As we draw nearer to the end of what has been a very challenging year for most of us there is one group of food industry heroes who are particularly grateful for 2020.
New South Wales' bee population has taken advantage of this year's widespread rainfall to stage a remarkable bounce back from a desperate situation.
Prolonged drought, rising temperatures and historically bad bushfires have recently decimated bee numbers in New South Wales with an estimated one third of the commercial population lost. Neighbouring Queensland has been hit even harder.
The situation became so dire that many beekeepers have had to hand feed their bees just to keep them alive.
The bees' predicament has been terrible news for the agriculture sector in general with billions of dollars worth of crops relying on bees for pollination.
Seedless melons, strawberries, almonds and macadamias are particularly reliant and various crop yields across the nation are heavily affected by bee activity.
Solid rainfall across the state in 2020 has transformed our landscape and the bees are now thriving.
Many winter plants have blossomed for the first time in years and the explosion of spring flowers has brought a corresponding upsurge during this season of colony expansion.
The Pattersons Curse that has lit up the Central West with it's purple flowers is a noxious weed but it has been a godsend for bees.
Besides providing plenty of food for bees the pollen is rich in protein which encourages breeding and creates healthy queens.
Canola crops have played a part in the recovery too, and in turn they will enjoy a better yield of oil content.
Chris Anderson is a part time apiarist based in Orange where he runs a small business called Hungry Bee.
He operates a small number of hives across the Central West where his bees get to work on a rotation of canola, yellowbox, red gum and lucerne.
"As long as there is honey flowing I like to leave them as long as possible rather than stress them out with too much moving," he tells me.
"The most important thing is the relationship with the farmers."
Hungry Bee produces a range of honey varieties, each with their own distinct flavours and properties inherited from the flowers that conceived them.
Being a non-perishable product his honey also serves well as a preserving medium for ginger and locally grown truffles.
The all natural by-products of beeswax and propolis are transformed into skin cream, lip balms and body butter ensuring that the hard-working bees are not wasting any of their efforts at all.
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
Honey Mustard Baked Chicken Legs
- 4 x chicken legs, cut into thighs and drumsticks
- 120 ml x honey
- 120 g x creme fraiche
- 3Tb x wholegrain mustard
- 150 ml x chicken stock
- 4 x garlic cloves, crushed
- 60ml x olive oil
- 30g x salt
- 400g x baby potatoes
- 2 x red onion
- 1 bunch x baby carrots, trimmed
- Fresh tarragon, sage or parsley for garnish
- Preheat oven to 220 degrees.
- Cut each red onion into 6 wedges, keeping connected at the root.
- Spread the chicken pieces (skin side up), potatoes, carrots and onion wedges across a roasting pan that fits well.
- Season with half of the salt.
- Mix the creme fraiche, mustard, stock, garlic, oil and the rest of the salt and pour over the chicken and vegetables.
- Drizzle the honey over the top.
- Cook in the oven, basting a couple of times with the juices in the pan, for 35 minutes or until the chicken is cooked and the potatoes have softened.
- Garnish with the herbs and enjoy with a fresh salad.
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