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The Value of the Honey Bee: Most of the food we eat is thanks to bee pollination. Bees are considered a ‘cornerstone species' since they ensure the reproduction and survival of plants, and also the animals that survive on those plants. We need bees to keep our world fertile and beautiful with a diverse range of fruits, vegetables, nuts, trees and flowers. Spiritually, bees are considered ‘our most ancient ally'. "If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man." Albert Einstein
Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD): Huge numbers of bees from commercial bee populations are disappearing. Most die away from the hive and those that remain are found to be carrying several viruses and fungal infections. Some of the blame may be attributed to pesticides, GM crops & electro-magnetic fields. Some may be due to modern bee-keeping practices that cause the bees stress and weaken their immune systems: transporting bees huge distances to work them all year round denying them their normal months of rest, artificial queen rearing, overcrowding, plastic hives, poisons used in the hives, and the use of refined sugar as a feed. (Their natural diet is pollen and nectar which is rich in protein, enzymes, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals). In 1923, Rudolf Steiner predicted that commercial beekeeping would wipe out bees within 100 years. But there are practical steps that we can take to make a difference.
Ways to help the Honey Bee:
- Keep bees & inspire others to keep bees well – we need more bee-keepers (see below)
- Grow plants that they love (see list later), due to intensive modern agriculture, domestic gardens are now the principal habitat for many species of bees.
- Keep your garden chemical-free
- Support your local bee-keeper by buying local honey
- Replace sugar with honey in your diet & cooking
- Transform peoples' fear of bees into appreciation
- Meditate sending energy, power & love to the Honey Bee & the Hive (eg humming*)
More Bee-keepers needed: Contact your local beekeeper and beekeeping association. They will have experience, information, and may run courses (Always check that they work lovingly with the hive before you follow their example). British Beekeepers Association (02476 696679) www.bbka.org.uk
Considerations for keeping Honey Bees:
- Location of hive – where the bees have access to suitable plants. This can be in an urban situation, even a roof garden – your local bee-keepers association can advise you on this.
- Time – from April to September (in UK) inspect bees every 10-14 days.
- Honey – 20-50 lbs honey per hive, per year.
- Cost – brand new equipment could be around £500, but 2nd hand £50 – £100
- ‘There is no honey without sting' – Although stings are not a problematic issue with most bee-keepers, check that you are not allergic to bee stings.
A spiritual relationship with the Honey Bee: There are lineages of men and women who work with the Hive and the Honey Bee as a spiritual path. Within the mythology of this tradition is the belief that the Honey bee brings and sustains all life to earth with their poetic hum, with the prophecy 'when the bee ceases to hum, the world will cease to turn'. *Therefore this meditation is recommended: a simple but regular hum, with the intention of empowering and feeding the volume of the hum of the Honey Bee. In this stillness and hum, also comes the opportunity for connection to nature, and clarity about changes needed in our lives to move us more into harmony with our planet.
Honey Bee Reading:
- Guide to Bees & Honey – Ted Hooper
- Teach yourself Bee-keeping – Adrian Waring
- Bee-keeping, a seasonal guide – Ron Brown
- Sweetness and Light (the mysterious history of the Honey Bee ) – Hattie Ellis
- Honey and Dust (travels in search of sweetness) – Piers Moore Ede
- The Hive (the story of the Honeybee and us) – Bee Wilson
- A book of Bees – Sue Hubbell
- The Sacred Bee in Ancient Times and Folklore – Hilda M. Ransome
- The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd
- Robbing the Bees: a biography of honey – the sweet liquid gold that seduced the world – Holly Bishop
- Letters from the Hive: an intimate history of bees, honey and humankind – Stephen Buchmann and Banning Repplier
- Nine lectures on Bees – Rudolph Steiner
- The Shamanic Way of the Bee – Simon Buxton
Herbs for the Bee garden (bee-keepers associations produce plant info sheets)
- Angelica – a very popular plant with the bees.
- Artemisa: Southernwood and Wormwood – Should always be grown as it seems to keep away Wax moth from combs in storage. In case of robbing, bruised Wormwood put across and over the hive entrance is useful.
- Hyssop – an excellent plant for the bees, for both nectar and pollen.
- Inula (Elecampane) – A valuable plant for the bee, and worked for both pollen and nectar, and because it is a late summer and autumn flower, can provide valuable stores for wintering.
- Bay Tree: Rich in nectar; May/June.
- Lavender: An important source of nectar – should be in every bee garden. Yields in June and July. Good quality honey, with a fine grain granulation.
- Marrubium (Horehound): Should be grown in every bee garden. Rich in nectar.
- Spearmint: Good nectar yield – producing a minty, amber-coloured honey.
- Rosemary: Much frequented by bees – should always be grown.
- Ruta (Rue) well worth growing for the nectar which is easily accessible.
With Thanks to those who helped me to compile this.
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