How bees and honey help us thrive
The deep bond between honeybees and human beings has been an incredible journey. Bees hold a special place in human history. The pollination of plants aided by bees helped to provide humans abundant sources of food. Fruits, nuts and vegetables, as do all seed-producing plants, benefit from the interconnecting relationship of bees.
Local beekeepers, Anthony Tomasso and his wife Anna Keck-Tomasso, will speak on healing honeybee products and their benefits and traditional uses for colds, allergies, lung congestion and prevention.
The important relationship between bees and humans often reveals a precious and special affection. Folklore tells us that it was vital to keep bees informed of family matters such as births, marriages and deaths.
Telling the hive of an impending wedding was considered necessary to ensure a long and happy marriage, and a piece of wedding cake was often left at the hive entrance. Many beekeepers today still have a close relationship with their bees. Some say that their bees recognize them both by voice and smell, and that soothing words can calm them when they’re angry or disturbed.
This high regard for bees unifies disparate cultures. Reay Tannahill writes in the book “Food in History” that humans began beekeeping in Central Asia thousands of years ago.
The word for honey appears in many languages, reflecting a worldwide connection. In Sanskrit, it is madu; Chinese myit; Slavic medhu; French mile. Europeans brought the honeybee to America in the 16th century.
Created by bees from the nectar of plants, honey is one of our oldest wild foods and healing medicines. Honey combined in a variety of ways, has been used to relieve everything from colds, coughs and allergies to burns and wounds.
Filled with phyto-nutrients and anti-oxidants, honey acts as a mild antibiotic, protecting, nourishing and healing. With the addition of roughage and water, it is said that the human body is able to survive on honeybee pollen alone. This is because honey is a food which contains, in perfect balance, all 22 known essential nutritional elements (and others yet to be identified), which humans require to achieve and maintain optimum vitality.
Many universities study the phenomenal possibilities of bee pollen and its potential. As most of the food we eat originates from seeds, it’s easy to make our connection to bees.
Pollen grains combine with the female part of flowers to produce seeds. To reach the female part of the flower, the pollen grain must either travel through the air or be carried by bees.
Pollen grains contain the male elements that are produced and needed by some flowers. Although many insects, bats and other kinds of bees help pollinate, it is the honeybee that is most helpful to humans.
The honeybees’ work is a wonder. Distilling the essence of flowers into rich precious food takes work. It takes approximately 10,000 flowers to produce one teaspoon of honey by bees.
But like all relationships, when taken for granted you get into trouble. Honeybees (and humans) are in trouble, says Anthony Tomasso.
The bees’ health and vitality is being undermined by intensive farming, lack of wildflowers and toxic chemicals sprayed on crops.
Whether we are aware of it or not, bees are under dire threat, says Tomasso. Bees are dying across Europe in large numbers from loss of nectar-supplying flowers and from the general weakening of bees through parasites and disease.
The varroa mite that decimated whole bee hives is here in Santa Cruz. As one beekeeper expressed it, “Humans have harmed these benevolent creatures, who for so long have accompanied us, fed us, sustained our crops and given us a living image of wisdom, of harmonious community.”
Liz Koch is the Way of Life Health Educator. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.