Did you know that honey bees have little baskets on their legs to collect pollen and nectar? Reading the novel Grey Bees, about a Ukrainian bee keeper, has piqued my interest in bees. I’ve been reading about how worker bees kick the drones out of the hive when they’ve mated with the queen, and about the little dance the bees do to tell their hive mates where the flowers are, and about those little baskets, which are called “corbiculae,” or little baskets, in Latin. There’s no end to fascinating info about bees.
Regarding our worries about colony collapse and the bee apocalypse, 60% of human foods, including plantains, squash, tomatoes, and peppers, do not depend on the honey bee. The honey bee was brought to the Americas by colonists, and our native plants have their own native pollinators. These native species, such as bumblebees, are the ones in trouble, because their foreign-born cousins are invasive. Honey bee numbers, according to the Washington Post, are at historic highs and are rising. “There are more honey bees on the planet today than at any time in history,” according to Scott Black, who directs the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
We can stop worrying about honey bees and start worrying about all the others.
Honey bees are like cows, a domesticated animal which produces a product — honey. I’ve used honey most recently in iced tea, which I experimented with making all summer. My favorite recipe comes from a website called Venison for Dinner, where a doughty homesteader named Kate demonstrates how to milk cows and goats, make cheese, and sew stuff, all while raising five children. She mixes two bags of Peach Passion Celestial Seasonings tea and one of black tea (like Lipton) in two liters (she’s Canadian) of water, with one-fourth cup of honey (I use less), a splash or two of lemon juice, and two pinches of salt. The last three ingredients make the tea more thirst-quenching than water, she maintains, because the non-tea ingredients replace nutrients and electrolytes that we lose in hot weather. You can use hot water and pop your pitcher into the refrigerator to chill. I use room-temperature water and let it sit out all night. The next day I enjoy a big glass with lots of ice.
Today, I had hoped to cook something with honey to write about, but the day got away from me. You know how it is. I planned to prepare these simple Honey Roasted Carrots. We can all try it sometime soon. Report back if you make it.
8 medium carrots, peeled and trimmed to about the same size
3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup honey
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place whole carrots in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and mix until the carrots are covered. Drizzle with honey. Mix with salt and pepper until evenly coated. Bake about 30 minutes.
A whole cup of honey! This sounds delicious.
An oldie but goldie:
1 cup milk
1 cup honey
1/4 cup soft butter or oil
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, or use half white and half whole wheat
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup walnuts (optional)
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.
Combine milk and honey in a saucepan. Stir over heat until blended. Take off heat. Beat in butter or oil, eggs and dry ingredients until well blended. Fold in nuts (optional).
Place in greased and floured loaf pan. Bake one hour at 325 degrees F. Cool 15 minutes in pan. Cool before slicing.
From: The Tassajara bread book, by Edward Espe Brown, Shambala, 1970.