Thursday, 16 September 2010

Bread and Honey

I just love this poem that I recall from my childhood. Everytime I walk past the beehive or see the bees busy at work, or smell our fresh bread, I find myself repeating this...

Of all the meals you can buy for money
Give me a meal of bread and honey.

A table of grass in the open air
A green bank for an easy chair.
The tablecloth inwrought with flowers
And a grasshopper clock to tick the hours.

Between the courses birds to sing
To many a hidden shining string.

And neither man or maid be seen
But a great company of green
Upon a hundred thousand stalks
Talk to us its great green talks.

And when the merry meal is done
To loiter westward with the sun
Dipping fingers ere we go
In the stream that runs below.

Of all the meals you can buy for money
Give me a meal of bread and honey.

And of course this is the exciting time of year for sustainable beekeepers as it's around honey harvest time. Some conventional beekeepers might be surprised at that and declare that Spring too is harvest time, in fact that any time is harvest time if there's honey in the hive. But no, I believe strongly in sustainable beekeeping, beekeeping for nature's sake and not for greed nor commercial reasons. The bees need 12kg of honey to get the colony through the winter, any extra is a gift to the beekeeper. You can only ensure that the 12kgs is there by waiting until the end of summer. If you take honey before then, there is a chance that the bees won't be able to make enough to get them through winter and many will die. Of course, conventional beekeeping will feed sugar water when they have robbed the hive clean of honey but that isn't what the bees need. Nature meant the bees to have honey to eat - maybe the humans could have the sugar water!!

There is a lot of talk in the media at the moment about the loss of our honey bees and many blame it on pesticides or virilant bee diseases but I think we need to ask ourselves if the conventional/commercial way of beekeeping is actually significantly contributing to the losses. Harvesting too much honey is only the tip of the iceberg. See this video if you'd like to know more -

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