Cooperative Group’s support.
Help us save the honey bees!!
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