Honey Barbecued Oysters

One of my college friends raises both bees and oysters at his home on the Chesapeake Bay. This recipe is for him!


1 cup ketchup

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 Tbs. honey

2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Dash of Tabasco sauce

2 dozen small or medium oysters

Rock salt

Make the Sauce

In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients (except the oysters) and stir to blend.  Cover and let sit for at least one hour.  Sauce can be made up to 2 days ahead.

Prep the grill and the oysters

Prepare a medium hot fire in a charcoal grill. Pour rock salt on a rimmed platter. Shuck the oysters, removing the flat top shell and loosening the oyster from the bottom shell; leave the oyster in the shell, reserving as much liquor as you can in the shell. Nestle the oysters in the rock salt to keep from tipping.  Cover loosely with clean kitchen towel until fire is ready.

When the fire has died down and the coals are covered in a fine coat of ash, spread the coals out evenly over the bottom of the grill. Place the oysters on the center of the grill and spoon 1 Tbs of sauce onto each oyster. Cover grill and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the liquor and sauce are just bubbling. Take care not to overcook.  Serve immediately on a rock salt lined platter.

Honey Bees Love Russian Sage

If you want to plant a lovely perennial that bees clearly love, try Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia). It is a beautiful, easy care addition to the cottage garden, and you’ll be amazed at how the bees flock to it.

It does best in full sun, but it can also tolerate a bit of shade. It’s also deer-resistant!

Honey Bee Cocktail


1/2 tablespoon honey
1/2 tablespoon water
2 ounces white rum
1/2 ounce lemon juice


Put the honey and warm water in a cocktail shaker and stir it until the honey is thoroughly dissolved. Add the white rum and lemon juice, then shake viciously with cracked ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. If this is too dry, or if you’re feeling charitable and generous of spirit, add more honey. It couldn’t hurt!

Feeding My Bees

I am an organic beekeeper. I don’t use any chemicals, and, to the extent possible, I let my bees be bees.

My first hive hasn’t eaten anything but honey in three years. I’m a firm believer that honey and pollen are what bees should eat, and that sugar syrup is inferior food.

Except for new packages.  I have been feeding my new Italian bees sugar syrup since I hived them on May 12th.

It would be nice to be able to say there is no need to ever feed your bees. The truth is, their survival sometimes depends on supplemental nourishment.

A package of bees in a brand new hive is starting from scratch. They don’t have any drawn comb and they don’t have any stored honey. Not feeding them is a recipe for failure.

I could feed my bees honey from my other hive, but I wouldn’t know for sure whether I was spreading disease.  My Buckfast bees are the picture of health, but who knows?

I would never feed my bees store-bought honey. Pure white cane sugar is definitely safer.

I won’t feed my new bees much l0nger.  When I see capped brood and honey stores, I will stop immediately.

I just found this recipe for herbal sugar syrup, which is purportedly easier for the bees to assimilate. Making such a concoction requires a time commitment, but in the long run, a healthy colony is worth it.

 Recipe for Herbal Sugar Syrup


*  Spring Water or filtered water if possible (not distilled however)

*  Organic Sugar – use only the lightest sugar, even white sugar is OK.   Dark sugars contain too many minerals and can make the bees sick.

*  Organic Chamomile – loose or in tea bags.   Brew as in a light tea, steep one bag per quart for just a minute or so.  Chamomile is a unique herb that is particularly suited for bee syrup.    According to Rudolf Steiner, chamomile moves the sugar toward honey a bit, making it easier on the bees’ digestive system.

*  Your own honey – a small amount of honey is helpful to provide enzymes to the syrup.   Syrup must be cooled before adding honey, otherwise the heat will denature the enzymes.  If you don’t have your own honey (from your bees) or honey from a trusted friend, skip it.   The introduction of disease spores into the syrup is not worth it.

*  Sea Salt – a pinch of salt is important to facilitate the distribution of the nutrition throughout the bee’s small body.

*  PH adjuster – use either vitamin C (powdered), lemon juice or cream of tartar, enough to bring PH down to 4.5 or so.   PH test strips or a meter are helpful here to get the PH correct.   This is a very important step, since honey is considerably more acidic than sugar, the bees have to work hard to digest the higher PH of sugar, bringing the PH down beforehand is greatly beneficial to the bees.  I have found that 2-3 tsps. of lemon juice per quart is about right.

 Optional Ingredients

Other organic herbs –  Kitchen or medicinal herbs like thyme, rosemary, cilantro, nettles, comfrey, lavender, lemon balm.   Keep the herbal tea light, and use you own sensibilities about herbs.

Essential Oils— these can be added for either flavor or medicinal actions.   The essential oil of thyme, eucalyptus, oregano, lemon balm, tea tree are all good, but especially thyme and eucalyptus for medicating for mites or dysentery.   To promote the dispersion of the oil, you can first mix the drops of oil (2 drops or so per batch of syrup) with  1 tblsp. lecithin or vegetable glycerin before adding it to the syrup.


The proportions of sugar : water depend on the purpose of feeding.

Fall Feeding or during nectar dearth – 2:1 –(2 parts sugar to 1 part water)

Spring feeding or to administer medication – 1:1  – (1 part sugar to 1 part water)

Syrup Recipe  (Using spring feeding proportions, adjust accordingly otherwise)

1 part sugar
  (use an amount appropriate to you needs)

1 part water

– organic chamomile flowers or  chamomile tea bags – enough for a light tea.  (+ other herbs if you are using them)

– spoonful of your own or a trusted friend’s honey

– pinch of sea salt

– essential oils if you are using them

– PH adjuster:  an acidifying agent from the list above to bring the PH to 4.5.


