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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here.Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Bees, Books and Honey

I am in a women's book club that meets monthly. At our meetings the hostess generally serves food that fits the book - either food that was mentioned in the book or food that relates in some other way to the book.

Last year in my first year as a beekeeper, I had chosen (pre-my own bees) Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God as the selection for my turn in October. There's a wonderful passage in the book about bees, as it turns out. Janie, the heroine, has spent most of the day under a blossoming pear tree. Here is the passage (it's rather seductive):

"She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees, the gold of the sun and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her. She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to the tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight. So this was a marriage!"

a little later:

"Oh to be a pear tree - any tree in bloom! With kissing bees singing of the beginning of the world! She was sixteen. She had glossy leaves and bursting buds and she wanted to struggle with life but it seemed to elude her. Where were the singing bees for her?"
So in response to this part of the book, I gave all of the women who came to the meeting jars of honey to take home.

This year I wanted to do the same thing - give the members honey to take home and I wanted to have a book for which bees played a significant part, so that I could make food that all had to do with honey. Everyone had read The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd and just about everyone has either seen or read Fried Green Tomatoes (although wouldn't that be fun to have fried green tomatoes!) so I couldn't suggest those titles.

I searched Amazon and ordered a number of books:

The Beekeeper's Apprentice - by Laurie R. King
A good book but has very little actually about bees. It's based on the premise that Sherlock Holmes retired and became a beekeeper. There's a wonderful passage right at the beginning about bee-lining, but other than that the bees are like wallpaper for the mystery and play a very side-line role.

The Honey Thief - by Elizabeth Graver
I liked this book about an unhappy little girl who befriends a neighborhood beekeeper. Early on we learn that the child takes things that aren't hers and this applies to her beekeeping relationship as well. Somehow it didn't quite work for me as the book for this year's book club.

Beeing: Life, Motherhood and 180,000 Honeybees - by Rosanne Thomas
This is a nonfiction book about a woman who learns a lot about life and herself when she becomes a beekeeper. She sort of fell into beekeeping so I identify with her and her struggles parallel some of my own with the bees. While I loved reading this book, I thought my book club members who were not actual beekeepers would not particularly find it as intriguing as I did.

A Hive of Suspects: An Irish Village Mystery - by Sheila Pim
This wonderful little book has been republished by Rue Morgue Press. It is about a murder, closely linked to bees. The victim was a beekeeper and for a while, it looks as if the bees may have murdered their keeper. The author, who was also a fabulous gardener, weaves so much interesting knowledge about beekeeping into the fabric of the story that I thought even the non beekeeper would find it fascinating. The beekeeping while always playing significantly in the background does not dominate the plot. I thought it would be perfect.

The meeting is on Tuesday night, and I've had some feedback from a few members that they liked the book, but we'll see for sure on Tuesday.

I'm serving all honey based food. We're having:

Honey-baked Chicken from Kim Flottum's The Backyard Beekeeper (p. 129)
Honey Carrots (also from The Backyard Beekeeper (p. 142))
Apple Salad from The Backyard Beekeeper (p. 148)
Biscuits with my own cut comb honey from The Gourmet Cookbook (p. 596) - which despite the terrible yellow unreadable titles for the recipes is one of the best cookbooks I own, and this is the best biscuit recipe ever - better even than my southern mother's recipe.

My daughter gave me for Mother's Day a cake pan that bakes a honey skep cake from Williams Sonoma that came with its own recipe for Lemon Beehive Cake - so we'll have that for dessert.

I'll take pictures and let you know how it all comes out.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:14 PM

    This all sounds so interesting. I wish I could join this group and eat all this wonderful food.

    I am curious about the book you choose and I will read it also.

    Have a wonderful time


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