The Five Plants Bees Love Best

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Deborah DeLong:

This is a very popular post and many of you have requested seeds this year. I’ve restocked and will be happy to fill any and all orders!!

Originally posted on Romancing the Bee:

Okay, I’ve accepted that all of you aren’t going to become beekeepers, despite my best efforts to persuade you to don a beesuit and pick up a smoker and a hive tool.

Some of you are allergic.  Some of you just can’t understand how I can enjoy playing with critters that sometimes sting me. Beekeeping isn’t  for everyone, and that’s okay.

So is there anything you can do to help save the bees? Absolutely!

As most of you know, bees collect nectar and pollen from plants for food. They make honey from the nectar. Pollen is their sole protein source (honey bees are vegetarians) and they use it to make food for their young.

Some plants have more nectar and pollen than others. According to  Dr. Vetaley Stashenko, an apiculturist, naturopath and apitherapist, the five top plants to support the honeybees with nectar and pollen throughout the season are Borage…

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Telling The Bees

This is an earlier post which gives some background on the tradition of “telling the bees.”

Until the late 19th century, beekeeping was almost exclusively a family affair.  It was common for households to keep at least two or three hives, and bees were considered valuable members of the family.

It was a common belief that bees could understand what was said and done around them, and they were often treated as having human emotions. As a result, families were careful to inform the bees of important  family events such as marriages, births and deaths. This custom became known as  “telling the bees.”

“Telling the bees” was done in various ways,  including tapping the hive with a key, whispering the news to the bees, and leaving an appropriate gift – a piece of wedding cake or some other refreshment – at the entrance of the hive. It was also customary to drape the hives with black crepe or wool.

It was feared that if the bees were not properly informed, they would die or desert the family. This custom was so prevalent that it was celebrated in 19th century literature and art.

British artist Charles Napier Hemy painted the poignant Telling The Bees.

Telling the Bees

American Transcendentalist poet John Greenleaf Whittier wrote a poem of the same name.

Telling The Bees

Here is the place; right over the hill
Runs the path I took;
You can see the gap in the old wall still,
And the stepping-stones in the shallow brook.

There is the house, with the gate red-barred,
And the poplars tall;
And the barn’s brown length, and the cattle-yard,
And the white horns tossing above the wall.

There are the beehives ranged in the sun;
And down by the brink
Of the brook are her poor flowers, weed-o’errun,
Pansy and daffodil, rose and pink.

A year has gone, as the tortoise goes,
Heavy and slow;
And the same rose blows, and the same sun glows,
And the same brook sings of a year ago.

There ‘s the same sweet clover-smell in the breeze;
And the June sun warm
Tangles his wings of fire in the trees,
Setting, as then, over Fernside farm.

I mind me how with a lover’s care
From my Sunday coat
I brushed off the burrs, and smoothed my hair,
And cooled at the brookside my brow and throat.

Since we parted, a month had passed,–
To love, a year;
Down through the beeches I looked at last
On the little red gate and the well-sweep near.

I can see it all now,–the slantwise rain
Of light through the leaves,
The sundown’s blaze on her window-pane,
The bloom of her roses under the eaves.

Just the same as a month before,–
The house and the trees,
The barn’s brown gable, the vine by the door,–
Nothing changed but the hives of bees.

Before them, under the garden wall,
Forward and back,
Went drearily singing the chore-girl small,
Draping each hive with a shred of black.

Trembling, I listened: the summer sun
Had the chill of snow;
For I knew she was telling the bees of one
Gone on the journey we all must go!

Then I said to myself, “My Mary weeps
For the dead to-day:
Haply her blind old grandsire sleeps
The fret and the pain of his age away.”

But her dog whined low; on the doorway sill,
With his cane to his chin,
The old man sat; and the chore-girl still
Sung to the bees stealing out and in.

And the song she was singing ever since
In my ear sounds on:–
“Stay at home, pretty bees, fly not hence!
Mistress Mary is dead and gone!”

Many modern beekeepers will understand their ancestors’ desire to treat their winged charges with love and respect.  I know I’ve started talking to my bees. They seem to like it.

 

Cooking With Honey – Honeycomb Pull Apart Cake

Deborah DeLong:

Another Honey Cake Recipe!!

Honeycomb Pan available for purchase from Romancing the Bee for $45 plus shipping and handling.

