I’m a big advocate for bees - they’re so important to our entire ecosystem. So I was happy to get on board with De Winkel Yoghurt (also one of my fave products) to support September’s Bee Aware Month.
Bees are a big part of my life. When I’m at home in Wanaka I’m so much more aware of the rhythms of nature. It’s impossible not to be – I wake up with the sound of birdsong, not cars, and out the window there’s not a building or road in sight, just the lake and the mountains and the garden and my beehives on the hill overlooking the lake.
If I’ve been away, the first thing I do when I arrive home is to race up to the garden to see what’s happening. Right now, in early springtime, it’s enthralling. Even the air feels alive, and there’s a hum of energy as the countryside shakes off its dull winter coat and comes alive in soft greens and glorious blossoms.
Every day it seems there’s something new popping up through the earth, where it has lain dormant as a seed or a bulb or root over the winter. I’ve started planting things like spinach, rocket, coriander and lambs lettuce – all plants that will germinate while the soil temperatures are still cold.
On a frosty morning the bees aren’t in any hurry to leave the warmth of their hive, and I can go up the hill and see only a few guard bees outside my hives. But once the sun hits and the temperature starts to rise, the bees come out in force to forage.
A few years ago I went to a Trees for Bees conference in Gisborne and learned about all kinds of trees that can provide a food source for bees. Late winter and early spring can be a tough time for bees, as there isn’t a lot for them to gather, but they love spring blossom and go crazy for hellebores, which are flowering now.
Interestingly, it’s shrubs and trees, rather than garden flowers, that are the most important food source for bees at this time of year.
The box elder maple acer negundo is like a candy store for bees when it flowers. There’s one right where I park my car, and it’s flowering right now with gorgeous long pink racemes. When I get out of the car, the sound of bees buzzing is so loud it’s like a roar. The first time I heard it I thought my husband must have been using weed-eater, but no, it was just the sound of happy bees!
Kowhai, kaka beak, New Zealand tree fuchsia, karamu, five-finger, wineberry, grevillea, aloe and kniphofia (red hot poker) are all species that flower either through the winter or in the early spring, providing bees with nectar and the pollen they need for protein. Planting these in our backyards and public spaces can help support bees during the months when there is little else for them.
As spring blossoms, it’s the perfect time to plant bee-friendly seeds and seedlings. Borage, sage, purple tansy, queen anne’s lace, phacelia, lady’s mantle, forget-me-nots and other flowering species will provide food for the bees throughout the spring and summer.
During the drier months it's also a good idea to provide your neighbourhood bees with a source of clean water in your garden. A bird bath or pond is ideal.
As I mentioned, September is Bee Aware Month here in New Zealand, so to celebrate I’ve created some new recipes featuring honey from my hives and the goodness of De Winkel Yoghurt – a big supporter of Bee Aware Month.
My Honeyed Oranges make a simple yet so tasty dessert that partners vitamin-packed new-season local oranges with honey, ginger and macadamias – finished off with a dash of natural De Winkel Yoghurt.
For a healthy start to the day, my new take on Bircher Muesli combines the healing powers of honey with probiotic benefits of natural De Winkel Yoghurt to deliver the nutrient punch you need to get you through the last few weeks of flu season.
Give them a whirl to support our Kiwi bees.
Bircher Muesli with Apple and Honey
Ready in 10 mins + soaking
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1½ cups apple juice
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 apples
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 cup De Winkel Natural Yoghurt, or more as needed
- ¼ cup chopped raw almonds or other nuts or seeds, such as sunflower or pumpkin seeds
- 2 tbsp dried cranberries or other dried fruit, such as raisins or dried apricots
- fresh berries or fresh or poached fruit, to serve
Combine rolled oats with apple juice and honey in a mixing bowl and leave to stand on the bench or in the fridge overnight. It will keep for up to 4 days in the fridge.
When ready to eat, coarsely grate the apples (leave the skin on but discard the cores) and add to the soaked oats. Stir in the yoghurt, adding more as needed to achieve a creamy, loosely spoonable texture. Mix in nuts or seeds and dried fruit. Spoon into bowls and top with fresh berries or other fruit to serve.
Ready in 10 mins + chilling
- 6 oranges
- 2 tbsp runny honey
- ¼ cup thinly sliced glace ginger
- 2 tbsp chopped macadamias, pistachios or almonds
- 1 cup De Winkel Natural Yoghurt, to serve
Peel the oranges, removing all pith. Thinly slice into rounds and place in a serving bowl. Drizzle with honey, then sprinkle with ginger and most of the nuts.
Allow to stand for at least an hour or cover and chill for up to 24 hours before serving. To serve, divide between serving bowls and top with yoghurt.
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