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This can only serve to make my bee obsession worse – but the solitary bee house that I bought at the Harrogate Flower Show has a bee visiting it today.  She (I’m hoping it’s a she) has been going into the same tube, staying for a short while and then flying off.  About five minutes later she’s back again.

Solitary bee 2

If anyone is a solitary bee expert and can identify my bee (species please, not first name… I say this because first names were all I got when I asked Twitter for help!), I’d love to know what she is.  I did a quick search online to try to identify the bee without any success, but I did discover that the big, black bees I’ve seen visiting the pulmonaria in the garden are hairy footed flower bees – what a great name.

Between bee watching, I’ve been working on a rhubarby, gingery, creamy filling for a cake I’m making for our local bake off this weekend.  I need something to sandwich together two lemon sponges.  When I did a quick practice bake last week, I used a jar of rhubarb jam mixed with mascarpone, but this didn’t have the intensity of flavour that I wanted.  Next attempt involved rhubarb picked fresh from the garden, some stem ginger from a jar and another pot of mascarpone – perfect!

Rhubarb and ginger mascarpone cream

Rhubarb & ginger mascarpone cream

125g rhubarb chopped into small pieces

3 tbsp syrup from stem ginger

2 tbsp finely chopped stem ginger

250ml mascarpone

Put the rhubarb and ginger syrup in a small pan and leave to sit for a few hours.  The cook the rhubarb gently over a lowish heat until it softens and loses its shape.

Remove from the heat and taste for sweetness, you could at this stage stir in a spoonful of sugar if you want a sweeter mixture.  Add the chopped stem ginger to the rhubarb, stir and leave to cool to room temperature.

Stir the cooled rhubarb into the mascarpone – either mix it in evenly or, if you’re feeling artistic, ‘swirl’ it through to get a rhubarb ripple effect.  This makes a great cake filling, but is also pretty good eaten straight from a bowl with a couple of your favourite biscuits…