As I have breakfast after an early morning run and core workout I realise I haven’t wrote about the range of honey I am accompanying on either my toast, yoghurt and cereal or savoury loaf- there is a honey to go with anything and it’s all brilliant produce.
I am gauging on the produce by naturaintasca which offer specialise flavoured honey’s from the black bees of Sicily, which harvest on certain plants, examples include hazelnut, loquat and eucalyptus to name a few.
My favourite way to eat honey is on top of some fresh ricotta (made by the local cheese maker Filippo- where the best tasting ricotta is produced) sitting on lightly toasted bread- perfection!
Here’s the story of the Sicilian black bee, as we all know the horticultural importance of bees for humans to survive.
The Sicilian black bee (Apis mellifera siciliana) is very dark in colour, almost black and has populated the island of Sicily for thousands of years but it risked extinction after being abandoned in the 1970s.
As beekeepers tried to keep up with rapidly increasing demand for honey they replaced the traditional wooden ‘bungi’ made from dried giant fennel stalks (Ferula communis) and began importing the Italian honey bee from northern Italy due to the absence of reproducers (black bee queens.)
Carlo Amodeo preserved the last three genetic surviving lines, on a few Sicilian islands (Alicudi, Filicudi and Vulcano) where reproduction of queen bees now takes place as there are no other bee species and it is therefore possible to assure pure reproduction.
The black bee is distinguished from the common Apis mellifica ligustica (the Italian honey bee) not only by its colour but its smaller wings. It is so docile that beekeepers may not need to wear masks or suits when removing honey and tend the hives.
The Sicilian bees are very productive, even at high temperatures (withstanding over 40°C) when other bees stop producing, and can tolerate sudden temperature variations. As a result it is an excellent pollinator for a wide range of plants. Honey is produced from April to July.