Herbs and Bees, let’s talk a little bit about two of our favorite beings.
We probably all have certain thoughts, ideas and/or memories we recall when we think of these creatures. There certainly is a lot of information about each of them. Today we would like to share some information that we hope you will find both interesting and educational.
Growing up in Southern California, we both had a lot of time to play outside. Amiee’s grandparents grew up on a farm, and lived in Banning, California in a rural area in the hills. As a child, she would pick wildflowers and recalls vividly cursing those darn Stinging Nettles stinging her legs while walking through the area, or her hands when reaching down for a flower. ”I would curse them then, and never forget them.” Today, we know Stinging Nettles to be a strong and powerful ally against allergies.
What do you think of when you hear the word “Herb”? What is an “Herb”? There are different definitions, depending on who you ask. We invite you to become more familiar with herbs and plant life and decide for yourself. We include barks and berries too.
Herbs have been used and respected by humans as food and medicine for hundreds of thousands of years. Their “properties” and what some might call “personalities” vary as much as people do. While Lavender has antibacterial properties, it also helps to relax and subdue. Studies have shown an increase in office work productivity by up to 20% when used as aromatherapy. Ginger on the other hand, is more on the “spicy” side of life and will invigorate & energize, and is considered a “longevity herb”.
Herbs can stand alone or be blended with others to create a desired affect. Some herbs act as a catalyst to other herbs and can help enhance their effectiveness. That being said, herbs are powerful beings and should be treated and respected as such.
There are many uses for herbs including but not limited to food, flavoring, fragrance, spiritual connection & rituals and medicine. Herbs have long been used for medicinal purposes, and many of our allopathic/western medicines come from herbs and their constituents. In fact, almost one fourth (1/4) of pharmaceutical drugs are derived from botanicals. The World Health Organization reports that approximately eighty percent (80%) of the worlds population still rely on herbs as their primary means of healthcare. No wonder the bees love herbs.
Which brings us to the bees. Personally, we love and respect Bees (Amiee could talk with and watch them for hours). There are approximately 20,000 different species of bees worldwide; with about 44 subspecies being the HoneyBee.
Today we will focus on the HoneyBee. Honeybee’s are not aggressive by nature, only stinging when there is actual or perceived danger to the hive. Some can sting only once, some multiple times, and still others have no stingers at all.
Honeybees are highly organized, amazing architects/engineers and are highly communicative. They use dancing as a way to give directions to each other to the flowers (outside), and to the honey inside the hive. There is one queen bee per hive; the others are worker bees ; and it is their job to protect the queen and their hive (home).
While the queen bee can live for several years, the worker bees live for an average of only 6 weeks. Worker bees learn and have different jobs in their brief life, being nurses, guards, and even undertakers. Honeybees are not born knowing how to make honey, they are taught by their elders.
Agriculture depends heavily on bees, accounting for 80% of all insect pollination. Pollinating over $20 Billion worth of crops in the United States each year. Bees collect 66 pounds of pollen each year per hive. Pollen is one of the richest and purest natural foods; high in protein and vitamins.
Bees are the only insect that produces food eaten by humans. In fact, Americans consume an average of 285 Million pounds of honey each year. That is 1.3 pounds of honey per person per year. Honey never spoils, and is the only food that contains all substances needed to sustain life…including water. It takes approximately 2.6 Million flowers to produce one pound of honey, about 55 Thousand miles of bee travel. The average hive makes 60-100 pounds of honey per year. Our ancestors believed the production of honey to be a magical process of alchemy known only to the bees, and considered both bees and honey to be gifts from the Heavens.
In many parts of the ancient world, honey was an important offering to the gods. Today, many cultures such as the Mayans still practice yearly rituals and devotions to the HoneyBee. Bees have long been seen as wisdom keepers who teach humanity about the essential virtues of harmony, cooperation, thrift, selflessness, productivity and work ethic. Long representing qualities like fertility, bravery, strength and innate wisdom, the HoneyBee is a “Power Animal”.
Rudolph Steiner, founder of Anthroposophy believed that HoneyBees are part of a group soul that stands behind and guides their evolution; and by virtue of the bees’ connection with flowers and sky, he believed they serve as an important link between humanity and heavenly realms. We have to agree with him.