Buzz around beekeeping
Sustainable Wraps was started with the use of ones sisters beeswax from her backyard hive in the Melbourne suburb of St Kilda and up-cycling of the other sisters fabric stash. Below the beekeeping sister, Rachelle, answers a few questions about her interest in bees and what is involved in looking after a hive and why we use beeswax as the main ingredient of Sustainable Wraps.
What made you interested in beekeeping?
Growing up on the farm we had in Tasmania got me interested in beekeeping. We had two beehives and I loved helping my Dad check the hives. I used to wear thrown together protective wear and manage the smoker while dad did most of the work.
As an adult I continued to have an interest in beekeeping. My husband who also grew up with a family that kept bees, and in conversation with friends we decided we ought to have a go at beekeeping. We had a vague awareness of some of the global issues effecting bee populations but have since learned more. There are a number of significant issues related to bee populations such as colony collapse, the negative impact of monoculture cropping and crop chemical spraying, such as Round-Up, having detrimental affect on bees. We have also learned about other pests impacting bee populations and how Australia is the only remaining country that does not have the Varoa mite, a mite that lives on bees and weakens them, contributing to colony collapse. Treatment of the Varoa is through use of miticides (chemicals) that is then found in wax.
What is involved? Bee keeping has been an amazing journey. Learning how to take care of bees, learning how to harvest honey and all the above-mentioned challenges that bees face in today’s world. Without bees we have very few pollinators to do a very important job for our survival – crop pollination.
Learning to tolerate being out among the bees when doing hive inspection has also been a challenge – it is very intimidating having 10’s of thousands of bees buzzing around you.
Hives have to be inspected to ensure they are healthy and that the bees have room to store their honey. If they run out of room in Spring – prime nectar season, then they are likely to swarm. If a colony swarms, roughly 60% of the population leave with the Queen, those left behind have to then make a new queen and are at risk of being a weak hive and therefore easy for pests to take hold.
Why is beeswax the main ingredient of the wraps?
Beeswax has natural qualities that make it ideal for covering food. It coats fabric enabling it to form a barrier to air and moisture. Beeswax also has antibacterial properties which help a Wrap protect food from bacterial growth.
Beeswax is also a by-product of collecting honey and therefore, by using it for making beeswax wraps, we are upcycling a product that previously was in excess with limited uses. When we started, we used the wax from my hive and as our business has grown we have sourced wax from local beekeepers, with our main supplier operating off-grid in their home and beekeeping practices.