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.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Hair Salve Survey! Discounts Code & Free Salve Raffle!

I get a LOT of questions about which salve someone should purchase.  Generally I recommend picking up the Trinity Sample Pack simply because it's hard to guess.  I have a lot of anecdotal evidence gathered over the years as to which salve works best with which hair type, but nothing remotely scientific.  It's usually best if people try a smidge of each and see which they like best.

But I'd like to make better reccomendations.  Who knows, maybe well find out that hennaed hair likes one salve over another, or that curlies do best with one salve over another. 

Win me!


Your time is worth something, and I appreciate you taking the time to help me out.  Everyone that participates by following the steps below will get a 15% off discount code, and also be entered in a raffle to win a 2 oz Salve of your choice + free shipping (yes, even across the pond)!  The more people that enter, the more winners I'll draw, so your odds of winning don't go down by encouraging others to participate.  And everyone wins with more data!

While the survey itself will be open for 6 months, I'll be closing the raffle and announcing winners on May 19th.

How to Take the Survey

It's really easy, two steps:

1. Take the survey.  It's totally anonymous.  I'm not tracking you like some creepy creeper.

2. When you're done with the survey, let me know by either sending me an email or an Etsy covo.  Tell me:
  • Which salve you'd like if you win
  • Any open feedback you have about hair salve.  My survey doesn't allow for this, but I'd love to hear your thoughts.

If you want to be entered in the raffle or get the discount code you HAVE to do Step 2.  Sadly I can't make the survey auto-give you the code or tell me which salve you want.  I'll respond to all emails and convos with the discount code, and then will draw the winners.


Do I get to see the results?

Of course!  I'll be posting the results of the survey here for those that are curious.  Since the survey is disconnected from your personal data, even on my end, none of your information is made public.  Everyone can then enjoy pretty charts see how all the answers shook out.


Help me!

Please spread the word!  The more people that take this, the better my data will be, the the better reccomendations I can make for customers (including you!).  Feel free to send the link to this post, post it on Facebook, tweet it, do whatever.  The more people that enter, the more winners I draw!

All Set?
Click me to launch the survey <3



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Honey Bees are coming to NightBlooming!

Honey Bees are coming to NightBlooming!

Several years ago we switched to only using locally-sourced ethical honey in our products.  Because of the honey bee crisis, I wanted to make sure that NightBlooming was doing its part to only support local beekeepers who put the health of their bees in front of honey production.

This year, we're going one step farther, we're getting our own bees!

Top Bar Hives

Our family made us two top bar hives.  Top bar hives are long, horizontal hives that house smaller colonies of bees, are easier to manage, and allows the bees to build their own natural comb rather than forcing them to build on a plastic template.

And they have windows!  What isn't to like about a hive you can peek in on?  Our hives are built to the Golden Mean, which is ideal for honeycomb.


Ethical Beekeeping

Our focus on bees is helping to build up bees that are healthy and will thrive.  That are successful pollenators and will breed with the local bees to make all bees stronger.  We're using as little intervention as possible to encourage bees with strong immune systems and disease resistance, which also means that any honey we take will not be full of antibiotics, chemicals, and pest treatments.  We will also not take all the bee's honey and then feed them sugar water or artificial bee food.  The best food for bees is honey, and they will get all they need first, and we'll use the extra.

You can get an idea of both the top bar hive and ethical beekeeping here:



Bees Landing Soon!  Shop on Vacation to Prepare :)

We should be getting our bees in the next week or so. We've got a bit of preparation left in the yard to finalize where the apiaries will go and then bees to install. 

Family is also visiting that week, so in order to make time for all this, I'll be closing the shop on Thursday April 17th sometime in the evening, just before I pack orders.  That means you can order right up until I begin packing.  We'll reopen on Saturday the 26th, and the first round of orders will be packed on Tuesday the 29th.

The break will be worth it!  We're excited at the prospect of using our own honey in our products, and also, if extras allow, selling pure, raw honey and other honey products in the store.

