You’ve heard the news. Honeybees are in decline. Yet the price of beeswax has remained relatively stable these last few years. Is there a secret behind the stability? How long will artists who work with beeswax continue to enjoy feel-good prices on their materials?
Beekeepers harvest beeswax from two different areas of the hive. There’s cappings wax that’s culled as part of the honey harvest. And brood comb that beekeepers pull and recycle on a rotating basis from deeper in the hive. While cappings wax is sensitive to fluctuations in the honey harvest, brood comb becomes more available as bees die off and beekeepers reduce the numbers of colonies in their apiaries. So a bad honey year or a high mortality year doesn’t necessarily mean we’re in for a bad wax year, at least not immediately, although enough bad years in a row will disrupt supply.
So what’s the beeswax forecast for 2013?
Cappings wax, filtered and molded for storage by Backyard Bees, photographed by Laura Tyler
I was at a talk in Denver last Saturday presented by USDA bee researcher Jeff Pettis, and while the numbers are still coming in, it’s his hunch that the winter of 2012 – 2013 will go down as the most devastating year to date for bee mortality with some commercial beekeepers reporting losses of 75% or higher. The official numbers will look better than that once they’re in due to how beehives are counted. Regardless of counting methods, this has been a tough winter for the bees.
Interestingly, according to the USDA’s National Honey Report, many beeswax sellers are holding steady on their prices even though stock is low.
Current wholesale prices quoted exclusively for white, cleaned beeswax are steady and for 1lb block units at $5.50 to $5.75 mostly $5.50 and for 50lb block units at $4.50 to $5.00 mostly $4.75. Price quotes taken for bulk orders above 50lbs are $2.20 to $3.50 mostly $3.50 for white/light, cleaned beeswax. Retail white and cleaned beeswax prices reported are $16.00 to $20.00 per pound mostly $18.00. Many beeswax sellers have held their prices however, are showing very low supply inventories.
In other words: Stock up.
National Honey Report, March 2013
Annual Honey Report Analysis
Early spring is a wonderful time to begin a new endeavor. Join me for Basic Encaustic on March 9th or Open Paint anytime.
Winter rye coming up in the garden, February 2013 @Laura Tyler
After a year of rest, reflection and rejiggering I’m entering 2013 with high hopes for the new body of work that’ll emerge. Projects I’m carrying into the new year:
• One Man’s Land, an in-progress documentary about Niwot, Colorado beekeeper Tom Theobald (a.k.a. the Bee Leaker) and his garden,
• A series of drawings of objects from my household and garden rendered in graphite and pen and ink using traditional botanical illustration techniques plus a group of larger paintings about ditches,
• A galvanizing slate of encaustic workshops for beginning and continuing artists at my studio.
May 2013 be lucky for us all!
New work in progress – raw sketches of wild-land grasses and botanical studies in pen and ink – transitional and ephemeral. See it before I do something else to it!
An in-progress pen & ink drawing of a seed pod from an elephant ear tree, @ Laura Tyler
First Friday, November 2, 2012, 6:00 – 9:00 pm
1650 Yellow Pine Avenue (downstairs)
NoBo Art District
It is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced”
- Leo Tolstoy
Preparing to teach a special, by-request composition class on Saturday, Fiber and Wax.
A cloud of silk @ Laura Tyler
The silk fiber above is from Treenway Silks in Littleton, Colorado.
You’re in a boat. It’s an overcast day but you can feel the sun about to break through.
"Sailing," encaustic and ink on panel, 5" x 4" © Laura Tyler
A puff of something, smoke or spindrift, swirling around a peak.
"Catch My Drift," encaustic and ink on panel, 5" x 4"
Scientists have reclassified some dinosaur fossils as juveniles or adults of a single species rather than keeping their separate species designation. They are rethinking the fossil record.
"Rethinking the Fossil Record," encaustic and ink on panel, 5" x 4" © Laura Tyler
Puzzling Three-Horned Dino Is Adult Triceratops
One dinosaur too many?