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Tag Archives: Honey Bees

“Drops of Honey” …February Feature

Who can resist a heavenly chocolate experience on Valentine’s Day? Sweeten it up with Honey! Recipe below.

Understanding the Anatomy of a Honeybee

On October 19, 1909, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Entomology received a manuscript from Mr. R. E. Snodgrass, an agent and expert of the Bureau. It was entitled “The Anatomy of the Honeybee.” This exhaustive 150-page document was described as “embodying the results of detailed studies made by Mr. Snodgrass and should prove of value as bringing to the beekeeper reliable information concerning an insect of such great importance, and also as furnishing a sound basis in devising new and improved practical manipulations.” The brilliant work of Mr. Snodgrass is considered a valuable piece of work which has now been quoted and used continuously for over 100 years. 

In 1956, the work of Robert Snodgrass was published into book form. With over 350 pages, it is a classic work that is acclaimed as much for the author’s remarkably detailed line drawings of the various body parts and organs of his subject as his authoritative knowledge of entomology. Over the years,  it was suggested that his book should be in the library of every student of the honeybee and bee behavior. 

For the sake of brevity, and in the words of Mr. Snodgrass, here is a summary of the primary functions of the honeybee:

“It possesses mouth organs for taking up raw food, an alimentary canal to digest it, salivary glands to furnish a digestive liquid, a contractile heart to keep the blood in circulation, a respiratory system to furnish fresh oxygen and carry off waste gases, excretory organs for eliminating waste substances from the blood, a nervous system to regulate and control all the other parts, and, finally, organs to produce the reproductive elements from which new individuals are formed to take the places of those that die.”

And, just to think, this is the masterfully created tiny machine that gives us honey!

Now, let’s take a closer look at how this happens.

“Drops of Honey” …FebruaryClipart - New HeartFeature

Honey dripping from spatula with honeybees around

What is honey and how is it made?

Scientifically speaking, honey is a complex carbohydrate composed of approximately 80 percent monosaccharides, or simple sugars, mostly fructose (levulose) and glucose (dextrose) in varying ratios depending on the nectar source. The remaining content, approximately 16-18 percent, is water. Fructose is slightly sweeter than glucose and, when it occurs in larger quantities than the glucose, can lead to rapid crystallization of the honey, 

Over twenty-five other disaccharides have been identified in honey along with oligosaccharides, including erlose, theanderose and panos. These are not naturally present in nectar but are formed during the honey ripening process.

One of the most important attributes of any honey is its water content. The average water content of most good-quality honeys is 17-18 percent. This happens because bees make it that way.

Yeast is also present in all honeys as a result of being in the environment in general. Proteins make up about twenty-five percent of honey composition with at least 19 different ones present. The proteins are mainly enzymes added by the bees during the ripening process. Invertase, the most significant enzyme is what sets honey apart from other sweeteners. 

Honey contains a few amino acids. The most important, of which, is proline. Some proline is derived from the plant source, and some added by the bees. Proline is the measure of honeys ripeness and is an important standard for judging quality and flavor profile. 

Gluconic acid is the most prominent acid found in honey. It adds flavor enhancing properties.

Honey contains a wide variety of minerals including potassium and trace elements. Worth noting, darker honeys are stronger in flavor due to their higher mineral content. Important also, is that these elements make it possible to identify different types of varietal honey. 

Finally, honey also contains over six hundred volatile organic compounds (VOC) or plant-based essential oils. Many originate from the plant and some are added by the bee. 

*Volatile organic compounds evaporate from honey when the honey is heated, therefore, heating honey compromises its delicate flavors.

In summary, let’s close with a few simple answers to the question, ‘what is honey’. 

*Honey is the essence of flowers. 

*Honey is a thick, golden liquid produced by industrious bees. 

*Honey is the result of a colony of bees working together to collect flower nectar and transform it into a high-energy source for the hive. 

*Honey is an organic, natural sugar alternative with no additives.

The A, Bee Cs of Honey Making

Honey production is a carefully orchestrated series of chemical processes including digestion, regurgitation, enzyme activity and evaporation. It is exclusively the creation of the female worker bees. Nectar, a sugary liquid, is extracted from flowers using a bee’s long tube-like tongue called a proboscis then stored in its stomach or “crop”. While sloshing around in the crop, the nectar mixes with the enzyme invertase which begins the transformation of its chemical composition and pH, making it more suitable for long-term storage. 

