We heard some troubling news last week. A study from Food Safety News found that most of the stuff sold as honey on our grocery store shelves has been filtered so much that it no longer contains pollen. What?! Honey without pollen? Isn’t that why we buy honey in the first place, for all those antioxidants, nutrients and unique flavors. Also, as we read on ivillage.com, “without pollen, it is impossible to trace where honey comes from and guarantee its purity.”
Ever since our foray into beekeeping (that’s one of ours, above), we’ve have made a point of always buying honey at local markets. It’s also a great souvenir to bring back from travels. We’ve stocked up in the golden stuff from Martha’s Vinyard, Maine and California. During our recent visit down South, we stopped into a Savannah Bee Company store. After taste tasting their current offerings, we settled on a bottle of Sourwood, which has a rich, nutty flavor.
The good news from Food Safety News, is that honey from Trader Joe’s contained proper amounts of pollen. Just be sure to read those labels carefully when shopping elsewhere! — Angela M.
It’s been a while since we’ve given you an update on the bees. When last we checked in, we sadly discovered that one hive had starved to death. Now, as things have finally started thawing out in our little hamlet near the Hudson River, our worst fears of been realized. None of our hives survived the winter! The remaining two hives had plenty of honey, but they obviously couldn’t get to it. They most likely were huddled together for warmth, unable to dig into their reserve stock in the layer above. It’s so sad, especially now as the first bulbs we planted are starting to sprout. One theory on our failure is that we had tried to start our hives with Italian bees (the American honeybee no longer exists — all honeybees here are now bred from foreign lines). We have heard they are not very hearty for cold climates. Perhaps next year we’ll try Russian bees? — Angela M.
It’s been a while since we’ve written about the bees. When we last updated you, we had taken just a tiny bit of honey from one of the hives. At that time we were a little worried that one of the three seemed to have no honey at all. It was as if those bees had gotten really lazy and just stopped working. We had to remove its the upper layer because it was empty, and hoped they would just hunker down and survive the winter. Well, sadly, they didn’t even make it through Thanksgiving. We found a bunch of dead bees near the door to the hive, and sure enough, a peek inside confirmed our fears. The bees were all dead, starved. In this picture, you can see their sad fate. Their dove in deep, trying to get the last bit of honey they had made, and all their little butts are sticking out. We have a theory on why this hive didn’t survive and the others seem to be okay. It has to do with the way the hive was constructed — this one was more “free form” while the others are ready-made to go. You’d think the bees would be prefer the au natural hive route, but apparently not.
We probably won’t have another update until spring, as the other two hives will be left one alone to do their thing. Fingers crossed, they’ll survive a few cold months! Wish us luck! — Angela M.
It’s been a while since we’ve given you an update on our bee hives: We’ve been patiently letting them set up their homes and gear up for the coming winter. You see, fall honey production is dedicated to building up a stockpile to survive the cold months, and since our hives are just a few months old, we have to be mindful not to leave the cupboards bare. But when one produced several full sheets of capped honey in one week, we knew it would be okay to quench our curiosity and have a little taste. We took one sheet and scraped off all of the comb, including the honey, and mashed it through a fine filter. The honey we gathered is a rich a dark brown, the result of a fall harvest from lots of oak and chestnut trees near our home. The taste is unbelievable! It has a depth and flavor you just don’t get from mass produced honey. We got three precious bottles: One of our neighbor (whose flowers keep our bees happy), one for the vault and one to eat now! I’m hoping it will help fend off my seasonal allergies, which have been bad lately. Let the good times flow. — Angela M.
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