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We are celebrating World Bee Day so I thought I'd share a little bit about how I got started beekeeping as well as a few useful resources.
How I started beekeeping
A few years ago I became familiar with beeswax and it's wonderful uses. Beeswax is a natural wax produced by bees for making honeycomb. This honeycomb stores honey which is also capped (sealed) with a thin layer of wax. Once the honey is removed the wax is cleaned and melted. This beeswax can be used to make many products such as candles, skincare products, beeswax wraps and wax for furniture or leather. After learning about all the great properties of beeswax I became fascinated with everything to do with bees. I had a neighbour who is a beekeeper and he encouraged me to do the beginners beekeeping course. That was two years ago. I got set up with my first hive and a colony of native Irish bees that summer. I got all my beekeeping gear from Donegal Bees, some guidance from local beekeepers and a very useful bee manual!
Photo credit Ruth Connolly
All Ireland Pollinator Plan
At Millbee, sustainability, and biodiversity, particularly our amazing bees are central to what we do. I absolutely love working with beeswax to create our candles, balm, and beeswax wraps, and I love documenting the beautiful nature and wildlife surrounding me. Millbee Studio also joined the Irish Pollinator Plan. The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan is about all of us, from farmers to local authorities, to schools, gardeners, and businesses, coming together to try to create an Ireland where pollinators can survive and thrive. To learn what you can do to help our bees there are lots of great resources on the Irish Pollinator Plan website.
This week is also National Biodiversity Week and you will find lots of useful resources on the Biodiversity Ireland website.
Share Your Bee Photos
We love to see your bee photos so if you would like to be featured in our social media pages simply tag @millbeestudio.
Happy World Bee day!
It feels like we are in a surreal moment in time. People's routines have changed drastically but what's interesting is how we are coming together as a community. Last week I did an interview with Amanda Kavanagh from Image.ie for a piece on bees and our community. It got me thinking more about our community and how strong and supportive we can be when we come together. Communities are coming together to look out for the elderly or those in need and support their local business. People are chatting to their neighbors over walls. Amongst all the mayhem of Covid-19, it's nice that time has slowed down and we are making time to talk to each other.
Adjusting to our new lives
It does feel that this is going on a long time but I think we are all adjusting to a radical change in our lives. I am normally self-motivated but I found this week difficult. An emotional rollercoaster! And I felt guilty as other people have it much more difficult than I do. We need to look after ourselves as well as each other during this time. Routines will be broken. New emotions are emerging (so many up and down days!) This is an adjusting period so I suppose we just have to roll with it!
This was me this time last year in a field of rapeseed. Image credit Ruth Connelly
Connecting with Nature
For a few minutes every day, I head out to the garden for a stroll. Taking in new blossoms, bumblebees, scents, and the sound of birds chirping. It's free therapy and I feel reenergized for a while longer. There has never been a better time to connect with nature. If you can, head for a walk in your garden or a local park. If you need a project to keep you sane, why not give gardening a go. Even if it's just potting plants. Irish seed savers have some great traditional varieties. If you want to find out more about bees or even start beekeeping have a read of the article in Image.ie.
We have just launched our new skincare balm! This balm is used to treat dry skin and in particular, dry hands. It is a soothing multi-purpose balm with lavender.
Made in Small Batches
It is handmade here at Millbee Studio in small batches using the purest natural ingredients. These ingredients which include beeswax, jojoba oil, sunflower oil, cocoa butter, and lavender oil leave your skin feeling hydrated and soft.
Our balm comes in both a jar and tin, which are convenient options for both home and 'on the go' use.
Here at Millbee sustainability is central to our ethos. Our jars can be reused or recycled and our labels are made from recycled paper. Our balm is carefully packaged and delivered in recyclable cardboard boxes and our glass jar is wrapped in an eco-friendly paper alternative to plastic bubble wrap.
We are offering 5% OFF when you order both our jar and tin.
Available to buy online here!
For many people adjusting to working from home with kids is a big challenge during Covid-19 lockdown. My kids are five and six years old and I know those of you with babies or older kids and teenagers will have different challenges. I'd like to share a few ideas which I hope might help some of you!
1. Expect to be interrupted!
Many children don't understand why they need to be quiet all of a sudden when you are on a work call. They don't understand that their home is now your work environment. It will help you to be less frustrated if you see things from their end!
2. Create a work zone
Space can be tight in many homes but if you can at all, try to create a defined space to work from. Kitchen tables can be difficult as they need to be cleared often for eating time and there's generally lots of activity in the kitchen. You could place a small desk or table in the bedroom or upstairs landing.
3. Activities for kids
If the weather is bad or you really need some quiet time to focus on your work here are some activities for kids - Coloring / Lego / Jigsaws. I don't think there's any harm in putting on a movie during the day either!
4. Free resources
5. Get them outside
When we were kids we were told to just go outside and play for hours. Particularly, when the sun was shining! We didn't have swings or slides and loads of toys outside and because of that, we had to create our own games. This encourages creativity and it's also healthy to be outdoors.
