It's a good time of year to be a bee. Or at least, according to Richard A. Jones and Sharon Sweeney-Lynch, authors of the just-released The Beekeeper's Bible: Bees, Honey Recipes & Other Home Uses, if you are the sort of bee who favors the sweet pollinating life more than longevity. The busier the bee, we learn in this food library must-have, the shorter their lifespan. Ah, the sweet life.
But The Beekeeper's Bible is unique in that it isn't just for those inclined to cultivate the insects. The book appeals to the amateur historian (the first section,"Bee and Beekeeping History" is classroom-worthy), the aspiring entomologist ("Understanding the Honeybee;" Jones is a U.K. insect expert), novice beekeepers ("Practical Beekeeping"), cultural economists ("Honey and Other Bee Products"), and home cooks/D.I.Y. types ("Recipes and Home Crafts"). That's an awful lot of ground to cover, and Jones and Sweeney-Lynch do it exceptionally well.
We found ourselves as fascinated by the anecdotes on beekeeping folklore (it was traditional in Northern Europe and among early American settlers to "tell the bees" if their beekeeper had died ) as we were on creating a neighbor-friendly apiary site. "You should explain that you may need to open colonies every seven to nine days, and this may be on weekends. [Your neighbors] have as much right to enjoy sitting in their garden as you do."
The illustrations and photos are also oddly addictive given the book's practical purpose, from snapshots of wooden hives in Lithuania used by Medieval beekeepers to pests like chubby wax months feasting on hives. The charts included in the book, such as an the illustrated "Types of Honey," are kitchen reference worthy.
Though Colony Collapse Disorder is also addressed, The Beekeeper's Bible avoids turning this book into a tragic 21st century manifesto on the disease. Instead, the book serves more as a universal educating tool, elevating the status of bees and their honeys through history, lore, science and recipes (for both the kitchen and home).
As for the latter, they range from classic regional recipes like melomakarona and honey syrup (Greek Christmas cookies dipped in honey) to more modern takes such as curried honey sweet potato soup and honey-broiled scallops. Those home remedies include a hair conditioner made with creamy honey and olive oil, wax furniture filler to repair holes and scratches, homemade candles and crayons, and a Cleopatra-worthy milk and honey bath. As for whether this raw egg and honey hangover cure recipe really works, well, let us know.
Honey, Orange and Egg Hangover Cure
From: The Beekeeper's Bible by Richard A. Jones and Sharon Sweeney-Lynch
Makes: 1 drink
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2 eggs, raw
1 1/4 cups orange juice
1 tablespoon honey, such as orange blossom
1. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend to combine. Pour into a glass and drink immediately.