Honey Raspberry Crumble

mixed-berry-crumble-recipe-clv0711-th2

Honey, berries, dairy, and grains were important parts of the Iron Age diet.

It is distinctly possible that Queen Boadicea enjoyed something like this Honey Raspberry Crumble, without the ice cream of course.

Ingredients

  • 2 pints raspberries
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose or whole wheat flour
  • 1 stick unsalted butter

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, drizzle raspberries with 1/4 cup of the honey honey. Sprinkle with 4 tablespoons flour and toss. Transfer fruit to an 8- by 8-inch baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, mix remaining flour, honey, and butter with a pastry blender or your fingers until mixture forms large, crumbly lumps. Sprinkle over berries. Bake until golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes

July In The Hive – More About Hive Splits

Example of Bee Hive Split (Not My Hives…)

Ordinarily, I would be giving you routine advice about maintaining your hives in July – do bi-weekly inspections, add honey supers as needed, be on the lookout for honey robbers, and harvest your honey when appropriate.  (Remember bees need at least 60 pounds of honey – two shallow supers – for their own consumption during the winter.)

But my July was anything but ordinary. I lost a hive of Italian bees and discovered I had a Buckfast hive that was overcrowded. As a result I did a hive split to make two hives out of one.

There are a number of reasons to do a hive split, the most common being 1.) to get more hives and 2.) to prevent swarms. I split my boiling Buckfast hive for both of those reasons.

When I first thought of doing a split, I wondered whether it was too late in the season. Typically, splits are done in May or early June after the original hive has had time to build up. I was nearing the middle of July.

Was it too late to do a split?

I checked The Practical Beekeeper by Michael Bush. According to Michael, you can do a split as late as August, provided you have a good honey flow into the fall.

So I went ahead and did the split on July 12. So far, so good!

I’m going to do an inspection today, and I’ll report back on the status of the new hive later.

Boadicea – The First Queen Of England

The first woman to hold the title of Queen in England was Boadicea, Queen of the Iceni tribe in the first century A.D.

Boadicea (also spelled Boudicca or Boudica) was born into a royal family around 26 A.D. She married Prasutagus, king of the Iceni, a tribe located in what is now Norfolk, England. Prasutagus ruled under the auspices of the occupying Romans, who had probably put him on the throne in return for his assistance when they invaded England in 43 A. D.

Upon Prasutagus’s death around the year 59, the kingdom passed into the hands of the Romans. The king had hoped the Romans would allow his two teenage daughters to keep half of his property, but instead the Romans took over completely. When Boadicea complained, she was publicly flogged and forced to watch as her daughters were raped.

Infuriated, Queen Boadicea — described by one Roman historian as a tall, terrifying-looking woman with fierce eyes, a harsh voice, and very long red hair — became the leader of a violent uprising against Roman rule.

Leading a swarming army of angry tribes folk she swept into London, torched its buildings, and slaughtered in the region of 70,000 Romano-Londoners.

To this day, about 18 feet below the current street level there is a level of red ash, known to archaeologists as the Boadicea layer.

The Romans brutally put down the rebellion with their superior numbers and weapons  in a ferocious battle (the exact site of which is uncertain). According to one account, Boadicea then killed herself with poison so she would not fall into Roman hands. Boadicea’s name means “victorious,” or Victoria, and in Victorian times she came to be viewed as a heroic symbol of Britain.

Boadicea’s rebellion was a crucial moment in early British history. Her confederacy of Briton tribes had taken the placid Roman occupiers by surprise; they had assumed that the Celtic “barbarians” were far too disorganized to mount any insurrection. As a result, the Roman officials lessened some of the onerous demands of their colonial rule, including a fairer system of taxation.

Long live Queen Boadicea!

Queen Boadicea Has Ascended The Throne!

I know I was supposed to wait a week before checking on whether Queen Boadicea had escaped from the Queen cage, but I just couldn’t. The bees in the new hive were looking particularly orderly, so I had to take a peek.

Empty Queen Cage!

The Queen cage was empty.  The good thing about checking sooner rather than later is that the bees haven’t had a chance to make a lot of messy brace comb in the space where the cage was placed.

But was She alive?  I checked one or two frames before I found her, playing with her sisters!  She has apparently been accepted by the older girls, and will soon be Large And In Charge!!

What a good day!!

British Week – A Nice Cup Of Tea

A Nice Cup of Tea

By George Orwell

Evening Standard, 12 January 1946.


If you look up ‘tea’ in the first cookery book that comes to hand you will probably find that it is unmentioned; or at most you will find a few lines of sketchy instructions which give no ruling on several of the most important points.

This is curious, not only because tea is one of the main stays of civilization in this country, as well as in Eire, Australia and New Zealand, but because the best manner of making it is the subject of violent disputes.

