Honey, Honey!

My friend Douglas recently took up beekeeping. Last Saturday, he made a trip up to Greenwich to Betterbee, which apparently is a big beekeeping mecca. He spent a pleasant hour in line, chatting with other beekeepers, and picked up his pre-ordered honey bees — all 20,000 of them.

After waiting for a calm day (the wind would blow the little workers away), he gingerly placed them into their new homes (two hives). He must be a gentle mover or maybe a bee whisperer, because he completed the task with a mere three bee stings. The bees he chose are know for their mild disposition, so that may have been a factor as well.

If all goes well, Douglas will have honey by July. I plan to just happen to be in the neighborhood about that time.

Honey is a truly incredible thing. You can eat it, use it as a topical antiseptic or pat it on your face as a hydrating beauty mask (which is best done in a bubble bath because, as you know, honey is rather sticky).

Stored in an airtight container, honey will keep forever, or there about. It was found, still edible, in the tombs of ancient Egyptian pharaohs. I wondered about the person who decided to give the 1,000-year-old honey a try. Do you think they spread it on a biscuit?

Unlike refined white sugar, honey contains small amounts of vitamins and minerals. Raw honey is purported to boost immunity with its impressive levels of disease-fighting antioxidants. It may help reduce high cholesterol, promote better blood sugar control and even cure a hangover. Honey is a soothing, effective cough suppressant. It’s also considered to be anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal. To accomplish all of that, it’s no wonder those little worker bees keep so busy.

Children younger than the age of 1 need to stay away from honey altogether. Along with all the good stuff comes spores that their growing immune systems aren’t equipped to handle.

The color and flavor of honey differs depending on what the bees have been buzzing around. Clover is the light-colored honey that you most often see. Keep your eye out for interesting variations like alfalfa (mild and light), blueberry (light amber) and buckwheat (dark and full-bodied).

My husband and I have been swapping out honey for refined sugar, so you may have noticed that if I’m making a recipe that requires sweetening, I’ve been using honey. Getting my husband to switch from refined sugar to honey wasn’t too hard; I wonder how hard it will be to convince him that we need 20,000 bees in our backyard.