The Bees Knees Sangria

Meramec Vineyards, St.James, used my honey for one of their unique sangria drinks. (Photo by Meramec Vineyards)

Meramec Vineyards, St.James, used my honey for one of their unique sangria drinks. (Photo by Meramec Vineyards)

The Bees Knees Sangria

Over the holidays, I gave Michelle and Joe Boulware of Meramec Vineyards some honey for Christmas. The next thing I knew, they were using the honey for one of their signature sangria drinks, appropriately enough called “The Bees Knees.”

Ever since the Boulwares’ purchased the winery about a year ago, they have been featuring fun events, special supper club dinners and interesting drinks like “the Bees Knees Sangria.”

I don’t drink alcohol often but I may be tempted to give The Bees Knees Sangria a try, I do love lemon, too!


Packaged Clover Honey

Packaged clover honey at a hotel's in-house breakfast buffet.

Packaged clover honey at a hotel's in-house breakfast buffet.

Packaged Clover Honey

I was spending a weekend at a hotel in Kansas City, Missouri - well, Kansas, actually, just over the border - for a friend's son's wedding. The hotel was chosen because it was within 10 miles of all of the wedding-related venues - rehearsal dinner, wedding, wedding reception and bride and groom's new home.

It was a great opportunity to reconnect with friends I had not seen in awhile as well as a chance to meet my friend's family.

As we settled in for breakfast, I spotted the honey package on the buffet and helped myself to one. It was honey made in USA so I was reasonably assured it was real honey. I wondered in passing if Pooh Bear wondered if the honey he found was also real.

Although I try to stay away from applying heat to honey so that the beneficial enzymes in honey remain, it was the perfect addition to my lemon tea after a long day of parties and chaufferring.

I'm sure Winnie the Pooh would have approved.

Good morning!



What's On a Honey Label

Bluebird Gardens honey is just as it comes out of the hive. Actually, the labels include which hive.
In this case, it's bees from Mildred hive, named after my grandmother. It was harvested by hand June 23, 2012.

It hasn't been mixed or had artificial flavorings added.

If honey gets cloudy, put in warm water to clear. No need to refrigerate, honey can last literally for centuries.


Honey Wax Caps

Once comb is filled with nectar and dehydrated to 18%, the oldest bees cap cells with wax.

Bees make honey to give them food through winter. When they need to eat, they chew through wax caps to get to the stored honey.

Melted wax caps become those highly-prized for a variety of home and beauty products including clean-burning beeswax candles.


New Route 66 Bluebird Gardens Honey Display

Isn't this fun?

It's the new display at Route 66 Farmer's Market in Cuba, Missouri for Bluebird Gardens honey. Kelly Stroh does a nice job with her signs. The two top honey jars are by a local potter.

Drive into Cuba, MO and you'll see the farmer's market on the left, right after a car wash.

Open Fridays and Saturdays.


Meet A Honeybee!

It's amazing to think something half an inch long and maybe 1/4 inch wide is responsible for every third bite we eat. Honeybees are small but very sophisticated.

Scientists continue to study how these tiny creatures live together in colonies of 40,000, dividing labor and easily adjusting to different chores when needed.

During their lifetime, they can produce food for new bees; wax comb where honey is stored; generate a wax-like substance from tree sap that wards off hive diseases, and royal jelly, which changes a bee into a queen. They also keep my garden growing by pollinating flowers, especially blue ones.

With honeybees, size really doesn't matter.


Building New Hive Supers

You would think a snowy winter would be a quiet time for beekeeping but it's a surprisingly busy time.

While my bees are keeping warm and eating stored honey, I'm getting ready for the next, relatively short honey producing season.

In Missouri, the season runs from May to July. Some high-producing hives may produce a second, much smaller honey crop in early fall.

One of my chores this winter is to make new supers with new frames. The supers will be added to the hive tops as extra honey storage room. Each hive needs to store around 70 lbs of honey to make it through winter. Once they get that much honey, anything extra is honey I can harvest without taking winter food away from the colony.

After glueing and nailing four super sides, I painted only the outside and started to fill them with brand new frames where bees will make wax comb and store honey. Only six more to go!


Hershey Hug Honeybee Ingredients

One of my gardening friends asked if she could make Hershey Hug Honeybees out of all white chocolate. The Hershey part won't have stripes so I think the delectable treat will look more like a bug than a honeybee.

You can use plain white bark or special white chocolate bark like Ghirardelli chocolate. When shopping for Hershey Hug Honeybee ingredients, try to keep all the parts relatively proportional to each other.

