JOURNAL / JAPAN etc.(English)

JAPAN [Tokyo]
Japanese Ingredients for the World’s Top Kitchens #28


The Bee’s Knees


text by Michiko Watanabe / photographs by Daisuke Nakajima / English text by Susan Rogers Chikuba

Though the times are always changing, there are certain timeless ingredients from Japan that will never go out of style. Yukio Hattori, president of Hattori Nutrition College in Tokyo, introduces unique labors of love—items grown and produced with care and integrity by hardworking suppliers across the country.


“My father used to keep bees,” says apiarist Hisayuki Tanaka. “He sold the honey in our liquor shop. As the neighborhood became built up we moved our bee yard to Nakamura Farm, where there are plenty of cherry trees and, recently, blueberry bushes, too.” Tanaka tends the hives year-round, collecting honey from mid-April to late June. In the winter he feeds the bees a blend of sugar water, honey, and roasted soy flour.

“There are three kinds of bees in every colony: the queen, drones, and workers. The drones are male; their main purpose is to impregnate the queen. The worker bees, all female, clean the hive, rear brood, guard the entrance and, for the last ten days of their lives, collect nectar, pollen, and water. It’s said that a single bee will gather only a teaspoon of nectar in its lifetime. Please savor their gift with reverence.”

Tanaka keeps ten hives at Nakamura Farm in Kokubunji. The drones are fed by the worker bees and live with the queen in a brood chamber set beneath the comb-filled hive box. The honey is collected just three months out of the year. A frame pulled from the hive is loaded on both sides with worker bees.

Ten seconds in a centrifuge removes all the honey from the combs

A golden stream of pure honey pours from the centrifuge. This will be filtered once and bottled immediately. 

The honey comes in three sizes: 200ml, 500ml and 1 liter; Hisayuki Tanaka is flanked by Katsuyuki and Yasuyuki Nakamura.

◎Kokubunji Nakamura Farm
4-24-1 Hiyoshi-cho, Kokubunji, Tokyo

(The Cuisine Magazine /September 2017)