Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Raising Bees (A.K.A., Thanks for the Honey), Bee Books, and a Recipe for Honey Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies

July 10 is DON'T STEP ON A BEE day!

Since I'm guessing that the likelihood of stepping on a bee is slim to none on any given day, I assume today's special nod allows us to pause and take notice of the little things around us, like bees.  Without them, we wouldn't have most of the produce we seek for our meals or the honey for our bread. 

Beekeeping is a hobby of mine that I started with three of my neighbors a couple years ago. Thank goodness one of us is a Bee Master (and it's not me), because otherwise I surely wouldn't know how to get from Point A to Point B to the most rewarding Point HONEY. 

I truly am grateful for the learning journey we are all on. It helps make the disappointments more bearable. For example, I had 2 other people to scratch heads with when ALL my bees and the Queen decided to abandon ship last fall for no good reason. Thank goodness it occurred after the honey-harvest. Yet, we couldn't figure it out.  And to this day, it remains a mystery. My hive had held the most productive and efficient Queen Bee of all. We wanted to produce other queens from her. But alas, that did not happen. I figure my Queen Bee must have decided it was time to fly south for the winter. After all, the thought certainly has crossed my mind on numerous occasions. I might have just quit the whole beekeeping hobby after that, but it's fun to keep going when you have collaboration and camaraderie. 

My hive is the middle one in the photo.  The tall one belongs to the BeeMaster, of course. His bees stuck around.

On my visit to the local library, I found two books that are worth checking out with your kids as a nod to this special and irreplaceable insect.

Bee and Me is a beautifully illustrated picture book by Alison Jay that brings the reader through the plight of the honeybee with an underlying message of hope.

A Beekeeper's Year by Sylvia Johnson chronicles the different activities that a beekeeper tends to throughout the year while also sharing interesting facts about bees.


For example, ancient Egyptian beekeepers had tube hives made of clay, as can be seen here. These gave way to the use of woven skeps by others in the Middle Ages.

Lastly, since I love food, especially new recipes, I have a recipe below from A Beekeeper's Year worth checking out.  Although I have made chocolate chip cookies with coconut on many occasions in the past, but just never with honey.

But before I get to the recipe I have a pet-peeve to point out. IF you are a science teacher like me,  and want to do a density layer lab, go ahead and SKIP THE HONEY!!! Yes, it is dense. Yes, it is somewhat clear. BUT, using honey for the purpose of teaching about density is simply a waste of GOOD Honey, in my opinion. Other substitutes are available, like Molasses or Corn Syrup. Keep the honey for the eating. Or the baking, like in the recipe below.

Honey Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup honey
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 cup (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cream together the honey and margarine. Mix in the egg and vanilla.  Mix in the dry ingredients at the top of the list. Stir in the nuts, coconut, and chips. Drop teaspoon-sized amounts of batter (evenly spaced apart) on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove cookies to a cooling rack. Store whatever isn't immediately eaten in an airtight container. 

Note: The honey is a substitute for refined sugar. But because honey is liquid, it is not a 1:1 substitution. 



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