Honey Bees…

National Honey Bee Day is just around the corner (August 16th) and I’ll confess I knew little about bees (including that they had their own day) until recently.

My knowledge of bees was limited to my childhood love for topping my yogurt with honey and granola. I didn’t start thinking about honey bees until a beekeeping member of our gatheredtable team, David W, brought in his home-harvested honey… in different flavors to reflect the different plants the bees visit (my favorite is the “fireweed” variation).

David hosted a Honey Bee open house at his house recently, and we had the pleasure of learning more about these tiny producers of natural sweetener:

  1. Hate insects? Make an exception – bees are the only insects in the world that make food humans can eat.
  2. Love produce? Thank a bee! Honey bees pollinate ~80% of all fruits and vegetables in the U.S.
  3. Dollop of honey on your yogurt this am? That was the work of 24 honey bees over their lifetimes.
  4. Seasonal allergies? Honey bee pollen has been found to reduce the presence of histamine, taming many allergies. It works best when you buy local honey to address the pollen in your local environment (our ceo Mary has been giving this to her pollen-allergic son for years and swears by it)
  5. Self conscious dancer? Apiologists (who study honey bees) have realized that honey bees communicate with one another via a “dance”, known as the not-very-scientific-sounding “waggle”.
  6. Should you worry about Colony Collapse Disorder? Yes- bees are leaving their hives and disappearing! “C.C.D. has been characterized as a crisis on top of a crisis” said writer Elizabeth Kolbert in The New Yorker as early as 1997. While the cause is in unclear, you can help by reducing use of pesticides, (especially mid-day when bees are actively pollinating).

At gatheredtable, we want to help you and your family eat fresh, healthy and seasonal foods, and none of this would possible if bees weren’t around to do their job. So we raise our honeycombs to our hard working friends and leave you with some of the team’s favorite honey-ingredient recipes for your summertime meals, a baking tip from our culinary manager Victoria, a few pictures from our fun day visiting with honey bees and some questions…

Have a favorite honey recipe? A favorite local honey producer in your area? Ideas for how people can show their appreciation for honey bees on Thursday, August 16th?

gatheredtable favorites:

jicama and watermelon salad (we sampled this at the Queen Anne Farmers Market!)

watermelon jicama salad

chipotle-lime grilled chicken (a hit at our team lunch two weeks ago- divine!)

chipotle-lime chicken

greek yogurt with honey and strawberries (my childhood staple- oh!, plus beets)

Want to substitute honey for sugar in your baking? Here’s some guidelines from Victoria:

  • lower the temp 25 degrees (honey browns more quickly than sugar)
  • substitute 2/3 cup of honey for every cup of sugar (and reduce other liquids in the recipe by ¼ cup )
  • substitute max 1 cup of sugar with honey per recipe because it changes the texture of the baked good (yielding a more dense and moist product)

Bee Day Pictures:

photo 5photo 4photo 1photo 3honey

PS: If you are interested in taking more of an active roll in beekeeping, reach out to a local beekeeping club for advice! Here is a local one for Seattlites: http://www.nwdba.org/

Happy Cooking,

Aileen

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