By Nijma Darwish
Photography by Catherine Murray
Barry and Carmen Conrads’ honey business, Conrad Hive and Honey, has been buzzing with warmth for more than 30 years. It began when Barry Conrad planted an orchid, realizing soon after that he needed bees to pollinate the plants.
The Conrads keep nearly 100 hives between their property on Wright Road near Canal Winchester and a few other properties located in neighboring counties. They are also the only full-service beekeeping supplier in Central Ohio.
After establishing their business, the Conrads began participating at the Ohio State Fair, showcasing their honey products. Carmen, the enthusiast she is, wanted to participate in the wax-building category where she soon developed a passion for making beautiful beeswax candles. The candles are now included in a collection offered by the Conrads’ line of “Barry Bees” honey products.
The 100% pure beeswax candles create a beautiful soft light and burn longer than regular candles. They also cleanse the air, according to Conrad. “When you walk into a room, you can tell the difference. The air is noticeably purer, cleaner and fresher.”
A beeswax candle made by Carmen and Barry contain no fragrances or coloring, so when it’s burning you’re exposed to an all-natural product. And expect to smell something sweet.
“The candles have a natural clean honey odor. Honey picks up its aroma from the type of nectar it’s being made from, so beeswax candles will have a variety of aromas,” Conrad said.
Carmen also noted that beeswax candles are not a petroleum by-product, which means that unlike soy and paraffin candles, pure beeswax candles don’t let off a black smoke. The candles generate negative ions while burning, creating a similar effect as houseplants; negative ions neutralize bad positive ions such as allergens, dust and air-borne toxin, improving air quality. In fact, they are the only candles suggested by the American Lung Association to be used for anyone with respiratory problems.
The Conrads’ work alongside their bees every day being careful not to interfere with them and their vital role in agriculture. While extracting the wax and honey used for the candles, they pull from a surplus amount, leaving at least the 60 pounds of honey that are needed for the bees to survive during the winter.
Bees eat eight pounds of honey to produce just one pound of wax.
“We have to cut off the wax capping [a type of lid placed on honey by the bees to keep the honey fresh and clean all winter] and collect those and let the honey drain out,” said Conrad. They then melt the capping and place it through several different filtering processes to gather any extra honey or impurities that may have been left behind. E ach type of candle, whether it’s a column, pillar or taper, takes a different amount of time to solidify.
For the holidays, the collection will feature candles resembling harvested corn and fresh pinecones. The beeswax candles are available to purchase at Celebrate Local at Easton, Clintonville Farmers Market and Nature’s Barn (very limited) in Lithopolis. For more information, visit hiveandhoney.com.