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Celebrate World Bee Day
Celebrate World Bee Day with a delicious honey dressing and tips to supporting your local bee population.
This Wednesday 20th May is World Bee Day – a chance to pay homage to those essential flower pollinators and tireless creators of thick, golden honey. To celebrate, RACV Torquay and RACV Cape Schank Resort Manager (and avid beekeeper) Dean Newell reveals his tips to finding the best quality honey, along with a simple dressing recipe to add a buzz to any dish. He also shares his advice for prospective beekeepers, and for those wanting to do their bit to protect our vulnerable bee population.
The key to finding the best honey, Dean explains, is to skip the supermarket. “You can really taste the difference with good quality honey; we only use the honey from our hives in our restaurants at RACV Torquay Resort. Go to your local farmers market or check out community Facebook pages” he recommends. “In the peak of a honey flow, one hive can produce between 15 and 30kgs of honey a fortnight, so people often have a lot more than they can use.” A great resource to finding honey near you is Bee the Cure’s honey map, which has the added bonus of supporting bees in your area, resulting in beautiful blooms for your garden.
For those wishing to keep their own hives, Dean’s advice is to simply take your time. “If you’re relaxed and take your time then ‘the girls’ will be calm. If you try and rush things when working with your hive, they won’t hesitate to let you know that you’ve annoyed them! A lesson I’ve learned the hard way working with the hives at Torquay.” If you’re just getting started, he recommends finding a mentor. Most beekeepers are happy to share their experience, so use local honey maps or Facebook groups to find other hive owners in your area. While there are some good books available, he maintains that the best way to learn is through practice. “You’re working with nature and the seasons, so it’s not an exact science. That aside, it is a really therapeutic hobby…if you’re after some peace and quiet, not that many people are keen to have a chat with a few thousand bees buzzing around you!”
If you’re not quite ready to set up a hive in your backyard, there are still ways you can help the at-risk bee population. Due to a combination of an increase in the use of pesticides, global warming and a deforming bee-specific disease, bee colonies all around the world are dying. “If bees were to disappear from the face of the earth, humans would have only four years to live,” Dean explains, “so it’s important we do our best to protect them. It can be as simple as planting more colour in your garden - this not only attracts bees but provides more sources of nectar. They are especially drawn to the colours blue and purple, and love rosemary and lavender plants.” For more information on what you can do, you can visit Bee the Cure.
When asked why he likes working with bees, Dean replies “they’re just so impressive. ‘Busy as a bee’ doesn’t begin to cover it; they’re the ultimate example of teamwork.” According to Dean, a single bee can only produce a teaspoon of honey (about 5 grams) in her lifetime. As a hive, to produce just one kilogram of honey, bees will fly the equivalent of three times around the world. Each hive can have up to 80,000 bees inside; one Queen, a few hundred drones (males) and the rest all workers (females). “It’s definitely a woman’s world. Drones are physically incapable of doing work around the hive...so they pretty much only do two things: eat and mate. It’s not a bad life!”
For more information on World Bee Day, including more facts about bees and their importance to the environment, visit worldbeeday.org.
Honey and black pepper dressing
- 330ml cider
- 250ml white wine vinegar
- 22g runny honey
- Juice of 2 limes
- 20g crushed black pepper
- Pinch of sea salt
- Combine the cider and vinegar in a pot, bring to the boil and reduce by two thirds.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the honey. Stir in the lime juice, black pepper and salt.
- Enjoy drizzled over your favourite salad or meat, or use it as a sweet and tangy dipping sauce for chips.