I Have a New Honey!

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The Buzz on Bo’s Bees [VIDEO]

Italian Bee

Italian Honey Bee

Buon giorno!

It is a simple fact that we can’t get along without bees. We need them to do the very basic work of pollinating our plants to provide food for our world. We just can’t do without ‘em. Italians are known for their use of honey in making their dolci and desserts, especially in Southern Italian cuisine with its Arab influences. Credit should be given to the Greeks, however, as all the way back in 415 BC during one of their infamous invasions, they first brought this marvelous sweet ooze to Italy. It definitely caught on. The Romans are said to have eaten it with their dried fruits for breakfast. Through the ages, honey was thought of as ambrosia – “Food of the Gods”, and it was held in esteem for its curative powers, as it is still today. Even old Julius Caesar thought enough of it to accept it as currency for taxes. Hmmm, if that were still true we’d all be raisin’ bees in our back yard!

In Italy, today, although honey bees can be found in probably all the regions, beekeeping seems to confine to some specific regions. As with many other edibles in Italy, Italian honey or miele (mee-EL-e  with the final “e” pronounced very softly), is evaluated and given a quality designation called PAT – which certifies it as a traditional Italian food and gives it authenticity. Italians take their honey so seriously that they even have a National Honey Day. Why not! The Italian honey bee is one of the most sought after as queen, because of its ability to produce and be hearty. The very best and most prized honey in Italy is from the Lunigiana region in Tuscany, “land of the moon”.  It is here where they produce a honey that is uniquely pure and distinctly flavored, and they still use ancient methods. Their acacia and chestnut honey are the only ones to be given the honor of the DOP Certification – Protected Designation of Origin.

SooooooAbout Bo’s Bees: if you had predicted a few months ago that I would be comfortably standing between two very active bee hives on a hot day in July during “Prime Bee-Time”, I would have suggested you pursue therapy and medication – not necessarily in that order. That skepticism is indicative of my bee phobia – or I should say former bee phobia. No one was more surprised than I was at my rather Zen reaction to my visit recently with Bo’s Bees. Meet Bo!

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OK – who is Bo, and what’s with the bees?  Bo Kersey is a good friend and Atlanta Real Estate “tycoon” with Keller Williams Realty ( Bo Sells Houses ).  Bo is the poster boy for “interesting men having interesting hobbies.” He is an extraordinary gardener and his raised bed vegetable garden is not only a beauty to behold, but also, is a place you might like to just hang out. I could truly imagine spending a quiet hour just reading a book in that tranquil green lush space that looks out over a serene pool where I’m told Bo’s Bees get some of their water. It’s just THAT cool.

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You can understand why earlier this summer I was soooo excited when Bo and I were comparing vegetable and herb garden notes, and he shared that he had begun to “keep bees”. I couldn’t wait to see this process and thought of nothing else but counting all of you in on the adventure. I was a little apprehensive about being so close to these little stingers, but once I was there in the middle of that happy garden, I forgot all of my fears. I must credit Bo for this as he was so relaxed that I felt immediately at ease. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that wearing black or red is a no-no around bees and what did I wear? You guessed it.

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Bo gave me a little preliminary tutorial which made me forget rather quickly that I was “out of uniform”. He began by telling me how much he still had to learn about the bees and was learning by doing. Bo is really comfortable with his bees as you will see in the video to follow. He started a few months before under the tutelage of his friend, Rob, at the Gwinnett Bee Festival.  He sent for the equipment from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm and Rob appeared with 2 queens – one of which was an Italian Queen. Wouldn’t you know? It just had to be!  The bees were transported on trays or “supers” with the queen inside. They were then placed in the hive – 10 supers to a hive. It is on these supers that the honeycomb containing wax and honey is attached.

He explained that you must always have at least 2 hives because the bees do die, and you can judge better if one hive is sick. The bees do pretty much all the work. They  get their pollen from Bo’s garden and from the flowers and plants in the surrounding neighborhood. They get water from the pool and from a lovely fountain also nearby. The bees have a flight path and almost always come and go on this path.

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When Bo goes into the hive or needs to be close by during an active period, he wears white clothing and dons a very “attractive” bonnet!  He then employs a cool little smoker that looks like the oil can the Tin Man used in the Wizard of OZ.  He burns leaves and pine straw inside and creates smoke which he distributes around the hives. This “confuses” the bees and settles them down, allowing him Bo to get into the hive or tend to his plants which are very close by. You’ll see, however, that Bo is no Tin Man. He definitely has a “heart” for his bees and strives to provide the best conditions for them. It is a pleasure to watch him with the bees to see how delicate and caring he is when going in and out of the hives so as not to harm even one of them.

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Let’s watch the [VIDEO] below and really get to know Bo’s Bees!

Bo Kersey’s Bees with Bo Kersey and Linda Calabrisi Hanks

Have you heard tales about the health value of eating local honey? It is said that if you eat local honey you build a resistance to pollens that irritate allergies. It is healthier for you as it is made with the air and plantings from the area in which you live. Works for me!  Thank you, Bo, for sharing your bees with me and my friends at Linda’s Italian Table.  It was a day I won’t soon forget. I still can’t believe I was so close to them, in the middle of their world, and loved every buzzing minute of it.

I can’t wait until Bo invites me back to sample the delicious amber treasure that these bees will create. There’s a new honey in town – who could resist?

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PARLA COME MANGI!

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LINDA’S ITALIAN TABLE

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Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography

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Comments

  1. Wonderful. Whoever thought I would enjoy learning about bees?
    I know can pronounce MIELE…
    I enjoy how you not only deliver fabulous recipes, we get to learn about various
    foods with a little history added. Thanks again !