When a honeybee returns to the hive, it passes the nectar to another bee by regurgitating the liquid into the other bee’s mouth. This regurgitation process is repeated until the partially digested nectar is finally deposited into a honeycomb. 

Once in the comb, nectar is still a viscous liquid – nothing like the honey you use at home. To get all that extra water out of their honey, bees set to work fanning the honeycomb with their wings to speed up the process of evaporation. 

When most of the water has evaporated from the honeycomb, the bee seals the comb with a secretion of liquid from its abdomen, which eventually hardens into beeswax. Away from air and water, honey can be stored indefinitely, providing bees with the perfect food source for cold winter months.

Linda Alexander, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2008

Honey Chocolate Cake with Chocolate-Honey Icing and/or Honey Whipped Cream

Poppies In My Garden And Bees

Like the title of the book All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten, I could say all the plants I really need  to know came from  Master Gardeners. For example, these beautiful poppies.


They self seed all over my garden and at Raincatcher’s.

A close up tells the story: bees also love poppies!

This loaded honey bee is happy about the choice of flowers in my garden, which is something to consider! Note, bees prefer these single petal blooms rather than double.

Load up on information about poppies. Remember to sow seeds in the fall.


Poppy and Larkspur Planting

Ann Lamb

Recipes Using Honey



The Gourmet Cookbook edited by Ruth Reichel


Honey cake is traditionally served during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year celebration, when honey symbolizes the sweetness of the year to come.

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

¾ tsp baking soda

½ tsp baking powder

¾ tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

1 cup honey, preferably buckwheat

2/3 cup vegetable oil

½ cup strong brewed coffee, at room temperature

2 large eggs

¼ cup packed brown sugar

2 Tbl apple juice or cider

Put a rack in the middle of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a 9×5-inch loaf pan well and dust with flour, knocking out excess.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger in a medium bowl.  Whisk together honey, oil, and coffee in another bowl until well combined.

Beat together eggs and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed for 3 minutes.  Reduce speed to low, add honey mixture and apple juice, and mix until blended, about 1 minute.  Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Finish mixing batter with a rubber spatula, scraping bottom of bowl (batter will be thin).

Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 30 minutes.  Cover loosely with foil and continue to bake until cake begins to pull away from sides of pan and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 minutes more.  Cool on a rack for 1 hour.



Iced Honey Lemon Tea


1 quart cold water

¾ cup fresh lemon juice

4 to 6 tablespoons honey

2 cups ice cubes

1 lemon, seeded and sliced thinly (optional)

Fresh sprigs lavender or a handful of lemon verbena or mint leaves, torn into pieces


1.  Combine the water, lemon juice, and honey in a large pitcher and stir to dissolve the honey.

2.  Add the ice cubes and stir to combine.  Taste and add more lemon or honey, if needed.

3.  Add the lemon slices and lavender, lemon verbena, or mint.

Yield:  Makes 4 servings.


Honey Beer Bread

Honey Beer Bread



3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons honey

1 can beer

¼ cup unsalted butter, melted


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9” x 5” x 3” loaf pan.  Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.  Set aside.

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

3.  Using a wooden spoon, stir the beer and honey into the dry ingredients until just mixed.

4.  Pour half the melted butter into the loaf pan.  Spoon the batter into the pan then pour the remainder of the butter of top.  Use a pastry brush to spread it around.

5.  Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until top is golden brown and a toothpick/knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Yield:  One loaf.


Goat Cheese Hk cropped

Goat Cheese Handkerchiefs with Tart Cherries and Sage

Chef Jerry Traunfeld, author of The Herbal Kitchen, says that each year he counts the days to cherry season, because he can’t wait to put this dish on the menu at The Herbfarm Restaurant in Washington. Tart cherries, also called sour or pie cherries, are a very different fruit from sweet cherries, such as Bings. Raw, they have a pucker-your-mouth sour flavor, but when cooked and sweetened they have the bright intense cherry pie flavor that sweet cherries can never express. You can make this dish with sweet cherries, but the taste will be quite different. You might have to search a little for fresh tart cherries and fresh pasta sheets. We finally found tart cherries in the frozen food section at Central Market after several repeat trips. As for the fresh pasta sheets, they can be found in most groceries in the refrigerated section with other fresh pastas and labeled lasagna sheets. Be encouraged, your searching will reward you. This is a lovely dish that can be offered as the beginning of a multicourse dinner or romantic supper or the main dish for a special luncheon or brunch.



