The pleasure from this honey had a poetic dimension: Its Urban honey, collected by Kat Lavers from her Inner-City bees, and given to me by lovely WWOOFers who had stayed with Kat.
As I ate it, I recalled the drive I made last week to Brunswick: "Was it blossom from those street trees I drove past? Maybe the Bees visited my friend Mikoto... I remember the flowers in her garden.. ". The entire crumpet was a movie in my mouth, with sweetness from blossoms I may have viewed, made from the sunshine of last summer, giving me energy yet again.
I garnished it with blue rosemary flowers, and thought of Galileo's daughter, the cloistered nun, who in 1500's made sugared rosemary flowers and sent them to her papa.
I thought of and idea someone came up with in conversation: imagine if sugar was outlawed, and all the kids gave up t.v. to take up clandestine beekeeping.
Kat the beekeeper is spending this year in a self-directed permaculture study, and sharing what she finds with everyone. Here is an interview with her on her bees:
C: Why keep bees in urban areas?
K: Urban bees have access to a nectar flow all year due to the diversity
of plants in backyards, and will have very little impact on neighbours
provided they are well sited and managed. A single beehive will fit
easily into a small garden, and can produce more than 50kg of honey
per year, as well as beeswax, propolis and other hive products. And
bees will also pollinate your fruit and vegetables.
C: Can I set a hive up on my balcony?
K:There are several questions to consider. Firstly, is your location
appropriate? Bees require a warm spot with morning sun, sheltered from
wind, shade on very hot days and access to flowers and water. In
addition, you will need space to move around, open and inspect the
hive. Your bees will need to be placed so that their flight path does
not intersect human traffic. Remember that if your hive is visible
from the street, you will probably be blamed for any bee sting in the
neighbourhood. Secondly, can you manage bees? A hive must be inspected
every fortnight during spring and summer months. Beekeeping is also
heavy work - a box can weigh as much as 30kg! And thirdly, what are
the local council and state government regulations regarding
beekeeping your area? If you and your balcony match these
requirements, then perhaps you could set up a hive!
C: Will I get stung?
K: If you keep bees then you will get stung occasionally, but bees are
calm and gentle creatures that rarely attack unless you give them a
reason. Obviously if you have anaphylactic reactions to bee stings,
stay well away from beehives. But otherwise don't be deterred - bee
stings are not especially painful. In fact, bee venom is used
medicinally as an alternative therapy for multiple sclerosis and
C: Tell us a nice bee story:
K: Bees have developed an incredible symbiotic relationship with flowers
- but some flowers get away with pollination without supplying their
end of the bargain. The South American bucket orchid entices a local
species by emitting a scent which mimics the female bee. Upon catching
this scent, the male bee is lead by patterns on the petals to a spot
where it slips and falls into the orchid's bucket. After struggling
for some 40 minutes, the bee escapes through a narrow opening where
the pollen is attached to its back. When the bee is released, the
orchid stops emitting scent to prevent self-pollination. Sneaky!
C: How can I find out more about bees and beekeeping?
K: Get in touch with me and come along to the next Afternoon Tea with the
Bees! There are plenty of books and websites with information for
beginners, or you could join a local beekeeping club.