The Plight Of The Honeybee

Let us start with a little American bee history. As English and Spanish settlers came to North America, they brought with them their native honey bees Apis mellifera mellifera and Apis mellifera iberica, respectively. As Europeans colonized and spread across our continent, Native Americans recognized the “white man’s fly”, or the honeybee. These imported bees would precede settlers as this introduced species outpaced the Europeans in their colonization of the continent. So, honeybees are not native to North America and Honeybees are the only genus of bees that produce combs of harvestable honey.

Today, we are having trouble in paradise. Our bees are sick, wild bees which number almost 4,000 different species as well as hived honeybees. The Bee Informed Partnership, a consortium of universities and research laboratories questioned 5,000 beekeepers. They reported losing 42.1 percent of their colonies in the 12-month period that ended in April. That is well above the 34.2 percent loss reported for the same period in 2013 and 2014, and it is the second-highest loss recorded since year-round surveys began in 2010. Bees are vital because without them, pollination of some crops doesn’t occur. Estimates are that over 240,000 species of the world’s flowering plants rely on animal pollinators. Bees work tirelessly to provide us with our food. In recent years it has become apparent that all bees, not just the honeybee, are under threat.

We as individual gardeners can decide which flowers to grow for pollen and nectar that will feed bees and help them to increase their numbers. Today the private garden is a better place than the countryside for wildlife, since much agricultural land is now devoid of the diversity of flowers that existed previously. Scientists in the field think that insects need as much variety in their food as we do to get all the trace minerals and vitamins to keep them healthy.

More and more gardeners are anxious to do their part to help the bees by adding to the shrinking inventory of flower-rich habitat in their area. In return, the bees will pollinate your flowers, providing a bountiful harvest of fruits, seeds and vegetables as well as the joy of you getting to watching them up close. You don’t have to be a beekeeper to enjoy bees.

Actions that we can do to help the bee plight:

Rethink your lawn. Replace part or all of your lawn grass with flowering plants, which provides food and habitat for bees and other wildlife. I know you think grass is easier, but just give a corner up to flowers.

Select single flower tops such as daisies and marigolds, rather than double flower tops such as double impatiens. Double headed flowers look showy but produce much less nectar and make it much more difficult for bees to access pollen.

Continue Reading →

Studio 135

There are 120 acres of farmland in Sevierville, Tennessee, at the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. Wears Valley Ranch has called this land home since 1992 and has provided a place for children to do the same. Wears Valley Ranch offers a safe place for children to stay who have endured a traumatic or family-related crisis. They provide counseling, opportunities for education, and healing through a relationship with God.Children are often casualties of circumstances outside of their control. Many families are destroyed by divorce, drugs, abuse, neglect, or death. Founder Jim Wood opened Wears Valley Ranch to provide a home for children in these tragic situations. Wood also founded Saint Andrew’s School, which provides children with a complete K-12 education. The school includes one-on-one instruction from caring adults, a carefully chosen curriculum suited to the child’s learning style, and the opportunity for children to advance at their own pace.On October 16th, the Ranch broke ground for construction of their new Chapel. Because of the generous prayers from the community, Wears Valley Ranch has outgrown their meeting hall, which seats 100, and has made plans to build a Chapel to seat over 200 people. The Chapel will allow new opportunities for Biblical teaching, yearly events, and further the mission to help children in crisis. The Chapel is on schedule to open in the Fall of 2016.Brian McDonnell is the Chief Operating Officer at Wears Valley Ranch and says the new Chapel is an answer to a lot of prayers. “We want to see children from difficult situations come to know Jesus,” McDonnell says. “We want their lives to be transformed to include stable, loving families, and give them the opportunity to succeed.” With the help and prayers of generous individuals, Wears Valley Ranch has been able to do exactly that. In addition to providing a home, continuing education and biblical teaching, Wears Valley Ranch offers children the opportunity to learn about responsibility through the care of agriculture, livestock, and aquaponics. “It’s exciting to see kids learn how to work with their hands, bringing produce from farm to table,” McDonnell said. “God’s creative genius is on display here in the natural beauty of the Smoky Mountains. It is also on display in these children, as they receive new life in Him.”McDonnell believes that each child that comes to the Ranch is sent for a reason. “We are honored and humbled to have that responsibility.” He says. “We desire to be good stewards of God’s blessing, and feel we can best serve our children and visitors at the Ranch and teach them more about our Lord.” Wears Valley Ranch relies on the prayers and support of the community to provide children with a safe place to stay. The Ranch does not accept any government support, and has remained debt free for 23 years, thanks to the generous donations of the community.To refer a child or find out how you can help, visit or call 865-429-KIDS today.

Continue Reading →

Seasonal Culinary Inspirations: Truffle Ricotta Cheese

Besides sunbathing on the beach and long, relaxing vacations, nothing else completes the long summer days like great food! From slow-smoked, fatty brisket and sweet fried plantain chips with guacamole to ice cream and apple pie. If it’s summer outside, it should be summer on your plate. So let other people relegate summer cooking to weekend picnics and road trips. We are going to bring summer to the table every day, all day.

Here are some summertime options–a fat red tomato eaten alfresco with a sprinkle of salt, the perfect lunch, or chopped tomato bruschetta. You may have eaten corn on the cob for the Fourth of July, but now is the time to get your fill. One of my favorite ways to eat it: on the cob, absolutely, with good butter and salt. But try it, too, with lime juice, salt and hot chili powder or slathered with fruity olive oil or basil pesto. Sauté off-the-cob kernels with chopped jalapeño and stir them into the batter for cornbread or muffins. Or add mushrooms to the corn in the pan, along with a dab of crème fraîche. Zucchini is another summertime favorite. If you have a vegetable garden, you know the drill. Yesterday’s tiny squash has grown to medium size seemingly overnight. I must say, there is nothing like an unblemished, shiny, just-picked zucchini, marinated with Italian dressing and grilled
to perfection.

At Seasons restaurant, we focus on the emotional experience that each season brings. Every plate is a symphony of flavors that work perfectly together, creating a satisfying meal. Our current summer menu represents this focus.

One of our featured items on our menu is our:

Summer Tomato Salad with Truffle Ricotta

Vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes layered with truffle ricotta cheese, baby field greens, crisp fried red onions and white balsamic vinaigrette with a pesto drizzle.

This is a very light dish that highlights the beautiful flavors of fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes. The key to this dish is the ricotta cheese spread. Below is the recipe for this very special and versatile cheese blend.

This is a very light dish that highlights the beautiful flavors of fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes. The key to this dish is the ricotta cheese spread. Below is the recipe for this very special and versatile cheese blend.

Continue Reading →