Day 6 on the road: bees, honey, good food and good company

Friday was a fun day, albeit a painful one for me.  My spinal injury in 2004 resulted in permanent nerve damage.  One of its effects is that, approximately every ten days to two weeks, on a variable schedule, I have a “bad pain day”, for want of a better term.  My injured nerves just throb and moan at me, and I have to increase my pain medication intake and restrict my physical activity until they decide to quieten down again – until the next time, anyway.  Friday turned out to be one such day, probably sparked by several days on the road and about 1,600 miles covered so far.  (There’s another 1,200 or so miles still to go on this trip.)

As a result, I wasn’t up to much physical activity yesterday.  Miss D. and I drove out to a rendezvous at the Bear Tracks Travel Center near Lake Toxaway, from where transportation was provided to Killer Bees Honey for their deluxe tour of the premises, which was very interesting.  The owners, Sean and Denise, are clearly very knowledgeable indeed about their subject, and passionate about it, too, to the extent of pursuing certification in Italy and elsewhere that’s far above the level to which most beekeepers would aspire.  They have plans to serve as what I might term “ambassadors for beedom”, making people more aware of the fascinating ecology of these creatures and the multiple threats to their long-term survival and well-being.  Without bees, we won’t be able to pollinate or propagate up to 50% of the crops on which we and food animals rely, so they’re a critical part of our ecosystem.

Killer Bees Honey had a difficult year in 2018, thanks to double the normal rainfall, which severely hampered honey production.  They’ve restocked their hives and spread them around for 2019, and have already harvested the first of this year’s honey “crop”.  (Their first harvest sold out in ten minutes, literally!  Clearly, their reputation is spreading far and wide.)  They were eager to show their visitors how the “ladies” (as they refer to their bees) were doing.  I didn’t tackle the more physical parts of the tour, donning bee-proof suits and working hands-on with hives and honey.  A certain unsteadiness of balance, unavoidable during my bad pain days, made that seem unwise, particularly with critters that can sting!  Miss D. did the whole thing, and was suitably impressed by the experience.  I sat in the main house, and enjoyed the company of Denise and the family cats until the others returned for a honey-tasting experience, which was gastronomically as well as intellectually interesting.

We learned a great deal about how much of the honey on the US market is adulterated, including visual demonstrations of how quickly air moves from one end of a jar of honey to the other when it’s upended.  The faster it moves, the more sugar, or corn syrup, or other adulteration is likely in the honey.  It’s eye-opening to watch major brands of honey reveal almost instantaneous transitions of the air bubble, whereas the real deal – raw, unadulterated honey – shows glutinously slow movement.  Certainly, Miss D. and I were confirmed in our opinion that it’s preferable, on the grounds of food safety as well as taste, to pay more for high-quality honey, where its background, ingredients and composition are known, rather than buy cheap stuff that’s almost certainly adulterated, even polluted, with sub-standard ingredients.  (Needless to say, given our previous delicious experience with Killer Bees Honey, they’ll continue to be our premier source of supply.  Their honey is expensive, to be sure – that’s only to be expected when the supply of a premium product is so limited – but it’s simply the best we’ve found in the entire United States so far.  Taste tells – and sells!)

We made our way back to Brevard, where I took an extended nap (courtesy of another pain pill) while Miss D. enjoyed the local art galleries and other attractions.  We joined Sean and Denise for supper at a new local restaurant, which provided very good food and service.  A good time was had by all.

Miss D. and I plan to relax over the weekend.  There’s a farmers market on Saturday, which we always enjoy visiting to see what local produce and products are available (one can often pick up jars of interesting and appetizing preserves, jams and savories to take home for later consumption).  There are also lots of other touristy things to do, and the scenery is lovely.  We may take in a leisurely tubing expedition to a local river, depending on what else we decide to do.  It’ll be nice to kick back and unwind for a couple of days.

(Oh – just in case anyone wonders whether I’m being compensated for “boosting” Killer Bees Honey, no, I’m not.  I never accept compensation of any kind in return for mentioning a product or vendor in these pages.  I simply like to share good things I find with my readers, and KBH produces honey so good that I honestly can’t remember ever tasting anything as good or better, anywhere in the world.  That’s why Miss D. and I are, and will continue to be, repeat customers.)

Peter

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