Robin Fontaine and Alison Landry can tell by the buzzing.
If there’s a happy little hum, their beehives are OK. As soon as the buzzzzz grows more aggressive, it’s a sign the bees are crowded or dealing with invasive bugs.
“You kind of know when a hive is not right,” Fontaine says. “We are one with the bees.”
Fontaine, 61, and Landry, 35, have been beekeeping for about five years. The mother-daughter duo might have 300,000 to 500,000 bees combined in their Port Allen backyards on any given day.
Inside their home kitchens, the women prepare natural beauty products, raw honey and food wraps all made from the bees’ byproducts.
They sell their Bee Pure Apiary goods on their website and around town at Red Stick Spice Co., MJ’s Cafe, Season to Taste and the Mid City Makers and Baton Rouge Arts markets.
Their food wraps will likely be especially popular during the dinner party-filled holiday season. Landry hand-coats printed 100% cotton fabric in beeswax, pine tree resin and natural oils. The materials make the wraps antibacterial, antifungal and impermeable.
“It helps keep food fresh in and of itself way better than plastic would,” Landry says.
The waterproof wraps can be used to seal lunches and snacks and to cover bowls and containers. Fontaine likes to use them to keep lettuce crisp and prevent avocado halves from browning.
Each package comes with versatile large, medium and small wraps. They’re available in about 25 different patterns: colorful fabrics covered with vintage campers, unicorns, flowers and mustard polka dots.
“When we first came up with the idea of the wraps, we thought it was really in line with what our company is all about: protecting the environment for the bees,” Landry says. “This reduces plastic waste, which is such a huge negative impact on our environment and, in turn, on the bees’ habitat.”
They’ve been making the food wraps for nearly three years. The entire production process has become a family affair. The women brave the occasional sting to tend to the hives. They label jars and make their own packaging. Whenever possible, they involve Landry’s children, who even have their own bee suits.
And if they do get stung? The women swear by a little honey to relieve the pain. beepureapiary.com
How to use the wraps
Beeswax food wraps are ideal for items like cheese, bread, sandwiches and vegetables, or anything you’d store in a container (other than raw meat). Allow your food to come to room temperature before covering. Use the warmth of your hands to mold the wrap around your item. With proper care, each wrap will last up to a year. Wash them with a soft sponge, cool water and mild dish soap. Look for a natural soap and/or soap without a degreaser.