I haven't been very strict when it comes to a routine so far. My kids are young so I think allowing them lots of time to play is important. However, they are encouraged to tidy up after themselves to lighten our workload. Their school sent us worksheets which we are using. Also, I have created packed lunches using our Millbee reusable food wraps! Having a tasty lunch to look forward to is an incentive to get their school work done.
This is a challenging time for many of us but I also think it's a unique opportunity to spend quality time with our kids. Let's try to embrace this!
Our new beeswax pillar candles are now available on millbee.com! These candles are handmade at Millbee Studio using 100% beeswax and cotton wicks so they are completely natural. Beeswax Candles have a subtle natural scent which makes them a popular choice with people who have allergies or sensitivities to strong scents. They have a beautiful warm flame and the honeycomb texture glows at the top of the candle when lit. It really is very calming to look at!
Now, to create some Mindful Moments while you light your beeswax candle!
With all that is going on in the world due to the Coronavirus, I thought I'd share some calming tips to go along with lighting your beeswax candle. It's good to stay informed but constant scrolling for updates is not good for the mind! Take some time out to switch off.
You could also try some relaxing activities such as baking bread, reading a good book or knitting or crochet.
More details on our beeswax candles here!
Happy International Women's Day to all you 'amazing' women and especially to those strong women gone before us. I was chuffed to have my story included in Humans of Offaly by Paula Nolan this week and to talk about my granny who was an inspiration to me.
"I absolutely love nature. The first blossoms will be coming out soon on the trees in the garden and I can’t wait. I love organic food and doing my market in Tullamore. Most of us are lucky enough to have at least one person in our lives who make a lasting impression on us and for me, that was my granny Langton. I was one of her eldest grandchildren, which meant that I got to spend more time with her. She lived on a small farm where she foraged and enjoyed the nature around her. Her hens roamed freely and she grew all of her own vegetables. I remember picking wild strawberries from one of the hedges which was full to the brim every year. There was also a damson tree at the front of her house from which she made all of her own jam. Granny’s salad sandwiches were divine!
She was the one person who stirred my interest in crafts. She taught me how to patchwork and helped me with my Home Economics projects, especially the sewing side.
Before Granny got married she worked for the Midland Health Board as their seamstress. She married at 20 in the early 1950s and like all women of that time had to leave her job. She went on to have ten children and she made all of their clothes. Back in the early 70s, because confirmation only happened every three years, she had four children for confirmation. She made all four outfits. My mother clearly remembers getting dressed for her confirmation and absolutely loving her salmon coloured dress complete with a cape that her mother had made for her. With her family reared, granny returned to making things like patchwork quilts, cushion covers and tea cosies. She went on to sell them at the market at the Tullamore Court Hotel at Christmas. She was so proud of her work and had no problem selling it at the price that she felt it deserved. She knew her worth which makes me so proud. She made everything by hand and was not afraid to let consumers know that the price reflected the time that went into making each piece. She was so clearly ahead of her time and a strong saleswoman. I’d like to think I inherited my creativity and entrepreneurialism from her and I know she would be very proud that I am in some way following in her footsteps. After all, she was my inspiration”.
Humans of Offaly ~ Jennifer Doyle
This day last year we launched Millbee!
Looking to play your part in conserving our planet as you start your annual Spring cleaning? It can be a daunting task but you can always start by making small changes in your home. If you would like to cut down on single-use plastics you can switch to reusable beeswax food wraps to preserve food instead of using clingfilm.
Beeswax wraps are an ideal substitute for clingfilm. Unlike clingfilm that cannot be recycled, beeswax wraps can last for up to one year and are biodegradable, preventing any form of ecological damage. Moreover, Millbee wraps have a breathable quality, unlike clingfilm which suffocates your food. This means your food is kept fresher for longer!
One question we often asked is "How do you wash and care for beeswax wraps?"
To answer this question, here are a few tips on how to care for your wraps and make them last longer.
- Clean Gently
Beeswax wraps cannot be placed in dishwashers or washed in hot water. Wash them gently using cold water or submerge them in a sink filled with mild soapy water. Scrubbing too hard might peel off the wax.
- Dry & Store
In case you need to use your beeswax food wrap right away after washing it, dry with a towel. If not, you can let it drip dry naturally. Store them in a dry, clean and enclosed space to avoid direct sunlight or any form of heated surfaces.
- Avoid Oil and Sauce Stains
It is highly recommended that you keep beeswax wraps away from certain sauces and oils to avoid staining them. If you are covering a bowl of oil-based foods leave a gap between the food and wrap so the food is not directly touching your wrap.
Restoring Your Beeswax Wraps
Wondering how to revive your beeswax wraps if the wax starts to crinkle or flake off a little? For an instant remedy, re-melt the wax in an oven to smoothen crinkled beeswax reusable wraps. Make sure that your oven is on low heat to prevent damaging the wraps. Place your wrap on some parchment paper on a tray. This may take just one minute so keep an eye on your wrap. You just want to remelt the wax! Remove from the oven and quickly grab the two top corners with your fingers (be careful you don't burn your fingers) and wave to air dry.
