Relaxing

Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.

The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.

Learn to relax. Your body is precious, as it houses your mind and spirit. Inner peace begins with a relaxed body.

Some of the secret joys of living are not found by rushing from point A to point B, but by inventing some imaginary letters along the way.

No matter how much pressure you feel at work, if you could find ways to relax for at least five minutes every hour, you’d be more productive.

It’s a good idea always to do something relaxing prior to making an important decision in your life.

Whenever in doubt, turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream.

Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer.

If a man insisted always on being serious, and never allowed himself a bit of fun and relaxation, he would go mad or become unstable without knowing it.

As you can tell, all the above wise words are about relaxation. And what better place to relax than in St Ives? Sign up for the beautiful Blue Mist properties, where you can enjoy the beauty of the sea, the warm temperatures and the lovely beaches. Summer is coming. Are you ready?

Petition for dog ban reversal

The spring season is in full swing and now that we have reached April is it a good time to bear in mind that the dog ban on certain beaches is in force. Don’t get caught out!

The ban on dogs is rescinded in the winter months because there are hardly any sunbathers on the beach during the colder months and the dogs are hence not a threat or a nuisance. However with the warmer months approaching and more people heading for the beaches, the dog ban is now in operation.

There have however been calls for the ban on dogs to be reversed. The few beaches where dogs are allowed a poorly accessible, rocky and not just a danger to man’s best friend, but to man or woman itself.

Campaign group ‘Life’s a beach – Stop the extended dog ban in St Ives’ posted to their Facebook page as the seasonal rules came into force in St Ives over Easter.

It means those with four-legged friends are being forced to use beaches which they say are poorly accessible.

Now the post has created a huge debate online, with many dubbing it a ‘disgrace’.

One user wrote:
Ok so you’re a resident of St Ives…you pay your council tax and your extra st Ives town council precept. You own a dog….this is your access to one of the only dog beaches in town…what would you do/think/feel?

The health benefits of owning dogs is well known. It gets children out and about, provides companionship and supports people with depression. It keeps older people active…so why the heck to we have to put up with this! I don’t want to break a leg to walk my dog!

There are three beaches dogs can go on in the summer. The beach at Lambeth Walk has been highlighted for its stony paths and the council has agreed itself that that could be improved. But council representatives also claim that Barnaluz beach near the recently-opened St Ives museum is more accessible now, and has been since the steps were repaired, and dog owners may find it better there to let ttheir dogs go for a run.

Non-dog owners claim that their enjoyment of the beaches is tainted by dogs running free, threatening younger children, following their noses into picnic baskets. But dog owners claim that they are being picked on, and that non-dog owners can also spoil the beach for others in terms of litter and drug-related paraphanelia.

A holidaymaker also waded into the debate.

David Ray said: “Our family (and dog) used to visit St Ives at least twice a year, but not since these ridiculous rules were introduced.

“I wonder how much additional revenue is being lost by local business’s due to the intransigence of their local council?

“Vote them out and lets have some more sensible rules. We will then no doubt return.”

Even though the dog ban is now in force, it seems some are ignoring signs which have been put in place at the spots where dogs aren’t allowed anyway.

We just simply need a bit more consideration for everyone else.

Learning a new skill?

How do you feel when you have to learn something new? Some people feel a sense of excitement at the thought of a new experience. These individuals are generally more open-minded, open to learning new things. But there are others who perhaps come with a sense of reservation, or even caution at the thought of learning something new, or trying something different. For them, the extension of oneself is effortful and they are unwilling to make the effort – or at least, the initial reaction is of unwillingness, and then some people overcome it, while others are content to remain within it.

There is no doubt that the attraction of learning a new skill for many people comes with a sense of aspiration and idealism. We envision how the skill we would like to acquire can benefit us, not just financially, but also in enriching our lives. But sometimes we look at things from the wrong perspectives, looking for fame and recognition itself. It is not wrong in itself to seek these things, but when they become the sole purpose of learning a new skill then we have started off on the wrong foot. An aspiring singer of course should want to make a living from doing something that he or she likes, but when the focus is on wanting to make it big as a singer-songwriter, and being the object of attention of millions in a big arena, then the lens needs reviewing.

Why should we not look for these benefits primarily? When we learning a new skill, it takes time to do it well. Skills develop over time and continually revisiting these skills in order to do well requires patience and the correct mindset. Focussing on the wrong things at the start, unfortunately, blurs the focus and invites you to shorten the natural process. A lot of people go for the product and not the process, because they want to end-gain, to get to the final product immediately, because they are hungry for the success. While the idea is to produce a final product as a result of going through a process, producing a product just to say it’s been done and thinking it’s finished is wrong.