2 ounces soft mild goat cheese (1/2 cup)

½ cup whole milk ricotta

½ cup hot water

3 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

¼ cup very small sage leaves, or larger sage leaves cut into ¼-inch strips

12 ounces tart (sour or pie) cherries, pitted

1 ½ tablespoons mild honey

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Eight 4-inch squares of fresh pasta


1. Heat oven to 150 degrees F or its lowest temperature, then turn it off.  Crumble the goat cheese into a small bowl, stir in the ricotta, and put it in the oven to warm.

2.  Put the hot water and ½ tablespoon of the butter in a glass pie plate or shallow baking dish and place it in the oven also (this is for holding the pasta once it’s cooked).  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

3.  Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter with the sage leaves in a medium skillet over medium heat and stir until the sage leaves wilt, then turn a darker green color, about 2 minutes.  Add the cherries, honey and salt, and toss them over the heat until the cherry skins pop and they release a small amount of juice, about 3 minutes.  Add the remaining 2 tablespoon butter to the pan and stir, still over the heat, until it melts and incorporates into the sauce.  Remove the pan from the heat.

4.  Boil the pasta squares until they are tender but firm, usually 2 to 3 minutes.  Lift them out of the water with a skimmer and slip them into the warm water and butter in the pie plate.

5. For assembly:  Lift 4 of the pasta squares from the dish and lay them out on a piece of parchment paper or on a baking sheet (this is easy to do with your hands if you wear disposable latex gloves).  Spread a tablespoon of the warm goat cheese in the center of each square and fold them in half on the diagonal.  Transfer the triangles in pairs to warm dinner plates.  Fill the second batch of pasta squares the same way.  Spoon the cherries and sauce over the handkerchiefs and serve right away.


Yield: 4 servings.


Smoked Turkey Salad

HSG Honey Mustard Dressing

 For the Hello! Honey luncheon, this dressing was served with a salad of organic mixed field greens, Jennie-O Sun-Dried Tomato Smoked Turkey Breast cubed, Grape halves and Pistachios.



1 quart Kraft Mayonnaise

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons honey

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons French’s Mustard

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 ½ teaspoons onion salt or ¾ teaspoon onion powder

¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper


1. In a large bowl mix all ingredients together until smooth and creamy.  Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.


Honey Roasted Carrots


Honey-Roasted Carrots


2 lb. baby carrots with tops

2 teaspoons olive oil

3 Tablespoons butter, divided

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 shallot, finely chopped

2 Tablespoons bourbon

2 Tablespoons honey

1 Tablespoon chicken broth or water

½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme


1.  Place a small roasting pan in oven.  Preheat oven and pan to 500 degrees.

2.  Cut tops from carrots, leaving 1 inch of greenery on each carrot.

3.  Stir together olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in preheated pan.  Add carrots, salt, and pepper; toss to coat.  Bake 10 minutes.

4.  Meanwhile, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add shallot; sauté 1 minute.  Remove from heat, and stir in bourbon and next 2 ingredients.  Return to heat, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat to medium, and cook 5 minutes or until mixture is syrupy.

5.  Drizzle syrup over carrots; toss to coat.  Bake 5 to 7 more minutes or until carrots are crisp-tender.  Transfer to a serving dish, and sprinkle with thyme.


Yield:  4 to 6 servings.


Note:  Substitute apple juice for bourbon, if you prefer.  Look for bunches of carrots that are all about the same size so they’ll cook evenly.  If some are too big-or if you can’t find real (sometimes labeled French) baby carrots-just peel the bigger ones and halve them lengthwise before roasting.








