My husband Wayne has been a beekeeper for as long as I’ve known him (and longer than I care to ‘fess up to!). I’m convinced that he has the best employees in the world—thousands of bees who literally work themselves to death making the best honey I’ve ever
tasted. They do “bite” back once in awhile, but over the years he’s become pretty immune to their stings.
Most of Wayne’s honey is extracted, which means the liquid honey is separated from the honeycomb and bottled in jars or squeezable bears like you see in the grocery store. He also “hires” his bees to make comb honey, circular discs of honey encapsulated
in natural honeycomb.
I’m concerned that we may not have our own honey much longer because it’s getting harder and harder to keep bees healthy and alive. As you may have heard or read in news reports, bees in the U.S. are in trouble. One day they are busily working, the next
day they have disappeared and never come back. Scientists have some theories about this condition they call colony collapse disorder or CCD, but as yet there are no firm findings, no solutions.
The loss of bees would be a disaster for farmers (bees are needed for crop pollination), and a tragedy for food lovers. Honey, especially comb honey, rates as the most natural food in the world. Bees miraculously condense floral nectars that they collect
into the viscous sweet syrup we call honey, then seal it for safe keeping with beeswax that their bodies manufacture. Squares or rounds of comb honey have never been processed or touched by human hands in any way. Amazing!
Comb honey is becoming more popular because of its back-to-nature attributes. Purists take their cues from bears, eating both the beeswax comb and the honey. Scoop up some of both with a kitchen knife and spread on any bread of your choosing--toast, a hot
biscuit, a bagel. The comb is nearly flavorless; chew it like gum or the peel of fruit. If you prefer to forego eating the comb, slice off the comb “lid” and let the honey drizzle out.
Here are a few more easy ways that I like to use and serve comb honey:
--Sweeten your oatmeal or other hot cooked cereal by topping with a piece of comb honey.
--Place a single-serving-sized chunk of comb honey atop a side salad of mixed greens, sliced or shredded apple, and goat cheese.
--Garnish pureed squash or pumpkin soup with a piece of comb honey; sprinkle with cinnamon.
--For an appetizer or dessert, serve a square of comb honey on a tray along with 2 or 3 cheeses (such as blue cheese, brie, and aged cheddar), fresh fruit, and nuts.
Where can you buy comb honey? Unfortunately, it’s not as easy to find as it once was. Your best bets: track down a local honey producer, check a specialty or natural foods store, or do a google internet search (there are several mail order sources). In late
summer or early fall, a honey producer at your local farmer’s market may sell it, too.