Mandarin honey is pale yellow and crystallizes very slowly while maintaining its creaminess. It’s excellent for desserts, spread on bread, dissolved in tea or eaten with cheese with a strong flavour. To make this honey, bees pollinate the flowers on the mandarin trees in Ciaculli, which is also a Slow Food Foundation protected area. It’s not true that all bees are yellow and black. There are also dark bees, and the Apis mellifera sicula is just one example. This autochthonous breed has populated Sicily for millenniums, even though bee...
The apis mellifera sicula populated Sicily for thousands of years and then was abandoned in the 1970's when Sicilian beekeepers began importing bees from northern Italy. It became almost extinct in those years and was only saved due to the research and studies by a student of Pietro Genduso, Carlo Amodeo, who is still the only beekeeper of the purebred queen apis mellifera sicula and a member of the national register.
Sicilian honey is all fine-grained and has very distinct organoleptic properties and significant differences in intensity, which are the expression of this rugged and sunny region.
The extremely mild Sicilian climate and reactivity of the apis mellifera sicula allow the production of unique single-flora honeys, some of which are made in the middle of winter. The first honey made in the year is from the Japanese medlar, which is foraged between November and January.
This is followed by the almond tree which blossoms in February, and then the asphodel, French honeysuckle, citrus trees, giant fennel and thistle.
Summer honeys are made from dill weed, astragalus nebrodensis, thyme, eucalyptus, honeydew and chestnuts, followed by carob honey in the autumn.
The apis mellifera sicula is a very docile breed, so much so that masks are not required to extract the honey. It's also very productive, even in hot temperatures above +40°C when other bees stop producing, and it reacts well to sudden changes in temperature.
It also develops its brood early, between December and January, thus avoiding stopping the winter brood common to other species, and it eats less honey than other bees. The organoleptic properties of honey produced by the apis mellifera sicula are no different than those of honey produced by other bee species.
The methods used to send off the bees from the honey supers don't include the use of any chemical substances, rather is done by a portable blower. The honey is extracted with a honey extractor using centrifugal force. The honey is purified in bag filters and then decanted in honey ripeners for at least 15 days.
The honey is to be put into jars before crystallization begins as any heating process of the honey must be avoided. The best storage is in a refrigerator at +4-5°C, as this temperature keeps the honey from ageing.