Wednesday, 20 January 2010


A couple of months ago on an early morning walk I came upon this seething mass of buzzing bees parked on an olive tree next to the hive. Alfred aka THE STING is my bee buddy, but he was away and unable to come to the rescue. It looked like our queen was banished from the hive by a new queen. He is called THE STING as he often drives arround in an old Land Rover troop carrier with the beekeepers headgear on. But I know its really  Alfred.

The question was did our queen abdicate or was she banished?
Something had to be done quickly. With the magic of the electric telephone THE STING was able to direct me from afar to simply catch the swarm. He would come the next day to collect it. Now I don’t know about you but I had never captured a swarm of bees before  THE STING insisted that as it was early in the morning, and a cool day, they would simply drop into a box without drama.I donned my best “protective “gear of a fly net, garden gloves and [as it was the first container that I could see in the shed and it had wheels ] I grabbed a wheelie-bin and decided to have a go. I must have been half asleep. The strategy was to take a pruning saw place the wheelie-bin under the swarm and cut the branch dropping the bees, avec branch, into the bin. But as I put the bin under the bees and touched the branch they miraculously, just as THE STING had said, all dropped directly into the bin and I could close the lid in a flash. Feeling very clever I stashed the swarm in the shed and waited for THE STING to come the next day. He checked the old hive and said there was indeed a new queen and took the swarm away. The next day he rang to say that yes the old queen was with the swarm and he could bring them back in a new hive in a few days.
So she was indeed banished by a new queen. That was a couple of months ago and last week THE STING returned, checked the hive again and we processed the new seasons’ honey.

A hive produces about 30kg of honey a year and now with 2 hives we have to find new ways to use it.

All our ice creams are now made with honey instead of sugar. This week there was a windfall of red currants so a redcurrant and honey gelati is being paired with verbena poached stone fruits.

The painful sting came today as I was mowing around the olives near the hive ,not serious but a reminder that we all need a STING every now and again. So if you are wlking arround our olive grove bee warned!!

The old Ice cream machine is a 1950’s Husquavarna manual salt and ice model.The manual contains a recipe for Italian Tutti Frrutti gelato. The modern machine is a Carpigiani if it was the STIG driving it he would rate it cool, very cool.


Thermomixer said...

Very becoming kit you had on for the Sting.

You were very game - think I would have gone with lots of smoke as a screen. ....and somebody in front of me.

Funny, I found a 1970's ice-cream book for one of the plastic models using ice and salt and a lot of friends to churn, that MrsT owned. Very trendy it must have been for dinner parties to sit and create your own sorbets and ices !!

steve said...

You are brave with those bees George-I go into shock if I get stung & it has precluded me from having a hive.
Is there a tend toward a uniformity of flavour using the honey as sweetener in the ice creams or like sugar does it just become a background flavour?

Sunnybrae and all who sail in her said...

Brave no just stupid. But I do have absolute faith in Alfred THE STING's advice. They just dropped all at once it was quite startling.
On Sugar we have used all sorts of sugar for various dishes jaggery is a current favourite for poaching fruits.This month's honey is quite light a little acidic and not too obtrusive. Also the inverted sugars in honey seem to help with smothness especially in sorbets.