How long do you think it takes to learn the piano? Many pianists go through hours of practice, going over boring things such as scales and technical exercises to sightreading just to learn to play music. But there are others who think that being able to play Fur Elise means they have learn to play the piano. That is the difference between process and product.

Perhaps it is a good idea to learn little craft skills to subconsciously learn the life skills of patience and practice, which build on a deeper level good estimations of time and required effort. Instead of leaving it till late to discover that you have not quite yet have the correct mindset to things, when the stakes are too high, it may be a good idea to do little artistic skills, slightly less ambitious tasks, to learn about learning. This gives you a mental framework of what it takes to learn a skill. If you’re ever in St Ives, you’ll find many things to do, from weekend workshops to day events. Try to get some ideas of what you might like to try just browsing around the many crafts shops around. There’s knitting. Surfing. Cake-decorating. Art. Painting. While it may be good to try something you are drawn to, trying something that might not come naturally in the first place is also a good place to develop a healthy mindset to new situations, if you belong to the latter group of people I mentioned in the first paragraph.

St Ives offers you many opportunities to learn about learning – it is a skill that will benefit you for life! And if you are ever looking for a place to stay, why not try the Blue Mist properties? You can choose from a small studio, a mid-sized room to a larger room for families or groups. Located near the harbour and gorgeous scenic views, the Blue Mist properties will allow you to enjoy your stay and make full use of your time here.

Peter Lanyon exhibition to mark birth centenary

An artist from St Ives has been honoured with an exhibition to mark then centenary of his birth.

Born in 1918, Peter Lanyon unfortunately died in a gliding accident in 1964. His traditional landscape art works were held in high regard, particularly by the singer, the late David Bowie, who had four of Lanyon’s work in his collection.

At first glance, Lanyon’s work may appear to be oil drawings by a young child, with colours smeared over one another. But perhaps you have to understand the artist to appreciate the art work. Within the art world, Lanyon is credited with transforming landscape art. The use of colours is a vibrant attempt to capture the unbridled emotion of being physically in the place at the time. Sure, it is not neat as in a photograph, or a detailed still life painting. But the art perhaps captures the underlying emotion, albeit a raw, childish one, of the subject in question.

The last of the above paintings, Wheal Owles, is an oil on board painting that dates back to 1958. At first it looks like a fishing boat on sea, and visitors unfamiliar to area may think it is a representation of a boat and St Ives history as a fishing town.

However, Wheal Owles is actually a tin mine near Botallack, near St Just. In January 1893, miners working underground were drowned when water rushed in. When you look again at the picture, now that streak of black in the middle makes sense – it is the mining shaft. The boarded shapes around it not only suggest the materials on the ground, but the feeling of being trapped and bordered with no way out echoes the fear of the men who were trapped and eventually died. It is said that before the water flooded in, a gust of wind blew out the lights, leaving the man trapped in darkness. This mirrors the lack of light in the work.

‘Peter Lanyon: Cornwall Inside Out’ at Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert, in St James’s, London, is open until 16 March.

Knowles stays for the moment!

Cambridge United winger Tom Knowles, currently on loan at St Ives Town, has had his loan spell extended for least another month.

Knowles has made a name for himself within St Ives since arriving from Cambridge. On his debut game for St Ives, he scored a goal and also teed up another, making a major impact in a game which ended 3-0 within minutes of only just coming on as a substitute.

The team manager Ricky Marheineke praised his work rate and energy among other things, and there were fears that he might be recalled to his parent club, but these fears have been allayed for the moment.

It is good news for St Ives to continue having the services of Knowles for that period – hopefully the team can keep him for even longer after that!

Learning a new skill? How about knitting?

You can find a plethora of crafts in St Ives – it’s the artist paradise. One of the crafts you might like to try is knitting – it doesn’t cost much and it can give you a lot of pleasure.

Knitting is the process which produces cloth from thread. It’s used to create garments, toys, home wares and all sorts of exciting things! It’s a skill that can be enjoyed by anyone – and it’s growing in popularity every single day with celebrities such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Cameron Diaz happily declaring their love for the hobby. But, it’s actually so much more than that.

