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March 2013

Mary's Modern Homemaking

The Bees Are Busy
By Mary Frances

Mary's Modern Homemaking archive


Beeswax candles smell as good as they look.


I love Washington state and all its glory. This wasn't always so. When I first moved up here from California I hated it! Yes, I know "hate" is a naughty word and I hardly use it. However, that was my feeling at the time. I have since learned to love and appreciate this wonderful green place and all its unique people.

People in Washington are so imaginative, and they can make a living out of almost anything. Meet the Holcomb family. Hummm . . . Holcomb . . . Honeycomb! What a coincidence that they perfected their love of bees into a family business. This "sweet" little shop is tucked away from a major highway between Maple Valley and Enumclaw. Down the long gravel drive sits an old building that looks almost as if it belongs in a Norman Rockwell painting. The flashing "open" sign in the window lets me know the Holcombs are saying, "We are here and ready for you to come in and enjoy our goods!"


Signs point the way . . .


. . . to the Bees in the 'Burbs shop.


"Enjoy" is such an understatement for what you will find. The Holcombs have learned that whatever the little honeybee produces can be turned into a useful product. Today the parents were out of the office for a while, so I had the pleasure of talking to their two teenage children, who were more than happy to share their knowledge with me.

Of course the conversation was about starting a beehive for my personal use, as well as the possibility of letting the Holcombs buy honey from me should I have too much. Since we have a black bear that hangs around our property, they recommended an electric fence; however, this is no guarantee that it will keep the bear away. Bears can be determined when foraging in beehives. In addition to the honey, they eat the immature bees for the protein and fat. Bee stings don't deter the bears even when they get them on their face. Having said all that, if I am still interested, Norm Holcomb will come out and share his expertise with me.

Once inside the shop, you will learn that there is more to honey than meets the eye. Floor-to-ceiling shelves hold jars of all sizes. Lip balm, creamed honey, bee pollen, beeswax candles, blocks of beeswax for your own candle making, cough drops, and even something for your sore throat. Hummingbird food made from—you guessed it! Honey! Oh, and don't let me forget to tell you about the honeycomb. When I was young we used to get chocolate-covered honeycomb. Well, this batch has no chocolate, but it is ever sooo good all the same. Everything in the store has a "bee" theme: bandanas, honey dippers, recipe cards, cookie cutters, books, and so much more. How about a treat for the kids? Try some Honey Stix. They are only 25 cents apiece, and there are more than 10 flavors. This makes them cheaper than candy, and they are better for you.


There's more to honey than meets the eye.


Among the books I found a real treasure: Joy with Honey, a cookbook in which every single recipe has honey in it. Even better, it is by Doris Mech, a Maple Valley woman and beekeeper herself. The book contains quite a collection of material, from breakfast ideas to how to can with honey; there is something for all your cooking needs. She even gives you a quick glance into her personal life, as well as some helpful hints about what she calls "this and that."


Joy with Honey, by Doris Mech


To learn more from Bees in the 'Burbs, visit their website at beesinthe-burbs.com.

If you are thinking about just trying to attract bees to your garden, plant flowers that are native to your area. For more information, contact a local garden club; they are most helpful in these matters. You might check with your local agricultural extension office; they will sometimes offer free classes. Even try your local water company. I know the one near my home offers gardening classes at no cost to the public. Everything from water-wise gardening to natural bug control.

Many people today can be seen with some sort of energy drink in their hand. I will never understand what they taste in them. The smell alone deters me, not to mention the garish label. Exactly what is in them, and what are you putting into your body? For me, I'll stick with a tried-and-true drink—one that I know exactly what's in it.

Honey Energy Drink
From Joy with Honey

1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
1 banana, sliced
1 whole egg*
1 cup cold milk
1 teaspoon bee pollen

Put all the ingredients together in a blender and process until frothy.

A great pick-me-upper for that 4 p.m. slump!

* Some people believe that raw eggs can contain salmonella, so use at your own discretion. I grew up on Orange Julius smoothies made with a raw egg and have never been ill from it. But if you want to avoid raw eggs, you can leave the egg out of the recipe, or use powdered egg white or processed eggs such as Egg Beaters (check the package for the equivalent to 1 egg).


Honeycomb makes a sweet and healthy snack.


Mary Frances lives in Ravensdale, Washington, and loves finding healthy ways to keep her castle clean. She believes that what we clean with can be just as important to our health as what we eat. When she's not cleaning, Mary Frances battles the blackberry vines in her yard. Also enjoy Mary Frances's blog, All American Gal.


Mary's Modern Homemaking copyright 2013.
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