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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 19th year of beekeeping in April 2024. Now there are more than 1300 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here.Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

What Do Beekeepers Do in the Winter.....?

And your answer was make soap - right?

That's what I am going to do this weekend.  My sister and I are going to the John C Campbell Folk School to take a class in making lye soap.  I love spending time with my sister and I love going to classes at the Folk School, so what could be better?

I haven't taken a Folk School class in seven years, so this should be lots of fun.  It's like going to grown up camp, complete with a dining hall with community tables.  Back in 2006 when I first started beekeeping, I took a beekeeping class at John Campbell from Virginia Webb and learned about bees, pollen, and wax.

Jeff (my son-in-law who keeps bees with me) and I have already experimented with glycerin soap, but some people don't like that type of soap and the "real thing" is made with lye as they did in the old days.  So I am thrilled with the opportunity to learn an old-fashioned craft and maybe figure out how to put my beeswax into soap.

Jeff wants me to teach him so he can make his favorite soap and not have to buy it.  The soap he likes is flavored with DIRT, SMOKE, and bay rum.  I went on the Internet and would you believe, you can buy oils that are scented with earth, campfire smoke, and bay rum.  I guess he and I will try to replicate the soap he loves.

I'll take photos of what I learn and post them here when I get back.  It's pretty old-fashioned at the Folk School and I doubt I'll have Internet access for posting while I'm there.

I heard a lecture from Marcy, a member of our bee club, on how to make lye soap.  She said her jeans were now full of holes from the lye, so I am taking pants I could care less about and old shirts.  We'll see how it goes!

My first Folk School class was when Atlanta hosted the Summer Olympics.  The Olympic committee asked the Atlanta citizens to get out of town to lessen the traffic problems during the games.  So I signed up for a quilting class for a week at the Folk School and thus began my grown-up camp fun and games.

More after my adventure.  BTW this is my 2015th post on Jan 15, 2015!


  1. I've been making lye soap for many years. You are going to love it! I use my wax in my soap and a little goes a long way. It makes for a harder and more soothing soap. Can't wait to hear about your experiences.

  2. I made some Glycerin soap using my beeswax this year and it was very easy and fun. When I used it, it seemed to work just like any other soap so I'm curious why go through all the trouble with Lye?

    1. I have been making lye soap for years, and from what I have been told, glycerin is a byproduct of lye. When glycerin is produced, extra chemicals, solvents, and additives are used. For those of us who want to limit the number of chemicals we are exposed to and be more old-fashioned and natural, lye is the way to go. It's analogous to using plain olive oil vs. extra virgin olive oil.

  3. At the fabulous class I took, we were told that the lye process leaves the glycerin in the soap and makes for a longer lasting, better lathering bar than melt and pour glycerin soap. There is a lot of processing that goes into making the glycerin base for melt and pour as mentioned in Holly's comment. We didn't use beeswax in the class but I have since found a number of beeswax lye soap recipes and can't wait to try them.

  4. Thanks Holly and Linda! I assumed it was simply that Glycerin soap didn't work as well or something like that. But if it has all that other stuff added to it, maybe it isn't so great! That's probably one of the many reasons why easier isn't always better =)


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