This isn’t a cookbook but a very informative volume telling us about where we get honey and how we get honey. A substance that’s not manufactured by man but it still takes a lot of work to reach the breakfast table. Alison Benjamin writes on environmental issues for The Guardian and has produced a lovely book.
I thought you would have to live surrounded by fields of wild flowers (romantic, huh) or fruit orchards to be able to keep bees. Not a bit of it. Seems like almost anywhere will do. A small town garden or even a balcony.
Keeping Bees and Making Honey is probably the only book you would need to invest in should you fancy trying your luck in the honey-making cottage industry. You will also need a whole list of equipment, several hives, protective clothing and understanding neighbours!
There are sections on history, what you will need to set up your colony, where to buy your bees and what to provide to make your swarm comfy. Honey in all its forms is discussed and there are also a few delicious recipes. This is a well-illustrated book which would be interesting for adult and younger readers who might like to have a go at some cooking, or making hand cream – honey has been used for centuries in cosmetics.
My only serious contact with bees was last spring when we found a swarm hanging in a tree in our orchard. It was an amazing sight, being a living moving mass about the size of a laundry basket. They rose like a black tornado with a noise that seemed loud from my “vantage point” 20 metres away. Your writer broke world sprint records and vaulted the garden wall as the dark cloud headed in her direction. They settled, much to our dismay, in another part of the garden; we had to get a bee keeper in to transport them to a new and more appropriate home.
You don’t have to be seriously considering keeping bees yourself to find this a fascinating book. If you love honey then you will appreciate the work that goes into each pot, not only by the bees but by their keepers. Perhaps if I had read this book before my encounter I might not have been quite as anxious, as I would have known a bit more about the bee psychology. They are content to coexist with us and danger is rare…..but I’ll keep my distance!
Keeping Bees and Making Honey
Authors: Alison Benjamin, Brian McCallum
Published by: David and Charles
Book review by Chrissie Walker © 2018