Give Honey Bees a Break

August 3, 2016

You may have read that bees are responsible for one in every three mouthfuls of food you eat. While that statistic is perhaps exaggerated, the importance of bees to ensuring our agricultural bounty cannot be overstated. The US government projects that honeybees contribute about $15 billon dollars annually to America’s food supply. For those crops that do not completely depend upon honey bee pollination, honeybees can still have an impact by boosting crop yield and improving the harvest quality (i.e., shape and size of the fruit, vegetable or seed).

One of our favorite plants to go grow in our fruit and vegetable garden at the Bee America apiary are tomatoes. Nothing epitomizes summer as eating a warm, vine-ripened tomato right after picking it late in the afternoon. Tomato flowers do depend upon pollination to develop into fruits, but because of its structure, honey bees are unable to access the pollen. When we first learned this, we were surprised that that are plants that honey bees are unable to pollinate. Fortunately, their cousins, bumblebees and mud bees can pollinate tomato plants by landing on the flower and strongly vibrating their wings to dislodge the pollen. Some modern tomato cultivars can also be pollinated by wind in high winds.

Tomatoes

When we have a bounty of sun-ripened tomatoes, we love to make gazpacho. And while we have tried many different recipes, with a variety of “other things” mixed in (e.g., strawberries, sweet peppers, peaches, cherries, etc.), we like to stick with the classic. Our favorite recipe is from The Fresh Honey Cookbook by Laurey Masterton.

 

Chunky Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Lemon Crème Fraîche

Ingredients:

  • 7 oz container of Crème Fraîche
  • 3 pounds of heirloom tomatoes, diced
  • 2 seedless cucumbers, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ c of olive oil
  • ¼ c of red wine vinegar
  • 2 T of Worcestershire sauce
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 lemon
  • Fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • Bee America Orange Blossom Honey, for drizzle

Directions:

-Combine the tomatoes, cucumber and garlic in a large bowl

-Add olive oil, red wine vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce

-Stir gently to combine

-If you prefer a smoother texture, pulse mixture in a blender

-Add salt and pepper to taste

-Allow to rest for at least one hour in the refrigerator before serving (the more time you can let it rest, the tastier it becomes)

-To serve, spoon gazpacho into individual bowls, add a dollop of Crème Fraîche, squeeze with a bit of lemon juice, and drizzle with Bee America Orange Blossom Honey

-Sprinkle bowl with cilantro leaves

-Enjoy!

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