The store will be closed until Saturday the 26th

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hair Salve Name Change: Panacea's, Ostara's, Freya's

Hair Salve Name Change:  Panacea's, Ostara's, Freya's

The first and most important thing I want to make clear about this change is this: the ingredients, formulas and method of preparation for each salve is utterly unchanged.  And the smell.  The smell of each salve is the same.  I'd fear angry hordes if I ever messed with that. 

Everything on the inside of the pots is the same.   Only the stuff on the outside, the name and the icon, has changed.

Panacea's Hair Salve, still Panacea's Hair Salve:

Panacea was a minor goddess in Greek mythology but her name survives today as a term used for a cure-all or remedy for all ills or diseases. Panacea means "heal-all" and the goddess personified healing through herbs. In the Middle Ages, the name was applied to a mythical herb supposed to possess a cure-all quality. Some herbs that have been considered panaceas include mistletoe, yarrow, and valerian.  Panacea's Hair Salve is vegetarian (contains honey), is the most rich of the salves, and smells of incense.

Panacea's Summer Hair Salve is now Ostara's Hair Salve
Ostara is the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring. She is associated with the Moon Hare or rabbit, with eggs, Dawn, and the East - all symbolizing her primary qualities of bringing birth, rebirth and renewal to a winter-weary world. Her salve will bring similar renewal to your hair. It is vegan,  contains protein, and has a light citrus and herb scent.

Panacea's Winter Hair Salve is now Freya's Hair Salve

In Norse mythology, Freya is a goddess of love and fertility, and the most beautiful and propitious of the goddesses. She is the patron goddess of crops and birth, the symbol of sensuality and was called upon in matters of love. She loves music, spring and flowers, and is particularly fond of the elves (fairies).  Freya's Salve is perfect for men or women, with a clean unisex scent reminiscent of a winter forest draped with newfallen snow. It should be noted that this blend is vegan and protein free!

Why the change?

There were a few big reasons I've wanted to do this for awhile:

  • Clunky Naming: When I first started making salve, there was just one, Panacea's.  When someone requested a vegan version, I called it Panacea's Vegan Salve.  Then later people wanted a protein-free version.  So Vegan became Panacea's Summer Salve and the new one became Panacea's Winter Salve.  This meant that people called them Summer, Winter and... traditional? original?  For people unfamiliar with the salves, having three versions call called "Panacea's _____ Salve" was confusing.  Having three distinct names eliminates the clunkiness and confusion. 
  • Room for more salves: Because of the clunky naming convention and the fact that there were are only four seasons, there wasn't much room for expansion.  While I don't have current plans for permanent additions to the salve family, I've wanted to do special scented blends for holidays like Samhain and Christmas.  
  • Winter & Summer weren't for seasons and everyone thought they were: The naming for Summer and Winter was inspired by their scents and also because for awhile I was only offering them seasonally.  This, understandably, led people to think that Summer was, well, for summer, and Winter was for winter.  Which couldn't have been farther from the truth.  Because of this assumption, people weren't choosing the salve that was best for their hair.  Removing the seasonal designations takes away this misconception and nudges people to better evaluate which salve is best for them based on ingredients and other properties.  Now, people are more likely to look at protein vs no protein, or how much more rich Panacea's Salve is than Freya's Salve or Ostara's Salve.
  • Distinct and Updated Branding: We've been slowly updating our branding to be more uniform and consistent across all NightBlooming's products.  Because Panacea's Hair Salve was the very first herbal product, it was the most out of date.  We'll be continuing to update our labeling, but at the moment, don't anticipate any other name changes.

Spread the word!

This is a big change, so if you get the chance to, please let others know!  Feel free to use any of the text and images in this post. 

Also, keep your eye out for an upcoming survey on how you use Panacea and how it works for you.  People that respond will get a discount code for the store and a chance to win 2 ounces of their favorite salve!