While there is honey in Every Flower, no doubt
It takes a Bee to get the Honey out
A poet’s proverbs by Arthur Guiterman (1924)
Bees symbolise industry and persistence. In that way they can be compared with what we observe of Library users. Usually we see them as industrious pursuers of knowledge. What we do not observe until much later is the rich sweet product – the thesis, the book, the article, the television series, the exhibition.
Our Museum Library is one such beehive. And the honey produced by our researchers comes in flavours of local and natural history, genealogy, anthropology, art, medicine and more.
We are mostly familiar with the honey and bumble bees (the social bees), but did you realise there are at least 28 native bee species?
We have been farming bees in New Zealand from at least the early 1840s. Missionary William Charles Cotton wrote A manual for New Zealand bee keepers in 1848 and in the following year it was published in Maori as Ko nga pi.
Another missionary, Richard Taylor, noted 60 hives at the Paihia mission station in 1848. These had been created by Mrs Williams and she gave Taylor one to take one back to Wanganui. He describes the reaction of a local Maori mission teacher in his journal held in the Museum Library’s manuscript collection.
Here is a small selection of honey oriented recipes from New Zealand cookbooks, which I found when preparing for a recent Library tour for Kai to Pie. You will be brave to attempt the first 120 year old recipe for Honey Wine, but the Honey-Ginger cookies sound very pleasant.
Discovering Library resources using bees as a key
Honey Wine 
To 10 gallons of water put 10lb of honey and 1/4 lb of good hops, boil for 1 hour, and when cooled to the warmth of new milk, ferment with yeast spread on toast. Let it stand in a tub for 2 days, then put it into a cask. It will be fit to bottle in 9 months. Honey a year old is better for the purpose than new.
from: The New Zealand cookery book and colonial household guide, compiled to suit New Zealand by a Colonial (1891)
Pear and Honey Compote 
Ingredients: Pears; lemon; honey; golden syrup; arrowroot; raisins; nuts
Step (1) Halve and core 1 lb pears – they need not be peeled. Cook in ¾ cup water until soft. Add the juice and grated rind of 1 small lemon. If the stems of the pears are added while cooking, the flavour is improved – but remove them before serving.
(2) Lift pears out with a slotted spoon and place in a dish. To the syrup in the saucepan add 1½ tablesp. Honey and 1 tablesp. Golden syrup. Mix 1 ½ level teasp. Arrowroot with about 2 teasp. Water and stir in. Cook, stirring constantly, until slightly thick. Taste and add more honey if not sweet enough.
(3) Pour over the pears in the dish. Fill the hollows with raisins and chopped nuts.
from: The hostess cook book by Helen M Cox (1952). Helen Cox was a popular New Zealand broadcaster and who worked during the war as a cookery demonstrator for Auckland Electric Power Board.
Honey Fruit Salad 
Quantities for 4.
4oz honey (4 Tbs)
½ Tbs lemon juice
¼ pint water (½ cup)
Dissolve the honey in the water and add the lemon juice.
8oz dessert apples (2 medium)
2oz chopped walnuts (¼ cup)
4oz chopped dates (½ cup)
Peel and core the apples and cut into small dice. Add to the syrup at once. Add the dates and nuts and mix well. Chill before serving.
from: Pears family cookbook by Bee Nilson (1964). Mrs A R (Bee) Nilson was born and trained in New Zealand. She moved to England in 1936 and in 1964 was Senior Lecturer in nutrition at the Northern Polytechnic, London.
Honey-Ginger Cookies 
½ cup honey
1 ¾ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon ground ginger
½ cup chopped walnuts
Melt the butter and allow it to cool. Stir into the butter the honey, sugar and lightly beaten egg.
Sift the flour, baking powder and ginger into the honey mixture.
Stir in the nuts and mix thoroughly.
Drop in spoonfuls onto a greased oven tray, allowing space for spreading.
Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
Makes about 3 dozen.
from: Tui Flower’s cookbook by Tui Flower (1968)
Honey Buttered Beets 
M McLew, Kennington
2 cups cooked diced beetroot
1 cup beetroot juice
2-3 tablespoons honey
1½ teaspoons cornflour
2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar
1½ teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter
Heat beetroot and juice thoroughly.
Add honey. Blend cornflour and lemon juice to a smooth paste.
Add to the beetroot with salt and butter. Simmer for five minutes.
Serve as accompaniment to cold roast lamb, silverside, pickled pork or ham salads.
from: The N Z radio and television cookbook by Alison Holst (1974)