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Taking honey from the bee … with thanks and soft lips

Posted in Health, Life & Love, and Relationships

Bees in a Protea

“When the bee comes to your house, let her have beer; you may want to visit the bee’s house some day.”
Congolese Proverb

Search history and you’ll find nary a bad word about honey or bees. And plenty of good ones. In their book “Honey, Mud, Maggots and Other Medical Marvels”, Robert and Michele Root-Bernstein tell how the sweet stuff has been used medically for centuries. The Ancient Egyptians, Chinese and Africans knew honey had antibacterial powers and mixed it with milk and yeast to form poltices – drawing infection from wounds. Auyervedic doctors have been using honey to treat everything from insomnia to anxiety.  For thousands of years. So, there must be something in it.

Honey Bees don’t ask anything of us – there’s no request for upkeep or feeding. No demand for huge fields in which to roam. They keep themselves to themselves and get on with their own business. They don’t try and take over any one elses’ hive, they provide a service – pollinating our plants naturally. Feeding us.

They don’t attack on a whim – Honey Bees only sting us when we bother them. And when they are defending their hive. Defence of self, defence of others – worth a thought.

But we don’t return the favour ….through our poisonous agricultural practices – we are managing to wipe-out bees. Climate change is taking a toll too – over rainy winters prevent bees from foraging – and new viruses have wiped out 300 million colonies in the US alone in the past five years. Soon there will be no more fields of clover to wander through … no honey to spread on hot toast or dollop into a cup of herbal tea. No sweetly melting beeswax candles. Albert Einstein once predicted that if bees were to disappear, man would follow only a few years later. Aren’t we a bunch of geniuses?

The nans have just come back from spending two weeks with what they call their “Joburg Family” – their Dad and Mercia, their Granny and Popper. They had a wonderful time – loved and spoilt by all. But the Johannesburg altitude makes for dry days – and their lips took a hit. I was going to reach for some commerically available lip-ice … when I remembered Cleopatra used to carry around a little vial of honey to keep her pout pliable.

So I gathered the kids in the kitchen and we had a DIY apothecary session. Here’s what we came up with: a gentle nod of thanks to one of  nature’s most sweetly generous creatures.

The Honey Pot – nature’s own lipbalm.

1/2 cup sweet almond oil
1/4 cup beeswax
1 tablespoon liquid honey (tip – coat the tablespoon in almond oil before you dollop the honey in … then it won’t stick)
4 small lidded containers

    • Combine the sweet almond oil with the beeswax in a metal bowl
    • Melt the mixture over low heat: stirring gently (we propped it over simmering water)
    • When completely liquid, remove from the heat
    • Immediately whisk in the honey.
    • Let the mixture cool then pour into sterilized lidded containers.
    • Allow to stand until solid

Now dab onto your lips and channel your inner Cleopatra.

(Note: all ingredients available at natural or health food stores. Thanks to the National Honey Board for the recipe. Image of the bee in the Public Domain. Other images copyright campari&sofa.)

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  1. What a lovely activity for all involved. And a fitting homage to those beautiful little creatures.

    July 14, 2013
  2. I have several friends who are bee-keepers in the UK; they are really concerned about something called the Verroa mite which is infecting and wiping out colonies accross Europe. Because bees are so essential to pollination, in the USA huge pantechnicons of bees are shlepped from state to state to pollinate orchards – they start in the south and move north following the developement of the varioud fruit trees – almond, apple, citrus etc etc. The problem with this is that mites and diseases spread to local bee populations, which is a much more worrying situation than the effects of climate change etc. We need our bees, they are vital to human survival – I am so glad you posted this.

    July 13, 2013
  3. Love it – what a great thing to do with everyone. I see a new business just round the corner!! Wish I was there with you xxx

    July 13, 2013

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