When I look through my own recipe for the perfect cup of tea, I find no fewer than eleven outstanding points. On perhaps two of them there would be pretty general agreement, but at least four others are acutely controversial. Here are my own eleven rules, every one of which I regard as golden:

  • First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — it is economical, and one can drink it without milk — but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase ‘a nice cup of tea’ invariably means Indian tea.
  • Secondly, tea should be made in small quantities — that is, in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made in a cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be made of china or earthenware. Silver or Britanniaware teapots produce inferior tea and enamel pots are worse; though curiously enough a pewter teapot (a rarity nowadays) is not so bad.
  • Thirdly, the pot should be warmed beforehand. This is better done by placing it on the hob than by the usual method of swilling it out with hot water.
  • Fourthly, the tea should be strong. For a pot holding a quart, if you are going to fill it nearly to the brim, six heaped teaspoons would be about right. In a time of rationing, this is not an idea that can be realized on every day of the week, but I maintain that one strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones. All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes — a fact which is recognized in the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners.
  • Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose in the pot it never infuses properly.
  • Sixthly, one should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about. The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that it makes any difference.
  • Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves to settle.
  • Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup — that is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The breakfast cup holds more, and with the other kind one’s tea is always half cold before one has well started on it.
  • Ninthly, one should pour the cream off the milk before using it for tea. Milk that is too creamy always gives tea a sickly taste.
  • Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.
  • Lastly, tea — unless one is drinking it in the Russian style — should be drunk without sugar. I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tealover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.Some people would answer that they don’t like tea in itself, that they only drink it in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar to take the taste away. To those misguided people I would say: Try drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again.

These are not the only controversial points to arise in connexion with tea drinking, but they are sufficient to show how subtilized the whole business has become. There is also the mysterious social etiquette surrounding the teapot (why is it considered vulgar to drink out of your saucer, for instance?) and much might be written about the subsidiary uses of tealeaves, such as telling fortunes, predicting the arrival of visitors, feeding rabbits, healing burns and sweeping the carpet. It is worth paying attention to such details as warming the pot and using water that is really boiling, so as to make quite sure of wringing out of one’s ration the twenty good, strong cups of that two ounces, properly handled, ought to represent.

(taken from The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, Volume 3, 1943-45, Penguin ISBN, 0-14-00-3153-7)

British Week – Buckingham Palace Cream Of Pea Soup

In honor of the lovely new Queen Boadicea, I’m declaring the next seven days “British Week” here on Romancing the Bee!

We will celebrate English cooking, gardening and beekeeping!  Okay, I know I do that a lot already, but the Queen deserves a proper celebration!

With a few scary exceptions (Marmite. Jellied eels. Dormice on a stick.), I’m quite fond of English Food. The following recipe is exceptional!

Buckingham Palace Cream of Pea Soup

2 cups split peas
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup finely diced salt pork
1 medium onion, well chopped
1 medium carrot, well chopped
2 leeks (the green parts only, well chopped)
1 cup spinach, well chopped
bay leaf
1 pinch thyme
1 cup stock
salt, to taste
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
Directions:
Cover two cups of split peas with water and allow to soak for a little over one hour.

Pour off the water and put the peas into a large saucepan with one quart fresh water. Add salt. Bring to a boil and skim the water, the cover the pan and simmer steadily.

Melt one tablespoon of butter in a soup kettle and drop in 1/2 cup of finely diced salt pork. Cook until the pork begins to brown. Add onion and saute until soft but not brown. Now add the carrot, tops of the leeks and spinach. Drop in a small piece of bay leaf and a pinch of thyme.

Cook for a few minutes more and then pour in the partly cooked peas with their water. Continue to cook for about one hour, or until the peas are very soft. Rub the soup through a fine sieve and add one cup of stock, then bring back to a boil.

Season to taste with salt and add honey, butter and heavy cream.

The Queen Is In Residence

Statue of Boadicea near Westminster in London

It was looking like it might rain, so I went ahead and installed the Queen in her new home.

To ensure that Boadicea‘s new subjects accept her, I am using an indirect method of release into the new hive.

There is a white plug of candy in one of the three circular holes in the Queen cage.

White Candy Plug

The Queen and her attendants will eat through the candy over the next few days and escape from the cage. This will give her subjects time to get acquainted with her and accept her as their monarch.

I am smearing wax and honey from the hive on the cage so that Boadicea will pick up the scent of the hive.

Smearing Wax And Honey On The Cage

I am also poking a hole in the candy plug to make it easier for the Queen and her attendants to escape. I’m careful not to stab any bees in the process!

Poking A Hole In The Candy Plug

Finally, I added two small nails to hold the cage in place between the brood frames.

Now I am ready to go!

It was great to hear the loud buzzing of the new colony as I removed the top super. The bees seemed interested in the new Queen and quickly surrounded the cage.

I was happy to see that the bees had already made progress in drawing out the empty frames. On one frame I saw the beginnings of a Queen Cell.

Now I will wait a week and check on the progress of the Queen.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

Tomorrow, the extraction of honey from the old hive!

Queen Boadicea Has Arrived!

Thanks to the miracle of UPS, Queen Boadicea and her retinue arrived about an hour ago.

The Queen And Her Attendants

I’m letting them cool off from their trip, and will be installing them in an hour or so.

Here is a better picture of the Queen. She’s the one wearing the yellow dot.

Queen Boadicea Wearing Yellow

More later.

I Couldn’t Walk Away

Okay, I know I said I was going to do a “walk away” split, and let my Buckies create their own Queen.  But I just couldn’t walk away and leave them Queenless.

It takes at least 15 days for them to make a Queen, for her to mate, and then for her to start laying.  And that’s if everything goes perfectly!  I just can’t take that chance, especially after the demise of the Italians.

So, yesterday evening I ordered a Buckfast Queen from BeeWeaver Apiaries in Navasota, Texas, to be delivered by UPS.

Queen Bee In Shipping Box

I’m glad I didn’t dither too long, because BeeWeaver is only selling Queens until July 15, and it is one of the only suppliers of Buckies in the US.

She should be here today or tomorrow.  I’ve named her Boadicea after the 1st century British Warrior Queen.

I’ve decided to put off honey extraction until Friday morning to give the bees a chance to calm down and for my muscles to stop aching. Those boxes are heavy!

More later…