Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Day 2 (only 598 to go)

Well, Day #1 was great fun. Just getting the blog started felt like quite an accomplishment. Almost like the feeling I got when I made pickled beets a week or so ago. What do pickled beets have to do with bees, other than the common first three letters? I'm glad you asked.

You see, bees are incredibly tidy little critters. The worker bees spend their entire life cycle moving in a methodical way from one task, such as cleaning out the brood cells, to feeding the babies and attending the queen, to fanning the honey (that evaporates the excess water and gets the honey down to 18% humidity, which is what keeps the honey from going bad), to working as guards or house bees, and then on to the outside foraging jobs. I may have skipped a job or two, but you get the idea.

Anyway, the house bees are responsible for picking up any garbage and tossing it out the door. If a mouse sneaks in to try to rob the honey, the guard bees sting it to death. The trouble with that is that the house bees can't pick it up and toss it outside. So the bees coat the mouse with propolis (that's a glue-like substance that they make from tree sap). The coating keeps the mouse from rotting and stinking up the hive, rather like mummification, although I must admit I've never smelled a mummy.

But I was talking about beets. I went to the Lawrenceville Farmer's Market a couple of Saturdays ago and picked up, among other things, a big bunch of beets. Had fun introducing them to my grandchildren, who had never tasted raw beet. After that, we cooked one and they ate it with gusto. (I have wonderful, culinarily adventuresome grandchildren.) Over the next few days I ate beets for breakfast (they made the eggs turn pink), lunch (they don't taste great in lasagna), and dinner (pretty good). I'd bought too many beets, though. So I pulled out an old Betty Crocker cookbook that I'd gotten as a wedding present in 1968. And I pickled the remaining beets! That's not exactly like propolizing a dead mouse, but it did prevent the beets from getting slimy.

I'll give you the recipe (for beets, not mouse), just in case you're interested. If you're not, just skip down to the Beeatitude for the day.

Cook a bunch of beets (boil them for a while).
Peel and slice them. Put the skins in your compost pile.
Mix a cup of water, a half-cup of vinegar, a cup of sugar (or substitute agave nectar), and a stick of cinnamon. I didn't have a cinnamon stick, so I just threw in a half-teaspoon of the stuff.
Pour all this over the beets and let them sit overnight in the 'fridge.
Betty Crocker started with a can of sliced beets. That's no fun at all.
--End of Recipe Portion--

Beeatitude for Day #2:
Blessed are they who plant bee-friendly flowers, for they shall have music all summer long.



nortone said...

Your creative nature and spirit has always been a source of admiration (and inspiration) to me. Looking forward to learning more about bee keeping and maybe even giving it a try myself!

Fran Stewart said...

The thing to do is get connected with other beekeepers. There seems to be hardly any competition in the beekeeping community. Every beekeeper I've met has been most gracious about sharing knowledge.

And there are bees (or there NEED to be bees) everywhere. Good to hear from you!