Knitting can be beneficial to your health! It has been proven to lower blood pressure, relax the enthusiast and even burn calories (approximately 55 for half an hour of knitting). In fact, knitting has become so popular that there are now many competitions and challenges associated with it. The most well-known of these being:

The World’s Fastest Knitter – currently held by Miriam Tegels of the Netherlands who can hand knit 118 stitches in one minute.

Speed Knitting – currently held by Linda Benne of America who can knit 253 stitches in 3 minutes.

The World Knitting Record – currently held by Australia at 4 hours and 50 minutes.

Of course, these aren’t things that we are aiming for just yet! They are just interesting facts which demonstrate how widespread knitting has become.

Although these days it is considered a hobby more popular with females, knitting started out as a male only occupation, proving that anyone can reap the benefits from it! T

There are many suggestions of when knitting began, but the truth of it is no one really knows since many ancient textile fragments thought to be knitting have actually turned out to be an ancient form of needle craft, often thought of single needle knitting – nålebinding. However, when the knitting machine was invented, hand knitting became less of an essential necessity, and more of a hobby, which is where we are at today.

There are a few supplies that you will need before you start your first knitting project. The amount you spend on this skill is entirely up to you, and entirely depends on your requirements and budget. Everything that you’ll need to complete a knitting pattern will be listed within the patterns information, but just for practicing the stitches listed in this guide, you will only need the basics: Yarn, Needles, Scissors, A sewing needle, and a crochet hook.

Yarn is a long continuous length of interlocking fibers. It’s essential to knitting as it is the basis for creating the cloth. It may interest you to know that although we automatically think of wool at the mention of yarn, but for the four of five hundred years of the recorded history of knitting, the yarn materials were cotton or silk.

To decide what yarn is best suited to a particular knitting project, many factors come into play; its loft (its ability to trap air), its resilience (elasticity under tension), its washability, its feel (its feel, particularly softness vs. scratchiness), its durability against abrasion, its tendency to twist or untwist, its overall weight and drape, its blocking and felting qualities, its comfort (breathability, moisture absorption, wicking properties) and of course its look.

There are three main types of yarn: wool, cotton and acrylic. Each type produces an entirely different result after it has been worked with, so it is important to familiarize yourself with these during the practice stages of learning this skill so you know how each one works and how they suit you and your knitting style.

Selecting the right knitting needles for your project is essential. Choosing the wrong size for the yarn and pattern will throw off the gauge entirely and the end result will not look anything like you want it to. These needles generally have a long shaft and taper at the end and they come in a wide range of materials, including bamboo, aluminum, steel, wood, plastic, glass and casein. It may surprise you to learn that originally knitting needles were created from ivory, tortoise shell, or even bone! Although the knitting needle size will be included in the pattern, the material you select is completely dependent on your personal preference.

Experienced knitters will tell you that it is much easier to start with straight needles – especially when practicing stitches. Back and forth rows are constructed using the straight needles, whereas the circular and double pointed needles can be used to create rounds. It’s much simpler to get to grips with rows as you know where they begin and where they end, whereas it takes a little more experience when it comes to rounds – as their name suggests they are circular.

If you are not confident of your knitting skills, you can find many craft shops where you can learn from an experienced knitter. Or you can find a whole community dedicated to it. Get knitting!

St Ives and the history of Cornish smugglers

Despite the inroads of commercialisation, there lingers in many Cornish fishing villages and coves something of the romantic atmosphere of the old smuggling days, when sea-booted figures shouldered heavy tubs of spirits up steep cliffside tracks on moonless nights to the waiting horses above, running the gauntlet of Revenue cruisers, Preventive boats and the coastguard to get the precious ‘goods’ safely landed and away. Inevitably, much nonsense has been written about the smuggler; and the truth, as is so often the case, proves to be far more interesting than far-fetched fantasy.

The smuggler emerges from many tales neither as a criminal nor a hero, but as a courageous, resourceful and enterprising character, who did no one – except the Chancellor of the Exchequer – any particular harm, and benefited his fellows not a little in providing them with cut-price luxuries. Left to his own devices, he was the most harmless of men; it was only when Authorities sought to curb his activities that he showed how ready he was to defend what he regarded as his legitimate interests.

Most of these stories belong to the early nineteenth century – that period when smuggling was in slow but steady decline, and when the violence and bloodshed of earlier times had been somewhat moderated. Traditions of such incidents are still handed down in a few local families – though they are not always for the ear of the inquisitive stranger.