Pâte Sucrée

Tart Pastry


150 g butter

300 g flour

150 g powdered sugar

60 g eggs (one egg)

60 g ground almonds


In a bowl, combine butter, flour, powdered sugar and almonds.  Sablage the mixture, cutting the butter into the flour using your fingers until it is a sandy consistency.  Add the egg and stir with one finger.  Turn out on the counter.  Fraisage two to three times, until dough just comes together by using the palm of your hand to smear the dough across the counter.  Flatten it out on a parchment-lined sheet. Chill.  Form the dough into the tart shell.


Appareil au citron (cru)

Lemon Filling (uncooked)

Juice from 2 lemons

Zest of 1 lemon

135 g granulated sugar

35 g butter

3 eggs


In a saucepan, melt pieces of butter.  In a bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients.  Pour the egg mixture through a fine sieve to remove chalise.  Add the butter and whisk rapidly.  Fill the tart shells to about ¾ full.  Bake at 180°C(360-365°F) for about 30 minutes, or until the top looks like a Crème Brûlée after it’s been torched.

Decorate cooled tart with an abundance of whipped cream in a decorative pattern, sprinkle with lemon zest.  Chill several hours or overnight before serving.


Recipe courtesy of Molly Wilkinson, Certified Pastry Chef, Le Cordon Bleu, Paris

214 808-9231 or

Custom treats from Cupcakes to Tart Citron!




Honey-Pecan Tart




1 cup sugar

¼ cup water

1 cup whipping cream

¼ cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

¼ cup honey

½ teaspoon salt

2 ½ cups pecan halves, coarsely chopped

1 (15-ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts

2 teaspoons sugar, divided

½ (4-ounce) package bittersweet chocolate, chopped




1.  Bring 1 cup sugar and ¼ cup water to a boil in a medium-size heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Cover and boil over medium-high heat, without stirring, 8 minutes or until golden, swirling pan occasionally.

2.  Remove from heat, and gradually stir in whipping cream (mixture will bubble with addition of cream).

3.  Add butter, honey, and salt, stirring until smooth.  Stir in pecans; simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.  Remove from heat; cool completely.

4.  Unfold 1 piecrust on a lightly floured surface; roll into an 11-inch circle.  Fit into a

9-inch removable bottom tart pan.  Trim edges.  Freeze crust 30 minutes.

5.  Spread pecan mixture into crust.  Unfold remaining piecrust, and roll into a 10-inch circle.  Place crust over mixture, pressing into bottom crust to seal; trim edges.  Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar.  Freeze 30 minutes.

6.  Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

7.  Place chocolate in a small heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; seal.  Submerge in hot water until chocolate melts.  Snip a tiny hole in 1 corner of bag; drizzle chocolate over tart.  Sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon sugar.



Yield:  1 (9-inch) tart.



Honey Ice Cream



2 quarts half-and-half

1 ½ cups honey

2 tablespoons vanilla extract


1.  Stir together all ingredients, and pour into freezer container of a 1-gallon electric freezer.

2.  Freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.  Pack with additional ice and rock salt, and let stand 1 hour before serving.

Yield:  3 quarts.


Pictures by Starla


Why spend April 15 with a calculator, a pile of receipts, and a deadline? The Demonstration Garden was buzzing on tax day with more than 30 guests enjoying a packed morning learning all about bees and honey.



Jewish Honey Cake, a traditional favorite for the Jewish New Year, and coffee helped take the chill off the brisk morning. In his talk, beekeeper David McCarty encouraged guests to purchase local honey. David noted that honey tastes of the nectar from particular flowers visited by bees, and honey from the same hive can have dramatically different flavors. Commercially produced grocery store honey is often so processed that all pollen is destroyed, he said, and may even contain fillers like corn syrup and fructose. (In the worst cases, generic honey may be little more than corn syrup.)

Honey cake was delicious with hot coffee.

David harvests honey, of course, but his passion is the small insects that make it. He works to rescue bees from exterminators and to keep hives healthy. David shares information with other North Texan bee enthusiasts on the Facebook open group, CrossTimbers Beekeepers. (

Honey Lunch Lecture with bee frame

Joe Field gardener (and beekeeper) Tim helped guests try different honeys with popsicle sticks. It’s hard to pick a favorite when testing Tupelo honey from Florida swamps, Sourwood from southern Appalachia, Orange Blossom from southern Florida, Wildflower from Texas fields, Huajillo from the brush country in Southwestern Texas, and Buckwheat from New York and North Dakota.

