Bees and their honey

Honey is the epic of love
The materialization of the infinite
The soul and the blood of flowers
Condensed through the spirit of others.
GARCIA LORCA
1899-11936

Who hasn’t marveled over the sweetness of honey, the sweet golden nectar and food of the Gods? When I was a child, a trip to the grocery included honey, “Sioux Bee” to be exact, which is now named “Sue Bee”. Times change, I guess. But on special occasions, we were lucky to get the crème de la crème of honey. Simply known as honeycomb, oozing with mouth watering raw, right off the farm honey. It also meant natural chewing gum, because as kids we chewed the wax, and to this day, I still enjoy chewing the wax, as it takes me home to those childhood days of so long ago.

Photo credit: Nathan Congleton / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
Honey. Photo credit: Nathan Congleton / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

My mom allowed local beekeepers to keep their hives on our farm in South Dakota. We, of course, also received honey as a token of their appreciation. The vision of those hives is carved into my memory, and some day I would love to reestablish that tradition. This was long ago, as I am quite a bit older now, but as I recollect, we had lots of bees, and they weren’t in danger of disappearing from the gardens, meadows, and fields. Now they are disappearing at alarming rates.
In addition to the prairie flowers and fields of clover and alfalfa, mom always had a huge flower garden and flowers that came up every spring. Peonies, tulips, iris, holly hocks, and the oh, so beautiful lilac bushes. She never fussed, things just grew, and so did the bees. I drove her nuts collecting bees “to study them” up close, marveling that I never got stung.

Honey Bee.  Photo credit: Rickydavid / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND
Honey Bee. Photo credit: Rickydavid / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Speaking of stings, one of the two times I was ever stung was when a few honey bees decided to set up housekeeping on our front porch, and I, the Barefoot Queen, stepped on a bee. My dear mother handed me an ice-cube for my foot and a homemade popsicle for my mouth to squelch the howling, both of which cooled me down, mended my wounded spirit, and I survived just fine.
I obviously am not allergic to bees, nor am I afraid of them. There were no EpiPens back then, but since people ate lots of honey, it may have helped them be immune to bee stings. Bees can “smell fear” and since I loved them, that’s why they probably never bothered me. They are really gentle creatures.
To live in HARMONY with our little bee sisters doesn’t really take much.

Remember to respect our sweet little friends. STAY CALM! Swatting, running in circles, and any fear based movements could trigger an attack. That makes sense. Any of Mother Nature’s creatures could be triggered by aggressive, threatening behavior. Dark clothing attracts bees, believe it or not. White is suggested if you are out and about in nature. Bright, flower like colors are not a good idea. If you look like a flower, a bee may think you are one.
Remember, too, that bees are attracted to sweets. One afternoon while sunning myself, I discovered that soda attracts the little girls, and they will crawl right into a soda can. A bee in the mouth could give you a fat lip. They can’t help it. They love sugary, sweet drinks. I was lucky, and heard her buzzing before I sipped. So, when drinking outdoors, look and listen before sipping, or use a cup.

Bees love sweet things. Photo credit: dicktay2000 / Foter / CC BY
Bees love sweet things. Photo credit: dicktay2000 / Foter / CC BY

Also, watch your step. Barefoot is nice, but there are flowers in the grass. That was where I got the second bee sting of my life. Ouch, big time. My neighbor, an old Santa type man named Danny, came to my rescue. He heard me wailing, as did my mom when I was a kid. He came running to my rescue and actually scraped out the stinger with the blade of his pocket knife. I learned then that you scrape out the stinger. Pulling or pinching it to get it out can actually inject more venom into the site of the sting. Unfortunately, Danny didn’t have a popsicle!
Beekeepers, even though they know all the tricks to be in harmony with their bees, do get stung. But they love their bees, and risk the sting. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t have the beautiful honeys of the world at our finger tips. There are local beekeepers where you can get raw, unfiltered, unheated, un-tampered honey. Heating honey destroys its enzymes and health benefits. After all the countless hours invested and the countless number of miles the bees have traveled to create a perfect food, why mess with it.
Right here in Orange County, we have some very special beekeepers. I first encountered their honey at our local Tanaka Farms. All of their bees are rescues from residential and commercial properties. Thus, all of their honey and products are produced by some very happy, grateful bees. I was elated to find these beekeepers. When I use this wonderful honey, I feel so blessed and gratitude fills my heart, and tears come to my eyes. Thank you, GUERRILLA BEEKEEPERS of Orange County for saving our Bee Sisters and Brothers.

Go to the bee, thou poet: consider her ways and be wise.

— George Bernard Shaw

Statistic:
“Not only are honey bees essential for the pollination of our fruits and vegetables, but the agricultural benefit of honey bees tops 9 billion a year. In other words, it would cost the United States 9 billion a year to do the work bees do to help us produce food.”

References:

Mayo Clinic
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms, Fairmount, IL
Guerrilla Beekeepers, Santa Ana, CA

Photo Credits:

Commercial honey. Photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/nathancongleton/8133288858/”>Nathan Congleton</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com”>Foter</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>CC BY-NC-SA</a>

Honey Bee. Photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/cuppini/2383057286/”>Rickydavid</a&gt; / <a href=”http://foter.com”>Foter</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>CC BY-NC-ND</a>

Bees love sweet things. Photo credit: N00/3430658006/”>dicktay2000 / Foter / CC BY

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