Pollinators are like magical elves.
They go about their bee business of collecting nectar and tending the hive, protecting the queen, etc– pollinating plants, flowers, and fruits in the meantime. For many of the fruits and flowers humans have come to rely on, nature takes care of this important activity without much effort from us. Bees are popularly-known pollinators due to their ubiquity and appearance in environmental news of late, but pollinators are a family that also includes butterflies, bats, and even flies, beetles, mammals, and some birds. We all move pollen around. Bees distinguish themselves by also producing honey, a gently-sweet syrup that also has health benefits and is a staple in baking, cooking, candles, and more. It does not spoil, so honey has been found in ancient Egyptian tombs, and is actually edible after 2,000 years. World Bee Day 2023 is on May 20th, a time to bring attention to bees’ important role as well as the current challenges facing our buzzy friends.
A Rich Variety of Bees
Hunterdon County, New Jersey, where Bex is located, is a great place for bees given the area’s commitment to ruralness and large areas of wilderness and open space, much of it protected farmland. It is important to understand the basics of bees so that you can distinguish between honey-producing bees, yellowjackets, wasps, hornets, wood borers, etc. Not all flying things with stingers are necessarily to be afraid of, but know your insects, as some help and some harm.
Mad Honey? Are You Mad?
An interesting type of honey that is apparently legal in the United States is “mad honey”: honey that is naturally infused with rhododendron from bees frequenting that type of flower. Found in the middle east, the honey is psychotropic. It is not well-known, but psychotropics are playing an increasing role in society in helping, with medical structure, people with PTSD, and other physical and mental disorders. Mad honey is technically a toxin, with psychoactive side effects and spiritual/medicinal cultural ties to Nepal and Turkey, so be sure to do your research responsibly.
Bex and Bees
Chef Bex loves honey. “It’s my number one sugar alternative as a sweetener,” she informs, “with maple syrup and agave in second and third places. I also make a Honey Tart that’s popular, use honey in biscuits, drizzle honey on blue cheese and crostini, and incorporate honey in vinaigrettes. What a gift from bees honey is, and we are proud to sponsor The Lavender Fig apiary, a local beekeeper who makes amazing honey products on a small, local scale.”
Bee-ing Kind to Beekind
The bad news is that bees as a whole are facing challenges from human development, pesticides, natural enemies, climate change, and Colony Collapse Disorder. The Sierra Club has raised money and awareness for bees in response. Learning about bees at the local level is a good way to understand ecosystem interdependence and the important role bees play in human affairs. Be careful at the supermarket, as some honeys, notably via China, are adulterated. Local honey has been shown to help allergy sufferers by incorporating small amounts of allergens, in a homeopathic fashion. At your home, bees see green lawns like humans see concrete, devoid of life. Bees need color, flowers, wood, brush, and wildness. So go wild.
The Buzz at Bex
Bex has opened for Mother’s Day 2023 and will be opening the cafe soon. Come check us out and see how honey gets incorporated into the savory, the sweet, and cafe beverages!