My friend S, who I’ve known nearly 20 years since university, turned up at my house last week with a gift. A pot of local honey, all the way from San Francisco, California. She had just returned from a trip and I was profoundly touched that she had (even for a moment) been thinking of me and my obsession with honey. One of the most wonderful things about my adventures with honey is that it has put me back in touch with old friends, forged new friendships and cemented old.
The honey S brought me is from the Bay Area Bee Company, which is a small honey producer, raising hive colonies without the use of pesticides, antibiotics or other chemicals. The honey tastes fantastic, floral and smooth and it comes in a lovely jar with a modern label and font, which I found myself admiring.
The hives from which this honey came, are located all around the San Francisco Bay Area (a large shallow estuary that drains into the Pacific Ocean) and it is harvested in very small batches. Despite the surrounding urban and industrial landscapes, the San Francisco Bay Area itself is an important ecological habitat.
San Francisco (Spanish for Saint Francis) was founded in 1776 by colonists from Spain. However honey bees were not native to the area, they were first shipped over to America from England in 1622 to the Colony of Virginia. There are records that suggest honey bees may have been taken to California by the Russians in 1830, however there are no records showing the bees survived. In any event honey bees were certainly shipped from the East Coast to California by 1850.
Having initially scooped the honey from the jar to try on its own, I’m pleased to report that it also went wonderfully well in a beetroot smoothie. However this honey was special because it was a reminder of the delicious sweetness of friendship.