Fact or fallacy: do bees respond to the human voice? I’m not sure if it is the words that are spoken or the breath that speaks to them. but there’s no doubt that our two bee colonies are calm, relaxed and reciprocating with their bounty.
We’ve managed to harvest our first honey: over 10lbs (5kg for the modern). It was an intensely focussed activity that started the night before. A special board that excludes bees from part of the hive is installed so that the frames of comb and honey can be removed next day without having to brush away straggling bees and risk harming them.
There’s a special tool for removing the wax caps at each end of the honeycomb cells before the frames go into the extractor. Think of something like a handraulic spin-dryer: the frames are suspended in a cage that is whirled around to enable centrifugal force to spin the honey out. A golden sticky mass oozed from the extractor and through two filters before resting overnight in the settling tank for the air bubbles to surface. The filled jars are a glorious celebration of the bees and their hard work over the summer.
My great friend and frequent cooking companion, Karen, had brought five egg yolks leftover from a birthday party Pavlova. The obvious use was lemon curd with honey rather than sugar. Honey can be up to 21% water (23% for heather honey) and ours was 17% on the refractometer. Just using yolks rather than the whole eggs should counterbalance the extra water. Here’s the experimental recipe I made this morning:
zest of 3 and a half medium lemons, juice of 2 and a half.
5 egg yolks.
6 oz honey.
4 ounces butter, cubed small.
Mix the lemon juice, zest and egg yolks together in a heatproof bowl.
Add the honey, stirring again, and then the butter.
Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, taking care that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
Stir the mix from time to time while it heats to just over 70C.
Allow to cool a little before pouring into sterilised jars.
Keep in the fridge and eat soon.
(I’ve just checked and it is setting perfectly).