One of the joys of beekeeping is food!
Having done my beekeeping duties early Saturday to avoid the exceptional blistering weather I brought my mentor back to the orchard with me to admire the set-up. A proud student. The hives are in a small compound facing a very young orchard and a different type of rare wheat grows in swarths between each row of trees. As we strolled around, I saw the owners of the orchard through the open doors of the small purpose-built cookery school which had been a work-in progress for ages. Everything looked neat as we approached, the grass was cut and bee-friendly hedging had been recently planted along the boundary. In fact, all plants and trees planted on this farm are done in consideration of pollinators. It’s a haven for pollinators. There was an inviting table and 6 chairs set up outside the new small shed-like cookery school.
I thought the owners would like to meet my bee keeping mentor, so I stuck my head in the door. “Ah, here is the beekeeper.” I was quickly introduced to a class of 6-9 who were learning the art of making Sour Dough! I didn’t stay to count! I smiled and hastily retreated not wanting to disturb them. The class continued but one of the owners came out.
“Sit down, will have something to eat.” “Have a drink, it’s hot”
After the initial typical Irish ah-shur-no from me I was too tempted by the plates of samples brought out and the waft of freshly baked bread that tickled my nostrils. It only then that I realised that in my eagerness to get my bees sorted out that I had not eaten breakfast and it was now nearly 3pm.
What followed was pure bliss. Calzone with Italian sausage which is basically Sourdough bread with filling inside. There was a mix of buffalo cheese and I don’t know what other cheese filling in another, and tuna in a third generous sample. Absolutely delicious. Mmm. Mmm. Mmm. Never mind your water, I choose the homemade slightly fizzy Kefir, which is like a probiotic lemonade.
I sat facing the orchard, the warm sun on my left cheek, my beehives visible in the distance, the wheat swaying in the gentle breeze. This was a taste of heaven.
Link to Well Bread cookery school website. A small snippet about the place on Facebook – my bees even feature 😊 The Bread School is Open and Instagram well_bread_ireland (worth a look for the photos and videos)
That’s not the end of this perfect weekend though. I called back to my mentor’s farm later to pick loganberries that were pollinated by a hive of bees that I keep there. What a yield! Year-on-year this crop of loganberries does not disappoint. Bees will increase the yield of fruits by 20-30%. Such lush fruits there were too! We picked over 11lbs of loganberries in a short space of time. Such bounty. These will make some lovely jam. Link to a previous post about jam called Win-Win or protein shakes or ice cream or pie.
And still, that’s not the end of the perfect weekend. The next morning, I drove to West Cork where I keep a few hives. I put mesh floors under the two swarms caught there this year in preparation for the extremely hot weather forecast for the next few days. Two of the hives are on a hill and have a spectacular view of the south coastline. I thought a hive couldn’t survive in such an exposed place, but these bees are thriving.
“Will you stay for dinner?”
“Ah, um?” I was a bit taken aback. The elderly gentleman who owns the place wanted to cook dinner for me! I (perhaps rudely) checked what was on the menu. Beef (sorry vegetarians), homegrown potatoes, and peas, cauliflower, carrots and broccoli all from his organic garden and all tended with extortionary care. I’ve seen his garden and small poly tunnel – I sneak a peek every time I go there or occasionally get a guided tour from my gentleman friend. There are always magnificent displays of succulent vegetables and lettuce on show. The peas, beans and strawberries particularly benefit from being pollinated by my bees. They grow bigger and yield more.
Over dinner we chatted leisurely. “How many prizes did you win at the last agriculture show?” I asked.
“Eleven.” he said quietly, part bashful and part proud.
I was eating the best of food and it tasted wonderful.
There are such wonderful joys to beekeeping, and halcyon days.