When looking for maraschino cherries without stems, select a jar with cherries about the same size as the bottom of a Hershey Hug. I have found maraschino cherry sizes vary so I now the bottom of cherry jars to get cherries about an inch wide.

Also make sure the sliced almond slivers are a healthy size for honeybee wings. I went through several almond sliver bags before finding the larger size.

Most people don't use toothpicks in their kitchen staples anymore so pick up a box of flat wood toothpicks you can easy cut into one thirds each. You can easily pick these up by the antenna but I also like to give them their own mini-cupcake papers.

Don't forget a little tube of black decorator icing for eyes.


Honey for Sale at Route 66 Antiques

When I ended up with extra honey in 2011, I decided to sell it at a new antique and pre-1970s collectibles store off Interstate 44. I packaged the honey in 2 oz. glass jars so people could sample strained raw honey and honey with comb just as it comes out of the hive. Honey is also a wonderful hydrating facial. Each jar contains enough honey for 6-8 facials.

Welcome to My Bee Garden

My bees were locally-raised and bred to be tame and good honey producers.

Although they are very tame, people still have some reticence to be around them so I use a garden flag to warn visitors they are approaching the apiary, or bee yard.

It took me a long time to find this little garden flag. For some reason, most artists draw bees as male.

As soon as I get an indelible marker, I'm adding long eyelashes so it looks more like a "she." Most bees are female.


Sticky Situation

It takes some finesse to work with honey.  One of it's properties is that it's very sticky!

When cooking with honey, first spray utensils lightly with vegetable spray.

Allow to dry for a couple of minutes, then pour honey into it.

Vegetable spray will help honey slide smoothly from your measuring utensils and make clean-up easier.

Did you know it takes 12 bees their lifetime to make 1 teaspoon of honey?


Bees Packing Pollen

One of the most wonderful scenes at a bee hive is the arrival of bees "packing pollen."

Bees will fly about 2 miles from the hive to find a pollen source. After getting their leg pouches full of pollen, bees will fly back to the hive and sometimes literally fall into the hive with their heavy baggage. Their pollen-filled legs are obvious as they slide into the hive entrance.

Once they lighten the load, they do a little waggle dance to communicate to other bees where they found pollen.

Pollen is the basic ingredient bees use to make honey.


Honey Laundering??

My friend Paul in Washington DC has a wacky sense of humor. When he led one of his recent emails with "don't look now but your honey has been laundered," I thought he was sending me a link to some weird news story about a beehive making it through a car wash. The link was to Food Safety New's early November 2011 findings that 3/4rths of imported honey sold in grocery stores doesn't qualify as honey. As I understand the issue, it boils down to having detectable pollen, which means the honey source can be identified. In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration says any product that's been ultra-filtered and no longer contains pollen isn't honey.

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Looking for Queen Bee

My assignment was to find one of my honeybee queens and (sigh) kill her. One of my two honeybee hives had been struggling. The verdict from more experienced beekeepers was that my queen bee - she's the only one in the hive of 40,000 plus honeybees that lays - is not laying her 1,200 eggs or so a day so she needs to be removed. Normally a queen bee will live 4-5 years, as opposed to a worker bee's 6 weeks of life producing 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey.

Read More

Can You Still Use Chrystallized Honey?

There's nothing wrong with honey that has turned cloudy and become thick.

To return crystallized honey to liquid form, place honey container in hot water for 5-7 minutes. Be careful of how hot you get the water; it can destroy some of honey's natural antioxidants. Do not heat honey in the microwave because it alters the honey taste.

It only takes a few minutes for honey to turn back into its original liquid form so every couple of minutes pull it out of the water to see if it's liquified.


Honey Is A Sweet Treat For Skin

In addition to being a great natural sweetener, honey has a multitude of benefits that many people don’t know about.

Manufacturers have used honey in everything from hand lotions and moisturizers to bar soaps and bubble baths. One reason they use honey is for its wholesome, all-natural image; more and more consumers are demanding cosmetics and personal care products made from natural ingredients.

Honey is a humectant, which means it attracts and retains moisture. This makes honey a natural fit in a variety of moisturizing products including cleansers, creams, shampoos and conditioners.

Look for honey in store-bought beauty products or simply add a squeeze of honey to your moisturizer, shampoo or soap at home.  For some extra pampering, try whipping up a simple beauty recipe yourself. I will share some of my personal favorites!


300 types of honey

Americans consume 1.5 pounds of honey per person annually. They don't guestimate how much bees eat a year.

There are more than 300 types of honey in the United States alone although I wonder how they count it because my bees have never made the same tasting-honey twice.

We all know a drop of honey in tea is good for a sore throat, but you can also add honey to most drinks for an extra energy boost.

How do you like to eat honey?