[Karen Naess – For Shaw Media]
[Erin Murphy and Kristie Breener look at a finished sustainable wrap in a "Beeswax Wraps: Sustainable Food Wraps" class on Feb 24 at McHenry County College.]
During the winter of 2006, beekeepers reported unusually high hive loss in relation to Colony Collapse Disorder, the EPA reported. CCD is a phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear, leaving the queen with young, immature bees, known as a brood, to care for her. Without worker bees, the hive cannot be sustained.
The percentage of hives lost to CCD has been on the decline since 2008, while the interest in personal beekeeping has become quite the popular sustainable hobby.
Larry Krengel teaches beekeeping classes at McHenry County College. He most recently taught two classes on “Beeswax Wraps: Sustainable Food Wraps.” Students were taught to make food wraps that can be used in place of plastic wrap or foil by baking fabric coated in beeswax and allowing it to dry. The sheets can be used repeatedly.
“Beeswax has been pre-empted by paraffin as of late, but, prior to it, beeswax was used,” Krengel said. “The idea for using beeswax as food wrap replaces tin foil and plastic wrap, which are not environmentally friendly, and it’s reusable. When you think you’ve used it up, you can heat it up and use it all over again.”
Krengel warned the wraps are only to be washed with cold water and mild soap. Warm water essentially will melt the beeswax. The wraps are not recommended for storing meat. Krengel started keeping honeybees in 1984, long before it became the thing to do. Today, Krengel tends 20 to 30 colonies at his bee yard in Woodstock.