August 15, 2019 by tessfrydman
Honey and beeswax had a variety of uses in early America such as sweetening foods, making mead, waterproofing leather, making candles, soothing sore throats, etc. The bees that populated Wyck’s bee skeps created honey and beeswax that was of great use to the Wistar-Haines family throughout the nineteenth century.
The vast collection at Wyck includes many of the residents’ recipe books. These are full of various recipes to treat illnesses, prepare food, and to clean and care for a house and a household. Many of them contain bee products. For example, John Smith Haines (1820-1886) used beeswax to create a “waterproof composition for boots” and his mother, Jane Bowne Haines (1790-1843) used honey to brew mead and sweeten cakes.
One of the recipes from John Smith Haines’ book even details how much chloroform to use to sedate bees when extracting honey from the hive. He recommended using 1/6 of an ounce for a “ordinary hive” and 1/4 of an ounce for a large hive.
Honey and beeswax are still celebrated for their various uses and health benefits. Come pick some up at the Philadelphia Honey Festival taking place on September 6th, 7th, and 8th!