Monday, July 14, 2014

Rendering Beeswax

This past weekend I tried my hand at refining the bit of beeswax I had.  That's one other advantage of the top bar hives, I think, is that you remove the wax and can use the entire comb rather than just the cappings.  That way the comb gets cycled out rather than being used over and over and over.  Reusing comb means faster/more honey production as the bees don't have to make the wax and the comb, but it also means that anything wonky with the hive can build up in the comb and with the top bar hive you remove them so the bees have fresh, clean comb more often.

After cutting out some cross comb I had about a gallon baggie full of it:
This comb is very white and pretty clean because we took it out before they could build anything in it.  Cross comb means it was going across two top bars and would be impossible to remove if we didn't correct them.

A little quick reading to see what I was supposed to do, and I had a double boiler set up with an old pot and bowl:

In went the comb:

And in not too long I could see it starting to melt:

I don't have pictures of the filtering process as I needed both hands for that, but essentially I did this, making a filter out of cheesecloth into an old almond milk carton:

And then from there I poured the filtered wax into my spiffy little molds:

And ta-da!  I can't believe how FLORAL it smells. I've never smelled beeswax like it.

Monday, July 7, 2014

First Honey & Enyo Release

Update on Our Bees

The honey bees have settle in nicely and are going crazy producing both comb and honey.  It's facinating to watch them on the flowers in the yard and also drinking off the lillypads in our pond.

A honey bee on a flower in our garden
Bee on a stick!  They're very gentle.
Inside one of the hives.  That's honeycomb on top and drone comb near the bottom.
A bee in flight under our cherry trees, carrying pollen back to the apiary.
Our first bit of honey!

We checked on the bees and found they were building cross comb in one place (meaning not straight across on the top bars, making it something we wanted to discourage), so we had to cut the comb out.  There was a bit of honey in it and it's amazing.  Floral and sweet and probably the best honey I've ever had.  We won't be harvesting honey in bulk until spring, but it was nice to try a bit without taking away from the bees' main stores.

Releasing Enyo War Goddess Henna Hair Color

A long time coming, I was finally able to find time to make a good big batch of this to post!  You can check out the 10g samples and the 100g full sizes. 
In closing, the very talented Sinead Anja Hering laid claim to her poem Freya in our previous post!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Salve Survery & Contest Results!

Hair Salve Survey Results

 And the results are in!  I had some help from the statistician at my day job to crunch the numbers, and it took a little doing- hence the delay in results.  The good news is that the winners didn't have to wait, everyone that won salve was contacted a week or two ago and their goodies are on the way.   But here are your results!  This will enable me to make much better customer recommendations for the "which salve should I order" question. ^_^

The results on this one surprised me, although it lines up with my sales so I'm not sure why.  I think I felt that Ostara's was more popular than Freya's.

This just forces me to conclude that hair salve is like the Amortentia potion from Harry Potter, everyone smells something different, but everyone like what they smell.

These results were also very interesting.  Personally, two ounces of salve lasts me over a year, so I fall in the black part of the graph.

The number of people that use salve as a styling aid was unexpected, but also very neat to see.

When I ran the results of this question against the first one (which hair salve works best for you), there were some weak preferences.  Curlies and zig-zaggies tended to prefer Panaceas, wavies Freya's and straight haired people the Ostara's.  But the trends were very, very weak and the results were still very varied across all hair types. 

The main trends here when we ran this against salve preference was that people with fine hair seemed to like Freya's or Ostara's best, and those with thick hair preferred Panacea's.  Generally, though, there were responses for all salve types to all hair thicknesses, with the most variance seen in medium hair strands. 

The most interesting thing about this one was that when I did a cross-compare with those who used henna and which salve they liked, there wasn't much difference from the first question.  Freya's came out ahead by a hair for hennaheads, but I feel that's in the margin of "I use which one I think smells best."  I also found it funny that almost 40% of respondents were henna users.  That's really, really high compared to "normal" people.

I've wanted to do a few limited edition salves for awhile now, and by this I think it's safe to say you'll see one or two in the future :)

So what do we take away from all this?  
  • I'll still be recommending the Sample Trinity Pack when people ask which one to try.  The way everything shook out there wasn't a huge majority for any hair type crossing over with any one salve type.  I honestly expected to find that henna users preferred X salve, while curly haired people preferred Y, and those with straight, fine hair preferred Z.  But the results were still all over.  
  • Generally, most people get the best results from using salve on damp hair
  • Generally, a 1/2 ounce sample of salve will last ~1 month with average use.  Those that had higher rates of salve consumption tended to also be the ones that used it as a deep treatment as well as a leave-in. 
  • You'll probably see some limited edition salves in the future.  But unlike Freya's, they won't stay.  Freya's was supposed to be limited edition, but the uproar was so great that I kept it.  The limited edition salves will be re-scents of the current three, so there won't actually be a functional change to the formula. :)
 Thank you to everyone who participated!  These results were amazing!

