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Me and Bees

Yes, Bees. Wow. I never thought much about bees,IMG_3121 and I definitely never thought that I would write about them.

This past year, I have made some major shifts. I have decided that I want to be home more (what a concept) and do more with our farm. As it is, we have almost thirty acres and three horses that roam free on it as well as four pigs, six chickens and 5 dogs (only three are ours, the others are fosters). Oh! And two cats that live in the barn that pretend to kill mice. Needless to say, there is room for expansion.

I decided to do a lot more with what God has given us. It would be sinful not to. So, I am now buying rabbits to raise for meat, bringing in the Master Gardeners from Aiken on Monday to tell me how to plant a huge garden and fruit orchard, as well as raising sheep, meat and milk goats and beef cattle. In my spare time I am building a greenhouse to raise flowers for florists as well as a commercial duck and quail operation. That ought to do it- for now.

However, I need bees. Something drove me to the idea that I needed one more thing on the farm, and that is bees. I found the Aiken Bee Society and attended my first meeting tonight. Wow. I feel small, stupid, not worthy now.

Bees pollinate 50% of the food that we consume. Half of our food! What does that mean? If they go down, we go down. As you guys can all guess, the bee population is not doing well. We all need to kick it up a notch and raise bees.

As I listened to the speakers, I was drawn into the world of bees. Their social structure is noble and extremely cool. They have, of course, the queen bee that only feeds on royal jelly and lays three times her weight in eggs per day. The worker and nurse bees all have specific duties in the hive. Then there are scout bees and bees that collect the pollen- one bee must travel up to 55 miles to produce not even a pint of honey! As the bees age, they shift out jobs to what they are capable of doing. When the hive gets too big, the queen packs up and leaves the hive to one of her daughters….. taking lots of bees with her. It is crazy- and this one just one class!

All of the things that bees produce (not just honey) can cure just about anything. Really.

These people really love their bees. They talk about them as if they are their family. They care for them. They buy “the girls” umbrellas for their hives so they don’t get too warm in the summer. They paint the hives different colors so the bees know which box to fly into (bees can see more colors then us). They grieve when a queen dies. They giggle at bee jokes.

I now feel a moral obligation to be a beekeeper and wear one of those little suites that looks like something from a hazmat operation.

I think that we all should do this….

And make this super yummy snack with honey!!!

Roasted Almonds with Honey

2 – 2½ cups raw almonds
⅛ cup turbinado sugar
¼ cup honey
¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¾ teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat your oven to 325° F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. If using parchment, lightly oil it.

Combine the sugar and salt in a bowl large enough to accommodate the almonds and set aside.

Melt the honey in a large skillet over low to medium heat. Add the cayenne and the almonds and stir until all the nuts are coated with the honey and spice.
Spread the nuts in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. Let the almonds cool slightly and toss them in the sugar-salt mixture. Remove the parchment or wax lining from the baking sheet and spread out the almonds on it again to let them cool completely.

Transfer to a serving bowl and they’re ready!

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