Reid Nevins, a Lowndes County extension agent, knows a thing or two about bees. He has an apiary — a collection of beehives — both at home and at work.
Bees help in local gardens and farms, pollinating flowers on fruit trees and vegetable plants which eventually turn into yummy local produce.
Bees also produce honey, which can be found in local farmers markets.
Nevins said honey can vary in color and taste depending on the bees’ nectar source.
“Some of the early spring honey tends to be lighter in color, because the bees are getting nectar from clover,” he said. “Darker honey tends to come in the fall, when goldenrod supplies the nectar of choice. It has a stronger taste to it. I prefer it over the regular stuff.”
In Mississippi, honey can taste differently depending on the region.
“We’ve been down in Southern Mississippi where all the blueberry farms are. The honey from there has a hint of blueberry taste to it,” he said.
Nevins, along with other extension agents in the area, help run an emailed newsletter for local beekeepers and host education programs.
“We cover most of Northern Mississippi, we have members from as far away as Lee County and as close as Monroe County,” he said.
While most area beekeepers are hobbyists, some have enough hives that they can sell their own honey. Hives do best when started in early spring, so they have enough time to produce honey to survive the winter.
“The best honey flow is in the spring and early summer, before it gets too hot and dry,” Nevins said.
If you’re intrigued by beekeeping, Nevins said the Lowndes County Extension Office can help you decide whether the hobby is for you. The office also has an apiary that the agents plan to use to help teach live classes, Nevins said.
To learn more about beekeeping or to join the mailing list, which is also available via email, contact Nevins by email at [email protected] or call him at 338-2111.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cups (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup honey
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup sour cream
Powdered sugar, for serving
■ Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment and grease with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
■ In another large bowl, using a hand mixer, beat honey and butter together until butter is smooth and mixture is light and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add almond extract. Add dry ingredients and beat until just barely combined, then add sour cream and beat until just combined.
■ Pour batter into the prepared cake pan and bake about 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool.
■ Serve as is or with a dusting of powdered sugar.
A HONEY OF A CHILI
Yield: Makes 8 servings
1 package (15 oz.) firm tofu
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (15-1/2 oz.) red kidney beans,undrained
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
■ Use a cheese grater to shred tofu. Freeze it in a zippered bag or airtight container. Thaw tofu; place in a strainer and press out excess liquid.
■ In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat until hot; cook and stir onion, green pepper and garlic 3 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender and begin to brown. Stir in chili powder, cumin, salt, oregano and crushed red pepper. Stir in tofu. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Stir in diced tomatoes, kidney beans, tomato sauce, honey and vinegar. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.