Last updated on April 9th, 2019 at 10:48 pm

The following recipes have been excerpted from The Benevolent Bee: Capture the Bounty of the Hive through Science, History, Home Remedies, and Craft, in which author Stephanie Bruneau teaches readers how to make a variety of useful products out of substances derived from bees.

Elderberry syrup

We make this syrup a lot starting in September, when “back to school” means that the sunscreen and bug spray on our shelf are quickly replaced by immune boosters and tissues. Elderberries contain high levels of vitamins A, B and C, and can stimulate the immune system. Combined with the healthful and healing properties of honey, this syrup is a delicious tool for combatting colds and flus.

Yield: 2 and 3/4 to 3 cups (650 to 710 mL)


  • 1 cup (100 g) dried black elderberries
  • 3 1/2 cups (830 mL) water
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 or 3 whole cloves
  • 1 cup (340 g) raw honey
  • 2 ounces (60 mL) brandy (optional, for adults only)


  1. Combine elderberries, water, ginger, cinnamon and cloves in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, and reduce to a simmer.
  2. Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes, until the liquid has reduced by almost half. Watch carefully so the mixture doesn’t evaporate fully or boil over.
  3. Remove from the heat and let sit until mixture is cool enough to handle.
  4. Mash the berries using a spoon and pour through a strainer into a glass jar.
  5. Discard the elderberries and spices, and let the liquid cool to lukewarm.
  6. Add the honey and mix well. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator, where it’ll last for a few months. If this is just for adult use (not kids too), you can add the brandy to lengthen the shelf life.
  7. Take by the spoonful as a daily immune booster (the standard dose is 1/2 to 1 teaspoon for children, and 1/2 to 1 tablespoon for adults, once a day if you’re not sick but three times a day in times of illness), or add to sparkling water with a slice of lemon for a healthful and refreshing drink!

Honey fire tonic

Honey fire tonic ingredients - The benevolent bee

This is a traditional folk recipe that combines apple cider vinegar and raw local honey with powerful and spicy antimicrobial and decongestant herbs to boost your immune system, kick-start your circulation, stimulate digestion and warm you right up.

I like to drink it as a tea, adding about an ounce (30 mL) of tonic to a cup of boiled water. When I’m getting sick, I drink this tea three or four times a day. You can also take it straight up by the spoonful, drizzle it on food (like steamed veggies) as a dressing, mix it with lemonade or other juices, or add it to a cocktail (like a Bloody Mary).

Yield: About 1 quart (940 mL)


  • 1/2 cup (64 g) fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup (64 g) fresh grated horseradish
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 8 to 10 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped
  • 1 organic hot pepper, such as jalapeño or habanero, chopped
  • Zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • Several sprigs fresh rosemary or 2 tablespoons (6 g) dried rosemary leaves
  • Several sprigs fresh thyme or 2 tablespoons (6 g) dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon (9 g) turmeric powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 3 cups (710 mL) apple cider vinegar (enough to fill a quart-sized jar)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup (85 to 170 g) raw local honey, to taste


  1. Place all of the ingredients in a lidded, quart-size jar. Close tightly.
  2. Shake well to combine. Store in a dark, cool place for three to six weeks, shaking daily.
  3. After a month, use cheesecloth or a fine-mesh strainer to strain out the pulp, pouring the tonic into a clean jar.
  4. Store the finished tonic in a dark, cool place for up to one year.

«RELATED READ» BREW UP A CUP: 6 simple and healthy tea recipes to soothe the mind and body»

Stephanie Bruneau is a beekeeper, herbalist and artist. She runs The Benevolent Bee, a small business selling honey, beeswax candles, herbal body care products and other handcrafted and hive-derived items. At the Benevolent Bee “Teaching Apiary,” Stephanie observes, learns and teaches about bees and bee behavior to students of all ages. Stephanie has also taught classes about bees and the products of the honeybee hive at Northeastern University, The Cambridge Center for Adult and Community Education, The Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, The Boston School of Herbal Studies and Temple University.

Front cover of book - The benevolent beeExcerpted from The Benevolent Bee, by Stephanie Bruneau, published by Quarry Books.
Photos courtesy of Quarry Books
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