Originally posted on Romancing the Bee:

Reblogged from Chronicles of a Beekeeper Wife

Honeycomb Pull Apart Cake

 
Honeycomb cake image

Do you have some special people coming over, a birthday celebration,or maybe you are going to your annual beekeepers’ potluck? You’ll do no wrong by serving this conversational piece. It is easy to make and fun to serve. The honey lemon glaze is especially tasty, and on a hot summer day, I suggest serving alongside a scoop of lemon sorbet or Italian ice. Either way, serving up this honeycomb cake is going to be a hit at your next gathering!

Prep
You’ll need to purchase this Honeycomb novelty pan. Itis made by Nordic Ware (very high quality heavy cast aluminum construction). Mine was purchased onsite at the King Arthur Flour Bake Store in Norwich, VT; however, I don’t see it in their online store. The good news is that Williams-Sonoma and Amazon currently sell it.

honeycomb cake pan image
Front…

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Welcome To Spring!

Originally posted on Romancing the Bee:

Welcome to the first day of spring!

festivalspringequinox

The vernal equinox occurred this morning (in case you felt something unusual happening…)

It’s the moment when the earth’s axis is not turned toward the sun (summer, for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere), or away from it (winter), but is aligned with the center of the sun.

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The word equinox comes from Latin: aequus means equal, level, or calm; nox means night, or darkness. The equinox, in spring or fall, is a time when the day and night are as close to equal as they ever are, and when the hours of night are exactly equal for people living equidistant from the equator either north or south.

It also marks the date when gardeners begin their work for the growing season. Margaret Atwood wrote:

“Gardening is not a rational act. What matters is the immersion of the hands in the earth…

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Easy Cassoulet With Honey

cassoulet

It’s snowing in Cincinnati and getting colder by the minute. When the weather’s like this, all I want is some hearty cassoulet!  If I can’t wait until tomorrow to have it, this is the recipe I use. It’s SO good!

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 onion, thinly sliced

3 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice

3 parsnips, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 tomato, chopped, or one 8-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped

3 15-ounce cans of great Northern, cannellini, or navy beans, drained and rinsed

5 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup plain breadcrumbs

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons salted butter, melted

Directions

In a Dutch oven (a heavy pot, usually made of cast iron, that you can use on the stovetop and in the oven), heat the oil over medium heat. Cook the sausage until well browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Remove and drain on paper towels; set aside.

Pour out the excess oil from the Dutch oven. Add the chicken broth, vegetables, beans, thyme, honey, salt, pepper, a third of the garlic, and the sausage and return to heat. Mix well, scraping up any brown bits that have stuck to the bottom of the Dutch oven. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour, until thickened and the vegetables are tender.

Heat oven to 400° F. In a bowl, combine the bread-crumbs, parsley, butter, and remaining garlic. Sprinkle evenly over the cassoulet and place in the oven. Bake, uncovered, until the crust is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.

Salted Honey and Chocolate Bark

Deborah DeLong:

Awesome Recipe!!

Originally posted on Seattle Foodshed:

We love the complex flavors of this bark recipe from Bon Appetit: the earthiness of the cacao nibs and coffee + the sweetness of the cherries and chocolate + the saltiness of the crumbled saltines and sea salt flakes. The flavors may be complex, but making these cookies is easy.

Salted Honey & Chocolate Bark

Salted Honey & Chocolate Bark

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The Winter Solstice And The Bees

Deborah DeLong:

Winter cluster!!

Originally posted on Romancing the Bee:

060211_snowbees

The Winter Solstice is the real beginning of the cycle of the New Year.

It marks the shortest day and longest night of the year, when the sun’s daily maximum elevation in the sky is the lowest.

The Solstice officially arrived at the same instant for all of us on Earth – 11:12 UTC – but our clocks say different times due to varying time zones.

This year the Winter Solstice in Cincinnati happened this morning at 6:12 a.m. EST.

hive in winter

After the Winter Solstice the days gradually get longer until spring season arrives. It’s  important to honey bees and how they manage their hive throughout the winter.

Within the darkness of the hive, unable to see that the light lasts a bit longer each day, the Queen Bee senses that the Solstice has arrived. The Winter Solstice is one of the first signs to her that it is time to take up…

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