Every smuggling operation was carried out by two teams of men, who had to work in the closest concert with each other to achieve success – those on the ship which brought the contraband goods from France, and the shore party who helped to land and convey them safely away to their destination. The latter task was often the more dangerous, and required much physical effort, particularly when heavy casks had to be carried up high and steep cliffs. This explains why it was sometimes necessary to employ large numbers of men in the landing party – as many as a hundred or more – to get the goods removed expeditiously from the coast before the onset of daylight.

The greatest danger which the ships had to face came from the Revenue cutters which constantly patrolled the coasts of Cornwall and also from the Preventive boats, which usually operated closer to the shore. But even if they eluded these hazards, there still remained the possibility that their boats, on landing, might run into an ambush should the Preventive men have discovered that a ‘run’ was to be made at that particular place.

The existence of such an ambush would usually be known by the shore party, who might quite well have been disturbed by it themselves. The recognised manner of warning the boats approaching the trap with their precious cargo was by lighting a fire on shore. For this purpose, a beacon of furze or other suitable materials was prepared in advance, and some of the party were detailed to kindle this should the need arise. So common was this practice that it was made a punishable offence to light a fire upon the coast as a signal, and several instances are recorded where men were brought to trial for this offence.

At Cornwall Lent Assize in 1828, John Brown, John Dunstan and William Borlase were indicted for making a light to give notice to their associates at sea, in order to prevent the landing of a smuggled cargo. It appears that on the 9th of March Samuel Gammon, boatman of the Cawsand Coastguard station, was on duty on Rame Hills, near Porlorn [Polhawn] Cove, about a mile and a half from Cawsand. At three in the morning, Gammon and another boatman called James Dyer hid themselves in a furze brake near Rame church. They saw a fire in the gateway, and three men came into the field with lighted straw in their hands, and made lights in three different directions.

Gammon ran across and caught Dunstan, who was coming from the gateway where the fire had first been seen. On seeing three smugglers running across the field pursued by Preventive men, Gammon let Dunstan go and joined in the chase. Eventually three prisoners were secured. Before the fires were lighted, a vessel had been seen standing in for the land.

To take another example: at Cornwall Lent Assize in 1825 a smuggler named Spry was indicted for lighting a fire on the banks of the Helford river for the purpose of warning smugglers of the approach of Customs officers. It was proved that on the arrival of Preventive men at the spot where the defendant was found, some straw was ignited, and the defendant cried ‘Run! Run! They are coming!’ The officers then rushed forward and secured him. Spry admitted the truth of this evidence, but declared he had no hand in lighting the fire; he was merely on his way home, and on seeing the officers approach cried out to the smugglers to run. He handed to the court a testimonial to his good character signed by several respectable persons, but this did not prevent him being found guilty.

During the early morning of December 4th 1831, the French smuggler Elizabeth, having on board 338 kegs of brandy and gin and some packages of highly dutiable manufactured glass, appeared in the vicinity of St Ives. Her master was a certain Jean-Marie Yves Creach, and she carried a crew of six French and two British. When first observed from the shore, she was standing into the bay under full sail, it being their intention to land the goods either at Gwithian or Hayle.

The Coastguard at all times maintained an all-night watch from several vantage points in and around St Ives and as soon as Moses Martin, Chief officer of the local station, was told of the craft’s suspicious behaviour, he and his assitants immediately went out after her in the Coastguard cutter, together with the St Ives customs boat. However, the smugglers had confederates waiting ashore; and as soon as they realised that the Elizabeth had been detected, they lit fires to warn her of danger.

The French vessel promptly turned about and put off again. A stern chase then developed between her and the pursuing coastguards. Martin was a sworn and inveterate enemy of local smugglers; and he kept determinedly on the vessel’s tail until eventually she was overhauled and captured about six miles from the coast. She was then brought in triumph into St Ives harbour.

Her crew were subsequently brought before the St Ives magistrates on December 13th and fined £100 each, but being unable to pay, they were committed to Bodmin Gaol. Two of them were Cornish: one, called Yellam, from Probus, and the other named Bawden, from Mevagissey.

As for the poor little Elizabeth, she suffered an even sadder fate. At that time, to prevent seized smuggling craft from being ‘bought back’ by their former owners at the subsequent auction and once more used for contraband running, the authorities had the hulls of such vessels sawn into three parts, and their ropes destroyed prior to the sale. And this is what happened to the Elizabeth.

A copy of the advertisement was put out by the St Ives’ Custom house. It will be seen from this last case that warning beacons were not always effective in enabling a smuggling vessel to make her getaway; but that many were saved by this means is an undoubted fact, and explains why those who lit these beacons were hunted down so vigilantly by the Preventive men.

