Bananas, Bees and Books

Banana and Cranberry Muffins 

Banana & cranberry muffins
In recent weeks I have been particularly busy at work and yesterday (Saturday 23rd April) I allowed myself the indulgence of going around in my dressing gown all morning. I felt a little guilty about not making much progress on my list of soup and baking recipes and so was easily prompted by the sight of three blackening bananas into baking muffins. In addition some dried cranberries were approaching their "best before" date and I decided to substitute them for the raisins mentioned in the Martha Day recipe. Brown sugar and sunflower oil helped me to feel they weren't too unhealthy. I had one today on return from the gym and a 10k cycle with the spouse. 

Benson Revisited

Another indulgence I'm allowing myself is a re-reading of E F Benson's Secret Lives, which I first bought and read in March 1985. And I have just this minute discovered that it was dramatised for radio by the BBC! Why did no one tell me? Here comes the bee metaphor: 

Plans buzzed in [Mr Heinrich Raphael Cartwright's] head like a swarming hive in May: some were concerned with the honey of distinction, others were equally intent on the flowers of business and the sweet harvests that could reaped by shrewd husbandry. (Chapter V)
Re-activating Ackerman

Back in March 2013 I mentioned in this blog that I was reading Diane Ackerman's A Natural History of the Senses and included a few quotes from the sections I had read. I didn't read the entire book and so when I noticed it on my bookshelves a few days ago I picked it out. I dipped in and identified more references to bees in articles that I hadn't read before. 

From In Praise of Vanilla (in the Taste section): 

On a long brass platter sat the kind of pastries we had eaten, buzzed over by hundreds of sugar-delirious bees, whose feet stuck in the syrup; desperately, one by one, they flew away, leaving their legs behind. "Bee legs!" my mother had screamed as her face curdled. "We ate bee legs!"

In the article The Inner Climate (in the Touch section) Ackerman quotes a report about a German bee-keeper who discovered that hives never get very cold because of the way bees cluster together and co-operate to keep warm. 

Further on, in the article Animals (in the Vision section) she describes how bees can judge the angle at which light hits their photoreceptors, enabling them to locate the position of the sun, even on partly cloudy days. She refers to orchids that look so much like bees that bees try to mate with them! A bee's "waggle dance" doesn't just provide visual instructions to other bees on how to find good feeding places but also conveys messages in touch, smell and hearing. Finally, bees can see in ultraviolet and so are more attracted to white and blue flowers than to red ones. That was the science part. 

Now, that's enough self-indulgence. 

Until next time. 



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