Let’s talk about cooking with an enchanted ingredient, an elixir. This liquid gold is made from the nectar of a thousand flowers and the work of over 10 000 perfectly choreographed little bees. Let’s make magic.

You know that slightly rushed, panicked feeling that characterises most of our lives? It is no excuse. Bees have it too, in fact they live to be only six or seven weeks old. What they achieve in so little time is remarkable. Through their masterful pollination skills and their sexy little dances, they are responsible for over one third of all the food we eat. We ought to raise a toast to the incredible productivity of the honeybee.

Bee wings stroke astoundingly fast, about 200 beats per second, thus producing their legendary, jazzy buzz. They spend their time dancing, communicating, sharing, scouting and sucking it all in. After a day’s work they wiggle home, heavy with treasure — pollen and nectar from all sorts of extraordinary flowers from around the ‘hood. They then head on home to that fascinating structure we call the hive; that hyperengineered, thoughtfully hexagonal structure that has captured so many of our imaginations.


Our beekeeping story started with a fascinating visit to the Babylonstoren Bee Hotel. Kitted out with the essential beekeeping paraphernalia — a protective veil, gloves, smoker and hive tools — we were introduced to the colony of Cape Honey Bees that traverse the illustrious eight-acre gardens. The wholesome honey that is produced from Babylonstoren has its very own flavour profile, texture and taste; a bouquet of the countless plant species in the area.

A·PI·CUL·TURE āpi kəlCHər/

– Technical term for beekeeping

Whether served as a liquid, creamed or in the comb, this honey is wonderful stuff. It contains many beneficial minerals and vitamins and has antibacterial and antioxidant properties. It speeds the healing process and combats infections. And it never spoils. Now how’s that for a magical potion?

Join DECO and Maranda Engelbrecht, the epicurean sorcerer, as we cook up a swarm:


serves 4-6 glasses


1l strong rooibos tea

300ml honey

2 juniper berries

2 star anise

2 white pepper corns

60ml lemon juice

grated rind of 1 lemon

1 stem of lotus leaf

1 orange


tonic water


For the Rooibos Granita, simmer the tea, honey, juniper berries, star anise and white pepper corns for 10 minutes. Remove and strain through a cloth. Add 60ml lemon juice and the grated rind of 1 lemon and place in the freezer. When the icicles start to form loosen the mixture with a fork. Place back in freezer and loosen again after 2 hours. Freeze once more, loosening again before use.

Add a tot of gin to each glass. Spoon the granita, to fill the whole glass, and fill with tonic water. Wash the stem of a lotus leaf and cut into straws. Garnish with a slice of orange or lemon.

Another idea:

For the Rooibos Granita, follow the recipe as above and add:

400ml crushed strawberries, raspberries or blackberries, or 400ml grated pineapple, or 400ml grapefruit juice after 2 hours. Freeze and loosen again before use.

This article originally featured in Issue 101 of Elle Decoration

Photographs Adel Ferreira Production, Recipes and Styling Maranda Engelbrecht Text Bielle Bellingham 


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