10,000 Sale Contest Results

 There were two entries for the Art Category, and none for the others.  They were both so wonderful, however, I decided that each of them will get the $20 NightBlooming Certificate as a prize :)  I left the artists anonymous, but they can claim their work if they'd like!  I'll be contacting both our winners directly with their prizes ^_^

Freya, of the Vanir,
Lady of Beltane.

Called upon,
By the womenfolk.
Goddess of fertility,
Goddess of abundance.

Loved and adored,
By rulers and heroes.
Leader of the Valkyrie,
Leader of warriors.

Shapeshifter and sorceress,
Traveller to all nine worlds.
Lady of divination,
Lady of magic.

Adored and cherished,
By all lovers.
Mistress of pleasure,
Mistress of passion.

Freya, the most beautiful,
Freya, the most benign.
                       - Sinead Anja Hering

Thursday, May 1, 2014

10,000th Sale Milestone- Prizes!

10,000 Sales Celebration

NightBlooming hit an amazing milestone!  10,000 sales seems like so many!  That’s a lot of boxes, tissue paper, sticks, and pots of salve.  With so many happy customers, we wanted to celebrate by asking you to share how NightBlooming has helped your hair or inspired you!  There’s lots of ways to participate, and entering each one gives you the chance for a prize!


Before & After
- Prize:  2oz Hair Salve of your Choice

A lot of people find NightBlooming’s products have brought their hair back from the brink, saving them from having to cut shorter than they wanted, or infusing it with new life and color.  Show us your before & after pictures and tell us about which NightBlooming products made the difference for you.


Sticks, Clips & More!

- Prize: Trio of The Ivy Bond Finishing Pins

Our first products were hair accessories, and while the herbal lines have expanded tremendously, we still consider this the heart of NightBlooming.  Show us a picture of your favorite NightBlooming hair accessory in action!


Art & Inspiration
- Prize:  $20 NightBlooming Gift Certificate

NightBlooming draws from many facets in mythology, fiction and elsewhere in its product names.  Submit a sketch, piece of digital art, poem, or paragraph inspired by anything NightBlooming related!


NightBlooming’s Choice
- Grand Prize: Custom order credit of $50

My personal favorite from any of the entries.  You get $50 towards a custom-created item of your choice.



How’s it work?

You can enter any (or all) of the three categories by either sending me a convo on Etsy or by emailing me your entry.  We’ll take entries for two weeks and the contest will end on Sunday, May 18th.  Shortly after that, I’ll post all the entries and award the winners!

Winners within each category will be pulled by random draw (so no fretting that your art/photos/whatever aren't "good enough"), except for the grand prize which is chosen by NightBlooming.

Thank you all so very much!  I’m so grateful to have such amazing customers.

 Fine Print Stuff
By submitting your photos/artwork/etc. you are giving NightBlooming permission to repost them at the contest’s end and use them for other promotional purposes.




Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Honey Bees Have Landed!

Our honey bees are here!  They're so immensely cute, and we're glad we took the time to set everything up for them and settle them in properly.

We have two apiaries, one made of cedar (the one with the darker stripe) and the other is pine.  The apiaries are top bar Golden Mean hives, built with plans from here.  They are under a deciduous tree (weeping willow), which means it will get sun to warm them in the winter, and shade in the summer.  They're facing where the sun rises, and also pointed towards the privacy fence:

Pointing them at the fence helps cut down on the wind that the front of the hives faces, and also forces them to fly up after they leave the hive.  This means we won't have a stream of bee traffic straight out across the yard.  At this point all we needed was bees.

The day we went to get them was very cool and drizzly.  We drove way, way out into some beautiful bluff country and to the bee farm.  So I had two of these in the backseat with me:

By the time we got home it was starting to get a little dark.  We moved the false back on the hives to the center, took out a few top bars, and pulled the feeder can from the first package (that's the silver can in the above picture, you can kind of see it on the top of the package).  Bees started coming out, but just crawling because it was cool.  Bees don't like to fly unless it's over 50 degrees F. 

We removed the queen cage (which you can't see, all the bees are massed around her), and then I turned the first package upside down and started shaking the bees into the first apiary:

At some point when I was forcibly shaking 20,000 cold, unhappy bees vigorously I thought, "What the f*ck am I doing?"

I had been worried about the chill, but it proved to be a good thing, they didn't fly around and mostly stayed put.  We then peeled back the screen on the queen cage, released her into that mass of bees, and closed up the apiary.  Then repeated for the second one.

 We put in a feeding tray in each one, with an old bamboo mat for traction and some slightly diluted honey:

When we were finished, they looked like this:

Those are the packages the bees came in on the bottom and the feeding cans we removed to the left of each apiary.  

The next day we wend and checked on them through the window.  The bees had done as we hoped and balled up at the top front of each hive:

It was still really chilly, though, so they weren't doing a whole lot. 

The day after, however, it was nice and sunny and they were out and about:

So cute!  And so docile!  We had no stings at all putting them in or for the next few days.  Got one on Friday when we fed them because I dropped a stick into the hive and went to get it back.  I guess it was THEIR stick, dammit.  But generally, they're very tame.

We love them.  They're so much fun to watch.  Inside that ball of bees they should be constructing comb, so we'll see how fast they go once the weather warms up and the flowers bloom.