From pollen to candle

St Ives is a seaside town full of crafts – one of the many things you can do is sign up for candle making courses, or wander around the various craft shops looking at candles and other products from beeswax, such as soaps. But do you know how candles and soaps originate, and the process from which the beeswax is produced?

Beeswax is the miracle of the beehive. The comb is built up from nothing and serves as a house, a nursery, and a food pantry. Over the millennia, bees have figured out that by building their combs into hexagons, the combs hold the most amount of honey and require the least amount of wax. The combs also serve as the perfect area for a bee to undergo its metamorphosis from egg to bee.

So what is beeswax? In the simplest terms, it is a wax produced by honey bees of the genus Apis. Beeswax consists of at least 284 different compounds, mainly a variety of long-chain alkanes, acids, esters, polyesters, and hydroxy esters, but the exact composition of beeswax varies with location. It has a specific gravity of about 0.95 and a melting point of over 140°F (60°C). More specifically, it is a wax that is secreted from eight wax-producing glands on the worker bee’s abdomen.

The wax is secreted in thin sheets called scales. The scales, when first secreted, looks a bit like mica flakes. They are clear, colorless, tasteless, and very brittle. Beeswax is typically produced by the younger house bees when they are between twelve and twenty days old. As the bee grows older and begins to collect pollen and nectar, these glands start to atrophy, but their ability to produce beeswax doesn’t disappear completely.

When bees swarm they will rapidly produce wax comb, since they need to quickly create a place for the queen to lay eggs and somewhere to store food. To form the beeswax into honeycomb, the bees will hang in strings and as wax is extruded from the glands of the wax-producing bees it is passed between the legs and mouths of the bees that form the chain, being chewed and molded into shape along the way. The bees will then use this wax to build the familiar hexagon-shaped honey cells.

It is during this process that the wax starts to develop its color and opacity. Depending on what kind of nectar and pollen come into the hive and is consumed by the bees, microscopic bits of the pollen and nectar remain and get added to the wax.

It takes about 1,100 scales to make one gram of wax. Under the right conditions—meaning there is an adequate supply of food and the ambient temperature within the hive is between 91°F and 97°F (33°C and 36°C)—worker bees can produce beeswax on demand. They achieve the right temperature on cooler spring days by clustering around the wax-producing bees when they are building comb.

The production of beeswax in the hive is very costly, however. It takes about 8.4 pounds (3.8 kg) of honey to create 1 pound (425 g) of beeswax. This honey could be used to feed the nonforaging bees or it could be saved for times when nectar is in short supply. For this reason, beeswax is often chewed off in one spot and placed where it is needed. The reusing of old comb also contributes to the color, since it may have been used for brood rearing or honey storage and may contain cocoon remains, propolis, or pollen.

Most of the wax that is commercially available is made from what beekeepers call “cappings.” When bees produce honey, the foraging bee collects the nectar and stores it in one of her two stomachs (one stomach is reserved for honey collection and the other for personal digestion). The nectar in the honey stomach mixes with enzymes and when the bee returns to the hive she places it into a waiting cell. As more cells are filled with nectar, bees fan their wings to create airflow through the hive, which helps dry out the nectar.

By lowering the moisture content of the nectar to less than 19 percent, the bees are ensuring that the honey will not spoil. Then the bees systematically work their way across frames and across honey boxes, capping off each cell to prevent additional moisture loss.

When beekeepers harvest the honey, they remove the frames with honey from the hive and bring them to the honey house for processing. Since all the honey cells have wax caps on them, just adding the frames to a honey extractor would yield no honey. So beekeepers first remove the wax cap using either a hot knife or some sort of flail.

The wax cappings are added to a capping tank and the frames are placed into the extractor to spin out the honey. What a beekeeper does with the wax cappings depends to a certain degree on how many hives he has.

In most cases, heat is applied to the cappings, allowing the honey and wax to liquefy and separate into two layers—honey on the bottom and wax on the top. After several more filterings to remove residual honey and miscellaneous bee parts, the wax looks pretty clean and is generally ready to go.

Beekeepers also melt down old honey and brood comb in order to install clean wax and do general maintenance on the frames. Over the years, brood comb will have raised multiple cycles of bees and the cocoon from the larvae stage will have turned the comb a dark brown. Also, potential pathogens may have been introduced either from the environment or from bees carrying the pathogen with them. These pathogens can decimate a hive rather quickly, which is why beekeepers often replace the old brood comb with clean wax.

