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Our Bee Swarm and Malted Chocolate Granola

May 25, 2012

I’m downright giddy about this granola. I whipped it up Wednesday afternoon and ate a big bowl of it with strawberries and yogurt before the chocolaty oats even had a chance to cool. It’s sweet, but not cloyingly so, and that malt flavor is a return ticket to the best parts of my childhood. “Why don’t I use malt powder more often?” I thought as I scraped my way to the bottom of my first bowl. My plan was to snap a quick pic and immediately share it here with you. But life seldom goes as planned.

With my camera around my neck, I carried my bowl of granola to the back door–the dappled light on our shaded deck is perfect for taking photos in the afternoon. I stopped short when I reached the door–just beyond the glass hundreds, maybe thousands of honeybees were flying in all directions, ricocheting off the window. Something was terribly wrong. I set the bowl on the counter and raced upstairs to the guest room. (Our beehive sits on the second story deck a few feet from the guest room window.) I can’t remember another time in my life when panic and awe have filled me at the same time. A dark cloud of bees was swirling around our hive like a violent tornado–I was witnessing my first-ever bee swarm. There are many things a beekeeper can do to prevent a swarm, but once it starts, there’s no stopping it. All you can do, all I could do was stand there completely spellbound.

In less than an hour calm returned to our hive. The loyal bees that had chosen to stay went about their usual tasks of gathering nectar. I stepped outside hoping to catch a glimpse of the mass of bees that had swarmed. I spotted what looked like a giant koala bear perched in the uppermost branch of our old maple tree. The swarm of bees was swaying in the breeze forty feet above the highest point of our roof. Shimmying up the tree and coaxing them into a five gallon bucket, as the internet experts suggested I do, was out of the question. Again, all I could do was watch.

Those same experts indicated that the bees would likely be moving on to their new home within the hour. I couldn’t miss a second once in a lifetime moment, so I plopped down on a soft patch of grass and waited. And waited. I was still waiting there when Greg arrived home from work hours later. When we woke up yesterday morning they were still there. As I type this, forty-eight hours after they swarmed, they are still gathered on the same branch of the maple tree. And I’m on my second batch of malted chocolate granola.

Sweet Hive Chicago Bee Swarm Spring 2012

Malted Chocolate Granola

Inspired by Donna Hay‘s recipe for Malt-Roasted Chocolate and Almond Muesli in the Summer 2012 magazine. I used a mix of sunflower seeds and pepitas, but it’s equally tasty when you substitute coarsely chopped almonds for the seeds.


    6 cups rolled oats
    1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
    1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
    1/2 cup sunflower seeds
    1/2 cup malted milk powder
    2 tablespoons cocoa powder
    1/2 cup water
    3/4 cup brown sugar
    2 tablespoons coconut oil
    3 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
    3/4 teaspoon sea salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl stir together the oats, coconut, seeds, malted milk powder, and cocoa.
  3. Combine the water and brown sugar in a small saucepan over moderate heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and cook for one minute. Remove from the heat and whisk in the coconut oil, dark chocolate, and sea salt until the chocolate is melted.
  4. Pour the hot syrup over the oat mixture and mix until well combined. Spread the mixture across a large jelly roll pan or two small rimmed baking sheets.
  5. Bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until crisp.
  6. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 8 cups.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. May 25, 2012 1:38 pm

    Why don’t I have malt powder? This suddenly seems like a gaping hole in my pantry. Yum.

  2. May 25, 2012 2:06 pm

    You have a beehive???? You have such an exciting life!

    I thought I had found nirvana with Melissa Clark’s Double Coconut Granola, but I may just have to give this one a try.

  3. May 25, 2012 2:44 pm

    Oh my word, that is absolutely incredible (the bee swarm) – wonderful. Also, this is the most delicious sounding granola ever – really interesting. I need to find myself some of this malt powder!

  4. June 4, 2012 11:18 am

    I’m with emmy and frugalfeeding. Where can I get some malt powder? I know what you mean about a trip down memory lane – I had a good, old-fashioned chocolate malt this past weekend. Took me right back. Cannot believe the swarm! What happened?

    • June 4, 2012 3:44 pm

      I LOVE chocolate malts. The link in my comment above will get you to the malted milk powder I used.

      As for the bees, we were away for the Memorial Day weekend. When we returned they were gone. Sadly, I have no idea where they went. And our neighbors didn’t see them go. On the bright side, at least they didn’t take up residence in our chimney!

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