April Newsletter: Adversity to Innovation, Ian Queens get Eviction Notices, An Easter Tradition
From Adversity to Innovation
It has been no secret that honey reserves have been very low. We have had to pump the breaks on all our retail partners and ration the amount of honey taken to our Farmers Markets. I'm sure some of our followers have notice we haven't been very active on social media... kinda laying low. After our last newsletter there was a rush on our honey like 2020 toilet paper!
Our team didn't want to sell out and have people coming to a honey store with no honey and then stop coming altogether. We have also had to decline or cancel requests for us to attend special events until the first 2023 harvest. This adversity has forced us to brainstorm with beekeeping friends and family all around the country on how to move forward…how to make lemon-aide out of lemons.
One suggestion which had shown much success with a friend in Ohio was cinnamon infused honey. We loved the idea but thought how can we make a cinnamon honey that can stand out from the rest. Alma thought, use the best cinnamon and best vanilla, make sure they are both organic/ fairtrade, and make sure the honey is alive! Alma took what she learned in the development of our “Hot Honey” and applied it to our new cinnamon honey. We paired Sarasota raw honey with organic cinnamon powder, organic Ceylon bark and organic fairtrade Madagascar vanilla.
We cooked a deep concentration of cinnamon and honey just as cinnamon honey is typically made. When honey is subjected to heat over 120 Fahrenheit all the health benefits of the honey is destroyed. All the Cinnamon and Hot honeys we have found on the market are dead honey with no nutritional value. This was the reason Alma was against making them for so long. However, because we make them in concentration, we can add an abundance of raw honey to the mix, allow them to infuse, bringing life and all of the wonderful attributes back into the product.
Alma decided that the cinnamon honey should be cooked with Ceylon cinnamon. So why Ceylon? Ceylon cinnamon is sometimes called "true" cinnamon — is grown primarily in Sri Lanka, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Different varieties of cinnamon hail from different types of cinnamon trees. Ceylon cinnamon is more expensive than its cousin cassia, and it's a little tougher to find. If you have a jar of ground cinnamon in your pantry, chances are it's cassia cinnamon, the most common (and least expensive) variety of cinnamon
Ceylon Cinnamon vs. Cassia Cinnamon: How are They Different?
Ceylon has a sweeter, more delicate flavor than cassia does, which may make it preferable in cinnamon desserts and lighter dishes. But the more important distinction is the difference in the amount of coumarin. Cassia cinnamon has much higher concentrations of the chemical than Ceylon. The coumarin content of your cinnamon likely isn't a major concern if you don't have any health conditions and only take cinnamon in moderation. However, if you eat spoonsful of the stuff every day, have a preexisting liver or kidney condition, or take blood thinners, it may be worth switching to Ceylon to curb your coumarin intake or talk to your doctor.
The amount of coumarin in cassia cinnamon is very high and can pose health risks, such as liver damage, if taken regularly and in large quantities, found research published in October 2013 in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies. Just 1 teaspoon of cassia cinnamon powder contains around 5.8 to 12.1 milligrams of coumarin, a relatively wide range. Even so, this amount is often above the Tolerable Daily Intake of 0.1 milligram/kilogram of body weight each day set by the European Food Safety Authority.
"However, Ceylon contains the least amount of this compound when compared to other species of cinnamon," Brockner says. Ceylon cinnamon only contains traces of coumarin, about 0.004 percent compared to cassia's 1 percent, states The Scientific World Journal article. So from a safety point of view, Ceylon cinnamon may be the better choice if you tend to sprinkle without a care. Some foods and herbs could interfere with your medication and be harmful, according to the American Heart Association. If you're on medication, it's best to discuss your diet and any supplements — cinnamon included — with your doctor.
The second ingredient to our cinnamon honey is Organic Fairtrade Madagascar Vanilla. Madagascar is the gold standard for vanilla beans around the world. Vanilla from Madagascar, high in vanillin content, used in almost every commercial kitchen the world over, is often considered the very best of all vanilla beans. You can find our cinnamon honey at our honey store or at any one of our honey booths at a local farmers market. They pair wonderfully with an Aged Gouda and Goat Cheese. Drizzle over ice cream, smoothie bowls, parfaits, plain yogurt and kefirs. Pancakes, waffles, biscuits, butter croissants. Honey butter. Recently
Alma cut flower tortillas into strips, fried them, and placed the strips around a bowl of Vanella bean ice cream with bananas. The final touch was the cinnamon honey drizzled on top! Additionally, each jar of our new Cinnamon Honey has a stick of Ceylon bark that can be boiled to make a delicious tea to go with your yummy cinnamon dessert.
The news of Florida's low honey supply has been the buzz among US beekeepers. Alma was contacted by a friend that she hadn’t heard from in a very longtime. “Hey, Alma…I hear you are hurting, honey wise. Why don’t you send me 5 gallons of your honey. I think I can help” To which Alma replied, “Like you said, honey is low. I need every drop to keep the wheels going.” His response, “Just send me the honey…trust me.” Alma prayed about it decided to send the honey. A week later, her friend called again, “Hey Alma, I’m working on that honey you sent me. I now need you to send another 5 gallons of honey but to Wyoming.” Alma, “Wyoming!? I don’t know anyone in Wyoming!” Alma friend responded, “But I do…trust me.”
A few weeks later, Alma received many boxes at her doorstep with a note attached. It was from her friend. “There is more where this came from. We got your back girl.” In the box were wide range of delicious fruit flavored honey sticks.
