Monthly Archives: April 2013

To Bee or Not to Bee?

Bees A Buzzing

For those of you that followed my bee (mis)adventures last summer, I’m happy to report that I’m trying again. Two weeks ago, I picked up a new package of bees and introduced them to their new home.

A package of bees is a small wooden box, with mesh sides, filled with about three pounds of bees. That’s about 10,000 bees and their queen. The queen is in her own private cage, sealed up with candy, waiting for the bees to eat up the candy and open up her way out of the cage.

A Package of Bees

A Package of Bees

I find installing bees into their hive is a leap of faith. Even though I did it last year, it’s a little frightening to open the package, remove the queen’s cage and situate it, and then with a few brisk shakes, dump the rest of the bees into the hive. Actually, the bees are much more interested in the queen and having a home to occupy than with me. A few swirled around me as they got oriented, but most of the bees settled into the hive. It was a sting-free experience!

Hive with empty package on top

Hive with empty package on top

During the week, the bees were busily coming and going. They took some of the food (sugar syrup) I provided, but with new trees and flowers in bloom daily, I think they are finding plenty of forage in the neighborhood.

After a week, it was time to check that the queen had been released from her cage and started her job of laying eggs. Unfortunately, I had done something wrong and, not only was she NOT released, she was dead in her cage.

Have no fear, it’s not the end of the story. I was able to get a new queen and get her settled in to wait for her release. In a few days, I’ll have a chance to check on her, but I’m hopeful all is well. Stay tuned for the next chapter.

Queen #2  The red dot will make her easier to find during hive inspections.

Queen #2 The red dot will make her easier to find during hive inspections.

It makes me feel happy to be able to sit at the kitchen table and watch the bees coming and going in the backyard. Or fly around me as I get the garden ready for summer. My beehive makes my garden complete. It reminds of this poem:

The year’s at the spring
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hillside’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn:
God’s in His heaven—
All’s right with the world!

From Pippa’s Song by Robert Browning

Bees in Hive

ffwd: swiss chard pancakes

Pancake Dinner

This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie was Swiss chard pancakes. We’re making these at the end of April, but based on the color alone, these savory emerald green pancakes would be perfect to serve on St. Patrick’s Day.

The batter was simple to mix up. All the ingredients, except the Swiss chard, are combined together in the blender. Then the chard is added. The blender was really full, so I was concerned that I should have done this in batches, but, no worries, the greens condensed down in an instant. Dorie suggested not to pulverize the chard, leaving some texture, but my blender did not cooperate.

Blender of Batter

The pancakes are fried in a skillet. I found them a bit greasy, and my kitchen still smells has remnants of that oily aroma of a diner. I think I should have cooked them on the electric griddle instead, as we do breakfast pancakes. In that case, no oil is required.

Frying Away

These can be served as a starter, though Dorie says the French typically serve them for a main meal, which is what I did. On one night, the pancakes were accompanied with a bowl of white bean soup, on the second night, with a green salad.

Dinner #1

My feeling on these was pure ambivalence, which Howard echoed. They were pretty on the plate, but just not that interesting. Even with all the savory ingredients (onion, shallot, parsley, chives, and, of course, the chard), they were rather bland and flavorless. That’s fine. Not everything that reads tasty on the page will translate on the tongue. There are plenty more recipes to try. Onward to next week!

To check out whether the other Doristas enjoyed these more than I did, follow their links here. If you are interested, you can find the recipe in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.