Hazelnut Honey Muffins & A Trip to Killer Bees Honey Apiary
For the past several years I have wanted to become a beekeeper. Obviously bees are important to our ecosystem, as they pollinate the majority of produce we eat. Also, they produce some really tasty honey, which is an added bonus. I went ahead and bought some books, took a class, joined a beekeepers club and got my equipment and that is where my project stalled out. I blamed moving, the time of year, everything really, except for the truth which was I was overwhelmed with the idea of beekeeping. I'm not sure why, maybe the class made it seem daunting. I just really felt like I was going to open a beebox and not have the faintest idea of what to do next.
About the time I moved my beekeeping equipment into basement storage, Sean from Killer Bees Honey contacted me. He asked if he could send me some of their honey to try and of course I said YES! A few days later, I received a jar of their sourwood honey and I was in love. In all honesty, I've always been a big honey fan, so I wasn't hard to convince. But after a little reading on their website, I found out this is not just any honey. This is AMAZING honey - 91% pure sourwood sourced from bees who collect pollen in a national forest and tests with absolutely no trace of chemicals, which is unheard of in the U.S. The purest of the pure honey!
Afterward, Sean invited me to visit their apiary. Talk about over the moon excited. So I recently headed out to the Killer Bees apiary in Lake Toxaway, North Carolina to find out how a real beekeeper does the beekeeping.
The bees at Killer Bees are living the high life. The apiary is set on the side of a mountain with what can only be described as a million dollar view. Who wouldn't want to have an office like this?
The beekeepers walked me through the life of a bee and all the equipment used in beekeeping. Then it was time to suit up to inspect the hives. The great thing about visiting the hives with a seasoned beekeeper is I wasn't really worried about doing anything wrong. And even though Sean mentioned many times how frequently he got stung, I was not at all panicked when the bees were flying around my suit. And there were no bee stings!
The girls were all busy making honey, so they weren't really interested in what we were doing. What a sight to see bees coming into the hive loaded up with pollen.
Afterwards, I shed my beekeeping suit for a honey tasting. Sean and his wife, Denise, are so knowledgeable about honey. In fact, Sean is on his way to becoming a certified Honey Sommelier. We tried three honeys that they produce - wildflower, sourwood and a mix that includes some chestnut (a virtually extinct tree). Plus we got to taste a chestnut honey they imported from Italy, which had a very unique flavor.
Of course, I couldn't leave without getting some more of their delicious honey - five bottles to be exact. I am not sure five was enough, as we consumed one bottle within the first weekend after my visit. I guess I'll have to go back soon! If you want to visit too, they are now offering tours to the public.
The best part of the whole tour for me was I finally got over my fear of beekeeping. I'm ready to take the leap. Sometimes a little hands-on experience is all you need to boost your confidence. Whether you're interested in beekeeping yourself or your just love honey (me too!), it's definitely worth a visit to Killer Bees to check out their operation.
With all of this delicious honey on hand, of course I'm thinking of baking with honey. Here's a recipe inspired by my recent visit. Enjoy!
HAZELNUT HONEY MUFFINS
- 1/2 C Hazelnut Flour
- 1/2 C White Rice Flour
- 2 Tbsp Arrowroot Powder
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Xanthum Gum
- 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1/3 C Sugar
- 1 Large Egg
- 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1/2 C Killer Bees Sourwood Blonde Honey
- 1 Tbsp Non-Dairy Milk
- 1/2 C Hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- Coarse sugar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin tin with baking cups. This recipe makes 6 regular size muffins.
In a large bowl, combine flours, arrowroot, baking powder, xanthum gum, cinnamon, salt and sugar. Mix together well. Set aside.
Crack egg into a small bowl and whisk until frothy. Add olive oil, milk and honey. Whisk well. Pour wet ingredients into dry and fold together with a spatula, 15-20 strokes. Add in about 2/3 of the chopped nuts and fold together.
Scoop into prepared muffin cups. Top with remaining nuts and coarse sugar for decoration (optional). Bake in preheated oven for 2 minutes, then reduce temperature to 375 and bake an additional 25 minutes, or until tops spring back when gently poked.
Remove to wire rack to cool.