The other boxes where pounds of honey sweeten caramels: Raspberry, Caramel Apple Caramel, Vanilla. The note with the caramels stated that the caramels had no added sugar and were made with 3 ingredients: Honey, Cream and Butter. It also said that if we wanted organic caramels made, we should reach out to another beekeeping family. Alma reached out to the beekeeping family, and they quickly became friends. They sent honey caramels: Espresso, Chocolate and Salted Caramels. These caramels are also made with just raw honey but they use Organic Grass-fed cream and butter, in a biodegradable bag and packaging in a solar kitchen. All the things that fall in Alma’s “love it” list! The beautiful thing about these candies is that they are absolutely delicious and won’t stick to your teeth because there is no added sugar.
Ian’s Queens get Eviction Notices.
For many on the Suncoast its life back normal being that Hurricane Ian was over 6 months ago. This is not the case for us in agriculture or those that lost their homes during the storm. People were not the only ones that lost their homes during or because of the storm. Many many bees were left homeless due to their homes in trees or other structures being destroyed or heavily damaged due to the storm. The days and weeks that followed the hurricane we were getting inundated with calls about bees moving onto people’s property.
At Sarasota Honey Company, we keep extra beehive boxes at every of our apiary locations. We like to have the extra boxes for if one of the hives needs an extra honey box. The other reason is if we see that one of the hive is going to want to swarm, we move
half of the hive to the empty boxes, taking away the desire to swarm. This is called a split or swarm maintenance. After the storm most of those empty boxes were filled with those homeless honeybees. The State of Florida requires that swarms or hives of unknown genetics have their queens replaced with a queen of known genetics. This is the way the state tries to control the Africanized genes from multiplying.
Alma is a trained queen breeder, but because the storm happened in October she couldn’t breed/raise queens to replace the feral queens. Alma allowed the feral hives to become squatters in our empty boxes. Moreover, to avoid them from attacking our domesticated hives she fed and nursed these hives back to health with honey, pollen and vitamins. Now that it is spring, and the homeless hives are stronger some have shown to still have feral behavior. The time has come to send out “Eviction Notices” to Ian’s queens before they can reproduce more queens. Alma will remove the Ian queens, let the hive stay queen less for 24 hours and then introduce with her gentle queens to the hives. The next thing is to hope that the worker bees accept the new queens. The new queen’s genetics will take over the hive within a 3-month period. The worker bees from the Ian will support the new queen’s young and live out their lives as the new queen’s offspring grow. The new queen’s offspring will slowly take over the day-to-day duties of the hive with good manners and a friendly attitude!
Alma’s Easter Family Traditions:
Capirotada: Mexican Easter Bread Pudding. My most favorite Easter tradition was my grandmother’s Capirotada. The smell of cinnamon, clove, and sweet honey would fill our house Easter morning and was the most wonderful way to wake up!This bread pudding combines humble ingredients with holy symbolism makes a special beloved dessert during Easter. The bread, symbolizing the body of Christ; the dark syrup, echoing Christ's blood; the cinnamon sticks, symbolizing the wood of the cross; the cloves, representing the nails used in the Crucifixion, for us the HONEY is the sweetness of everlasting life with Christ and the cheese that cloaks the dish, suggesting the holy shroud. Some families add nuts, raisins and fruit. Check out our recipe:
2 cups dark brown sugar (or 16 ounces of piloncillo)
* 2 cups water
* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1 24-inch loaf of French bread, cubed and toasted (about six cups)
* 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
* 1 cup Mexican crumble cheese
* 1 cup toasted and chopped pecans
* 1/2 cup raisins
* 1/3 cup of raw Honey (we use our Sarasota Raw Gold for its mild taste)
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
2. Make a syrup by boiling the sugar, water, cinnamon, and cloves together for 10 minutes or until it’s slightly thickened and reduced.
3. In a greased large cast-iron skillet or an 8-inch square pan, place half the bread and pour over it half the melted butter. Toss to coat. Drizzle about ¼ cup of the syrup over the bread and toss to coat. Layer on top of the bread the cheese, pecans, raisins. the rest of the bread on top, drizzle over the honey, remaining butter and then pour over the rest of the syrup. Make sure that each piece of bread is properly coated in syrup.
4. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 15 more minutes. Serve warm.
Back by Customer Demand: May Intro and Intermediate Beekeeping Seminar
Our instructors know how intimidating beekeeping can be from the beginner’s perspective, so we make a point of being friendly and accessible. Our beekeeping classes have limited seating to ensure that our students receive quality education.
Intro to Beekeeping Seminar/ Sat. May 13th 4-7pm
A Bees Life Part 1 and 2: How beekeeping and agriculture has changed, The effects of change, Plight of the bees, Types of beekeepers, Florida Department of Apiary Inspection: Requirements for keeping bees in NON-Agriculture Zoned Property, What makes beekeeping in Florida so unique, Bee biology/behavior, life stages and duties, types of bees in the hive
Beekeeping 101: Overview of Beekeeping, hive wood ware, tools and accessories in and around the hive.
Options When Purchasing Bees: Bee Breeds and characteristics, nucs vs package bees, types of nucs. Bee stings and allergic reactions.
Intermediate Beekeeping Seminar/ Sat, May 20th 4-7pm
Quality Queens: Types of queens, considerations when queen breeding, queen calculator
Hive Inspection and Record Keeping: How to prep hive for inspection, properly use a smoker, what to look for, and how to document.
Now What??? How to trouble shoot the unexpected... Uncommon honeybee behavior, pests, queen cells, & much more
Products of the Hive: Products of the hive and how they are used by bees and people, Honey: Benefits, Harvest, Selling under Cottage Law, Candles and Beeswax, Cosmetics state regulations.
Each session is $65 or book the Intro and Intermediate Seminars together for $95. If you have any questions call/text 941.726.8755. To register click on button below: