A Perfumer’s Treasure – South Florida Bee Goo

by | Apr 6, 2014 | Anya McCoy, raw materials of perfumery | 9 comments

South Florida wildflower bee goo. Note the thick, sticky consistency, much like a marmalade

South Florida wildflower bee goo. Note the thick, sticky consistency, much like a marmalade

I finally found a local source for bee goo, and there will probably be a steady supply. In 2003, on the Natural Perfumery group I host on Yahoo, a few members spontaneously, synchronistically, started to write about a tincture of bee goo they were using. Since beeswax absolute is very expensive, they figured out that perhaps the end caps and stuff from the hive that was collecting on the bottom floor of the hive, could be useful in perfumery, too, at much less of a cost.

The bee goo contains soft wax, propolis, bee gunk, honey, pollen, and general gunk, like maybe some dead bees and some unidentifiable bee hive “stuff”. The terroir determines the scent. I have had bee goo tinctures and some bee goo sent to me in the past from Europe, North Carolina, Washington state and several other locales. All have lovely fragrances, reflecting the terroir – the pollen and general cultural conditions of each locale. My new stash of bee goo is from South Florida wildflowers, and has a light, lovely hay-like scent.

Bee goo tincture works in much the same way as beewax absolute – it provides a lot of fixative and pheromonal power to a perfume. I’ll weigh the first batch I have and probably make a 1:3 weight/weight dilution with 190 proof organic sugar cane alcohol for the tincture. I’ll age it for a month or so, shaking daily, and then filter and use the filtered alcohol as a fixative in perfumes. Now that I’m connected with this beekeeper, and some farm folks here in South Florida, they’re all on the look out to get me more bee goo. So happy!

9 Comments

  1. Anastasia

    So excited you have found a local source Anya! As a native Floridian..who loves living here always, I celebrate all things Florida, like you, as well! Excellent News! Happy Sunday! 🙂

    Reply
  2. Anna Marie Isgro

    Hi Anya! The bee-goo is so cool. Wonder what it would smell like, and if you could still use it, if it came from orange blossoms.

    Reply
  3. Anya

    Hi Anastasia:
    Yes, I’m happy about this, because I’ve had several false starts in my quest to obtain local bee goo.

    Anya

    Reply
  4. Anya

    Anna Marie, I was just saying to some folks that I don’t think I’d like orange blossom honey. I find it too sweet to eat, so that may carry over into the bee goo. Then, being a true Libran, I am now reconsidering my stance, and will wait until I get some OB bee goo (if ever) and see if its usable. It may be mellower than the honey, and thus, usable.

    Anya

    Reply
  5. Michael Storer

    Hello Anya,
    I’d be very interested in experimenting with your Bee Goo for my fragrances.
    Can you let me know if you’re selling it and if so, how to go about obtaining a sample, purchasing, etc.?
    Was thrilled to catch word of this in my email re new LinkedIn postings!

    Thank you~

    Michael

    Reply
    • Anya

      Hi Michael:

      I only have a little bit right now, 75 grams. The beekeeper thinks he’ll be able to get me quart jars full about every few months in the future. What I suggest, and I think you’ll really like this, is find beekeepers in your area. They probably have a Facebook page or you can google beekeeping associations with your locale. Then, tell them you’d like to get the stuff they clear off the bottom of the hives, and maybe some end caps when then harvest the honey. Make sure they know what it should look like, use my photo. Someone recently sent me a brick of boiled, shaped beeswax -not! Also, try to find older hives, the older the better. The bee goo will probably have a more animalic scent, which I love, very desirable. Plus, if you find it local, then you have local terroir bragging rights 😉 Be patient, beekeepers seem to be on a very variable schedule. It will be worth it to form relationships.

      My next adventure? I’m going to extract beeswax absolute from unfiltered beeswax using 190 proof ethanol. It’s a multi-step process, and the yield is little, but supposedly amazing. I need to work out the details of the process before I write about it. Subscribe to this blog to see future updates.

      Thanks for stopping by,
      Anya

      Reply
  6. Lisa Marie Layman

    Hi Anya,

    Thanks so much for writing about bee goo. I am exhilarated and inspired! My husband and I have been keeping bees for four years now but it never occurred to me that I might be able to tincture the treasure lying on the bottom of the hives! That is pure genius Anya.

    I’ll give it a go with some Everclear, and would love to hear your methodology for extracting the unfiltered beeswax, if you feel you’d like to share that.

    So happy for your good fortune in finding a local source for bee goo. The good of one is the good of all! 🙂 Beekeepers work with the rhythms of the season — I’m sure bee goo harvesting could easily be incorporated into the seasonal caretaking tasks, but I’d assume that, like essential oils in plants, its makeup and availability depends on the caprice of any particular season.

    Good luck with your experimentation! I’m sure you’ll enjoy every minute of it.

    In essence,
    Lisa

    Reply
  7. Michael Storer

    Thanks for your helpful response, Anya.
    I live in rural AZ and indeed at times we see many bee hives tucked between the rows of the numerous crops that surround our home. Perhaps I’ll be lucky enough to find a willing local beekeeper.
    However, I fear that many of these little guys are trucked in from half the way across the country to do their work and then, like migrant workers, are transported somewhere else to do the same, spending the interim jostling on our interstate freeway system breathing and slowly dying from exhaust exposure.
    Sorry to have to bring up the alarming plight of the world’s bees, but we can all do a little to help save these miraculous creatures –without which so many species, including humankind could not survive– by planting copious flowering plants and wildflowers as ground cover for them to visit.

    Michael Storer, perfumer

    Reply
  8. Greyson Stoehr

    I’m on my second beekeeper at this point, and I discovered some other things. Beekeepers call what we call ‘bee goo’ with the term ‘floor honey’. Bees do NOT elinimate in the hive, they fly outside it to do their business. Aaaannnndddd he gave me this mixed substance which is a bit like propolis and a bit like wax and it smells like heaven!

    Reply

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