Homestead pollinators produced a sweet and medicinal product
Almost as ubiquitous as the moonshine still in the early days of the Dark Corner was the beehive. Both had an enormous impact on the viability of the community.
While home distillation of moonshine proved to be the strongest supporter of the barter economy, the family beehive had the greatest impact on home grown foodstuffs. Both products were important medicinally.
I had just decided to write my next column on the importance of honey bees, when I received a phone call from a friend, Hugh “Buddy” Williams, on the very subject.
“Just wanted to invite you over on Tuesday morning, the 26th (of March), to a Honey Bee Expo, where we will be distributing 300,000 bees to more than 60 amateur bee keepers from all walks of life. That is, if you can fit it into your busy schedule,” he said.
“Buddy” knows how much I like being part of events that are a little out of the ordinary, and I could sense in his voice that this one might just qualify.
Due to an overlong landline telephone conversation on the 26th, I missed the 9:00 a.m. kickoff and did not arrive until just about 10. Activity at 900 S. Blackstock Road was humming, literally.
A number of vehicles were coming and going so I parked in the adjacent pullout of the old Tugaloo Road since I was planning to be there for a long period.
I first encountered “Buddy”’s wife, Juanita, showing pansies and other winter flowers to a visiting lady, and indicating she needed to pull out some pesky Chickweed from the beds. “You don’t eat them?” the lady asked, then recognizing me, added, “Mr. Campbell probably does.” A brief noting of my previous columns ensued.
We walked to the open garage where “Buddy” and associates, Dennis and Kae Fleming, were disbursing rectangular boxes with screened fronts, each containing 30,000 honey bees.
Even though several bee keepers had already picked up their boxes, it was quite evident that a number just shy of 300,000 was still a lot of bees in one concentrated location!
From that point forward, “Buddy” proved to be right. People from all walks of life—doctors, lawyers, teachers, sheet metal workers, salesmen, housewives, horse tenders, sheriff deputies, and more—from young to old, arrived to pick up their boxes.
Many of the finer points of bee keeping were discussed as the day progressed. I was overcome by nostalgia to hear younger people express the exact same wonderings about how much our lives depend on these small creatures as I did in my boyhood.
These pollinators the world over are absolutely essential to viability of the food chain. Some fruit crops, such as apricots, can have yields increased by up to 50 percent with pollination.
Bees and flowers are engaged in a “mutual admiration society,” which means that as bees assist in the pollinating of flowers, they rely on flowers as an important nutrient for the survival of the colony. That’s why a garden and yard should have flowers that bloom at all times of the year so that the colony will have resources across many months to maintain “honey flow.”
Very interesting is the fact that older bees gather the nectar and younger bees wait at the hive to receive it and convert it to honey.
Honey is one of the world’s miracle foods—it never spoils. Archeologists have found edible honey in fossil digs from thousands of years ago.
Honey is a pure, natural sweetener and when you gather it from your own hive, you are guaranteed not to have any “added ingredients” that can be found in jars from commercial sources.
Medicinally, honey is a natural substance which contains flavonoids and antioxidants, and has no side effects. It is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal.
t is especially recommended to be mixed with cinnamon. Canadian and European alternative medicine sources have published honey-as-medicine research, which purports to help and/or heal some eighteen different ailments, as well as to help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.
Thanks, “Buddy,” for inviting me to your unique event and for giving me your personal honey recipe for managing arthritis. I’m in physical therapy with mine right now and I’m starting out each day with two ounces of it. Can’t wait to see the results.
Having no patent medicines available on the frontier, grandparents and sometimes single people steeped in various uses of natural plants... read more