There are times when I’m sure that you’ve described yourself as being busy as a bee.
The hectic pace of life – not enough hours in the day – you know the drill.
Well, let me tell you, if you feel you are peddling away madly and getting nowhere fast, consider the honeybee.
In its short life of approximately six weeks the honeybee is flat out collecting one-fifth of a teaspoon of honey! Yep, all those frequent flyer points, to-ing and fro-ing from flower to hive to collect a measly drop in a teaspoon! These six short weeks are busily spent – half the time in the hive and the other half in the field, and the worker bees are all immature females.
The drones are the males and do no ‘work’ apart from the very important task of being ready to fertilise a receptive Queen bee.
The drones have larger eyes – all the better to see with – and have larger bodies than the worker bees.
However, they still need to be able to fly fast, as they mate whilst in flight and migrate from hive to hive.
Nice work if you can get it! The Queen of the hive is flat out laying approximately 1500 eggs a day, and right now, being spring, is her productive time.
The Queen (or mother) may live three years, and did you know that bees have been on planet earth more than 80 times longer than humans have? Gives some credence to the ol’ saying that hard work never killed anyone? Bees not only collect pollen which is the source of protein used in making royal jelly and other food for the bees, they also collect a type of resin which they use to seal holes in the hive.
They collect water, which is necessary for cooling the hive, fanning their wings – much like the process of an evaporative water cooler.
And, of course, collecting the nectar – a sugary syrup collected from many types of flowers, thereby giving us the wide variety of flavours one can detect in different honeys.
Generally, the paler the honey, the more subtle or milder the taste. Honey has been used for thousands of years in medicine. Doctors today are rediscovering the use of natural, unprocessed honey as a dressing, especially for ulcers. The sting of a bee is its death knoll, and one of the reasons beekeepers wear white protective suits is to make them look as least like a big dark, furry ‘bear’ which is a predator of the bees.
In the kitchen, honey has a myriad of uses.
Honey marries well with sesame, rum, soy, ginger, oranges, garlic, and almonds to name just few couplings.
Drizzle honey onto porridge, or sweeten a fruit salad with a mixture of honey and sour cream. You can lead off into many different cuisines, perhaps Asian flavours, Greek sweet pastries, Moroccan rubs for lamb, honeyed prawns, and lemon and honey chicken to name just a few.
Now that we will soon be returning to the BBQ for perhaps weekend entertaining, or a mid-week family meal, here’s something for you to try.
A delicious marinade for a boned leg of lamb can be made by combining, honey, garlic, orange zest and spices.
Honey, and therefore by association, bees have been in the news of late in regard to the adulterated imported honey. It’s certainly not ‘fake news’ to say that ‘fake honey’ is truly posing a very real threat to the viability of Australian beekeepers.
So I encourage you to select your honey very carefully – always buying real honey – not one that has been modified with various syrups.
Apart from declining sales of honey, the other totally vital aspect of the beekeeping industry is the role bees play in pollinating our food crops.
The Australian almond industry is just one example of how we must ensure the viability of our local beekeepers, to ensure food security for the future.
This delicious recipe is for a leg of lamb which can be ‘butterflied’ out – the butcher will do this for you, but it is fairly easy to do yourself.
This makes it easier to cook on the barbecue. However, you can bake the lamb in the oven if you prefer.
Massage this marinade into the leg – of lamb that is – and leave in the fridge overnight.
Fire up the chargrill section on the barbie and cook, turning it as least as possible, for about 10-15 minutes each side, depending on the thickness of the meat.
Allow the lamb to rest on a warmed serving plate, and carve moist, pinkish lamb together with perhaps a dollop of yoghurt to which you have added cucumber and garlic, a side dish of green beans (or a green salad) and jacket potatoes. Yum. Thank goodness for the industrious and busy bees!