With the cooler weather arriving, the buzz of busy bees is a memory of summer. Our industrious friends are quieting down and preparing for winter in a very cool way! Did you know that over the winter, all the bees in a hive form a big round ball and vibrate all their wings to keep the ball around 95 degrees – the colder the weather, the tighter the cluster. Sounds cozy!
The bees need around 50 to 60 pounds of honey to nourish them over the winter, and anything beyond that is what we harvest. Local honey is wonderful – honey harvested from hives just one block apart can taste totally different depending upon what plants the bees have been visiting. Buying local honey helps support the bee keepers and colonies in your area, which is important because the bee population is declining at rates of up to 20% per year.
And you might not know it, but our city is buzzing with urban hives. Ballard’s Bastille Restaurant features honey harvested from their hives on signature dishes, and the Fairmont Olympic Hotel’s five rooftop hives provide honey for their restaurant and cocktail menu – sounds d’lish! For a honey-licious cocktail to whip up at home, try a Rosemary Bee’s Knees. The herbaceous gin and rosemary pair perfectly with the subtle sweetness of the honey.
Corky Luster, our local bee guru, has a great tip for the home gardener on making your garden a pollinator paradise next season – think long-term! Choose a range of plants that will provide nectar and pollen throughout the growing season – crocuses, heather and even the dandelion in the spring and herbs like thyme, oregano and rosemary through the summer.
He also suggests planting a few extra veggies in your garden that you can let flower and go to seed; late bloomers like kale, onions and the brassicas are honeybee favorites and provide them nectar at the end of the season – and their flowers aren’t hard on the eyes either! Garlic, mint and onions act as natural pesticides that will keep away other bugs without harming our helpful pollinators.
So bee sure to support our local bee population – buy and cook with local honey. It just tastes better! – Kathy
Rosemary Bee’s Knees
Makes 1 drink
1 sprig rosemary
2 oz Aviation Gin
Honey Syrup (recipe follows)
Garnish: small sprig of rosemary and or honeycomb.
Bend the rosemary and drop into a cocktail shaker. Measure in the gin and the Honey Syrup. Fill shake with ice, cap and shake vigorously.Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a fresh sprig of rosemary and a tiny piece of honey comb if desired.
Honey Syrup: Mix together 1/2 cup local honey + 1/2 cup warm water till combined and then refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
Recipe by Kathy Casey Liquid Kitchen™