By Tom Hutt
Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye,
Four and twenty bee brood baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened the bees began to sting--
Wasn't that a dainty dish to set before the king?
Spring is an exhausting time in the bee yard for sure. The more hives you have the less time you’ve got. While working through my lunch time again the other day, I remembered reading an article on the Internet that touted the benefits of eating bee brood. “Tastes like bacon” or “Just like honey and cream” it said. Now don’t get me wrong I love bees but it’s a different relationship than Bon Appetit. After finishing my work and sitting down to my favorite grilled salmon and a mixed salad, I started some research on this bee eating thing. As it turns out, my lunch had less nutrition than a nice bee brood salad. We non bug eating people would be surprised to learn that we are in the minority on this planet. Historically speaking, people have been eating crawlies with relish (pun intended) for millennia. Even now, the Chinese, who produce the largest amount of honey, are in love with eating honey bee larva and pupa. When you look at the Chinese web sites that sell larva, you’ll see that it is sold as the answer to almost everything that ails you. It ranges from energizing human cells, promoting anti-aging, reversing senility, as a nutrient supplement to regulating endocrine disorders and improving sexual capability and eliminating insomnia.
I thought this to be a bit much to believe. The Chinese natural remedies are known to be a touch overly extended. But my curiosity got the best of me so I read on. Scientific analysis of bee larva/pupa support the Chinese logic and shows that bee brood contains 20.3% protein, 7.5% fat, 19.5% carbohydrates, 0.5% trace elements and 42.7% moisture. It has Vitamin A levels much higher than beef, protein second only to fish liver oil and 10 times more vitamin D than fish liver. It is also rich in amino acids, germanium, selenium, calcium and dozens of enzymes beneficial to the human body! I cringe to think what I paid at the health food store for the same supplements that are less potent. I guess it would pay to just pop a few brood while I work but I would have to start small like a few bee eggs (maybe with some bacon).
If your feeling courageous, Here is a recipe that yields 4 servings;
½ cup frozen adult bees
½ cup frozen bee pupae
½ cup frozen bee larvae
2 tbl spoons red wine vinegar
6 tbl spoons olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt / pepper to taste (black pepper or my favorite cayenne pepper)
1 ounce bee pollen granules and lettuce leaves or mixed greens for serving on.
1) Bring 2 quarts of lightly salted water to a boil. Add adult honey bees and return to boil for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bees from the water and pat dry with paper towel.
2) To the same water, add the bee pupae and repeat the above procedure but don’t pat just drain on a paper towel. They’re tender.
3) Repeat the same process with the larvae as the pupae.
4) In a large bowl, combine vinegar, oil, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Add cooked adult bees, the pupae then the larvae.
5) Immediately before serving, add the bee pollen granules lightly stirring the mixture to ensure the pollen is evenly distributed.
6) serve on a bed of lettuce with some nice edible flower petals (fitting for bees) and Bon Appetit !