Bees ,Honey Products and Bee Keepers
|To Bee or not to Be
Bees have been incredibly important to our existence since ancient times, without them there would be no crops, they would not be pollinated and grow. We would as a human race cease to exist on the planet, as without food we cannot live. This puts bee keeping in a very different light.
‘Bella-bees’ is a locally based company in the Green Bank area of Bristol. It produces good organic local honey from bees that feed off herbs such as borage and rosemary. Last year it produced forty pounds of honey; this was quite a good yield considering the very wet summer we had. This goes in to face and skin products and is sold as pure honey comb and a thick set honey. It is distributed in many of the local health
stores and sold on line. It is all run by one woman
Claire Day who used to work in the health service and now provides healthy products for the community. She started making moisturisers and lip balm products with other peoples honey then two years ago she decided to produce her own and hasn't looked back.
Claire finds bees fascinating, she tells me that honey used to be used in the second world war to heal wounds and that the NHS today has started to use it again in hospitals ,‘The old methods are coming back,’ says Claire. Her bees have their home in her allotment which is five minutes walk from her house we visit them today in the cold and rain, she explains that in the winter the bees clean up the hive and look after the queen. If there is a warmer sunny day they come out to get food and can go up to eight miles in search of the best types of fodder. Her bees don't go very far however as hers and the adjacent allotments have many herbs which they feed on. ‘Whatever they feed on affects the quality and taste of the honey' she explains. There are five sections to the hive or trays that can contain thousands of Bees. Today she is weighing the bees ‘I'm not sure they've got enough food in them so what I am going to do is just lifting them up by the Brew Chamber which is the bottom tray, its not very heavy. Its got 3 supers and a feeding tray on top, a super is where they keep the honey but they all live down stairs and stay together keeping warm, the queen lives down stairs. When the spring comes there may not be any pollen and nectar for them depending on the weather so by weighing them, lifting here I shouldn't be able to lift.’ Claire will give them sugar to supplement their diet and leaves some of their own honey for them to eat over the winter months.
Bees live in a hive which consists of trays stacked one on top of another. At the bottom is the Brew Chamber where the Queen and the bees live. On top are the Supers where the honey is stored. On the very top is a feeding tray for use when the weather is not good enough for the bees to collect their own food./c}
As we get back in to the house Claire collects the ingredients to show me how to make one of her new products a bath salt mould. ‘You only need to use this small amount of honey.’ She shows me a big block of the wax and the tiny pinch she will use. It smells deliciously of honey. It takes only a small amount of time to produce the product. It is mixed with other natural dry ingredients petals, dried herbs, citric acid crystal and bicarbonate of soda and then a very small amount of natural colour and fragrance dripped in and then the mixture is pressed in to the mould and left to set for twenty four hours. It makes your bath soft and luxuriant with no unnatural chemicals.
Today in Africa bees are being used as a type of guard dog to keep Elephants away from damaging villagers crops and scientists are looking at the way bees behave and using the model to create co operative
Robots! Bees are vital to our very existence and are obviously a creature to be cherished and treated with respect. If you would like to get busy with bees and want to find out more, some useful internet sites are at the bottom of the page.
Legends and Proverbs
In a French legend, the drops of water falling from the hands of Christ, washing in the River Jordan, became bees - Christ ordered them to stay and work for mankind.
A Breton legend tells of the tears of the crucified Christ turning into bees and flying away to bring sweetness into the world.
“Go to the ant thou sluggard. Go to the bee, and learn how diligent she is. What a noble work she produces, whose labour kings and private men use for their health! She is desired and honoured by all, and though weak in strength, yet since she values wisdom she prevails.” (Proverbs)/c
The Christian Church has strong links with bees. Monasteries kept bees to provide honey for sweetening and mead made from fermented honey - wax was in great demand for candles.
Bees were believed to be the souls of the dead returning to earth or on their way to the next world.