Bee’s Knees

By: Zara McDowell

McDowell bees

Sara Silvestri’s honey collection. So many flavors, so little time. Photo by Zara McDowell

CHIUSDINO, Italy-The bees buzz in the ears of travelers at Tenuta di Spannocchia, just outside of Siena, while soaring their way to making the next batch of honey. Millefiore miele, or thousand-flower honey, is produced using various types of flowers found on the farm in Spannocchia.

Gabriele Paludi, beekeeper, lives off-farm and makes an appearance at Spannocchia at least once a month to attend to his honey-do list. In colder winters, he checks on the bees more often to ensure they are getting enough food. At the end of the summer, Paludi collects the honey with the help of farm interns. The end product of the bees at work, millefiore miele, is consumed at the farm’s family-style meals and is offered for sale in the gift shop.

At the farm, honey—not smooth or clear, but clumpy and opaquely golden—is placed in a round glass dish with a small spoon for tea and coffee at anytime of the day or yogurt during breakfast.

Nuances in honey flavor reflect the land surrounding the farm. Sara Silvestri, education director, points out 10-15 glass jars in her office drawer, explaining the different types of honey, all locally produced from nearby Apiari del Santo in Siena.

Mild acacia honey is commonly used in tea, or on toast. Corbezzolo honey, with its slightly bitter aftertaste, is typically used with savories such as cheese, Silvestri said.

Despite the differences in the flavors of the honey, all students, interns, and visitors of the Spannocchia farm bond over a flavorful drop in their morning coffee.

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Filed under Chiusdino, MU Journalism Abroad, Science ad Agricultual Journalism

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