Way back in February on a day when the temperature was 12* outside I baked a batch of these “to die for” bars. I had mentioned at the end of that post that I would like to make them again using a smaller pan to see if I could produce a thicker bar. This week with day time temperatures reaching the likes of 108*, 109*, and hovering at 101* at 10:30 in the evening, I decided to try them again. It is imperative that I find indoor activities to keep me busy as it’s just too dang hot to spend much time outside!
The bees have also required more maintenance than normal, forcing me to spend time outside in the heat. More on that in a minute. I made the bars again, using an 8x 11.5 x2″ pan. I noted a slight difference in the thickness of the bar. Either size pan works fine. The taste remains incredibly delicious. I was so happy about this that I decided to enter them in a holiday recipe contest; using Texas pecans, that I mentioned in the Chocolate Pecan Loaf Cake post. The deadline for entering recipes is fast approaching and I felt confident submitting this one.
Now, here is the scoop on my bees. They are HOT! Bees keep the temperature in their hives somewhere between 91-95 degrees. In the summer they regulate it by the amount of water they bring in and by fanning their wings like mad to create airflow. It’s their own evaporative cooling system. My man Dan also helped me install tarps across the tops of the bee yard fences to give some much-needed shade for my precious bees. At first, they were a little confused as they have to dodge the tarps and fly over or under to get out of the bee yard or back to the hive. They are accustomed to making direct flights in and out of their yard; but quickly figured out a new flight pattern. When I went to check on them this afternoon, when it was good and hot, I was relieved to hear much less fanning of wings, which is what gives bees their buzz. This tells me they aren’t having to work so hard to cool the hives.
In this heat they are also struggling to find food. I have felt sorry for them as there seems to be no relief in sight from the heat as well as no prediction of rain. The lack of rain has lowered the amount of flowers and plants blooming that they would normally harvest nectar or pollen from. A few weeks ago I started feeding Queen Elena and her hive sugar syrup which seems to have given them stores of nectar in the hive. Yesterday I decided to begin feeding Queen Anne and her hive and I removed a super from it as well as from Queen April’s hive. Removing the supers will prevent them from spending time preparing frames they will not need to fill with honey. Earlier this week I removed supers from Queen Heidi and Queen Miracle’s hives too. I noticed the girls were working hard on building out wax on the frames to fill them with honey – yet there is no resource for gathering nectar to make honey. Remember, bee keeping is nothin’ but problem solving! I’ve also made a decision not to harvest any more honey from my hives this summer. I feel that the bees will need it to help them sustain through the rest of summer as well as winter. Still there is a possibility that I will need to feed all my hives throughout the fall to help them survive the cold winter months. I would like to bottle more of that delectable nectar but it’s more important to keep the bees healthy and alive!
The good news is that all my hives seem free of pests, full of brood and newly laid larva. Crossing my fingers that my decisions pay off and help them survive this dreadful heat wave we are experiencing. Even though this has created more work for me in this awful heat I remain enamored with my bees and bee keeping. Entering the bee yard hearing their constant buzz, as well as simply observing them in their daily lives gives greater meaning to the world around me. I am focused on them alone while there and it gives me significant joy.
Oooey Gooey Caramel-Chocolate Bars
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup pecan halves
2/3 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup real semi-sweet chocolate chips
Heat oven to 350*. Combine all crust ingredients except pecans in bowl of a stand mixer, if you do not own a stand mixer put ingredients in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Press into bottom of an ungreased 9″ x 13″ or *8 x 11.5 x 2″baking pan. Place pecans evenly over unbaked crust.
Combine remaining butter and brown sugar in 1 quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the entire surface of the mixture begins to boil. Boil stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Pour mixture evenly over pecans and crust. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until the entire layer of caramel is bubbly. (Do NOT overbake) Remove from oven. Immediately sprinkle with chips; allow to melt slightly. Spread melted chips over bars with an off-set spatula. Cool completely. Cut into bars.
*If you use the smaller pan, be sure and increase the baking time by 1/4.*