Bring water to a rolling boil then remove from the heat. Add chamomile + any other herbs you are using, let steep for 2 minutes.   Remove tea (strain if needed) and add sugar, stirring until fully dissolved.  Add salt.  Mix thoroughly.  Let cool to just luke warm, add honey.   (see note below on heating honey)  Add essential oils, then adjust for PH at the end.

Heating Honey – Heating honey leads to drastic changes in its chemical composition. Heating up to 99°F causes loss of nearly 200 components, parts of which are antibacterial. Heating up to 104°F destroys invertase, an important enzyme. Heating up to 122°F turns the honey into caramel (the most valuable honey sugars become analogous to sugar).  Essentially, heating honey destroys its value both as bee nutrition and medicament.

Storage and Temperature of Syrup

Syrup can be stored for a few days in the refrigerator, but bring it to room temperature before giving to the bees.   Syrup will ferment if left out too long, especially in warmer temperatures.  Fermented syrup can kill a bee colony so error on the side of caution and check the syrup often if you are leaving it with the bees and they are not taking it.

Honey Garlic Chicken Wings

1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup water
3 tbsp ketchup
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp ground ginger
Combine all ingredients in sauce pan. Heat to boiling and simmer for 5 minutes.
Place 3 lbs chicken wings separated into a 9×13 baking dish. Pour sauce over wings. Marinate for 2 hrs.

Bake at 400°F for 1 hour, turning once.

The Delphic Oracle And The Bees

An omphalos is a religious stone artifact in the ancient world. In Greek, the word omphalos means “navel”.

According to the ancient Greeks, Zeus sent out two eagles to fly across the world to meet at its center, the “navel” of the world.

Omphalos stones used to mark this point were erected in several areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea – the most famous of which was at the Oracle of Delphi.

The ancient Greeks used to seek out the Priestesses of the Oracle to answer questions about the future and past.  The Priestesses sat on tri-legged stools near a spot where vapours rose up through an omphalos stone.

The omphalos stone was carved, hollow, domed-shaped and looked like a bee hive.  An example of the one from Delphi (which may be a copy of the original) is shown below:

Omphalos from Delphi

The Oracle itself – the Omphalos Stone, resembles a Beehive and is designed with crisscrossing rows of Bee-like symbols, reminiscent of the ‘Net dress’ worn by Nut, the Egyptian goddess of the sky and keeper of the title She Who Holds a Thousand Souls.

Legend asserts that the second temple at Delphi was constructed entirely by Bees.

The Oracle has a bee connection, which I will discuss in my next post…

Bringing Europe Home

What to do, what to do?  That seems to be the persistent and universal question that we humans share.  The ancient Greeks had a singular method for making decisions:  they consulted an oracle.

 What It Is

The term “oracle” refers to both the shrine where a prophet or prophetess channeled advice from a god, and to the prophet or prophetess who administered that advice.  The most famous of them all (in the ancient world and in the present day) is the Oracle of Delphi.  Her advice didn’t come cheap:  it could cost the typical Greek two days’ wages, plus offerings and expenses, to visit the Delphic Oracle, and the fee was much higher for representatives of State or government.

The impressive site included the temple of Apollo, a grand theatre, a stadium, a treasury, and the Tholos, and is one of the most important and visited…

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Alpine Ivy Geraniums

When my children were younger, they had the opportunity to play competitive soccer in Belgium. The whole family went over, and it was a wonderful trip.

We all loved Bruges, especially the cascading alpine ivy geraniums on the balconies overlooking the canal. I’ve grown ivy geraniums ever since.

Geraniums in Bruges

I’m getting a late start on my ivy geraniums this year. My order from Larson’s Geraniums, purveyor of European-style geraniums, will arrive on Thursday.

After they arrive, I will start the watering, pruning and fertilizing necessary to achieve European showiness. They require daily attention to achieve their highest glory. My next-door neighbor insists on the same color every year!

Honey Chocolate Fudge


2 Cups Sugar
4 Ounces Semisweet Chocolate
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Evaporated Milk undiluted
1/4 Cup Honey or sugar
2 Tablespoons Butter (softened)
1/4 Cup Walnut chopped (optional)

1. Combine the sugar, chocolate, salt, and evaporated milk in a saucepan over medium-high heat.

2. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes.

3. Add the honey and continue to cook to soft-ball stage (240-F degrees on your candy thermometer).

4. Remove the fudge mixture from the heat and add the butter, stirring to blend.

5. Let the Honey Fudge stand until lukewarm. Then beat until creamy again with an electric mixer.

6. Pour the mixture into a lightly buttered pan.

7. Sprinkle the walnuts on top and let cool completely.

8. Slice to serve, and keep tightly wrapped in wax paper to maintain moisture.

Living With Bees

When you live with bees, well …. you live with bees.

I have to brag on my bees this weekend. My daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter, the lovely Luciana, were visiting me for the holiday weekend.

The Lovely Luciana and The Noble Bayard

Yesterday, they helped me with the gardens.

They are not huge bee fans, but after a while, they forgot about the bees altogether. Nobody bothered anyone else!

The Garden HIve

Generally, when my bees leave the hives, they fly straight up and away.  They don’t seem to mind people gardening around the hive, as long as they don’t smell bad or look like a bear.

I’m more convinced than ever that garden hives are the way to go.