“Hive Got a Honey of a Story For You!”

Jul 11


Honey. What a remarkable substance in nature! A major gift to all woman and mankind.


In a time when our bees are in distress with mysterious diseases or elements that are killing off the hives, we have to take some action . Not wanting here to go into all the details ; the historical and scientific facts of why we need these unbelievable creatures to be healthy and abundant….most all of us know this fact all too well. That being said, I do want to share some kudos for Julia, my friend who sometimes has a Guest Offering herein.

It has been a couple of years ago, I believe, when she installed a home bee hive.I recall that she was so excited about having her own honey, but also doing a little something that benefited her neighborhood too. It has a natural wood construction and quite handsome, but practical. Julia explained it’s workings, design,maintenance,honey extraction….all the things an excited backyard bee keeper would need to know. She is so much more dedicated than me. I promptly forgot all she told me,I was excited for her and just wanted to see some honey. Her hive has gone through changes and recently she got stung for the first time. She said it was her own fault for not “beeing” attentive, (sorry, I couldn’t help myself!). She also captured her first swarm…I have no idea what that means. When we meet soon, she will tell me all about it.

My whole point here is that if you have a garden in your yard-big or small , are an avid gardener…even if it is a small garden like Julia’s…… sharing space with some chickens, some fruit trees (I gave her a gift some time back of a Russian quince tree – the fruit can be eaten right off the tree, fresh like an apple-most quince must be cooked ), lots of herbs , various vegetable and raspberry plants a commitment to a bee hive is something to consider. I even think I would tackle it (Ha! I have Julia for advice) if I had my own garden. There are many sources throughout the USA for learning what you need to have a proper hive, maintain it and eventually harvest some golden honey for your friends and family. Hence,consider doing yourself and your neighborhood a good turn. These most industrious of creatures only know one thing and they do it well-pollinating in the process of going about their “beesness”(ouch- uncalled for and childish) of making sure the hive survives and keeps the species alive.Making that honey we love!

Abby, Matt and Julia’s beloved black Labrador retriever, has learned to steer clear of the bees in the back yard (she used to have the whole space to herself-first the chickens, then those darn bees moved in). She does an expert job of chasing the squirrels from the persimmon tree and burying her bones, a later treat to be enjoyed. Julia and I recently marveled at a story of a bee keeping black Labrador in Australia, “Bazz”, who has his own bee keeping suit. He has a vital and uniquely special job….detecting hive destroying diseases. Amazing and delightful! Abby wags her tail in agreement, she would be game for the same job…..except, Abby is in semi-retirement at the present. She has her paws full as it is with invading chickens, pesky squirrels and the ever- intruding crows.


It is an amazing food. Keep a jar in the pantry for 10 years and it is still fresh,or heat it overnight in a water bath and it will be good to eat later after cooling. An ancient tomb in Egypt yielded a pot of perfectly good honey.It is a natural skin moisturizer and it will heal open wounds and cuts.Mead wine is the worlds oldest known fermented beverage.Fact-99 % of a bee hive colony is made up of female worker bees,they dance after returning to the hive to let their sisters know where the best flowers are located.(sounds very human-like to me) There are 25,000 different bees in the world. Fascinating!

Years ago, here in Portland, Oregon, there was a family- owned produce stand/market- Corno’s, that had the feel of the old time urban farmers markets. I recall their incredible selections of honey….some coming from Oregon, California and Washington state. All manner of varieties lined the shelves, the light from the bright-day skylights shone through the different shaped jars and bottles- a riot of ambers,golds and rich yellows. One could buy raspberry,fireweed,sage,orange blossom,and the most common in the west-clover honey. Each one had a unique flavor, to use in your morning tea or with a favorite recipe.Me? Freshly made biscuits demand HONEY. The one that impacted me the most was avocado honey-dark and rich….almost like molasses. A little bit went a long way. I was not a fan of the eucalyptus honey,almost medicinal in scent and flavor. Living in Georgia many years later, I became a fan of Tupelo honey-from the blossoms of the Tupelo tree,only in southern Georgia and northern Florida. ItĀ  is my favorite of all the honey I have tasted. Mild,aromatic,and floral….rich and delicate at the same time. The song says it all.

Most of us grew up knowing about honey,hot water and lemon for the flu and colds…probably the most well known honey drink and home remedy. Add something else and some ice….and the honey becomes a bit more popular. Honey Bourbon Lemonade sounds pretty good on a hot summer day, at least to me. Make it with Wild Turkey American Honey Bourbon and life just got better for the time you take to sit, relax and enjoy. Especially while in a comfortable easy chair,it is a hot day,enjoying the shade and watching the activities from afar….someone else is tending your backyard hive! Someone much more qualified than you.You finally did something clever about this “back yard bee keeping” business! You don’t need any qualifications to enjoy this style of lemonade. A thought, if you are smart, make the lemonade with real cane sugar, add some finely grated lemon zest to the mix and consider using Meyer lemons for a” unique twist” (ouch…I did it again!). Question? If a” bees knees” get sore, does she rub on some Burt’s Bees ointments for relief?(Note something in the previous-the “you is me”?)

As a kid living on “the acre” in the 50’S, our kitchen always had honey.Put it onn pancakes, biscuits,for tea and Mom mixed it with peanut butter and put it on graham crackers.This was a favorite after school treat. My mother was British, and she especially loved orange blossom honey. I recall her telling me about all the different types of honey. Maybe it was from an old cartoon reference,I don’t know, but I remember fantasizing that the bees wore different uniforms as they worked gathering their different kinds of honey. Makes sense to a six year old-YES? The industrious sage honey workers had flat hats like the wise professors.Orange blossom honey workers had bright orange work suits and drank only orange juice when they got thirsty. The eucalyptus honey workers wore white lab coats and were very serious about their duties. It is amazing what a child’s mind will conjure up with a suggestion.