Linda dazzled guests with an appetizer tray of Brie, Manchego, and Point Reyes Blue Cheese from Scardello, an artisan cheese store at 3511 Oak Lawn, She sprinkled the cheese slices and honeycomb with Spanish Marcona Almonds, then drizzled the tray with honey from Master Gardener Jan Ramsey’s Tranquility Hill Ranch.

Cheese Tray Drizzled With Honey

Cheese Tray Drizzled With Honey


The table featured plates with tiny bees around the rim, bee-friendly bouquets of sunflowers, gold chargers, hand-lettered menus, and neutral tablecloths with a bee-themed runner. A place card with Elizabeth’s calligraphy tied to a honey dipper marked each guest’s place.


Oh, did we mention lunch?

The menu, of course, featured items with a honey twist: turkey and grape salad with honey-Dijon dressing, pasta handkerchiefs with tart cherry, sage (and honey) sauce, honey beer bread, honey-roasted carrots, and honey lemon tea. A dessert sampler tempted guests with a square of honey pecan tart, honey vanilla ice cream, and a French lemon tart topped with an abundance of whipped cream, a mint leaf, and fresh blueberry.

Information from the national Honey Board, a list of bee-friendly flowers, and in-depth information and sources for each honey were given to each guest.

As we planned the event, we were amazed at the intricate and amazing world of bees and honey. We learned the difference between varietal (one source of nectar) and local honey (Texas Wildflower). One thing led to another, and soon we were ordering honey from across the South, visiting our local beekeeper at the farmers market, and purchasing honey on college visitation trips.

Lisa purchased the Huajillo and Buckwheat honey from Walker Honey Farm, which has a retail store about 10 miles from I-35 in Rogers, Texas, near Belton and Temple. She also found a good selection of local honey at Ruibal’s Rosemeade Market in Carrollton, the HEB grocery stores in Georgetown and Temple, and the farmers market behind the famous Monument Cafe in Georgetown (a must stop if only for the homemade lemonade). Elizabeth made multiple trips to the farmers market on Campbell Road (near UTD) to purchase local honey and dippers from Warne Bee Farm in Anna, Texas.

Linda explored cookbooks, magazines, and internet sources including L.L. Lanier,, which has harvested Tupelo honey since 1898 in swamps along the Chipola and Apalachicola Rivers in Florida. She also found the Savannah Bee Co. of Savannah, Georgia, which sells the rare and wonderful Sourwood honey.

Next time you’re at Bruce Miller Nursery on Belt Line Road in Richardson, check out Fain’s Honey from Llano, Texas. Lisa says Fain’s is a family favorite and something she and her family always pick up at Cooper’s Bar-B-Que in Llano after a big platter of brisket and ribs. Turns out there’s a honey of a family connection: Lisa’s dad, after all, was Fain Gibbons.


Pictures by Starla

Recipes and more buzz about honey coming up in the next few days! Keep posted!


Bee Expert, Local Honey Tastings & Lunch

Bee on Blanket Flower


Bee Expert, Local Honey Tastings & Lunch

It’s a Honey of a Deal!

Tuesday April 15 Ÿ10:30 a.m.-12:00 noon

$20 per person Ÿ Limited Reservations

EARTH-KIND®/WaterWise Demonstration Garden Ÿ 2311 Joe Field Rd.

Bee Expert David McCarty will tell you:

Ÿ Why are honeybees brilliant?

Ÿ Which bees produce the most honey?

Ÿ Why is the honeybee referred to as a well-designed engine?

Ÿ Why is the “waggle” dance a kind of honeybee GPS?

 Hello, Honey! Menu 

Appetizer Tray featuring Marcona Almonds & Artisanal Cheeses

Drizzled with Tranquility Hill Honey RanchŸ

Goat Cheese Handkerchiefs with Tart Cherries & SageŸ

Smoked Turkey, Red Grape & Pistachio Salad

With Creamy Honey-Dijon DressingŸ

Honey-Pecan Tart with Honey Ice CreamŸ

Iced Honey Lemon Tea

Your check is your reservation and must be received by April 5th.  No refunds.

Make checks payable to: DCMGA.

Email: dallasgardenbuzz@gmail for the address of where to send your checks.

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