First in the Series: How to create a bee friendly environment: Bird Bath Everyone!
One of the questions we hear often is, how are the bees doing? Well we don't know all the answers to that, though we are concerned and we know there are a lot of organizations and universities conducting studies like the ARS, Agricultural Research Service, a division of USDA, who is currently doing research on the decline of the honeybee. Tucson, AZ, as well as other areas throughout the United States, are also conducting research - you can read their findings on the ARS website.
We know that Arizona is the host to more honey bees than anywhere else in the world. What is the attraction? The Sonoran Desert, according to Stephen L Buchmann, Adjunct Scientist, Department of Entomology, at the University of Arizona, "the bees are most abundant in numbers of both species and individuals in deserts and savannahs, rather than in lowland rainforests." There are more than 1000 species of bees in Arizona and we would like to keep the Sonoran Desert a healthy haven for the honey bee as well as all pollinators.
Over the next several weeks we will take you through some really simple steps to create an environment that bees love and thrive, in the Sonoran Desert and your locale too. For those of you who are in other areas of the world or the United States, this will also help you to become aware of what you can do in your neck of the world to help important pollinators.
We know that bees are important to our food supply, they are among the most important pollinators. We at Untamed Confections, are on a mission to keep the Sonoran Desert a bee friendly environment. Do you live in the Sonoran Desert? Are you sustaining a bee friendly environment? Let's start with a simple bird bath, yes bird bath. Here is ours, not fancy but it works!
Our bird bath has not only been a host for all types of birds and an occasional fox, but the bees love it. See the rock in the center this keeps it bee friendly so they are able to drink without falling in. Bees do not like getting their feet wet!
Water has several uses in a honey bee hive. During certain times of the year worker bees find a source of water to bring back to the hive as needed. When the weather becomes warmer, they use the water as an evaporative cooling way to keep the hive at around 90 F.
Bees find water in a number of places including damp rocks, branches, muddy puddles, pond edges, and water drops adhering to vegetation. They swallow the water, store it and fly back to their hive. The water is then transferred to the waiting workers through the process of trophallaxis. Trophallaxis is the direct transfer from one bee to another. One of the many jobs of the worker bee, a non-reproducing female, is to keep the hive cool. Of the many studies they are doing regarding the honey bees decline, one is determining if water sources are effecting the health of the bee.
So, for those who have a pool and you see the bees collecting water from it...guess what, it is going into their food supply, as well as the droplets of water from pesticides that is put on the vegetation.
If you are concerned about our bee population, you can start with some very simple steps to create a bee friendly habitat. Get a bird bath, add some rocks, use earth friendly pool products, and keep a pesticide free environment.
For those of you who are concerned with attracting bees to your environment, remember when foraging for water or nectar they are focused on that task and seldom aggressive. But when near a hive that contains a queen, their job is to protect their home. We have bees around us in the outdoors all of the time with no problem, so give them their space and they will give us ours!
Next time - what flowers do bees like in the Sonoran Desert and what you can do to promote a healthy bee lifestyle.
Now onto a special desert for mom, or yourself!
Coconut Caramel Mousse
A great Mother's Day treat. Anyone can make this, it is delicious and your Mother will LOVE you for it as well as your friends and family!
This rich, silky dessert boasts the wonderful flavors of coconut, caramel, chocolate and vanilla. It is a luxurious dessert which can be served after any type of main course. If you love chocolate and you are also crazy about coconut, you are going to love this delicious mousse.
Although the coconut milk needs to be chilled for a few hours to separate the creamy part from the rest, this is a quick and easy recipe.
The only cooking involved is melting the Coconut Creme Honey Caramel, and the rest is simply about combining the ingredients with a mixer, to get plenty of air into the mixture, and get a light, fluffy dessert. We like to top this with chopped walnuts (or your favorite nuts) to add some crunch. This recipe makes 4 small servings or 2 generous ones.
What You Need:
2 - 13.5 oz organic coconut milk (we suggest carrageenan free)
1/2 of a bag of Coconut Creme Honey Caramel
1/4 teaspoon pure organic vanilla extract
4 tablespoons unsweetened organic cocoa powder
1 tablespoon raw honey or sweeten to taste
Chopped walnuts (or pecans) and toasted coconut, for garnish (optional, but we strongly suggest it!)
How to Make It:
You will need to separate the coconut milk first, so chill it in the refrigerator overnight or for at least a few hours. Open the can and you will see the thick, creamy part has risen to the top. Scoop out this cream into a mixing bowl. You can save the rest of the coconut milk for another recipe, like your morning smoothie.
Melt the Coconut Creme Honey Caramel in a small pan over a low heat, stirring often. Whip the coconut cream with a hand held mixer on the lowest speed, adding in the melted Coconut Creme Honey Caramel, vanilla, cocoa and honey slowly.
Turn the speed up to medium while adding the ingredients, and then up to high so you can get plenty of air into the mousse mixture. Continue until the consistency is mousse-like. You can serve this dessert right away, topped with chopped walnuts, pecans, shaved chocolate and shredded toasted coconut. Keep refrigerated for up to 3 days. Easy and a delicious treat!