Wear and Tear
Frays, stains and rumples on your beeswax wraps are signs of a well-used wrap. However, our wraps have a pinking edge which means they are less likely to fray compared to straight-edged wraps. If you wish to clean stubborn stains without scraping off some wax from your wrap, use these amazing cleaning products from Lilly’s Eco Cleaning range. Some foods with strong colors such as turmeric and beetroot stains are difficult to avoid!
Nevertheless, refreshing and cleaning your wraps is very simple and with a little care, your beeswax wraps will last longer.
Learn more about Millbee's Irish made beeswax wraps here!
2 0 1 9 was a busy first year for Millbee. In the 9 months since we launched we packed in a lot! We started with just one product - our beeswax food wraps variety pack which was only available on our website. Soon after, we introduced our bread wrap and lunch pack.
At Millbee, we are focused on sustainability and in particular cutting down on single-use plastic but the amazing bees are also central to what we do. So we launched our raw Irish honey as well as beeswax candles and gift sets for Christmas. Millbee Studio also joined the Irish Pollinator Plan. To learn what you can do to help our bees there's lots of great resources on the Irish Pollinator Plan website.
Behind the scenes, it's mostly me working on Millbee but I am so lucky to have a wonderful husband, family and friends who have supported me. I am also collaborating with some very talented people who have worked with me on everything from product development to branding and content. It is a real team effort! Also, behind the scenes are my two young children - Jane and Matthew. They are both in primary school now which makes it easier to start this new venture but there's lots of juggling as you'd imagine.
Markets and Gifted Christmas Fair
I set up my stall in a good few food markets and events around Ireland as I believe it is so important to get out and speak to customers and gain feedback. Markets are great fun (once it doesn't rain if outdoors!). Aside from meeting new and old customers, I also love to meet the other traders and learn about their products. We ended the year at Gifted in the RDS which was busier than I imagined. We sold out each day and had to work very late into the night to restock. The feedback was amazing and I do hope we will be there next year and meet all our wonderful customers again.
Millbee at Tullamore Food Fayre
One of the highlights of 2019 was to be shortlisted for the National Startup Awards and receive silver in both categories. These prestigious awards included a high standard of Irish startup's. For Millbee, to be recognised at such an early stage of our business is a big boost. We were also delighted to be shortlisted in the Irish made awards from Irish Country Magazine. It was a good first year for awards and recognition!
Millbee win silver in the Social/Sustainable Startup Category - Irish Start Up Awards
Overall 2019 was a great start for Millbee. We are delighted to now have our beeswax food wraps stocked in a number of retailers around Ireland. Our wraps are available in a variety of shops from independent food stores and cafes to gift shops, eco shops and garden centers.
2 0 2 0
In the coming year, we plan to grow our list of stockists. We will have our stall in a number of markets around Ireland and we will also be focused on our growing online community. 2020 is going to be a significant year for change as we try to tackle climate change. We believe that sustainability and cutting down on single-use plastic is a journey for many people as well as for businesses. We will do our best to support you and we also hope to inspire people to start making changes today. On a final note, I would like to thank all of you who have supported Millbee to date. It is much appreciated!
We are delighted to introduce our new lunch pack of beeswax food wraps. This pack includes three large square sizes which are ideal for families or you can rotate your wraps during your week. We have heard many people say they feel guilty using clingfilm for their lunches but it keeps their sandwich fresh! Well, isn't it great we now have a natural and reusable alternative that also keeps your sandwich fresh? Our beeswax wraps are made from organic cotton fabric which is infused with a blend of beeswax, organic jojoba oil and resin. They can last for up to 6 months or longer and have multiple uses. Our lunch sizes are ideal for covering and keeping fresh bowls of your leftover meals of food prepared in advance. I often use this size for wrapping a half soda bread. It seals to itself easily and keeps your sandwich and all its fillings intact.
Cleaning Your Beeswax Wrap
To clean your wrap wash or rinse with cold water and use a gentle eco-friendly washing detergent. If you use pestos or any other oil-based dressing try to keep in the centre of your sandwich to avoid spoiling your wrap. We suggest washing only if needed so your wrap will last longer.
Easily Wrap Up Or Create A Sandwich Pocket
Check out our 'how to' video below!
We are delighted to have a stall at this year's Savour Kilkenny Food Festival. The festival takes place 22nd - 28th October and we will have a stall in the market this Saturday and Sunday.
Savour Kilkenny is now one of Ireland’s leading food festivals. The event celebrates local produce and food culture, local artisan products and a vibrant restaurant and café culture which has seen the area become a leading food destination.
The festival also features the fast-growing brewing and distilling industry locally with a craft beer and spirit tent on the Parade and expert tasting events taking place across the city too.
FOOD WASTE & HOW TO PREVENT IT
Also at the market, you can meet the team of Ireland's National Waste Prevention Programme - FoodWaste.ie and learn how we all can play our part in how we eat, produce and waste food and some of Kilkenny’s Master Composters who have undergone training throughout the year and established a community compost facility.
There will also be workshops, talks and kids events. For more information and to check out the line-up visit Savour Kilkenny. If you are visiting, come and say hello and learn about our beeswax food wraps - the natural, reusable alternative to clingfilm.