May bee update
It has been a very busy Spring for my bees and me. The bees have been ignoring the Mayor's stay-at-home orders and have been out foraging for pollen and nectar. They have been so successful gathering resources that many of my colonies have swarmed in the past 6 weeks. Swarming is the way bees reproduce as a colony.
When the colony senses that it is rich in resources and has a healthy queen they decide collectively that they can afford to split into two (or more) colonies. They do this by casting a swarm. The swarm contains the queen and about half of the hive's bee population. Before they leave the hive each bee fills her 75mg (.003oz) sized honey stomach with food for the journey. Left behind in the original hive are the resources for the remaining workers to raise a new queen.
If you are lucky enough to experience a swarm in progress, you will see the sky filled with a cloud made of thousands of bees and hear the roar from the beating of their wings. Within minutes the noise quiets and the sky clears as the bees settle on a branch, fence or other bivouac site. There they will rest, clustered together surrounding their queen. From this site they will send out scouts to find a suitable new home and lead them there to found a new colony.
Don't be afraid if you experience such a cloud of bees or spot the resulting cluster. These bees have no home to defend so they won't sting. With bellies filled with honey they are heavy and slow and just want to stay put (kind of how I feel after Thanksgiving dinner). Contact the DC Beekeepers Alliance Swarm Squad and one of us will be happy to come collect the swarm and give it a new home.
This recipe takes almost no time at all and is fun for kids who want to help in the kitchen. And the salt brings out the honey flavor.
Coat an 8-inch-square baking dish or pan lightly with the oil.
Combine the sesame seeds, honey, sugar and salt in a small, deep saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 2 minutes, stirring vigorously. Note: the bubbling up will be pretty subtle.
Stir in the tahini. Once the mixture returns to a boil, cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Working quickly, scrape the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Use the back of a spoon to spread it into an even layer.
Let cool slightly, then use a rounded knife or thin plastic spatula to loosen the slab around the edges. Slide it onto a cutting board, then cut into 1-inch pieces. Serve right away (they will be a bit chewy), or let them sit at room temperature until hardened, about 1 hour. Yield 64, 1-inch squares. Store in an airtight container.
Adapted from "Sesame Candies" by Becky Krystal in the New York Times.
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