While wax from cappings and honey combs is fairly pure, the wax from brood combs contains a wide assortment of “stuff” which may include cocoons from both bees and wax moths, excrement from bee larvae, mites, pollen, propolis, and bee parts. All this extra stuff is called “slum gum,” and removing the slum gum from the wax is a more involved process.

One method is to put the brood combs into burlap sacks and then add the bag to a hot water bath. The melted wax will flow through the burlap and the slum gum will stay in the bag. Beekeepers then press the burlap sacks to release the rest of the trapped wax from the slum gum. Once most of the wax is pressed out, the slum gum is discarded and the wax is molded into 30–50 lb (14–23 kg) blocks. The resulting wax is usually significantly darker than the cappings wax, ranging from light brown to almost black. If this wax were to be used for something such as candles, it would give off an unpleasant smell.

A lot of beekeepers turn this wax in to bee supply stores for credit toward “clean” wax or wax that has already been turned into foundation for inclusion into new frames. The bee supply stores ship this dark wax to commercial wax processing operations that have specialized equipment with carbon filters that remove the color from the wax. This process is far better than how wax was filtered in the past, when it was bleached using noxious chemicals to remove the color.

Most of the white wax available today is achieved naturally using carbon filters instead of chemicals. One drawback to the heavily refined, highly filtered wax is that the aroma and charm of beeswax (as well as many of its unique health advantages) actually come from the natural “contaminants,” including honey, propolis, and pollen. Bleaching or advanced refining of beeswax to remove its color and fragrance, yields a product that is a bit bland.

The relationship between bees and humans dates to the hunter–gatherer days when, armed with nothing but a long stick and a lot of resolve, men would knock down hives from trees and run, returning to the scene to harvest the honey when it was deemed safe. Later, humans discovered that using smoke from a burning stick helped to subdue the bees, making the job a bit easier. The usefulness of wax could very well have been discovered then.

Although some of this is conjecture on my part, there are cave paintings in Valencia Spain dating back about 8,000 years, that show two people collecting honey and honeycomb from a wild bee hive. They used baskets and gourds to transport the honeycomb, and a series of ropes to reach the hive.

We know more about the ancient Egyptians and their relationship with beeswax. They recognized the value of beeswax in mummification and used it for the embalming process. They also used the wax to seal the coffin and make it air tight, further preserving the body. The Egyptians preserved their writings on papyrus and on cave walls using beeswax, and these writings have remained unchanged for more than 2,000 years.

They even recognized the importance of beeswax in health, as prescriptions dating back to 1550 BC called for beeswax in various formulations. Ancient jewelers and artisans utilized the lost wax casting technique, which involves sculpting an object in beeswax, coating the object with clay, and then hardening the clay with heat. The heat melted the wax, leaving a clay shell that was a perfect replica of the beeswax sculpture. Molten metal was then poured into the clay shell and allowed to harden before the clay was removed. Egyptian priests also created the first voodoo dolls, using beeswax to create figures resembling their enemies before ritually destroying them.

Egyptians also loved perfumes and were reputed to have made perfumed unguents, the precursors to today’s solid perfumes. They incorporated beeswax, tallow, and various aromatic substances infused in oil, such as myrrh, henna, cinnamon, thyme, sage, anise, rose, and iris. The unguents weren’t sold as perfumes, but rather for a multitude of medical uses.

The Chinese also recognized the importance of beeswax. About 2,000 years ago, one of China’s most famous books on medicine, The Shennong Book of Herbs, praised beeswax for its beneficial influence on blood and energy systems and attributed beeswax with beauty enhancement and anti aging properties.

Beeswax was also recognized as an important ingredient in wound treatment and dietary supplement. Beeswax candles were already used by the ancient Egyptians, ancient Greeks, and in Rome and China.

Beeswax candles have been used in European churches since the beginning of Christianity. The Roman Catholic Church only allowed beeswax candles to be used in the church. Although this law is still valid today, candles are no longer required to be 100 percent beeswax.

By the eleventh century, however, churches were using huge amounts of candles. They were able to maintain the necessary amount of beeswax in part by having apiaries in every monastery and abbey. In the days of Marco Polo, beeswax was abundant and was often used to pay tribute to kings. But despite its abundance, beeswax candles were only in the hands of the rich; the poor had to suffer with tallow candles. Today, when technology seems to trump all else, it is encouraging to see that a product with such a rich history is just as vital in the twenty-first century as it was long ago.