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      Canastota beeswax candle company competes in Martha Stewart competition

      Brian Howell, Bee Man Candle Company

      When Brian Howell was 12, he told his mother he wanted to use the oven to make beeswax candles. He had been working with a beekeeper but his mother had her doubts.

      "He wanted to melt the wax in our ovens and I said oh no - so I went away to a meeting, I came back one night and he had blown up my microwave."

      Twenty two years later, Brian Howell is still using conventional ovens. Now his "Bee Man Candle Company" supplies companies around the U.S. with handmade artisan candles. Last year he moved the company from Charlotte back to his hometown of Canastota and decided to submit an entry for Martha Stewart's American Made small business awards.

      "So we applied and out of 2000 people we ended up being chosen as a finalist. 100 people out of two thousand," said Howell on Wednesday.

      The Bee Man is now the leading vote getter with over 10,000 votes. Voting concludes on September 24th.

      The Bee Man will be opening a retail store in Canastota next month and Howell says he's grateful for every vote that has come in to the contest.

      "The community has come together in a way I really can't believe. people are coming up, passing out flyers for us, people are sharing and sharing with social media outlets. Facebook, Twitter," said Brian Howell.

      Howell says his company??s success is due to the care and precision he takes with every candle made. He doesn??t use any automated equipment. Each candle comes from an individual mold or is dipped by hand.

      Howell says he hopes to expand The Bee Man but also wants to be sure he can maintain quality standards.

      You can vote for The Bee Man here.