In my childhood, mom served honey on white bread with butter. All I knew was when Native American Indians spread it on a land-grabbing white man’s body, it effectively attracted fire ants. Palatable honey was discovered in the tombs of ancient Egyptians Pharos. Honey never goes bad since it’s acidic, and therefore, not conductive for bacterial growth. On the walls of prehistoric caves, there are pictures of man harvesting honey. The Bible mentions honey more than 40 times. In the book of St. Luke, after Christ had risen from the dead, the first food he eats is broiled fish and honeycomb.
As you stir a teaspoon of nectar into your Chamomile, sip this: The average honeybee makes one-twelfth teaspoon in a lifetime. Two million flowers need to be tapped, and 55 thousand miles must be logged to produce a pound of honey. Bees visit 50 to one hundred flowers during one collection trip. Your tea just became a celebration of Earth’s natural, abundance, in symbiosis.
Over 150 million years ago, bees were busy producing mankind’s oldest sweetener. For at least 9,000 years, man has been collecting honey from honeybees. Bees produce honey as food stores for the hive during the long months of winter when flowers aren‘t blooming and therefore little or no nectar is available. It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride’s father would supply his son-in-law with all the honey mead beer he could drink. Because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the “honey month, known today as the “honeymoon.”
Reality time! The National Academy of Sciences urge, “Unless someone or something stops it soon, the mysterious killer that’s wiping out many of the nation’s honeybees could have a devastating effect on America’s dinner plate, perhaps even reducing us to a bread-and-water diet.” Harvard University asserts pesticides appear to play a key role in killing off the honeybee population. Honeybees don’t just make honey; they pollinate more than 90 percent of flowering crops including apples, nuts, avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash and cucumbers, citrus fruit, peaches, kiwi, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, cantaloupe and other melons. The New York Times reports, “Around the world, honeybee colonies are dying in huge numbers: About one-third of hives collapse each year, a pattern going back a decade. For bees and the plants they pollinate, as well as for beekeepers, farmers, honey lovers and everyone else who appreciates this marvelous insect, this is catastrophic.”
Cross-pollinating bees transfer pollen and seeds from flower to flower, fertilizing plants so they can produce food which helps at least 30 percent of the world’s crops and 90 percent of our wild plants to thrive. Without bees to spread seeds, we’re screwed.
Be attentive to busy bees flourishing in our beautiful, mysterious, wondrous world. Bee Nice to a bee and eat your honey. But seek ambrosial, local, raw, unrefined Farmer’s market versions.