I didn’t like bees too much , the summer I was seven.I stepped on a bee,it promptly stung my toe, and became infected . The country doctor had my mother put cotton soaked with one half glycerine and one half alcohol to draw out the impurities. I didn’t get mad at the bees in the end, they were just defending themselves. Maybe that is why I would still hire an expert for my own back yard bee keeping enterprise- I know- lazy….. but clever as far as I am concerned. I am not as brave as Julia-no stings for me if possible.


Henry David Thoreau-

“The keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams.”





  1. Julia /

    Honey, you are too sweet! Funny thing about keeping the bees, I have never been a big honey fan. I wanted to keep bees for so many more reasons. My natural curiosity was number one. I like challenges and have enjoyed watching nature all my life. The thought of having a hive full on thousands of bees to watch was what really drove me and I haven’t been disappointed.
    Helping the honey bee in a time of need was also up near the top of my reasons. There are so many dangers for honey bees in our ever industrialized world. I feel grateful to be able to do my little bit.
    Happily, I’ve discovered I love my honey! I can taste the herbs and flowers from my yard and the neighborhood in each spoonful…okay, I use my finger.
    I urge everyone to seek out a local source of honey and give it a try. And with fig season coming up, nothing sounds better to me right now that a Fig Gallette with Honey and Vanilla Pastry Cream! I’ll invite you over when I make it, Ross!

    • Julia, So glad you approve of my honey bee stories. Your comments and insight underscore what we all should be considering. Fig Galette? Boy that sounds delish!
      I’m there in a flash.

  2. Barbara Lasswell /

    What a delightful article – beautiful picture – wonderful memories. This made me smile. Thanks Ross!

  3. we have had the good fortune to have neighbors
    who keep hives – many years, when their bees
    swarm, their first overnight stop is in our apple or pear trees… quite a show,indeed, which is always preceded by the incredible sound as they gather momentum leaving the hive…

    • REX! I am so jealous. How very special to witness those sights and sounds.Such a simple thing that nature does for us, that has huge impacts forever. Thank you for sharing the story. Much appreciated.

  4. OK, so I do not have a hive…but I do have more rose bushes than I can count,two wildflower beds and lavender. We’re talking serious bee heaven, at least it seems so. Makes me feel good to see them so busy at work.

    • Belinda,
      Those wonderful roses you have;the wildflowers out front and the camellia bush and the lavender plus all the other blossoms you have.! Those bees would not shine without yards like your to stop by in their urban travels.

  5. Judy (Mitchell) Armstrong /

    Hi Ross,
    Just landed at YOLKSONUS! Great idea! You are so good at this…and
    what an enriching gift you share.
    On bees: We’ve always kept bees on the family farm in South Dakota.
    The hives are out from Spring until Fall. The bees are generous and
    provide a honey dominated by Sweet Clover with hints of many prairie
    wild flowers and fruits. It is one of God’s delicious miracles.
    Keep up the good work. Your warm, caring personality comes through.
    AND your sense of humor is as sharp as always.
    Cake sounds really good right now!
    “Nobody knows the truffles I’ve seen!”
    Signing off from the East Coast. Enjoy the summer!

    • Dear Judy,
      You are so very kind with your comments. I had to be encouraged some three years ago by my young friends to do this blog. After a year, I just love every posting.When I get comments like your, it is so very rewarding. The good thing for me…the subjects and the stories are endless. Maybe I am in the right place?
      A farm in South Dakota! Just the thought of that makes me want go and sit by a barn there in the early morn and take in the smells and the sunshine and the sounds….maybe pet a friendly dog.Inside find some fresh biscuits with some of your homegrown clover honey and fresh butter. That’s about as good as it gets.

  6. Judy (Mitchell) Armstrong /

    And we need to seriously discuss burgers. Creepy what passes for ground beef! I’m weeding the garden this afternoon. Living outside Boston for the last 13 years. But we are moving to Austin TX ASAP. Don’t want to shovel anymore!
    Hmmmm…Willie Nelson, barbecue,rodeo, armadillo, AUSTIN CITY LIMITS, did I mention barbecue?
    Could it be any better than that? Well, maybe to meet Pat Sajack! That is supposed to be funny.
    Oh! How could I forget. My husband grew up in Connecticut…and I have become a believer that New Haven has THE best Pizza, EVER. A little place on Union Avenue in West Haven…ZUPARDIS is our favorite place to eat authentic pizza and enjoy funky, scarce sodas.
    I’m getting hungry. Better get to the weeds.


    • Judy…off to Austin,are you ? Be sure and read my entry from Jan./ Feb.2013 about San Antonio, Texas Has a Way of….I spent much of my youth in SE Texas. The home and origin of not only chili, but chili powder,big western cattle drives,the chuck wagon, Tex-Mex food,the puffy taco,and the best BBQ in the USA! If you will send me an email, I’ll give you some heads up on where to go if you like food in Austin and SE Texas. Pizza? You and your hubby better get your pizza fix where they know it best in Conn., before you leave the east. Mexican food, BBQ, they know…pizza not so much.Austin also has the best food carts/trucks in the US,but still running a meager second to Portland, Oregon- the biggest little “Foodie City” in the US. Enjoy.

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